The Beautiful flowers of the pelargonium echinatum

Pelargonium echinatum

Pelargonium echinatum has an exquisitely beautiful inflorescence of 3-8 large white flowers with bright red markings on the upper petals, arranged in an umbel shape which is winter flowering, also ranging in colour from pink to dark purple. The leaves are heart-shaped with greyish green leaves which have scalloped margins, in Summer this plant loses its leaves and absorbs the sunlight through its stems. It is a succulent low growing shrub native to the Northern Cape and Western Cape where it grows on a stony and rocky areas on cliffs or slopes.
The name ‘echinatum’ is derived from the Latin meaning covered in sharp-pointed stipules, a small leaflike appendage usually at the base of the petiole stalk. Ideal for pots but prefers hot dry conditions in Summer and requires little watering during that period. In its natural habitat, it can withstand temperatures up to 40 c and can live up to 20 years.

The Pelargonium blandfordianum hybrid and its related cultivars

pelargonium blandfordianum

Pelargonium blandfordianum is a lovely pelargonium with deeply incised grayish leaves which are fragrant with a scent of rose and white flowers with reddish blotches on the under petals.
It is believed to be a hybrid between P. radula and P. quinquevulnereum. There are a few variations of this plant, ‘album’ refers to the white flowered form and ‘roseum’ to the rose pink flowered form
which has a distinct rosy wormwood fragrance on the leaves.

This hybrid was developed during the early 1800s, introduced by George Spencer Churchill the Marquis of Blandford to which this plant derives its name. George Spencer was a keen and accomplished botanist while he resided at White knights park estate, a medieval manor which is now part of the university of Reading (white knights campus).
Here he became widely known for has large collection of rare and exotic plants from around the globe. Various species were also transported there from the royal gardens by order of the king. George took out a loan to expand and enhance his new estate, creating many new features, such as the ‘Chantilly garden’ which contained several conservatories possibly for tropical plants, a vineyard, bridges, a wide variety of trees, a botanical garden with a wide selection of unique plants, many from America, a wilderness and many seats, fountains, grotto’s and pavilions. Later the gardens fell into decline after George Spencer became bankrupt and his creditors set fire to his house in rage, the rest of the estate was sold off. But remains of the gardens was again found after the world wars.

photo by James Eggleton-unsplash.com

Pelargonium radula is a parent of the hybrid Pelargonium blandfordianum, it has decorative deeply incised leaves with a lemony rose fragrance and small pale pink flowers with dark purple markings on the upper petals. It has similar characteristics to P. graveolens which is closely related and possibly an equivalent to P. radens or a clone and also has a few forms with varied flower colours. The other parent is
Pelargonium quinquevulnereum

which was also believed to have been a hybrid, grown by Mr Armstrong who lived in Hampshire, that shares some similarities to Pelargonium graveolens.

Pelargonium radens is a tall upright shrub with delicate grey green finely divided leaves and light purple flowers with darker markings on the upper petals. The fragrance of the leaves are rose lemon scented and grows well in medium to large pots often growing beside other Plants.
Pelargonium graveolens has soft velvety triangular deeply incised leaves which have a somewhat rosy mint scent, a well known pelargonium since the 17th century in food and beverages, tea, potpourri and perfume.
Other hybrids related to Pelargonium radens or Pelargonium graveolens is P. ‘citrosum’ which has strong citronella lemon fragrance with pale pink flowers also known as the mosquito plant which is popular in the United States & Canada and is a cultivar of P. graveolens, also said to help deter mosquitoes.

P. ‘lady plymouth’ is a hybrid from the species
P. ‘graveolens’ with silver & cream leaves which
are variegated with a minty scent and light
purple flowers, there is also a similar cultivar
known as P ‘grey lady plymouth‘ with has grey
green leaves.
P. ‘Cinnamon rose’ has spicy cinnamon
scented leaves, and an upright growth with short
branches and pale purple flowers.
P. ‘Secret love’ is a eucalyptus scented leaf
pelargonium with light pink flowers showing
some characteristics to P. capitaum.
P. x melissinum is a cross between P. crispum
and P. graveolens which has large lemon balm
scented deeply cut leaves and pink flowers.

