With a heavy heart, I pulled up and composted the roselle plants (Hibiscus sabdariffa) this weekend.
They were done. The cold had become too much for them. Their leaves were turning crispy and dropping rapidly. Amazingly, the false roselle is still going and has not suffered the same damage. It seems to tolerate the cold better so I have left it in for the time being.
I had hoped to make sorrel (the drink) this winter using my own homegrown flowers, but alas none of the hibiscus plants made it that far. The two sabdariffa plants did produce tiny flower buds, but the cold came on and stopped their development before they could reach a mature size.
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) has been making a yearly appearance in my garden in some way or another for some time now, but never like this. My new yard’s sun and sandy, well-draining soil turned out to be the perfect place to grow the sort of plant I have only seen in the tropics. Until now.
Towards the end of our Thailand excursion, we flew to Chiang Mai, a northern city that is situated in the mountains. It was the part of the trip I was most looking forward to and turned out to be the city (next to Bangkok) that I would be most interested in revisiting to explore further.
Our second destination in Chiang Mai (after the Orchid Farm and lunch) was the Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden. Unfortunately, we were allotted a paltry 40 minutes to explore the gardens and greenhouses of this expansive botanical attraction. Note to media tour operators: garden writers require ample time to explore botanical gardens! Imagine a time frame and then double it. No, triple it. Actually, just give us the entire day.
The race was on to see as much as possible before being called back onto the bus. Because time was precious, I chose to focus on a few of the greenhouses and forgo the outdoor gardens. Before heading into the first greenhouse I took in a field of large bowl ponds. Each pond housed a different tropical water lily, in an astonishing array of leaf and flower shapes, sizes, and colours. I had no idea there were so many different types!
Nymphaea ‘Chalong Kwan’
I wrote about the cosmos recently when the flowers were just starting to open. Well, they’re coming up full force now and I’m loving them even more. The soft, double blooms have begun to poke through a false roselle (Hibiscus acetosella) plant that is growing alongside — it has proven to be an unexpected combination that I would repeat again.
Eventually, if all goes well, the false roselle will bear its own soft pink blooms. It’s a long season tropical — I started the seeds underneath lights back in January with the hopes that the plant would have enough time to make flowers before the killing frost comes. I am loving this plant in it’s own right, even without flowers. I first encountered it in St. Lucia where my friend David was growing a stand of them. Here it is a struggle to get 7-foot-tall plants — mine are not there yet and may never make it, but even still, it’s been beautiful at every stage. Both the flowers (if they ever come) and the young leaves are edible. They taste a lot like their namesake, sorrel (Rumex acetosa), and have that slightly acidic bite.
Oh dear. I really have been remiss in providing updates and photos of the garden in its first year. The last photo I posted was on June 29. We were headed to Denver and I wanted a record of it before I left. Until that time June was still a bit wet and sometimes cold. A heatwave struck while we were gone and the garden really took off from there.