Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Lady of the Night or Cestrum Nocturnum

cestrum nocturnum in flower
By far my favourite plant for my Spanish garden is the Lady of the Night, otherwise known as Dama de Noche or Galan de Noche. The people of North America and Canada know it as Night Blooming Jasmine. It's correct botanical name is cestrum nocturnum (please check out the link, its one of my new sites).

 Lady of the Night is that plant that scents the summer evening air with a perfume to die for!

ou may have thought you were actually smelling jasmine, and maybe you were, but if the Lady of the Night is in flower, its scent is powerful enough to drown out all other scents.

Well, doesn't quite disguise the smell of the overloaded sewers in the heat of summer in parts of Benidorm, but it makes a good attempt!

It's flowers are nothing to look at during the day. Lady of the Night is a bush/shrub that reaches up to 15' tall, with bunches of small greenish-white tubular flowers that are closed and droopy during the day.

As soon as darkness falls, the flowers lift up and open wide, revealing a beautiful star-shaped opening on the bells. They then emit the most wonderful perfume that simply fills the night air and can be smelled from a distance away.

Sadly the flowering period only lasts a few days, so enjoy it while you can. It is reputed to discourage mosquitoes too, and that could be correct because the Night Blooming Jasmine is highly scented to attract some of the bigger insects like moths, that can effectively pollinate the flowers.

I don't know if moths also eat mosquitoes, and so mosquitoes stay away? Perhaps.

Cestrum nocturnum flowers up to 4 times a year.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Orange Trees

I have two orange trees in my garden, planted 7 years ago.
orange blossom

Both are pathetic stunted creatures, and only one has ever produced fruit, and it was of such poor quality that I was sorely disappointed.

Note to self: in future, check the orange variety when buying orange trees!

The one at the end of the garden has flowered before, only a handful of flowers at a time that seemingly never pollinated as fruit never appeared.

baby oranges 
This year, however, both trees were absolutely covered in blossom, and now in May have loads of tiny green fruit.

Last year we had an abundancy of grapes, most of which were left to the wasps, but this year seems to be the year of the orange.

That is, assuming the tree shown here is in fact an orange tree.

Considering it has never fruited before, it could well turn out to be a mandarin or even another lemon tree.

Orange tree
Sad to say, my citrus fruit trees never get fed, although in their formative years I did supply then with some citrus fertilizer.

The soil here is rocky, hard, alkaline, free-draining although lacking earthworms. It desperately needs mulch added to moisten and protect plants from the hot sun.

My fruit trees are mostly planted in the north side of the house where they get protection from the sun at least part of the day.

I also have a plum tree and a loquat tree, each of which will be talked about in other posts.

Foxglove from Seed

I love Foxgloves, especially the colorful garden varieties.

Two years ago, I scattered seed from the foxgloves in my dad's garden in Scotland over my Spanish garden, and was disappointed when none came up.

Foxglove among the Love-in-a-Mist, Costa Blanca, Spain
But hey, surprise, surprise, one has come up and is flowering beautifully this year.

It seems to be of a lower height than it's parents, but that could be growth stunt due to lack of rain during its dormancy period, or something.

Hopefully in future years I will have many more as foxgloves tend to self-seed profusely.

The Love-in-a-Mist is flowering wonderfully again.

 Every year they spread and put on a superb display here in the land of a heat, sun, drought and poor alkaline soils.