GBFD – Spring foliage

Welcome to GBFD, a day to celebrate the foliage backbone of the garden.

After a glorious sunny, spring-like day on Friday today is grey with a cold wind; so not a day to enjoy being in the garden at all.  I think that in spring we are all looking for signs of the new season especially flowers so it is easy to forget that spring also brings all the new foliage on trees, emerging perennials and the special promise we get from the foliage of bulbs appearing. Continue reading

In a vase on Monday – variations on a theme

Monday has come around again and it is time to find material from the garden to put in a vase to join with Cathy’s, Rambling in the Garden meme.  Mondays have become slightly more difficult for me as I now teach on Monday afternoons and often spend the morning checking my preparations and presentation.

Today I awoke to bright sunshine and as yesterday had been beautifully warm I was half expecting it to be warm again today; but only half thinking that as I had heard the wind blowing hard during the night.  In fact today may have been the coldest during the day so far this year; 4°C was the high today!  Already, as it gets dark the temperature is dipping below freezing. Continue reading

GBFD A little magic with light

Welcome to Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day, where we celebrate all kinds of foliage, green, evergreen, silver, gold or red.

As the forecast for today wasn’t great I decided to photograph the garden on Wednesday.  The first images were taken in the morning when there was a weak wintery sun.  I selected some parts of the garden that for some reason are rarely featured or are the background to some feature I wish to talk about.

Just as I was beginning to write I glanced out of the kitchen window and saw that the late afternoon sun was illuminating the garden.  I grabbed the camera, and managed to capture a few magic moments. Continue reading

GBFD, February – My thoughts on Acanthus Mollis and Spinosa

First I apologise that I’m late with the post for my meme; my only excuse is pressure of work and that I’ve had a virus that has left me without any energy.

PBM garden’s post is here and Lead me up the garden path here.  Thank you for joining in.

I find this plant interesting because it behaves completely differently here in Italy than it did in my garden in the South of England (which was also free draining gravely soil in a south facing garden.  So although obviously the summer temperatures in England are much lower and there is more rain the winter conditions really aren’t so different, possible temperatures get a little lower here in Italy but also there are more sunny days.

The RHS describes it thus: Acanthus are robust herbaceous perennials with handsome, lobed foliage and tall, erect racemes of two-lipped flowers with colourful bracts

A. mollis is a vigorous plant with large, glossy dark green leaves, pinnately lobed and, in late summer, tall racemes of white flowers with dusky purple bracts

Common names: bear’s breeches, brank ursine, common bear’s breech, soft-leaved bear’s breech

Foliage: Dark Green in Spring and Summer.  Flower: Purple and White in Summer

Characteristics:  Plant type: Herbaceous Perennial

Habit: Columnar/Upright.  Resilience: Hardiness: H4 (hardy)

But that isn’t how they grow here.  With the first rains of early autumn the foliage appears, new and fresh and shiny.  They remain evergreen all winter, their beautiful architectural leaves filling the space under the Mulberry tree.  In late spring and early summer the flower spikes appear.  By the end of July the plant is in summer dormancy, the leaves shrivelled and brown and the flower spikes spreading their seed.

Acanthus mollis under the mulberry tree

Acanthus mollis under the mulberry tree, January 2013

Acanthus mollis, flowering in June 2011

Acanthus mollis, flowering in June 2011

I grow Acanthus for its glossy green leaves when little else is in flower.  I need to combine them with something that is flowering or interesting in July and August; if you have any suggestions they will be gratefully received.

To join in GBFD please post and leave a link with your comment here.  Thank you for joining in and again my apologies for being late this month.