Sunday, 10 April 2011

10.04. Garden news

It’s been a glorious day today, with 24 degrees and nice sunshine. I have done absolutely no gardening, just lounged about and been lazy :-) I did take some photos earlier today though, and I managed to take a new photo for my profile too – something I had planned to do for a long time. My garden has new things happening almost every day at this time of year, and I try to take a walk and look properly every day to not miss out anything. But I was really surprised when I discovered today that one of my trees was in flower!

Of course I know that all trees flower at some point when they are mature enough...oh, didn’t you know that? If they didn’t, there wouldn’t be any next generation with trees of course. Some trees make cones with their seeds inside, other trees make their seeds inside their flowers and drop the flowers to the ground, and other again make fruit to cover their seeds, like apple and cherry trees...and some trees make flowers that end up as nuts, and the nut is the seed. Have I missed any now? Possibly, and another thing about tree seeds; some can start germinating straight away, but it is not uncommon for seeds to need several years of dormancy on the ground through cold winters to be able to germinate. This process is called stratification.  Now, back to my tree which is in flower! It is a very small tree as you can see, you would possibly call it a bush, it is a Japanese maple called Acer palmatum ‘garnet’. I got it as a small plant in a pot, about 25 cm tall, in 2004. Yeah...this is a slow developer! Fully grown, after 15-20 years, the Acer can reach 2 metre tall and 3 metre wide. This one has a bit more growing to do :-) There are lots and lots of different maples, and many different Japanese maples too, most of them are famous for getting bright red leaves in the autumn. The special thing about this particular one is that it has red leaves the whole time, from when they come out in the spring until the tree shed the leaves in late November. The leaves are not fully out yet; they will be a bit bigger than this and the tree will look more dense in a few weeks time, just had to show you what it looks like, because otherwise the close up of the flowers wouldn’t make much sense...

And here are the flowers! Not much to sing and dance about maybe? Well, I haven’t seen Acer flowers before, so I am chuffed to bits :-) I have no idea what happens now. Do they form berries? Nuts? Hmm....OK...I had to Google that, so now I know what to expect: the flowers will be followed by bright red fruit! OK, I am looking forward to that, and it will be duly documented here of course, you won’t miss a thing! So, after growing in my garden for 7 years, that tree decided that it was about time to look after the next generation. When I Googled for the flowers I discovered that there is no point in collecting the seeds; propagating using seeds for Acer palmatum is very difficult, one is much better off taking a cutting. OK, so I have been warned...doesn’t mean I can’t try, does it??

Want to see something else still going strong in my garden too? The cyclamens! I have quite a few of them scattered around in the shady area, and some of them are coming to an end now, other are still looking very good. This one has lots of Lily of the valley coming up around it, there are probably hundreds of them by now, most of them just as ready to flower as these are. A few more warm days and the first bells will open. I really love Lily of the valley, it is such a beautiful and sweet scented little flower. It also reminds me of my grandmother, as she loved them too, and she and my grandfather used to drive around to places they knew they would find Lily of the valleys growing wild, and they would always pick a small bouquet to take home.

A bit of facts for you? Its scientific name, Convallaria majalis or maialis, means "of or belonging to May", and old astrological books place the plant under the dominion of Mercury, since Maia, the daughter of Atlas, was the mother of Mercury or Hermes. In the "language of flowers", the Lily of the valley signifies the return of happiness. Legend tells of the affection of a Lily of the valley for a nightingale that did not come back to the woods until the flower bloomed in May. Lily of the valley has been used for medicinal purposes. It is believed to strengthen memory, to restore speech and as a liquor smeared on the forehead and the back of the neck, to make one have good common sense. Don't try any of this at home, folks!

I suppose that could be a good way of ending today, I am off to locate my bed....See you next time, take care :-)

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