Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Callisia fragrans.......Basket plant, Chain or Inch plant

Callisia fragrans is native to South America, the country of origin being Mexico;  family name Commelinaceae.

Basket plant, one of its common names,  has been known as a houseplant for more than 100 years, however, it can also be found growing outdoors in warmer climates in moist, fertile soil in partially shaded areas.

 The fleshy stems of the herb can grow to a height of 1 metre and the leaves become violet if exposed to strong sunlight.

Blossoms are white and fragrant as its name suggests.

I originally obtained this species from Madeira and it arrived in the post as three unrooted cuttings!

It's thuggish reputation  might well be deserved if planted in a true tropical climate but here in the Cortijo Azahar Garden it is a well behaved ground coverer and an absolute delight.

This plant was first described in 1840 and was named “Spironema fragrans”.
 The name “Callisia Fragrans” comes from the Greek word “Kallos” - “beautiful” and “lis” – “lily”.

Callisia fragrans has been studied in Russia as holistic medicine for everything from upset stomachs to skin ailments to cancer.
It is one of the unique medicinal plants and helps in the treatment of many diseases: varicose veins, hepatic failure, impotence, skin disease, heart disease, cancer, colds, venereal disease and many others.

 Callisia Fragrans is a strong biogenic stimulant herb with a wide range of applications. It is important to follow recipe and dosage. When used incorrectly, allergic reaction may occur, as well as headaches, and develop sensitivity to the skin.

 For medical treatment the plant has to be mature with many long spears, which will be cut off and cooked into liquid emulsion.  Or the leaves can just be chewed.

 Medicinal properties of plants caused by the presence in it of the two active components of flavonoids: kemferol and kvartetsin. Kemferol tones, strengthens blood vessels, promotes the extrustion of sodium salts from the body, has diuretic properties. Kvartetsin stops the aging of the cornea, causes the decrease in capillary permeability, minimizes
oxidation processes, prevents strokes and heart attacks.

 Callisia Fragrans is said to be rich in minerals and vitamins but it is probably a better idea to visit the family doctor for treatment for the above mentioned ailments and to simply enjoy the plants flowering in the garden rather than to risk poisening oneself!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Jacaranda time.........

The stunningly beautiful purply blue lavender blooms of the young Jacaranda have been slowly opening here in the Cortijo Azahar Garden over the past few days.

It is almost impossible to capture the true colour of the flowers on film and just as impossible to describe the emotion they instill in me  when I see the trees in full bloom.
They fill my soul with gladness.......and sadness.

There are many Jacaranda trees around and about Motril, indeed, they majestically lined the high street until the Town Council in its wisdom, a couple of years or so ago, decided to waste an absolute fortune remodelling the area of  SalobreƱa Avenue.  
They gave me the feeling of  'coming home' when first I set eyes on them some thirteen years ago now, a sense of recognition, old friends,  and I so regretted their passing.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Trachelospermum jasminoides.......Star Jasmine

 I stepped out of the house early one calm May morning a few days ago before the sun had shown itself above the high hill behind us to be greeted by the sweetest smell ever. 

It was the Star Jasmine which had, over just a day or so, changed from its usual dark green appearance and covered itself with beautiful white star like flowers with a truly amazing fragrance.

Now,  I well remember growing this lovely  climber on a warm, west facing wall in my English cottage garden which was fortunate enough to be accepted by the ‘yellow book’ and opened for charity one lovely English summer’s day, many years ago now but……never did it perform so well as it does here in the garden at Cortijo Azahar.
 It relishes the warmth that the Spanish winter sun gives us and is much happier that it doesn’t have to suffer the winter chills and freezing winds however sheltered an outdoor place it is given in England.

The Trachelospermum jasminoides variegatum is also flowering elsewhere in the garden on a boundary fence but pretty as it is, it doesn't have the flower power  or the perfume punch of its evergreen relative.

