Tag: plants

Ginger – The Multipurpose Herb

Ginger – The Multipurpose Herb

Ginger (Family Zingiberaceae) is a perennial herb that thrives in most parts of southern Asia, Jamaica, Nigeria, and the West Indies. The plant has recently been cultivated in Florida, California, and Hawaii. Purple orchid-like flowers grow on the stalks of the wild plant. The most common part of the plant known for its multi-faceted use is the thick tuberous rhizome root that is brown on the outside but a dark yellowish amber hue on the inside.

Ginger yields an essential oil that is steam distilled from the unpeeled, dried and ground root. The scent is somewhat bitterer than the root but when used in aromatherapy the oil mixes well with sandalwood, cedar wood and patchouli, adding a woody-spicy scent to the mix.

Fall Berries

Fall Berries

A big display of fall berries provides a striking seasonal note and also adds a range of colors, from bright red to yellow and white. In time most, except the toxic ones, will get eaten by birds. Meantime, as the fall mists descend and then lift, they will reveal beautiful clumps of tiny colored balls high up in the trees and down on the ground, attracting extra wildlife.


The best berrying trees include ash (Sorbus), which provide a range of colored fruit and several specimens that will not grow too high. The slow-growing Sorbus x kewensis only grows 2.5m (8ft) high and 2m (6ft) wide, and its late spring flowers are replaced by bright red berries.

Living Stones

Living Stones

The Living Stones are interesting rather than beautiful, as they mimic the pebbles which abound in their natural habitat. Living Stones are flowering succulents that blend into their native environment because they grow in a stemless clump resembling small stones. All are members of the Mesembryanthemum family and each plant consists of a pair of extremely thick leaves. These are fused together to produce a stem-like body with a slit at the top. This slit may be as small as a tiny hole or it may extend right down to ground level, depending upon the species.

The sizes of the various types available do not differ very much – the range is a height of ½-2 in. Colors and patterns, however, present a bewildering array and collecting a comprehensive range of Living Stones can be a hobby in itself.

Cyclamen

Cyclamen

Cyclamen is one of the most popular of all winter-flowering pot plants and its charm is obvious. Compact growth, beautiful swept-back flowers on long stalks and decorative foliage which is patterned in silver and green. The blooms are in bright colors or pastel shades, large and eye-catching or small and perfumed.

Most Cyclamens are unfortunately consigned to the dustbin after a few weeks. With care they will bloom indoors for several months and then can be kept to provide another display next winter. First of all, try to buy a plant in fall and not in mid winter, and choose one with plenty of unopened buds. Then put it in a suitable home – a north-facing windowsill is ideal. The spot must be cool and away from direct sunlight – a warm room means a short life for a Cyclamen.

Insectivorous Plants

Insectivorous Plants

Some plants live in situations where their roots cannot obtain sufficient nutrients, and so they have evolved mechanisms to trao insects and then digest the contests of their bodies. There are three groups of these insectivorous plants – The Fly Traps with spiny-edged leaves which are hinged in the middle, the Sticky-leaved Plants with hairs which secrete insect-catching fluid, and the Pitcher Plants with leaves which are water-filled funnels.

These plants are very difficult to grow indoors – water with rainwater, keep the compost constantly moist and the surrounding air humid, and feed very occasionally with tiny bits of meat or dead flies.

Chicory

Chicory

A number of chicories (Cichorium intybus) are hardy and make good crops in the winter months, given some protection. Chicory leaves are stalked, hairy, lanceolate and large, coarsely toothed, growing in clustered formation from plant base in spreading rosette while the upper leaves are small. Their pale yellow and red leaves add colors to salads and they can also be braised. Three main types are grown: Witloof or Belgian chicory, sugar loaf chicory and red chicory, often called ‘radicchio’.

Withloof chicory is grown in two stages. The seed is sown in late spring and the plants are left to grow until late fall. The leaves are bitter and not usually eaten. In the fall the heads can either be cut off the plants 1 in above the ground or the roots can be lifted, trimmed and replanted for forcing indoors.