Monday, December 08, 2008

Nice Blooms, Orlando

But Does Anyone Know What They’re Called?

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON


Yes, I’m an avid gardener. And yes, I take note of what grows where. And yes, I’m always curious when I see a plant that I have never seen before. And yes, I’m intrigued if I see something that I cannot identify.

Maybe my penchant for identifying plants began when I was a child, growing up in a huge house in India. We had this massive garden, big enough for a cricket area, a badminton court, a huge enclosed quadrangle that was a plant haven about nine hundred square feet - and we still had room for wide garden beds, the longest of which would have been about forty feet long. And in one corner, near the boundary wall, we had a couple of leaf pits that you could get lost in.

So when we played cricket or soccer or hockey, we knew we’d be in strife if the ball was struck anywhere near Dad’s prized flowers. When you’re a young fella, you learn pretty quickly whether you’ve just decapitated a dahlia, a sweet pea, a bougainvillea, a canna or any of the many flowering varieties that graced our magical garden.

So when I saw these flowers in a tiny patch of soil outside a store in Blackburn, here in Melbourne’s east, I was baffled. I’d never seen these before. And no, I certainly didn’t know what they were called.


As you can see, they were covered in profuse flowers that faced every point of the compass. The blooms were a bit like giant, two-tone snapdragons, but the stalks were huge and imposing. I reckon they would have been just short of my height - and I’m no midget.

Atop each plant was a long, graceful arc (see below) covered in interesting shades and tones. It doesn’t look like a native Australian plant and since Blackburn and the surrounding areas have some classic English country cottage gardens, I wonder if it’s some old favourite that has faded away from our nurseries.


Visit Luiz Santilli Jr for the home of Today's Flowers.

31 comments:

ilanadavita said...

I am sorry I can't help but I find them stunning.

Maggie May said...

Its like a little mouth with a tongue hanging out!
Will look through my garden encylopaedia ........ but where do I start?
Whatever they are called they are beautiful.

Greyscale Territory said...

I have no idea what these flowers are! But the subtle tones and very unusual shapes are so very enchanting!

RuneE said...

I ought of course to know the name and species and all the rest of it of the flowers I capture (and one never tires of that) - but I don't. Shame on me :-(

Gretchen said...

They're beautiful, but I have no idea what they are.

the amoeba said...

It's an Acanthus, sometimes called bear's breeches or oyster plant.

I'm surprised you haven't seen them before, they were commonly planted in Australian and New Zealand gardens the years I was there. They're large, and the flower spikes are striking, but the plants have these nasty spikes scattered especially among the flowers - the species of that one is, not surprisingly, A. spinosus.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Lovely! I see that the poster above says they are Oyster Plants. They look sort of like a first cousin to Foxglove.

Sheila

Barbara Martin said...

Beautiful flowers, and I'm sorry I'm not able to provide a name.

Thank you for visiting and your informative comment on my blog.

Digital Flower Pictures said...

I have never heard them called Oyster Plant before so I am glad I learned something today. Around here they are referred to as Bear Breeches. You have been posting some great photos.

CrazyCath said...

Beautiful. I love the spiny leaves.
*another plant to the compilation then...*

Lee said...

Gorgeous, David! I've never seen anything quite like them either. The color is really nice but I'd be concerned about having such a plant in my garden if I had kids.

Cheers!

Reader Wil said...

They are magnificent flowers. I like their different shades of purple...but their name? No, I am awfully sorry!

Mae said...

I have no idea, but they are very pretty.

Leedra said...

They are called gorgeous, sorry don't know the name.

Woman in a Window said...

Beautiful. They beg to be touched, don't they?

Linda said...

I can them a Oyster Plant. I have five children and haven't had a problem. We had a house in Wangaratta with a large front yard and curved edges like a park. My uncle set it up and the oyster plant was lovely to look at out the window. Our local hotel has them in the driveway.

Linda said...

Sorry call.

The Good Life in Virginia said...

good photos and interesting post...i've not seen those prior...love the color.

Linda said...

http://www.lambley.com.au/onlinecatalogue.htm

They probably have more old-fashioned plants because they are into saving water.

Darla said...

I've never seen those before, sure are pretty, I see you have some infor to go on in your comments though. I might check them out myself.

The W.O.W. factor said...

They are beautiful! I didn't have a clue and when I looked online at the suggested Bear Breeches?
You should submit YOUR photos as they are Superb to anything else I found! I'd buy your version for sure.

Leora said...

Elegant! I see you have a namer for them, also. Neat to have grown up among plants and flowers. I didn't really develop my love for plants (and ability to grow them) until we owned a home and thus a garden. Unfortunately, my mother passed away at the same time; she was the one who taught me to love gardens.

Cathy said...

I had to read through the comments to see if someone had identified these lovely flowers. I'm glad someone did!

kayleen said...

Absolutely lovely. Glad to see someone could identify them. Thanks for sharing.

PlantBuddy said...

Very pretty, but a mystery to me. Tell me when you find out.

Napaboaniya said...

Hi Dav!
Sorry, with my limited knowledge on names of flowers. I can't tell ya the name of it.

But they're looking lovely for sure :)
Have a good week ahead!!

fishing guy said...

David: Lovely capture of that neat flower that is very exotic to me.

Naturegirl said...

These are most intrigueing..the top petals look like feathers!

The Muse said...

www.whiteirisdesigns.blogspot.com

she can tell you, she is a floral lover /florist :)

kylie said...

hi david
i wanted to tell you that my mum calls them oyster plant, but i see that's been covered. mum never liked them because "they're always used to fill up dirty corners"
interesting cos theres probably no other plant she doesn't like.

i have a similar dislike of nandina because they seem to be universally used in unimaginative ways, it's like the i-have-no-idea-what-to-put-here-so-i'll-just-shove-in-a-nandina plant

gah! what a mouthful

i think i'd beter go to bed!

cheers

Arija said...

Dear David, should you wish or some Acanthus, you are welcome to dig up half an acre of them in our Mt.Lofty garden. Should you like to line a km or two with Agapanthus as well, I'be most grateful it you brought some helpers and a truck.
Acanthus are mainly grown for the beautiful shape of their leaves. At the Persian court they were a preferred flower for floral arrangements as only flowers without perfume were allowed not to diminish the scent the queen wore.