Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Spanish Garden in Winter

Wandering around the garden I was in for a few surprises.

Surprise number 1 was to learn that the orange tree was in fact a mandarin tree. It's been 8 years since I bought four young citrus trees from the garden centre, and the labels quickly faded and disappeared.

Lemon tree
I'd bought 2 lemon trees, and orange and a mandarin tree.

Tragedy struck after a year or so when one of them died. Sadly I had no idea by that time which one it was.

Over the years since then, one of the trees started fruiting lemons, so that was fine - knew which type of tree it was. As I had bought 2 lemon trees, there still had to be one alive.

Oranges on tree
Then the orange tree started fruiting, so now I knew I had lost either a lemon or a mandarin tree.

The final tree right at the end flowered every year for about three years, sometimes more than once a year, but nothing ever came of the fruit.

I assumed the flowers had not been fertilized which should maybe have been a clue, but being on the wind-side of the other two, it could have been that the prevailing winds always took the pollen away from the other trees.

mandarin tree with fruit
This year it flowered all over. As the flowers look exactly the same to my untrained eye as the blossoms of the lemon and orange trees, I was really pleased to see small fruit forming.

All summer they got bigger while remaining green. I began to suspect I had been sold a lime tree, which would have been great, but finally the fruit started changing color.

Mandarins growing on tree

Surprise number 2 was when my Mother of Thousands plant started flowering.

Now I'm sure everyone in the whole world knows that the plant called  Bryophyllum daigremontianum flowers.

I didn't know.

They actually flower every other year and sometimes never, which would explain why this plant, which is grown in the UK as a houseplant and sometimes called the 'Good Luck' plant. It is you good luck if you ever see it flower!

I had one years ago, it is such an easy houseplant to grow every home should have one.

In fact, I am pretty sure I started out here with just the one plant too. Not now. Baby plants grow on the leaf edges and where they drop, they grow.

Mother of Thousands, sometimes also (correctly) known as Mother of Millions, are considered a weed in many parts of the world.

Originally from Madagascar,  the Bryophyllum, sometimes also called Kalanchoe is highly adaptable in frost-free areas where they may easily escape of the garden and naturalise in the wild.

However, this is bad thing to happen because they are highly poisonous.

Many cattle have died because they ate parts of the this plant in their fields. The whole part of the Mother of Thousands is poisonous - leaves, flowers, stems, and can kill a pet or small child easily.

This is important to know. Teach your children never to eat any plants from the garden or even in your house.

Anyway, looking around it is easy to spot that my Mother of Thousands has indeed spread itself into other plant pots, but what a wonderful display they make while flowering.

The flowers appear on tall stems that shoot out from the base, and can reach over 3' in height, towering far above the leaves.