P. ‘rosemint’ has mint rose scented
leaves which are variegated and is used in
perfumes, showing some similarities to P.
lady plymouth.
P. ‘westerlund’ rose lemon scented leaf
close resembling that of P. graveolens.

Latest Pelargonium species & fresh seeds

Pelargonium  graveolens L’Her
Rose geranium
A beautiful pelargonium  which is  believed to be a cross between graveolens x radens and is often used for rose oil in perfume, soap and also toothpaste. It has pale pink  flowers with thin purple lines on the upper petals & each flowering stalk has about 1-7 flowers.  P. Graveolens L’ Her is an up right shrub with a spreading growth often trailing along the ground and up walls to reach towards the light  and prefers slightly sandy soil conditions in semi shade. It is ideal for fragrant gardens, rock gardens,or pots.

Pelargonium  ranunculophyllum
Horse shoe zoned pelargonium   
A lovely graceful pelargonium which has attractive rounded palmately lobed leaves with a reddish to deep purple zone (horse shoe mark) in the centre. The flowers are  narrow and white to pink sometimes with reddish  markings on the upper petals and pale orange to yellow pollen,  they are arranged on  long upright flowering stalks which  contains about 2-3 flowers. P. ranunculophyllum  is a low growing  plant  with long delicate stems   and  is smaller in size than P. alchemilloides  which has similar characteristics and with thinner stems.  It is native to the Eastern Cape where it grows in rocky sandstone or on mountainsides over 1000 m,  best grown in part shade in pots or planted in the garden and also combined with other plants.

Pelargonium  littorale
Pelargonium littorale Huegel
A graceful pelargonium with delicate pinkish stems and pale pink flowers  with dark purple markings on the upper petals & each flowering stalk contains 2-7 flowers. P. littorale is an upright low growing shrub which grows to about 10 – 50 cm in height and has heart shaped leaves. It is native to South West Australia  where it grows in coastal areas from the South Eastern corner to Geraldton in the North.  The name Littorale is derived from the Latin word ‘Littorlis” meaning shore (or grows close to the shore or littoral waters. Best planted in a small to medium sized pot or planted in the garden which is partly shaded by taller plants or rock garden.

New fresh seeds of Pelargonium mollicomum, pineapple scented leaf.
An attractive & graceful pelargonium with a slightly exotic appearance, it has creamy white flowers with thin purple lines on the upper petals & each flowering stalk has about 1-5 flowers. The light green rounded leaves are pineapple scented with a dark zone in the centre.  P. Mollicomum is a low growing shrub which reaches to about 50 cm/20 inches in height and prefers slightly sandy soil conditions. The name “mollicomum” is derived from the Latin word meaning soft hairs. It is ideal for fragrant gardens, window boxes,hanging baskets or pots.

New fresh seeds Pelargonium scabrum
A pretty pelargonium with strong lemon scented rhomboidal shaped leaves and white flowers.

View https://www.pelargoniumspeciesworld.com/page33.html

New fresh seeds P. hispidum – balsam
New fresh seeds P. odoratissmum-apple
New fresh seeds P. grossularioides- fruit
New fresh seeds P. Betulinum

View website : www.pelargoniumspeciesworld.com

Beautiful species pelargoniums native to Australia

Pelargonium littorale (left) is a low growing upright and delicate shrub which is similar to that of Pelargonium capitatum rose scented leaf and pelargonium grossularioides fruit scented leaf..
The flowers are pale pink with darker markers and each flowering stalk contains 2- 7 flowers with long and ovate sepals, the leaves can range from  oval, heart shaped, or orbicular.
P. littorale grows from about  10 to 50 cm’s in height and is covered with  glandular hairs, green to pinkish stems, classified under the section Peristera, as a subspecies (pelargonium littorale- Huegel subsp. Littorale)

This plant is native to South West Australia mostly in coastal areas from the South Eastern corner to the Geraldton sand plains in the north.. Which is why it was named Littorale from the Latin word ‘littoralis’ meaning shore (or grows close to the shore or littoral waters) It can also occur in Victoria and areas of South Australia.
South Western Australia is a eco zone with a Mediterranean like climate which has dry and hot summers and wet winters know as the botanical province which consists of a wide range of plant and animal life as well as woodlands, forests and eco areas of scrub land. This region also has honey possums which forage on flowering shrubs for nectar and pollen. Western bush wallabies and short tailed scrub wallabies.

