10 unusual flowers in summer gardens and landscape design :: Himalayan Honesuckle


It takes patience to notice them small unusual flowers. And time – to know where they exist, when and how to enjoy them. Many are tropical and require protection in the form of a conservatory. Others are right under our nose but we never seem to find them. The latter are my favourite. The trees that produce small but amazing blooms, trees that have arrived from near and far and form the every day landscape of our streets, parks and gardens. Photographing tree flowers is not easy either. The slightest breeze blows them out of focus and the distance requires a zoom lens. So it takes patience to notice and photograph, and the results are below…

1. Angel’s fishing rod 2. Gooseneck loosestrife 3. Smoke bush 4. Pride of India 5. Silver lime 6. Indian bean tree 7. Passion flower 8. Angel’s trumpet 9. Mini angel’s trumpet 10. Citrus passion flower

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  1. Angel's Fishing rod

Dierama pulcherrimum is a graceful Iris perennial with a corm, growing in the dry grasslands of South Africa. So if you have a well-draining, sunny spot high up to appreciate the arching stems with delicate flowers - give it a go. The bees love it and the flowers have an unusual papery feel to the petals. It will form an evergreen clump unnoticeable most of the year but when July arrives the most delightful display appears out of no where one morning.

Angel's fishing rod

  2. Gooseneck loosestrife

Lysimachia clethroides is a Primrose perennial from China growing in damp woodland margins where decent light encourages the large blooms. It can be grown as a specimen or as a hedge. This flower was found in a hedge growing in Broomfield Park in north London.

Gooseneck loosestrife

  3. Smoke bush

Cotinus coggygria ‘Grace’ is a cultivar of the wonderful Smoke bush a shrub native to southern Europe across to Northern China. It is tough, unnoticeable at most times but fairly popular due to the flower plumes lasting a long time over summer. This photograph was taken in the evening as the setting sun passes light through the spent flower heads and seeds.

Smoke bush

  4. Pride of India

Try and pronounce or spell Koelreuteria paniculata… The Pride of India tree is a native of Eastern Asia and is a small deciduous tree with beautiful foliage. In August it puts a magnificent display of yellow flowers, which in this specimen in Wood Green, north London, attracts numerous honey bees. The edible seeds are a bonus too – but if you live in Florida you will not be so keen as this tree will take over you land…

Pride of India  

  5. Silver lime

This is the story of my Silver Lime tree. I say mine – the one outside my window. In a street lined entirely with Tilia platyphyllos, the large-leaved linden, one tree died 25 years ago. Some of the neighbours organised a new tree with the council – Tilia tomentosa. Every July it puts on the most incredible show of flowers upon supreme silver underside leaves for which the bumble bees go crazy for. The heavy honey scent engulfs my house for 2 weeks! Yet, the nectar is narcotic to the bees and many fall to the pavement intoxicated, or asleep… Many thanks for Hillier Nurseries for helping me identify it.

Silver lime

  6. Indian bean tree

Catalpa bignonioides is native to the Eastern United States – a tough, ancient tree – easily adaptable. The large architectural leaves, the beautiful scented flowers and the long thin cigar-like seed pods are some of attributes we all have learned to love about this sculptural tree. This specimen grows at the end of my street.

Indian bean tree

  7. Passion flower

South America, Argentina in particular, is home to some magical flora and Passiflora is an important genus. This cultivar is called ‘Purple Haze’ and it lives in a small conservatory in Broomfield Park in north London.

Passion flower

8. Angel's trumpet

As many other flowering Potatos Brugmansia produces some special blooms, exceptional when the bud only opens, when the petals unfurl and of course in full glory when in full flower. Imagine a field of these white trumpets in a slope in the Andes from Venezuela to northern Chile and down to Brazil. That’s what I did as I knelt down in a small glass house in north London to take this picture…

Angel's trumpet

  9. Mini angel's trumpet

This is a smaller version of the Angel’s trumpet produced in an Argentinean habitat priding a charming blue flower. Here it is grown in a pot in a conservatory – unheated in north London. In nature it grows over 2 metres in height and creates a magical spring carpet of fallen flowers beneath it.

Mini angel's trumpet

10. Citrus passion flower  

I am concluding with a wild fblossom. Imagine if you will a Guatemalan or Honduran pine woodland. The ground under feet smells of moisture and crunchy with pine needles. From a distance the sulphur yellow petal of a passion flower glistens in the sunlight. You recognise the fluttering of a hummingbird as it approaches the stigma of Passiflora citrina… This specimen is tended to by volunteers at Broomfield Park conservatory – a place where it will flower for almost 10 months of the year!

Citrus passion flower

What is unusual to some may not be unusual to others. To the tribes of KwaZulu-Natal the Angel’s fishing rod is simply a fertility enhancer, an indigestion alleviator or a spiritual protector. To my neighbours in Muswell Hill is the pride and joy of their front garden in July. In fact, they give the seeds to friends and family because in the UK it is not easy to find. The sight of a Pride of India tree in the middle of a rough, urban turning in north London is a magical one, but to a colleague in Florida is simply a massive weeding problem… Plants tell stories, plants say something about who we are. So the more unusual they are – the more unusual the stories behind them…

amir   Written, photographed and posted by Amir Schlezinger.

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