 Trachelospermum jasminoides is a species of flowering vine in the milkweed family, Apocynaceae, that is native to eastern and southeastern Asia, into Japan, Korea, southern China, and Vietnam.

 It is widely planted in California, and also particularly in the Southeastern United States where its hardiness, confined to USDA Zones 8-10, the area of the Confederate States of America, gives it the name "Confederate jasmine". 
It gets another of its common names, "Trader's Compass" from an old Uzbekistan saying that it pointed traders in the right direction— if they were of good character.

Authentic Thai Jasmine rice is made by steeping 20 flowers in a litre of water overnight and then using the strained water to cook long grain rice.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Heliotropium arborescens.......Cherry-Pie

 A lovely, sweetly perfumed, summer flowering shrub coming into bloom in early May here in the garden at Cortijo Azahar.  Known to the Americans as Cherry-Pie.

 A native of Peru, belonging to the family Boraginaceae,  this sprawling shrub can reach a height of 4 feet or more and grow just as wide here in the south of Spain.

It, very cleverly, has a tendency to turn its flowers and leaves toward the sun over the course of each day and at night, it readjusts itself to face eastward to be ready for sunrise.                            
That tendency is at the root of the name heliotrope.  It means to move with the sun.

 The colour, Heliotrope,  is a pink-purple tint that is a representation of heliotrope flower.
The first recorded use of Heliotrope as a colour name in English, was in 1882.

Pinching out the tips of the new shoots early in the year encourages the shrub to bush out and increases the flower heads and, consequently, the fragrance. 

In James Joyce's Finnegans Wake, "heliotrope" is the answer to the Maggies' riddle in the game of Colours (or Angels and Devils) played by the children in Part II, Chapter 1. Throughout the chapter, the word "heliotrope" is disguised a number of times, hidden either in anagrams, riddles, puns, or obscure allusions.

In P. G. Wodehouse’s ‘Thank You Jeeves’ Pauline Stoker escapes from her father's yacht and ends up in Bertie Wooster's heliotrope pajamas.

In Sarah Mlynowski's "Parties & Potions", the Samsortas wear a gown that is heliotrope in color, as the color has "magical properties that enhance natural beauty".

The periorbital purplish discoloration occurring in dermatomyositis is called the "Heliotrope rash" after the color.

Heliotrope is among the handful of "half-mourning" colors worn by Victorians during the last stage of mourning.

Heliotrope was a popular color reference of Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, script writers of Hancock's Half Hour.

In Harry Potter book 7, heliotrope is used to describe Mafalda Hopkirk's polyjuice potion.

 Scott Joplin wrote a song called Heliotrope Bouquet. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

In the Garden.......

It was a perfect  late Spring or early Summer morning.......

 It was an early start for us, even though the birds had been singing away since dawn and 8am found 'himself' marking out a large rectangle by the boundary wall for the new cess pit.

Digging began and it wasn't long before much needed 'reinforcement' arrived to make it a two man job.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Pseudogynoxis chenopodiodes.......Mexican Flame Vine

Mexican Flame Vine

Blooming almost all year round here on the southern cost of Granada in Spain, the intense orange, 2" daisy-like blooms with yellow centers are borne on a vigorous twining vine.

Belonging to the family asteraceae, theMexican flame vine is a woody tropical vine with the enchanting summertime habit of covering itself in brilliant daisy-like flowers. The bright orange blossoms are borne in small clusters.
As they age the flowers change from orange to almost red.
They are followed by fruiting structures that resemble smaller versions of the dandelion's puffy seed heads.
This vine has thick evergreen leaves that are shaped like arrowheads and serrated on the edges. They are arranged alternately on the vine and are deep green in color providing a handsome background for the fiery orange flowers.

A synonym (out of date scientific name) for this plant is Senecio confusus which translates as "confused old man" referring, no doubt, to this vine's rampant habit of growth. 

If not provided support, Mexican flame vine grows this way and that in a confusion of stems that piles up to eventually form a sprawling shrub.