Pelargonium helmsii (carolin) also known as the Alpine storks bill is native to bio-regions of victoria and New South Wales in mountainous areas including – Northern fall (highlands), Victorian alps and the snowy mountains, it has dark pink flowers with darker markings and oblong sepals with each flowering stalk containing up to 5-12 flowers. It is listed as vulnerable.
Pelargonium renifolium Swinbourne is also native to South Australia and has very small light pink flowers and a greater sprawling growth.

Pelargonium rodneyanum (below) also called the Magenta storks bill is native to specific areas of Australia including New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. Where is grows on rocky hillsides, sclerophyll forests, woodlands and shrub land.  It has striking dark pink flowers with darker pink markings of the upper petals, on a long delicate flower stalk which contains up to seven flowers. The leaves are soft, light to dark green with shallow lobes and oval to narrow ovate in shape, it grows to about 45 cm’s in height with short stems and also produces brown tuberous roots.

This plant was named after Admiral George Rodney 1718-1792, a British Naval officer, who travelled along with Captain James Cook as head scientist exploring New Zealand and Australia collecting plant specimens for  the gardens of Kew.
Pelargonium rodneyanum is also grown as a garden plant in pots, flower beds or rock gardens because of its colourful flowers. It grows well in slightly acidic soil which has good drainage and is also a popular plant for ground cover.

Pelargonium alchemilloides (below) also known as the lady’s mantle-leaved pelargonium or Wildemaliva is native to a wide area of South Africa apart from the Northern Cape and grows in moist lowland regions usually in clay and loam soil conditions. It  has also been naturalised in temperate coastal areas of South-Western, Western Australia where it grows in shrublands, grasslands and woodlands. This plant has a rambling growth and is low growing, it adapts well to hot and dry environments with much rainfall during the winter period and has an underground tuber.

The flowers can range in colour from dark pink, yellow or white with darker markings and each flowering stalk contains about 3 to 6 flowers. The leaves are rounded or oval in shape with a purplish brown horseshoe zone in the centre, lobed with hairs which gives the impression of a silky texture.
The name alchemilloides refers to the plant Alchemilla (lady’s mantle) which bears some resemblance to this pelargonium, it is a perennial with green to yellow flowers and fan shaped leaves under the Rosaceae family to which the tea is used for medicinal purposes.

Pelargonium australe (below) is endemic to the whole of Australia apart from the Northern territory as well as eastern Tasmania and New Zealand, where it is also known by the name of the native storks bill.. It has white to light pink flowers and darker markings on the upper petals, arranged on long flower stalks which contains up to 12 flowers.

The leaves are slightly scented, hairy & rounded/ or oval with shallow lobes and the plant as a whole grows to about 30 cm’s in height, in its native habitat it grows in rocky areas, on cliffs by the coast, or in sand dunes.
The name australe means Southern possibly meaning the southern hemisphere. The stems of this plant are not so succulent like than that of P.drummondii, while the leaves, also show some similarities to P. capitatum but do not have rose scented leaves.

Pelargonium drummondii (below) shares some similarities to Pelargonium australe, but the stems are more branching with smaller flowers and thinner stems and also P. capitatum which grows all over the South West of Australia was original brought over by early colonists from Britain.

It is an upright shrub which grows to about 10 to 40 cm’s in height with succulent like leaves which are dark green & heart shaped. The flowers are white or pale pink  usually with  darker markings and each flowing stalk contains about 4 to 7 flowers.
It is native to coastal areas of South West Australia and also amongst granitic rocks on sloping ground, hills or small mountains.
This plant was given the name drummondii after James Drummond a Scottish gardener and botanist who became an early setter and collector of  newly discovered plants in Australia.

Pelargonium inodorum (below) which also goes by the name of the wild pelargonium or storks bill is an annual which is native to over a large area of  New South Wales where it grows in forests, woodlands, or grassy and rocky areas and also in Victoria, Tasmania and New Zealand.

The flowers are white or pink with darker markings of dark pink or purple and each flowering stalk contains about 3-14 flowers with oval or heart shaped leaves that are covered in short hairs. The flowers are small and are just a little larger in size than the sepals.
The name inodorum means unscented possibly referring to the flowers as it is believed to have slightly aromatic leaves.

