12 Mar

Lovely Tropical Tree: Amherstia nobilis, the Pride of Burma

Quite hard to find on local nurseries, Amherstia nobilis is a lovely tropical tree known for its showy orchid-like flowers of crimson and red colors. It is a slow growing tree that grows up to 12 meters and produces beautiful foliage.

Amherstia nobilis, the Pride of Burma

Amherstia nobilis, the Pride of Burma/ Image by Jayesh Patil

Amherstia nobilis is native to tropical forests of Myanmar (Burma) from where it has been collected for cultivation. Because of obscure information about the origin of the plant, slow growth rate and difficulty of growing it from seed, Amherstia nobilis is not widely available for cultivation, thus limited to private collections and specialty growers (Kukiat’s Gardens has a nice collection of Amherstia nobilis). Anyways, the tree is worth growing in your garden as it produces beautiful furled foliage and a great profusion of large and showy flowers.

Flowers of Amherstia nobilis have shades of crimson, pink, red and yellow. These colorful flowers appear on drooping branches and create a spectacular show when in full bloom. This is the time when it attracts birds, butterflies and by-passers. In fact, it is rightly called Pride of Burma and sometimes Queen of Flowering Trees.

As Amherstia nobilis is strictly a tropical tree, it requires a lot of sun, moderate water and protection from long spells of frost and cold. The tree can grow in ordinary soil mix that provides good drainage.

11 Mar

Nicotiana mutabilis, the Flowering Tobacco

Nicotiana mutabilis, popularly known as Flowering Tobacco, is a delightful flowering annual that makes an excellent plant for containers as well as garden landscapes. This sun loving plant is an abundant bloomer that is often seen laden with flowers of white, purple and pink colors. The flowers of Nicotiana mutabilis appear as white trumpet-shaped blooms that fade into purple and then pink, thus giving the plant its name mutabilis, i.e., ‘changing’. These colorful and lovely flowers also make showy and delightful arrangements in a vase.

Nicotiana mutabilis, Flowering Tobacco

Nicotiana mutabilis, Flowering Tobacco / Image via flickr (FaroutFlora)

Nicotiana mutabilis is easily grown from seeds sown in spring. The plant prefers fertile and slightly moist but well-drained soil in a spot where it receives bright sunlight. Nicotiana mutabilis usually grows as a self-seeding plant that comes back every spring; deadhead the plant if you do not want it to grow again the next season.

Nicotiana mutabilis is attractive to birds and butterflies thus a good choice if you want to attract birds to your garden.

10 Mar

Lovely Bulbous Plants for Garden Landscape: Hyacinthoids

Hyacinthoids, sometimes referred as Endymion or Scilla, is a small genus of bulbous perennials popular for their bell-shaped fragrant flowers.

Native to northern Africa and parts of Africa, Hyacinthoids are low-growing bulbous plants that bloom profusely in spring. The bell-shaped flowers of blue or lavender color appear on a long stalk rising from each bulb. Because of their low-growing habit and abundant showy flowers, Hyacinthoids are well suited to garden borders, open woodlands or spots under large trees where they grow easily and form clumps.

Hyacinthoids, Bluebell

Hyacinthoids, Bluebell/ Image by Ed

Commonly grown species include:

Hyacinthoids hispanica: Also known as Spanish Bluebell, Hyacinthoids hispanica grows well in open woodlands where it tends to cover the ground rapidly. Flowers are blue, white or pink.

Hyacinthoides italica: Native to Europe, Hyacinthoides italica or Italian Bluebell is a smaller species that produces purple-blue flowers in spring. The star-like flowers are different from typical bell-shaped flowers of its genus.

05 Mar

Little, Lovely Myosotis: Forget-me-not

Myosotis or Forget-me-not, as it is commonly known, is a lovely and easy to grow spring bloomer. The genus comprises of more than one hundred annuals, biennials and perennials that mostly grow as low-growing plants that tend to form large mounds.

Usually growing under shade or partial sunlight, most species of Myosotis prefer damp and rich soil where they can be planted for abundance of small blue flowers in spring. Myosotis or Forget-me-nots are easily propagated from seed or division in late winter. These tender plants need to be protected from frost in winter and scorching heat in summer.

Myosotis, Forget-me-not

Myosotis, Forget-me-not/ Image by Maurizio Albissola

Myosotis can be grown in containers where they would spill out to become delicate and attractive plants or in mass plantation scheme where they will form large mounds. The small and pointed leaves of Forget-me-not somewhat look like ears of a mouse – thus giving them their Greek name Myosotis (mouse’s ears).

The name Forget-me-not also has an interesting story. The legend has it that when God gave names to all the flowers, the little Myosotis cried, “Forget me not, O Lord!” The God replied, “That is your name, forget-me-not”. Besides the myths, Myosotis has been a popular subject in history, folk literature, and modern day fiction because of its lovely flowers and attractive colors.