Friday, 4 July 2014

Bright Green Mutants in the garden

I bought my Green Trick Carnations from my usual purveyor of weird mutants (Van Meuwen / Thompson & Morgan) as a trio of rooted cuttings. Looking at the image below (that's the puffball "flower" caught in a flash after dark) you might think that's delicate, shredded petals.

They're not. They're stiff, wiry bracts. This Carnation is a Dianthus (Sweet William) that got stuck at the bract producing phase (when they are quite pretty - I have a quantity of Dianthus Sooty sown from seeds from the Raven and they spend a couple of weeks as puffs of bracts the colour of Pinot Noir) and never made it to flower. "It's sterile," all the descriptions say. Well, yes, but more accurately it is self-gelded, a plant that can never make seed. It lacks the equipment.

In the way of the pack of three rooted cuttings, one died, one lived a little and one is living it large. The one in the patio container we call Pot O'Doom on account of its habit of killing everything we claimed (so far it has claimed an Olive and a Magnolia Stellata, among other less valued items, and now seems to be doing for a Rose of Sharon, which is quite scary) but that one, yes, it is huge, healthy and lost neither foliage or flowers over winter and now the "flowers" are resprouting from themselves. Having problems visualising that? Let me help:

Naturally, when faced with such strangeness, it is impossible not to want to take a closer look.

You can see how the inside of the plant has browned in the winter, like the depths of a clump-forming perennial. The little extra plants growing atop the puffball look like a lurch at reproduction via the non-seed route - and I was briefly tempted to bury the whole flower and see if I got a clump.

Because despite (maybe because of) the sterility, it looks very keen to propagate itself.

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