Spring; and the ground flora greens up. Growth during the month of May is impressive; leaves seem to double in size during the hours of daylight. The prolonged cool start to spring this year has delayed the mad rush to set out bedding and early veg plants in the hope of early establishment and a longer season of flowers. Those that have been rash enough to do so have seen disappointing results.
Gunnera manicata from the swamplands of South America forms massive herbaceous clumps. The above ground mass develops from the basking seal shaped brown stem to rapidly expanding leaf growth. During May the leaf stem becomes covered in spines. By mid summer the leaf diameter can be in excess of two meters.
Look at the flower spike, the top is awash with long white anthers protruding as bean sprouts. The female flowers are at the bottom half of the conical spike receptive to pollen as it falls.
At the other end of the scale Darmera peltata, also herbaceous, is shooting from the rootstock. The fresh growth resembles a mass of shrimps on the surface of the soil.
At the same time a flower spike rises to one meter. Having a well proportioned rounded inflorescence, best in bud, when the pink colour is most attractive. The flowers, once open, soon loose their, by then, white petals. As these fade watch the phenomenal rate at which the leaves expand. As with the Gunnera, also preferring a moist root run.
What is the root system like under my gunerra manicota plant. It’s about 15 ft tall and maybe 20 ft wide.