Pelargonium oblongatum & its amazing hybrids

This charming pelargonium with its soft delicate shades of  yellow or cream coloured flowers are simple and elegant on long branching scapes, the larger upper petals have reddish purple veins and stamens that curve upwards making it easier for insects to pollinate it. The leaves are oval or rounded & toothed  as well as having a tuberous root which is partly above ground with layers of thin brown bark.
P. Oblongatum is native to the Northern cape where it grows in hot and dry areas of shrub land in the succulent Karoo, The leaves usually appear during the winter months after a rainy period at ground level while protecting the smaller succulents below, the flowers begin to bloom in October to November, but remains dormant during the Summer. The name oblong refers to long tuber of this plant which grows to a thickness of 15 cm’s, to which the whole shrub reaches a  height of about 30 cm’s, listed under the Hoarea section. This plant was first discovered by William John Burchell during his travels to South Africa, an explorer who collected thousands of specimens for the gardens of Kew.

A hybrid of this species pelargonium includes P. oblongatum x P. Fulgidum ( pictured right) which has striking pinkish red flowers with dark red veins, arranged on long flower stalks, the upper petals are much larger and rounded than the three lower petals, which are long and thin. The leaves are also smaller than that of  P. Oblongatum which have rounded teeth.

Another colour variation of Pelargonium oblongatum x fulgidum  has very pale pink flowers with dark pinkish red veins and light green sepals that are arranged on  long brownish red flower stalks ( pictured below)

It is crossed with Pelargonium fulgidum (pictured below) which has brightly coloured scarlet or pinky red flowers arranged on long flower stalks each having four to nine flowers. The leaves are oblong to cordate with very small greyish hairs that have a soft texture and three to six lobes that curve backwards. P. Fulgidum is a low growing plant which reaches a height of  about  40 to 100 cm’s and is native to the Western cape where it grows in sandy areas and hillsides usually among granite ,appearing in winter during the rainy season.  Its name fulgidum is derived from the Latin word “Fulgidus” meaning having brightly coloured flowers, to which many hybrids are descended from this plant.

Another hybrid is P. oblongatum x hystrix ( pictured below) which  has white flowers and dark reddish veins on the upper petals which fold backwards, the centre of the flower and sepals are light green with long stamens.

The hybrid is crossed with Pelargonium hystrix (below) which has white or light cream coloured flowers, with dark reddish veins on its narrow and rectangular petals. It is a low growing succulent like shrub with thick stems and continuous spikes or stipules, which is why this plant goes by the name hystrix  as it is derived from the word “hystrichos” meaning porcupine, the leaves are oval and pinnately divided.  
P. hystrix is native to the South Western cape and western parts of the Karoo. usually  growing  under larger plants or in dry areas when it is dormant during the Summer months. This plant was discovered by Francis Masson, the Scottish gardener and botanist during the 1700’s, which was brought to the gardens of Kew.

Other hybrids of Pelargonium oblongatum include:
P. oblongatum x radicatum- has about 15 or more small white flowers arranged on a long flowering stem, with reddish pink markings on the upper petals.
P. seifcifolium x oblongatum- has attractive bright purplely pink flowers with dark purple veins, the upper petals are much larger than the lower.
P. oblongatum x cucullatum- it has similar flowers to that of P. Cucullatum but they are much lighter in colour.

References-
Book -Pelargoniums Diana miller
https://www.geraniaceae-group.org/gallery/pelargonium-species-hybrids-g-z/

The lovely delicate pink violet flowers of P. anethifolium & its beautiful hybrids

Pelargonium anethifolium has been greatly admired over recent years for its lovely delicate flowers which range in colour from yellow, green to pink violet with dark reddish markings that are scented at night. The leaves are feathery  with traces of red, as well as a tint visible on the petioles, also consisting of an underground tuberous root.
This plant has some similarities to pelargonium triste which may have been collected and taken to Europe during the times of exploration in the Cape possibly believing that it was the same species,  P. anethifolium was not identified as a separate species until 1835.  
The name anethifolium refers to the leaves of the dill plant Anethum gravelens, a herb and spice which is very similar to the leaves of this plant. Pelargonium  anethifolim is native to South Western areas of the Cape and grows to about 50 cm’s in height.

