This is the first of a (hopefully) regular post. I am still getting to grips with the technology and restrictions of the process. I tried some pieces cut in water and they wilted and another bud on the passion flower decided to die rather than open so this is the first, half successful video. It is not quite right but, hopefully, we will see an improvement over the weeks!
Macro Monday: Ceratostigma willmottianum ‘Sapphire Ring’
The arrival of autumn always brings a tinge of sadness with it; summer is over. But the garden still brings a few treasures and one of these is ceratostigma. It is a small genus, with eight species, from Africa and Asia and the flowers are obviously similar to plumbago, the Cape leadwort. Indeed, ceratostigmas are often called hardy plumbagos. What is a nice touch is that, although the pale blue of plumbago is delightful, the commonly planted ceratostigmas have flowers of a deep, cobalt blue that is, if anything, finer and is certainly a treat in the garden. Although C. griffithii is sometimes available, the most common are the totally herbaceous C. plumbaginoides (about 30cm x 75cm), which is often suckering and is probably my preferred species, and C. willmottianum (about 60cm x 90cm) which is sub-shrubby and has smaller leaves but flowers that are just as vibrant. It was introduced in 1908 by Ernest Wilson and was named after that famous doyenne of gardening Ellen Willmott.
The leaves are roughly bristly and often edged with red. As the leaves die, and more particularly in autumn, they turn brilliant reds and crimson, overlapping with the opening of the flowers. The flowers are produced for several months and although they are not huge and never cover the foliage they are like little jewels. In some ways it would be hard to improve on the wild species. They are hardy in all but the coldest areas, need little more than a spring tidy and give a lot of colour just when the garden needs it. But there are two yellow-leaved forms of C. willmottianum that are worth a look. The older one is ‘Desert Skies’ but I recently picked up ‘Sapphire Ring’ (Lissbrill’) which is newer and is supposed to be more vigorous. The contrast of the bright blue and yellow appeals to me.
Ceratostigmas prefer a sunny spot and well drained soils. They mix well with all shrubby herbs and could be put with them to make them look a bit less tawdry at the end of the year. You could put it with Nerine bowdenii for a real splash of colour at the end of the year.