An alternative title for today’s entry could be ‘time waits for no man’. My selection of seasonal plants of interest for these pages is rarely influenced by the whims of others in the Garden, however many drew my attention to the merits of today’s choice. Just a pity I did not act sooner!
The Gordonia species growing in the Rhododendron area next to the East Gate has flowered spectacularly and indeed was the showiest plant in flower at the Garden….last week.
Unfortunately the St Andrews weekend also brought freezing air temperatures – four consecutive days of minus 6 to minus 8º C. Combined with an average of four hours of sunshine each day, these weather conditions have caused the blooms to discolour and drop. With the rapid thaw causing the sap in the cells to rupture, the colour washes out and in parts the petals become translucent. Oddly, they also take on the smell of cold stewed tea.
This specimen of Gordonia was collected in Vietnam on a north-east ridge at 2340m above the village of Sin Chay. To verify it to species level in the herbarium a seed pod is needed.
The good news is that there are a multitude of terminal flower buds ready to open. The flowers have pure white petals 120 – 150mm across with a mass of stamens loaded with pollen in the centre.
The evergreen leaves are glossy above with the upper length of the edges shallowly serrated and showing red in colour.