A hybrid of this pelargonium includes P. gibbosum x P. anethitfolium which  has various forms of flower types:
The pale pink form (right) has beautiful delicate flowers of pastel pink with a slight flush of darker pink on the petals, arranged on an long, elegant flower stalk, containing up to eleven flowers, but they carry no scent.
It is crossed with Pelargonium gibbosum known as the gouty pelargonium because of its swollen nodes on long scrambling branches. The flowers vary from a slight orangey yellow to a brownish yellow with 6-14 flowers on each flower stalk. The leaves are succulent like with a leathery texture and has sharp and irregular leaf margins or lobed.  P. gibbosum becomes more woody as it ages and grows to about  40 to 60 cm’s in height, native to the Western cape where it grows in sandy and stony areas not far from the coast.

The peachy pink flower type (left) appears to be smaller in size than the light pink, but the mixture of orange and pink colours with a dash of yellow in the centre makes this flower simply unique.  The flowers are arranged on a long flower stalk which contains up to  eleven flowers, the sepals are also fairly long compared to the flower size and the leaves are also very decorative.

Another hybrid is P. anethifolium x fulgidum which also has various flower forms:
The deep red type (right) has striking pale pink or white flowers with splashes of deep red on the petals, this form looks more like a hybrid but is a very attractive plant and the leaves are still rather similar to that of P. Anethifolium.
The white form (below) with splashes of pale pink are simple but charming with just that added  flush of bright pink upon the white delicate flowers.

This hybrid is crossed with pelargonium fulgidum which has bright scarlet or deep purplish red flowers on long flower stalks. It is a low growing shrub with scrambling foliage & succulent like stems with leaves that are either rectangular or heart shaped with finely toothed leaf margins. P. Fulgidum is native to  Western coastal areas of South Africa usually on sandy hillsides or growing within rock formations of granite.

References- pelargonium gibbosum x anethifolium https://pelargonium.janedgar.net/p-gibbosum-x-p-anethifolium/
https://www.geraniaceae-group.org/gallery/pelargonium-species-hybrids-g-z/
pelargonium anethifolium x fulgidum   https://pelargonium.janedgar.net/p-anethifolium-x-p-fulgidum/
https://www.geraniaceae-group.org/gallery/pelargonium-species-hybrids-a-f/

DESTINATION-CHATEAU DE CHENONCEAU GARDENS

Image byBrinna Tracy-unsplash.com

The chateau de Chenonceau & gardens, extends across the river Cher, within the Indre et Loire region of France. It is situated close to the Loire valley, having both medieval and Renaissance style buildings and exquisite elegant grounds containing delicate shades of pinks, purples and whites within the lush greenery, lawns, circular boxwood and formal pathways & statues. Roses are grown as standards with beautiful pink flowers that hang downwards and purple lavender growing below in a row of borders. The Chateau was first constructed during the 13th century and was occupied by the Marques family until it was set alight during as an act of revenge. But was again reconstructed with a water mill before it was purchased by Thomas Bower, the senior royal official to King Charles V 111 in 1530 to which he completely built the chateau again from scratch, demolishing most of the original. After Thomas Bower’s death, the chateau was confiscated by the king (Francis 1st) because of money owed to the state. Diane de Poitiers was later given the property by Henry the 2nd during an liaison with him, she loved the chateau so much that she consigned the architect Philibert de L Orme to construct a bridge so that the chateau could have easier access to the other side of the river. She also had magnificent large scale gardens created alongside the river in formal designs with pathways that meet at right angles of 90 degrees & two straight lines joining opposite corners that form triangles containing lawn and aromatic Santolina plants with yellow or white flowers, roses also grow over the elevated terrace that shields the gardens from the overflow of water from the river, other flower borders include Enonymus europaeus spindle hedge plant with bright pink flowers, Viburnum tinus, (Laurustinus)an evergreen hedge plant with leaves very much like a bay tree with white flowers, followed by hibiscus which blooms during the summer months, a fountain is also located in the centre of the garden.
But it wasn’t until after the kings death that his wife Catherine de Medici violently requested that the chateau be returned to her, in exchange for the chateau Chaumont in Chaumot sur Loire. After Catherine gained ownership she resided at the estate regarding it as her most cherished home. She added many costly additional features to the chateau including a grand gallery along the bridge. The overall design of gardens contains a large circular water pool surrounded by five rectangular lawn panels with a line of flower beds and rounded boxwood. Flowering Roses are grown as standards with lavender underneath. & in another part of the garden roses climb over the trellis near to a pathway by the moat. A maze was also created in Italian style using up to 2,000 yew trees, with classical urns planted with ivy and boxwood and a gazebo in the centre made using wicker.
Others who owned the Chateau de Chemonceau at some point in history include Louise de Lorraine (wife of Henry 3rd), Cesar de Bourbon ( son of Henry 4th and François de Lorraine his mistress), Louise Dupin the daughter of Samuel Bernard (financier) and also Marguerite Pelouze during the 1800’s who renovated some parts of the Chateau adding statues of ancient Greek heroes, gods and goddesses.

