The past week has been amazing, the warm sunny weather has brought out so many flowers I can’t photograph them all. Everything is so early this year – potatoes and rhubarb are up, artichoke heads are already on the plant, even the asparagus is shooting. (Still optimistic I’ll be alive when the bloody things are ready to crop). In the greenhouse the grape is in leaf and the first flowers are forming.
Out in the garden the winter clematis is the most astonishing mass of blooms, the dense creamy scent invigorating and almost too strong. A truly gorgeous aroma.
For contrast, some bright red pansies.
In the conservatory the pitcher plant is in bloom. These are strange flowers, with a fat pale cushion-like pad nestling between the pendulous meat-red petals. An ‘interesting’ bloom because it’s scented, as Lady Plott tactically puts it, ‘Like cat wee‘. I expect it’s pollinated by flies. The pitchers themselves are very good at catching ants.
And finally, the horsetails are sporing. Horsetails (Equisetum) are the last remnants of a once-mighty group of plants that flourished for over 100 million years and formed a major part of the coal beds. Back in the day some species formed tress 30 meters high. Now there are only 15 or so species left on the planet.
Like ferns, horsetails reproduce with spores. Here you can see the cone-like strobili that produce the spores, the green photosynthetic stems come later. They are coated in silica which makes them an excellent fine scourer for finishing wood and metal.
I keep my horsetails in a pot because once you have them, you have them. Rhizomes grow 2 or 3 meters down into the soil and are almost impossible to eradicate. This is the first year they have spored prolifically so maybe I’ll now get some. Life finds a way, so if they do I won;t mind too much. I’m rather fond of these unassuming plants, last in a line dating back a third of a billion years.