These blue primulas (Primula acaulis ‘Blue Zebra’) are unreal. They are hallucinatory, a visual flashback from some bad trip I foolishly took in high school. No, they are like a prop in a cartoon remake of Alice in Wonderland. I wonder, when I turn my back, will they grow anthropomorphic limbs and dance?
This pretty blue flower is shoofly aka Apple of Peru (Nicandra physalodes), a strange solanum that I am growing for the first time this year.
I purchased the seeds last year at the Montreal Seedy Saturday but was unable to grow them as I quickly ran out of space. I’m STILL trying to find space for some of the seed I bought at that event. This year I wanted to make it a priority and sowed the seeds indoors quite early to ensure they would be a nice size by late spring. As you can see, they are already flowering.
Homegrown Mosquito Repellent?
Besides the beautiful blue flowers and Chinese Lantern-like seed pods, Nicandra is often grown for its insect repellent properties. Apparently people rub the dried seed pods, seeds, and chafe on their skin to ward off biting mosquitos. If this really works it could be a bit of revelation for me as I do not like using Deet and I am the first person to get bit (and viciously) no matter the size of the group I am with. Despite the fact that it is natural, I think I will do some more research into the plant’s chemical components before I go rubbing it into my skin or on my hands and face. If you’ve had any experience using this plant as a repellent please weigh in through the comments. I’d love to hear of your experiences.
Until I’ve done my homework and am thoroughly satisfied of its safety, I’m resigned to happily appreciate the look of the plant in the garden. As an added bonus (and despite its reputation) the flowers are attracting pollinators like this wee hoverfly. And I am in favour of anything that will bring in pollinators to our previously barren backyard.
Warning: Nicandra is a self-seeding menace and extremely invasive. I plan to keep on top of deadheading as I do not need the added hassle of weeding hundreds of seedlings next spring.
Furthermore, despite its resemblance to edible solanums such as ground cherry, Nicandra is NOT EDIBLE. The fact that it is considered a poison is one reason why I am not jumping to rub it all over myself until I learn more.
Eryngium ‘Big Blue’ is the sea holly that was stolen from the street garden back in May. This is what it would look like now. Look at that blue!
I took this photo while visiting the garden/s of Paul Zammit and Uli Havermann. The sea holly grows in the front “yard” (the yard is all garden) where it is sunny and the soil looks to be quite free draining.
Their backyard is a whole other world entirely — a beautiful terracotta-filled world that I did not want to leave. Someday I hope to get through the millions of photos I took and post a few here.
Here’s another snap from their garden for a taste.
Hepatica nobolis is a tiny early blooming woodland plant that does well as an under-planting and doesn’t seem to mind a bit of dryness now and again. I rarely see it in use — it seems to be overlooked in favor of the larger, more colorful bulbs that flower around the same time. Or perhaps it is because there is a general (and wrong) belief that woodland plants are boring?
I’ve posted here about a similar white-flowered hepatica (Hepatica acutiloba) previously, but have to admit I prefer the more colorful species like the one above.