Image byDorian Mongel-unsplash.com

It is believed that the countess of Villeneuve had the chateau in her possession in 1825, assigning lord Seymour to create the green garden which is situated to the north of Catherine’s garden, it contains many old trees that surround  the grounds  providing shade and elegance with oak trees, redwood, walnut, chestnut, fir trees, cedar and catalpa trees. By the mid 1900’s Gaston Menier and relatives assigned the architect Bernard Voision to renovate parts of the chateau that was badly damaged during the 2nd world war.
In the flower garden a wide range of flowering and fragrant plants are grown to provide cut flowers for the chateau’s floral workshop for displaying a beautiful array of flowers for the living room, office, kitchen or gallery, the layout is arranged in squares and adjoined with apple trees. There is said to be approximately 400 different types of  roses, 100 flowering plants and various vegetables. There is also events & entertainment such as for private rental, groups and school parties and a restaurant known as the Orangeries that is situated within the green garden.
Reference:https://www.chenonceau.com/en/gardens/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Château_de_Chenonceau

The Christmas season

Image by Aaron Burden-unsplash.com

Christmas is the time for celebration, merriment, snow covered mountains and also spending time with family and friends, exchanging gifts while marking the birth of Jesus by hanging wealth’s, carol singing and decorating the tree for many countries around the globe.
The first Christmas trees took form in Germany in the 8th century by St Boniface to convert pagans to change their beliefs to Christianity by dedicating the fir tree to the birth of baby Jesus, an alternative to the great oak tree sacred to Odin in Norse mythology.  The Christmas tree in medieval Germany at Christians was to honour and remember Adam and Eve, the first humans created on Earth and the ancestors of our civilization, plays were also performed on the run up to Christmas with a fir tree which would be covered with apples and other decorations to portray the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden. Later in the mid sixteenth century Christmas trees were decorated with small boxes, fruits and sweets that hung from the fir branches, Tannenbaum ballads would be played around the trees, with songs such as ‘oh Christmas tree’.
St Nicholas, the patron of children is believed to have been a bishop of Myra (now modern day Turkey) who lived during the 4th century and he was known for his compassion & kindness helping those in poverty. The saint is based on the legend Sinterklass which is Dutch for St. Nicholas with a feast day on the 6th December.

It is believed that Dutch Colonists brought the Sinterklaas tradition with them to New York in the 1600’s then known as New Amsterdam the capital town of a Dutch colony on the southern edge of manhattan Island, the word Sinterklaas was later  changed to St. Claus and then formed into an English equivalent Santa Claus which over time had became increasingly popular around the United States.
In modern times these ancient customs are now taking place around the world, interpreted differently in many cultures.

In Australia the home is usually decorated with  native Christmas bushes or small trees, the New South Wales Christmas bush (Ceratopetalum gummiferum) is hung around the home and has lovely cream coloured blooms that turns reddish pink in late December with small green leaves. Another is the woolly bush (Adenanthos sericeus) which has brush like, deeply divided leaves, silvery on the ends that  resembles snow and small  red flowers, it is often used as a decorative tree during the festive season.
In Austria a wreath is created using branches of cherry trees in flower known as barbaratag which brings good luck to the home and is sacred to saint Barbara, decorated with ribbons and four candles to represent the four advent Sundays coming up to Christmas signifying hope, love, joy and peace.

In Austria a wreath is created using branches of cherry trees in flower known as barbaratag which brings good luck to the home and is sacred to saint Barbara, decorated with ribbons and four candles to represent the four advent Sundays coming up to Christmas signifying hope, love, joy and peace.

