Some flowers of summer



Tecomanthe venusta at its best 

I have been busy gardening all week so all I have to give you this weekend are summer flowers. The New Guinea Tecomanthe venusta has never bloomed better than this week. The vines are simply smothered with its pink trumpets and I had trouble getting a photo that does it justice. True, it is not the prettiest pink to my eyes, but with all its blooms sprouting out from bare wood, it is spectacular. We have it growing under the verandah on our shed because it is a tropical climber and we are warm temperate, not tropical. For much of the year, it serves as the repository for the birds’ nests I pick up around the place. 

Mummified rat in a nest

If you can get over the somewhat grotesque aspect, the mummified rat found in a blackbird nest is a little haunting. I found it like that.

Calodendron capense 

Not an aesculus, a calodendron

Across the southern hemisphere, it is the south east of Africa that gave us the cape chestnut or Calodendron capense. This is another plant that probably prefers a drier climate and few more degrees of heat than we can give it but some years, it pleases us with a really good season in bloom. Even before I found its common name of cape chestnut, I noticed the similarity of the blooms to the aesculus, or horse chestnut. The edible sweet chestnut, by they way, is a different plant altogether, being Castanea sativa. It is not even a distant relative though there is some botanical heritage shared between aesculus and calodendron so the latter should really be the Cape horse chestnut. I haven’t found any advice that it is any more edible to humans than the common horse chestnut.

Tecoma stans – with apple tree and nicotiana in the Iolanthe garden 

Tecoma stans – it is very yellow.

Tecoma stans is also from southern and central Africa and it is coming into its own now it is well established and has some size. It is growing in the Iolanthe garden where I have been working and because I have spent most of my time on my knees in that garden, eyes faced downwards, it was the bright yellow fallen blooms that first caught my eye. I had meant to photograph the falling blue of the jacaranda flower carpet but I left it a bit late so this is the best I can offer.

Jacaranda to the left, tecoma to the right – fallen flowers

The echinaceas have been slow to come into their own this summer. Some were set back when I did a certain amount of digging and dividing of large clumps over autumn and winter but the main problem has been the rabbits. They never touched them in the previous two years but developed a taste for them in spring when they started coming into growth and it took me a while to notice.

Mark has been waging war on the rabbits this summer. Every evening he heads out with our useless fox terriers – one too old and deaf to be any good on rabbits and who just likes to feel a part of things these days and the other who has never really caught on to how to hunt. Dudley hangs around waiting for Mark to shoot them. “Come on Dad, hurry up.” He appears to think he is a retriever, not a terrier. Mark is simply gobsmacked at how many he has shot in recent weeks – around 23 in just one area of the garden that is probably only an acre or two in total. They are spread over the rest of the property – in fact, right across Tikorangi we are told by others – but they aren’t wreaking havoc there on the same scale as in the house gardens.

Mark is on a mission, the fairly useless dogs don’t want to miss out on potential excitement but fail to honour their terrier heritage

Next spring, I will be out with the blood and bone in early spring at the first hint of growth on the echinaceas. We beat the bunnies on the lilies though I admitted defeat and moved the campanula that they took down despite my best efforts. I will win on the echinaceas.

9 thoughts on “Some flowers of summer

  1. abbeyj23

    Beautiful flowers! And that mummified rat… how interesting! I know I should stop looking at it but I can’t look away. (Also, a pleasure to find another Abbey/Abbie on here.) ☺

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Well hello Abbey! A friend suggested I could stage the mummified rat in a still-life photo styled after the Dutch masters – a dark and gloomy shot with it nestled amongst dusty hydrangeas and some artfully arranged rotting plums and blackening bananas.

  2. Paddy Tobin

    What beautiful plants – the Tecomanthe venusta is extraordinary and the calodendron just fabulous. I have never seen these growing in any Irish garden and we always feel that anything growing in N.Z. would likely do well here.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      That may be true of the gardens down south -Dunedin and the likes. But we grow oranges and avocado here and I don’t think you can grow those outdoors in Ireland? The Tecomanthe venusta we have to grow with some cover and the calodendron is pretty much pushing the limits of our conditions. We can grow many subtropicals if we place them with care but we struggle with tropicals.

  3. Del

    Hi Abbie,I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your newsletters and articles I find online – they are extremely helpful and have prevented me buying plants that I wouldn’t have been happy with and encouraged me to try others I’m not familiar with. Kind regards,Del Saunders

    “The truth is: the natural world is changing. And we are totally dependent on that world. It provides our food, water and air. It is the most precious thing we have and we need to defend it.” ~ Sir David Attenborough

  4. Ian Rutherford

    Really interesting, makes me envious living in the south with so much frosts, can’t get a lot going.
    Do have an acre and a half of ground though. Many Rhododedrons of all sizes. Ian Rutherford, Waimate, SI

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      If it is any consolation, you will grow many of the rhododendrons way better than we can, as well as prunus, snowdrops, roses and all the plants that appreciate a drier climate with winter chill. And I bet you get wonderful autumn colour as well.

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