Alluring Alstroemerias

More flowers from Fullers Mill Gardens this week – and I’m glad I have these to post because my own garden is looking frazzled and sad after all the heat and drought. I just hope that most of my plants will survive.

Alstoemerias (Peruvian Lilies) are gorgeous flowers that I would love to grow in my garden. I had thought of buying a couple of the plants earlier in the year. However, I decided to leave it for a while because I already had other plants to find homes for. (Like many gardeners, I tend to buy plants and then wonder where I will have space for them.) I’m glad I delayed, because it has been difficult to keep the garden watered this hot summer and they might not have done well.

Although they look exotic, alstroemerias are reasonably hardy. They just need a sunny, sheltered spot in decent soil that doesn’t get too wet in winter. (Otherwise the tubers may rot.)

Next year I’ll plan to have somewhere ready to plant an alstroemeria or two. I’ll even make sure to reserve some of the best of the contents of the compost heap for them. (It’s very much needed in the soil here!) Then I should be able to grow some beauties like these, and photograph them too of course. My main problem might be deciding which of the many colours to go for…

Alstroemeria flowers
Alstroemeria flowers come in a range of colours, from bold and bright to the more delicate.

Lilies: Deadly Beauty

You may wonder why I’ve gone for such a dramatic-sounding title, especially as lilies don’t pose us a threat. But if you own a cat (or it owns you), you’ll probably know what my reason is. Lilies, especially their beautiful, golden-yellow pollen, are a deadly threat to cats.

If a cat gets lily pollen on its fur, perhaps while brushing past the flowers, and then licks it off, the cat can suffer severe kidney damage which can be fatal. (The other parts of the lily plant are also highly toxic, but less likely to be ingested by a cat…unless it has a habit of nibbling plants.)

Lilium regale – the regal lily – is tall and beautiful.

When I had my first two cats, I had no idea about the damage lilies could do them and I did actually have some lilies growing in a large tub. They were Lilium regale, which is tall, so the cats didn’t get close to the flowers. Even so, the thought of what might have happened if some of the pollen had fallen on them makes me shudder!

Other members of the lily family are equally toxic to cats. Daylilies (Hemerocallis), Lily of the Valley (Convallaria) and Peace Lilies (Spathiphyllum) can all cause damage that needs to be treated by a vet immediately to try to save the cat’s life.

We have two cats here, so I don’t grow any lilies in the garden now. But if I see them growing in gardens I visit, I love to photograph them. The lilies you see here were growing in Fullers Mill Gardens. (Just a few of their lovely collection.)

Leopard Lily (Lilium pardalinum)

Cool Thoughts: Frosty Memories

I’d like to thank tanjabrittonwriter for the idea for this post…we felt that some of my frosty photographs may bring a suggestion of coolness to these over-hot summer days. (The temperatures are still higher than normal in the UK and, I believe, in many areas elsewhere.)

Snow is infrequent in our winter in Suffolk now, so the Japanese anemone seedhead, with its tiny cap of snow, (top photo) is a rare image for me. Frost is much more usual in our winters, so I leave seedheads to see if they will become interesting subjects to photograph. The frost can make something magical out of the most ordinary plant remains, as you can see from the photo below. The honesty seedheads were long past their best and getting very scruffy, but with a bit of frost and some sunshine, they’re suddenly delicate and attractive.

frosted honesty seed pods
The remains of honesty seedheads look much better after the frost.

Bronze fennel tries to take over my garden by spreading its seedlings everywhere but I resist the temptation to clear away the seedheads and I leave it intact for the frost. This plant never disappoints me when it’s frosted, and it can become most decorative, especially when the sun adds some sparkle.

frosted fennel seed head
A frosted fennel seedhead looks decorative in the sun.

If the frost is early, it can catch plants that are still in flower. The echinacea below was a new plant and had come into flower much later than normal. It was an unexpected sight one morning, to see it completely frozen through by the first frost. (It hasn’t happened to any of the echinacea flowers since.)

Echinacea purpurea – frozen through by an early frost!

A few flowers, such as the yellow winter jasmine, the pink-flowered shrub Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ and this winter-flowering iris (below) have flowers through much of the winter. They look especially appealing with a touch of frost (although that shortens the life of the individual flowers).

winter-flowering iris
Iris unguicularis – a winter-flowering iris that frequently has frosted flowers.

I’m glad that the roses in my garden right now haven’t got any frost on them though! Zepherine Drouhin sometimes has a few flowers left just as the frosts are starting, so I always look to see if they’re in good enough condition for a photograph. Of course, when the frost melts, the flowers are left looking wilted and they won’t survive the damage the frost has done to the petals. But a photograph preserves the memory of them.

Rose 'Zepherine Drouhin', covered in frost.
Rose ‘Zepherine Drouhin’