Image by Zoo monkey-unsplash.com

On the fifth of December the day before St Nicholas’s day in Croatia, children would leave their well polished boots by the window and while they were a sleep St Nicholas would put a present inside their boot, but if they misbehaved a Krampus (a giant horned beast) would instead only put twigs of gold inside.

China is one of the leading producers of plastic Christmas trees & decorations which has become increasing popular in recent times especially in shopping centres around China as well as paper lights and ornaments. It is also a tradition to give out apples on the day before Christmas to represent harmony and peace interpreted from silent night Christmas carol.
Santa  is said to reside at Lapland known as Korvatunturi, in the Northern regions of Finland, which includes an entertainment park, children’s letters from countries around the globe are sent  there to prepare their wishes for gifts on Christmas day. In Lapland Santa is also characterized as an xmas goat called Joulupukki who would lay presents under the Christmas tree or for mischievous households a sack of coal.

It is the custom in France at Christmas to place a crib in the home which symbolizes the birth of Christ, then it is filled with characters in clay that represents various occupations in an urban or town setting such as a priest, baker, policeman etc. A Cherry wood log would also be brought inside on the night before Christmas and spattered with red wine then it is added to the fire or stove giving a lovely aroma though out the home.
In Georgia  the outer covering of a Christmas tree would be traditionally cut downwards to create long curling pieces forming an imaginative tree, possibly to represent the beard of St Basil, which is usually made of walnut or hazelnut known as the Chichilaki.
At Christmas eve in Hungry the tree would be decorated in the evening by family members in secret, then when they have finished, the children would then be overjoyed to see the beautiful embellished tree that brightens up the room. Christmas presents are said to be brought by Christ who leaves them underneath the tree, children would then remain patiently in the next room and when on hearing a bell would immediately rush over to the presents and open them.

In Greece the first Christmas tree arrived in 1833 by king Otto and now every year a magnificent tree decorated with illuminated lights is erected at Aristotelous square, Thessaloniki usually along side a ship that is also lit up by vibrant lights a custom that represents seafarers who had come back home from a long voyage. Traditionally Children would call on each house in the town or village and sing carols along with triangles or drums on Christmas eve.

image by Jessica Fadel -unsplash.com


Popular plants grown for their elegant display during the Christmas celebrations include: Christmas rose which has large white elegant rose like flowers with a tint of pink that can add colour to dull surroundings in winter, it is a member of the buttercup family known as Ranunculaceae,  there is also a number of cultivars with larger flowers and double blooms as well as pink varieties and cut flowers can also be purchased for the home. It is believed that this plant was given the common name Christmas rose because of a fable, when a little female child did not have a present to give to Jesus in the stable after his birth and so she wept, her tears fell on to the snow covered ground and up sprung a Christmas rose. Poinsettia is a well known favourite especially at Christmas because of its striking bright red flower/leaf bracts, although there are many other colours which can range from orange, pink, cream and also marbled. This plant occurs naturally in Mexico known as the Christmas eve flower where it was first grown by the Aztecs & also in Central America, in the 1820’s the diplomat Joel Roberts Poinsett grew them in his greenhouse and has now became extremely popular all over the United States.

Image by Jerry Wang-unsplash.com

The Christmas cactus Sehlumbergara is an attractive cacti with small fleshy leaves that join together to form long stems, the flower areoles, contains long cylinder shaped purple pink petals that hang downwards and grows at the joints and stem tips. It is native to South Eastern Brazil where it grows on mountains usually by the coast. Others include Snowdrops, holly, ivy and mistletoe.
Unfortunately the main computer broke down during lock down so I don’t have so much time as I would like to write the newsletter this month & partly last month, but I wish everyone a wonderful Christmas at this difficult time and that you will soon be reunited with Family and friends.

