Exotic colour beats summertime blues

By Richard Wright

Friday, October 26, 2012

 

Exotic colour beats summertime blues

Eastern Gardens, Ryde, looking beautiful with all the flowers in bloom.

GARDENING QUITE rightly, the combined ground-forces of the IW Council, contractors, parish councils and volunteers continue to receive accolades for making the Garden Isle an even more beautiful place.

What a dour little old part of the world it would be without the glorious borders, hanging baskets and shrubs, which have looked stunning this year on those days when we have been able to promenade and enjoy them without the clutter of mackintosh or umbrella.

I am grateful to Carol Hamilton for flagging up an imaginative piece of planting near the entrance to Appley Park, which included the ginger lily hedychium, which she previously saw at Chelsea as part of an exotics display.

Indeed, they do look tropical and have rhizomes which resemble root ginger but which, sadly, add nothing to cooking.

Hedychium look showy in the summer and, after flowering, orange seed pods are produced, sheathed in bright red — so three bangs for your bucks: flowers, fruit and foliage, which all look stunning.

They range both in colour and size, from reds and yellows to whites and from less than one metre in height and spread to more than two metres.

Greenii is one of the smaller hedychiums, its green leaves backed with dark red. It bears dark red flowers.

Griffithianum is on the smaller side too with flowers of pale red filaments.

Ellipticum is slightly larger with spikey white flowers, while probably the most showy flowers are borne by densiflorum, which is both hardy and fragrant.

Plants, depending on maturity and ease of propagation, can be bought for less than a tenner or up to £20 while seeds cost a couple of pounds for a packet containing 15.

Hedychium are easy to grow from seed and will flower within two or three years but if you want to be certain of what you will get, buy a plant or obtain a piece of rhizome because they hybridise easily.

In the garden, plant them in a sunny spot, although they will tolerate more shade if they are sheltered.

They are from monsoon areas of Asia but most varieties are hardy in our climes, although species such as lavescens and coronarium will probably not bear their fabulous flowers in the UK — unless we have a summer like 1976. All have two things in common. They are greedy feeders and do not like being disturbed.

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