Tag Archives: fallen flowers

In praise of petal carpets

Magnolia Lanarth, down by the big pond

I love me a good petal carpet. I have an entire folder in my photo files, dedicated to petal carpets. There is another one for floral skypaper but that is for another day. While we can get petal carpets pretty much all year round, this is peak time with magnolias, prunus and camellias dropping petals. The best carpets form beneath trees or large shrubs which drop their spent blooms in petal form, rather than the complete flower. Transient these may be, but on their day, they are a delight. 

The petal drop from the original Magnolia Iolanthe beside the drive is prodigious. We will rake or blow them off the drive when they turn to unattractive sludge but leave the ones on the garden to break down at their own rate. It is just part of the cycle of growth and decay.

We have many white michelias from Mark’s breeding programme and they make splendid snowy carpets, sometimes even retaining some of their scent. This magical white pathway is beside a whole row of a cross that Mark refers to as his Snow Flurry series.

I had to include at least one photo of a photo-bombing dog. So many of my photos have a dog within them.This one is my late and much beloved, loyal companion, Zephyr, beneath a Prunus campanulata. Zephs was a quiet dog but the most photo-bomby of all photo-bombers, making frequent appearances on the pages of the Waikato Times, for whom I was lead garden writer at the time. The prunus is still there, laying its carpet of blooms every year but Zephyr has been returned to the earth.

Prunus Awanui

I once read a profile of a garden that was opening for our annual garden festival. Clearly the owner prided himself on immaculate presentation because he proudly declared that he went out every morning to rake up the fallen petals beneath his Prunus Awanui. And I thought why? This is our Awanui. It may be a little larger than his tree was but the blossom is comprised of lacy single flowers without bulky substance to the petal. This means they will fall like gentle snow and decompose on the ground so quickly that there is no sludgy period. Why would anybody think it necessary to rake them up daily?

Sasanqua camellia blooms generally shatter into petals as they fall, unlike the japonicas and reticulatas which more commonly fall as complete blooms. This pink sasanqua fell below to carpet the Helleborus foetidus.

Solandra longiflora

For a change in colour, I give you Solandra longiflora in January. These fall as entire trumpets so they do turn brown and sludgy on the ground as they decay, but on their day, they are a lovely sight.

And the yellow kowhai blooms, our native Sophora tetraptera. This tree is much beloved by our native tui and kereru so many people find the floral display is greatly diminished but we figure we have plenty to share.

The fallen red blooms of a rhododendron make a transient, plush pile carpet for a few days each spring.

I felt sure I should have at least a few blue petal carpets but all I found was this slightly sparse carpet of jacaranda petals down our avenue garden. There aren’t many blue flowered trees when you think about it – the jacaranda, iochroma and paulownia but what else?

And finally from this selection, when the weather is calm, the soft pink petals of  Fairy Magnolia Blush can form pretty circles beneath each plant.