Image by Aaron Burden-unsplash.com

DESTINATION-LONG WOOD CHRISTMAS GARDENS

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The Long wood Christmas gardens, at Kennett square, Pennsylvania in the Brandywine Creek Valley has a spectacular flamboyant display of colourful lights illuminating up to 150 trees during the Christmas period. Music is also played to give an atmosphere of the festive season along with a light show in the evenings lasting for about 30 minutes while in you warm your hands over the fire pit. Long wood gardens is believed to be the best botanical gardens in America to visit during the holidays.
The gardens of Long wood covers an area of 1,077 hectares containing woods, meadows and gardens. The land was first purchased by George Peirce during the 1700’s, a farmer & Quaker, his son Joshua worked on the land, making it suitable for growing crops and also built a farmhouse out of brick which can still be seen within the gardens today.
As time went on Joshua’s grandchildren gained ownership of the farm, who both had a keen interest in tree species and so decided to build an arboretum containing a collection of native and exotic trees, which was open to the public known as Pierce’s park ,the trees were grown in lines at the East of the farm house and during the mid 1800’s it is believed to have contained one of the most outstanding collection of tree species over the whole of the USA. But later fell into decline and so the gardens were again purchased by Pierres Du Pont in 1907 due to the planned destruction of the tree collection.. Pierres from 1915-1919 was the president of the E.I.du Pont de Nemours and company, his grandfather was a french economist who immigrated to America.

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With the new owner, Longwood gardens was developed mainly for the purpose of creating beautiful surroundings to bring satisfaction and joy to his friends when they visited him there and so added many features to the grounds to entertain them and over time creating more and more stunning gardens.
The four acre conservatory is the largest within the gardens and was built from 1919 containing  about 4,600 plant & tree species including beautiful all year round flowering blooms, orchids, decorative foliage and fountains. Many of the plants are highly scented and a delight to walk around the various pathways admiring the breathtaking views and displays, there is also an exhibition hall with a new theme every year at Christmas with decorated trees, ornaments, ribbons and illuminated lights. The conservatory to the east was restored and altered in 2003 which shortly afterwards opened to the public.  Many garden styles over the years were added to the conservatory gardens including a Mediterranean garden created by Ron Lutsko jr, a children’s garden, indoor green wall by Kim Wilkie consisting of 47,000 plants, banana house, fern passage, acacia passage, camellia house, bonsai display, cascade garden, orangery, palm house, orchid house, the new silver garden by Isabelle Greene with an dry desert like setting, desert house and the estate fruit house.

In the outdoor long wood gardens Pierre s. Du Pont added a flower garden walk which is approximately 600 foot long with brick pathways and an abundance of colourful species for all seasons blues, pinks, reds, oranges, yellows, whites and greys featuring tulips, daffodils, allium, foxglove, fritillaria, blue bells, saliva, chrysanthemums, asters and more, in the centre is a round fountain with spurts of water.
An Italian style garden was created from 1925-27 which was inspired by Italian and french  design, situated by the side of a lake to the North East of the estate and contains many spectacular classical water features such as fountains and pools in square and circular shapes along side freshly cut grass, with added features from 1928 and 1921.

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A woodland garden was also created on the grounds by planting up to a thousand native Eastern deciduous trees such as oaks, maples, ash and tulip trees known as Peirce’s woods. The taller trees would ascend over the lower shrubs and ground cover along with 10,000 plants which were rescued  from North Carolina before the construction of a new highway. Colourful blooms in spring and Autumn include Virginia bluebells, foam flowers, phlox & trillium (birthroots)  species.
The Meadow garden was formed in 2014 filled with  86 acres of  herbaceous perennials, native wildflowers and also additional  plants to handle invasive species with scenic views of the countryside, designed by Jonathan Alderson and Jonathan Alderson landscape architects of Wayne, PA. The main concept of the garden is to point out to the viewer the connection between nature and the way we live as human beings. There is a farm house that has recently been restored and features two galleries containing artwork, photography and history of architects who have previously  worked on the gardens.

PELARGONIUM OF THE MONTH-PELARGONIUM NEPHROPHYLLUM

Pelargonium nephrophyllum has delicate pastel pink to salmon pink flowers and peachy red lines and blotches, with two larger upper petals and three smaller lower petals containing 5 stamens with orange pollen and long pink anthers, the flowers usually come up before new growth appears after being dormant in Summer.
It has unusual kidney shaded leaves with scalloped leaf margins & a turnip shaped tuber which can grow to approximately 2 cm and grows during the winter which is native to Southern Namaqualand, South Africa in sandy shrub land areas, stony reddish pink soil or in between hills.
This plant was given its name in 1992 by Elizabeth M, Marais and is of the Hoarea section also its national status is endangered.