Star Shaped Flowers: Clematis ‘Darius’

Clematis 'Darius' has attractive star-shaped stripes and purple anthers

Clematis ‘Darius’ may not be easy to find, but is certainly a beauty. With flowers as big as my outstretched hand, this is classed as an early, large-flowered clematis.

The flowers seem to have been painted with a star shape formed by a purple-pink stripe down the centre of each petal. Spidery dark purple anthers on creamy-white filaments add their patterns too. Continue reading “Star Shaped Flowers: Clematis ‘Darius’”

A Peek into an English Bluebell Wood

Bluebell wood

Bluebells woods have a mysterious air. To get the full effect, you have to imagine everything moving in the lightest breeze, bees humming in the bells, birds singing as they attend their nests, and the odd grey squirrel bouncing around.

Bluebell wood

Light dapples through the tender young beech and chestnut leaves, moving across one patch then another; brightening or fading as clouds float between the woodland and the sun. Continue reading “A Peek into an English Bluebell Wood”

Purple Flowers and Foliage

Rosa Veilchenblau: purple rambling rose
Rosa ‘Veilchenblau’ is a purple rambling rose

If you’re looking for a purple rambling rose, there aren’t many to choose from. Rosa ‘Veilchenblau’ has its passionate fans and detractors, as do many roses. It only flowers once and is not resistant to blackspot: this plant has a freckling of it on the leaves. The spent flowers don’t drop cleanly, so the plant becomes scruffier towards the end of flowering. But what a rare beauty it is at its zenith, throwing out arching canes of flowers that become more purple with age. Continue reading “Purple Flowers and Foliage”

Variations on a Theme: Primrose, Cowslip or Oxlip?

Comparison between primroses and cowslips
Primroses (centre) and cowslips (top right)

The third in my series of easily confused plants features some of the UK’s favourite spring wild flowers with a long heritage of lore.

While our native species of primula are well-loved, they are not as familiar and useful as they once were. Farmers are too busy to rub primroses on their cows’ udders on May Day to encourage milk. Most people who grow primroses near their doorway have forgotten the idea that they encourage faeries to bless the household. People no longer make tisty tosties from cowslip flower heads tied into balls, stems inwards, and hang them from sticks in their dozens to tell fortunes or wave in celebration. Few people have recently tasted cowslip wine. Cowslips are not common enough, and like all UK wild flowers, they are now protected.

But these wild flowers have such a dainty, delicate look, no matter how vigorously they grow, that they are rarely dismissed as weeds. Continue reading “Variations on a Theme: Primrose, Cowslip or Oxlip?”