Drain gain

DAY 80 (24 JUNE) – Million bells (Calibrachoa) (Farnham)

This could be the prettiest drain in England. It’s a mystery how these bright flowers arrived and seem to thrive here. They look a bit like petunias but I think petunia petals are more pointed and their leaves not as narrow as these.

So I’m going for calibrachoa, which resembles the petunia but the pictures I found match up better. It’s native to Brazil, Chile and Peru and named after Mexican botanist Antonio de la Cal y Bracho. My favourite thing about calibrachoa is that it attracts hummingbirds.

OK, so more likely to be petunias, but I don’t care…

PS I’ve been doing this blog for as long as it took Phileas Fogg to go round the world. Time I expanded my horizons…

Seductively binding

DAY 79 (23 JUNE) – Field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) (Greater London)

Exploring the tangle at the bottom of my mother’s garden today, I was drawn to the pure whiteness of this convolvulus. How can something so invasive also be so glorious?

I especially like its alternative names: withy wind (my favourite), possession vine and creeping jenny (well I had to include that one).

Emerging beauty

DAY 78 (22 JUNE) – Bear’s breeches (Acanthus mollis) (Farnham)

I wonder if these might be at their most beautiful now, just before flowering? Love the subtle creams, mauves and pinks of the scallop-like buds against the chunky green stalk.

Usually flowering in July and August, these bear’s breeches (no idea why so-called) are native to the Mediterranean – but they look happy enough here in Surrey. Apparently they require especially large bees or bumblebees to push their way into the deep folds to find the nectar. So expect some pictures of those if I’m lucky…

These were a challenge to photograph, planted right next to an overflowing litter bin in a public park. So I had to shoot them against the sun to show them off against the black.

Promise of more

DAY 77 (21 JUNE) – Wild teasel (Dipsacus fullonum) (Lower Froyle, Hants)

I must have seen this growing wild many times, but not registered it. I love the careless way it leans at different angles. Apparently the cones can reach up to more than 8ft.

Wild teasel is native to Eurasia and North Africa – but grown widely elsewhere. It’s supposed to flower from May to July so perhaps these were early. The first flowers (purple, deep pink or lavender) open in a belt around the centre of the cone shape. Then others appear in subsequent rings above or below. Intriguing.

Better still, in autumn the seeds are an important food source for goldfinches. I’ll be back.

Maori eye-catcher

DAY 76 (20 JUNE) – Harakeke (Phormium tenax) (Baron’s Court, London)

Known as harakeke in Maori, this fiery New Zealand flax lined a walkway at the Queen’s Club tennis championships today. My second Kiwi plant in as many days.

Its flowers reminded me of garlic cloves gone to seed.

Apparently the black-headed jumping spider lives in its rolled up leaves. But perhaps only in New Zealand… none in evidence here.

Head turner

DAY 75 (19 JUNE) – Daisy bush (Brachyglottis greyi) (Guildford)

This cheery daisy bush caught my attention in the grounds of the Royal Surrey hospital today. Didn’t think I’d seen one before. Sure enough, it turns out to be native to New Zealand and favours hot sun, poor soil and coastal breezes. So a bit out of its comfort zone here today …

Its name brachyglottis greyi sounds appropriate – both medical and, well, grey – like the weather. Yellow flowers and grey sky do look great together though, don’t they?

What’s in the pot?

DAY 74 (18 JUNE) – Mystery blow-in (Farnham)

There’s what you plan and what you don’t. Weeds – the plants you don’t buy at the garden centre – are like the birds of horticulture. They are anywhere and everywhere, landing where they choose.

Today was another one of relentless rain, making me look closer to home. These plants are everywhere in our internal courtyard. In with the clematis and in with the fuschia. But I have no idea what they are. Their heart-shaped leaves are a bit like a viola, but their colour is a bit like cyclamen.

And I’ve no intention of moving them anywhere – they go with everything. I suppose there are those who like weeds and those who like marigolds. I’m one of the former.