Friday, November 2, 2012

A final flourish

Winter, to judge by recent temperatures, is well on its way.  No frost in the garden yet - though there was a little bit on the open field that occupies part of the dog's morning walk.  But it will gradually deteriorate.  I'm in the process of bringing in my shade house plants for winter storage on available windowsills and the bananas and other tender plants will need lifting and storing or protecting in situ.  More of that in later blogs but, in the meantime, my pot grown plant of Brugmansia 'Apricot' is winding up for a final flourish.

Brugmansia 'Apricot'
The latest flush of buds have been lengthening and swelling for a couple of weeks now, ignoring cooling nights as they would in their Andean homeland.  It's not a large plant, pot grown from an overwintered cutting, so six flowers at once is the best result I've had all year - even if they haven't all opened.  Up to now it's been one or two flowers at a time but the plant has grown and matured through the summer and is now capable of producing more.  I'd prefer the display earlier in the year when nights are warmer and the perfume can fill a garden on windless evenings, but for that I'll need to overwinter this one successfully to give the plant a chance to flower freely at an earlier date.  A spot in the shed has already been earmarked.  I'll let the first mild frost defoliate the plant and then store it dry and cool till March next year.  Unfortunately the top growth isn't frost hardy.  With some protection the roots can survive and new growth arise with the return of spring but recovery is slow and usually prevented by slugs and snails.  Even in growth they're a problem - as evidenced by the holes in the leaves on the photos.  How the local snails cope when the leaves contain a rather potent alkaloid hallucinogen I've no idea - but it might explain their ability to reach even the highest spots of vegetation in the garden.  Definitely not for human consumption - though there are always some daft enough to try.

Brugmansia 'Apricot' - a closer view
Mine will never get to the tree like dimensions of those in even marginally warmer climates simply because I don't have the space to store them over winter.  A shame.  Large plants in full flower are spectacular.  Big, dangling blooms which run the colour range from white, through cream and yellow to pink and even red.  And, unless you grow the scentless Brugmansia sanguineum, possessed of a fabulous perfume that wafts after 4 o'clock in the afternoon to lure the moths that are their natural pollinators.  All they ask in return is rich soil, good feeding and plenty of water when in active growth.

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