Friday, September 30, 2011

Unfamiliar Flowers and Fruit of Fall

The Seven Sons tree (Heptacodium miconioides) has been blooming and attracting a wide array of butterflies this fall.  A Viceroy, mimic of the Monarch butterfly, dines on the nectar-rich flowers.  Look for Sevens Sons near the Fountain Garden and in the Perennial Garden.

Colchicums are also in bloom with there large autumnal flowers.  This clump is Colchicum byzantinum aka Colchicum autumnale major.  These deer and squirrel resistant bulbs are expensive but worth it as one bulb will sport all the flowers shown.  The leaves are large in spring and go dormant by midsummer so plan accordingly in the garden.  We think blue-flowering Hardy Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) is the perfect companion plant.  As soon as all the flowers are done and lie flat, you can separate bulb masses to propagate the plant.  Look for Colchicums on the Island, Rock & Waterfall and Perennial Gardens.
This is the second day flower of the Amazon Victoria (Victoria amazonica).  They are white the first day and have this pink center on the second day -- it has to do with cross pollination as the pollen is ready on the first day and the stigma is ready to receive pollen and be fertilized on the second day.  Victorias are pollinated by beetles in their native Amazon rivers but must be hand pollinated here.  Look for them in the Island Garden pools.
These brown fruit may look unappealing but are a delight to eat!  This is a selection of the Jujube tree (Zizyphus jujuba) called 'Coco' and has very sweet, crisp fruit.  Jujubes are popular in China and were the inspiration for the candy as the fruit can be candied for long term use.  Jujubes have no shelf life or shipping life so are not found in grocery stores.
Jujubes come in various shapes and sizes and this larger, pear-shaped variety is 'Black Sea' from the Ukraine.  Look for several varieties of Jujube trees in the Heartland Harvest Garden. 
The Starfruit tree (Averrhoa carambola) has been blooming and is setting some fruit.  This tropical tree comes from the Malay region and can be seen at Powell Gardens in the Heartland Harvest Garden's greenhouse.  Though this fruit is at many local grocery stores, many have not sampled this crisp fruit with a star-shape when sliced and a sweet-sour taste like rhubarb.

Make a date to visit Powell Gardens and find this sample of unfamiliar flowers and fruit -- there are many more than this!  We are in moderate going into a worse category of drought but the gardens are irrigated so cultivated plants are blooming and fruiting well.  Fall color is going to peak early because of the drought and already there are many beautiful native trees in gold to purples.  Come see the tractors on display this weekend (October 1 &2) but don't forget to take a walk through the gardens.

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