Friday, September 26, 2008

An African Bouquet

Here two African flowers share the spotlight in the "slope" garden, the newest addition to my school garden in Chappaqua. The blue forget me not, Anchusa capensis, is a short lived perennial from South Africa, but they usually flower the first year, as this one is doing. A few smaller plants did not flower this year, they may make it through the winter to flower next year. Next to the Anchusa is the magenta form of Crassocephalum rubens, a species I introduced from collections I made in 1991 in a visit to Malawi. Actually I brought back two forms, the magenta one from the Likabula area of Mulanje Mountain, and a bright blue one that was not uncommon on the Zomba plateau. Although it lacks ray flowers, it is colorful and cute, not in the gaudy way of more showy members of its family like marigolds and zinnias, but in a more subtle manner. I gave some plants I started of the magenta form to Wave Hill, and have heard that they looked good and grew well. It is tropical, and probably an annual even in habitat, and certainly best grown that way. Plants can grow up to three feet high, branch profusely, and make many flowers all summer until frost, and interesting seed heads that resemble dandelion seed heads. I do not know if it will self sow in our climate (it does if grown indoors) but next year I will find out if its seeds can survive our winters and regrow, as both the magenta and blue forms are in the slope garden (and seeding quite abudantly). I find it appreciates lots of sun for best results, like many other annuals.

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