Late summer and early Autumn is the time to see glorious sunflowers lift their heads to the sky. Did you know sunflowers track the sun?
Originally from Mexico, both the United States and the Ukraine grow them in abundance for uses in their oil and seed. For native Americans, the golden oil has also served as a medicine for use as an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. The seeds are known to contain vitamin E, magnesium and protein as well as other plant compounds. Nutritious for both birds and humans.
Sunflowers are said to be a symbol of happiness and optimism and have been used in ceremonies for thousands of years. The tallest sunflower grown to date is over 9 metres or 30 feet.
For gardeners, the roots of these amazing flowers help detox the soil from heavy metals such as lead, zinc and copper amongst others.
We don’t often see Hibiscus in British gardens but it is wonderful when we do. It is one of the last flowering plants of the season.
Hibiscus comes from the Greek word Hibiskos meaning mallow of which it is a member of the mallow family. Originally from China it is believed to symbolise wealth, glory or fame. Not only is this plant beautiful to look at but it can also be served as a tea with a tart cranberry-like flavour.
The Hibiscus flowers are used as symbols throughout the world, such as in Malaysia and South Korea where it is represented on national symbols or currency. But the Hibiscus flower is probably more renowned as the State flower of Hawaii where it makes up the welcome gift of the lei. To the Hawaiians, the flower symbolises power, respect and hospitality.
We cannot pass by summer without mentioning our beloved rose. We seem to have all fallen in love with its undisputed splendour and for good reason. Roses are quite simply beautiful. With their attractive and varying form and shape, sweet fragrance and long flowering season they are the staple of most British gardens.
However, todays roses are a far cry from the original ‘Rosa gallica’ of which experts still argue over its origins. Some say from Greece, others Egypt and even Japan. But what we do know is that there are now more than a thousand varieties available. Incredible!
Roses have a variety of uses including for the production of rose hip jam, rose honey, wine, vinegar, crystallised petals, pot pourri and confetti.
Of course all this beauty comes at a price; roses are consistently attacked by pests and diseases and is the reason why keeping your rose in tip top condition is a must, from pruning at the right time to feeding and allowing it to grow in the right conditions.