Sunday, August 19, 2018

Balsam for Palindrome Day

Balsam has magically reappeared in my garden.  This  fragile looking plant has the amazing strength needed to prevail against the solid hedge of rudbeckia and oregano.  Notice the odd ovary that is attached to a tube that pierces the back of a petal.  The tip of the ovary develops a clump of stamens that produce pollen.  It’s easy for visiting bees, lured by the sweet smell, to transfer pollen to the tiny pistol that threads its way down to the ovary.  Everything falls off once pollination had taken place, and the numerous seeds inside the ovary ripen in harmony with the outer wall of the ovary.  As the capsule ripens it develops tanninous dehiscent lines, which split apart as soon as they are touched, giving rise to the descriptor explosively dehiscent as well as the nickname touch-me-not.

Balsam has many medicinal uses in the traditional medicines of China and Japan.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Jewel Weed Like Gold Fish

Not only are they lovely but their stems and leaves crushed are a valuable antidote to poison ivy.  Rub the juice on your skin where poison ivy has touched you.  It always grows near poison ivy too.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

In the Mosquito-Ridden Rain Forest of the Front Garden

A few surprise larkspurs have prevailed against the rudbeckia and oregano and tomato jungle that is my front garden.  My friend H gave me s little twist of paper with saved seeds from her last year’s larkspurs.  I had forgotten all about them, wondered what the brave spots of violet were among all that blazing yellow and green.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Another Kind of Begonia Festival

This plant actually over-wintered in a hanging pot last winter.  The plants are monoecious as always with begonas.  The male flower is on top, female below.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

The Festive Synchronously Monoecious Begonia

These begonias think they’re back in the tropical rainforest from which they hail.  Our daily warm rain and humidity is exactly what they love.
And this drawing shows why they’re classified as synchronously monoecious:  the same plant produces at the same time separate male and female flowers.  On the left is a male bloom with its curly stamens;  on the right is a female with her vase-shaped ovules.  Let the party begin.