Monday, 11 December 2006

Pineapple sage

The pineapple sage is in full flower in the greenhouse, unseen by visitors now that the garden is closed for winter. Its vivid red is almost fluorescent against the white back wall, its flowers on stems that reach way above my head. Its luscious flowers bloom even on Christmas Day, when every other plant in the unheated greenhouse has been cut hard back - passion flowers, asarina, campsis radicans, lemon verbena - all taken back to their main stems. Pineapple sage is not a plant for a small pot! If it is grown in a pot at all, it needs the largest size you can give it, and is happiest when growing directly in the greenhouse soil. The slightly hairy leaves have a delicate fruity scent and can be used in making puddings, the flowers used to decorate salads at a time of the year when there is not much colour. I think that is why I value it so much; an intense, dynamic red shining out in the cold winter light.

After so much rain we had a walk down by the Tyne to see the river in its height. The footpath was gone under a swirling, foaming mass of water. There was an air of danger as we watched the river speeding along, swollen and restless, making sea waves and with a furious noise. None of the usual birds were there - it was too fast for goosander, mallard, moorhen or kingfisher. Just one woodpecker announced its prescense with its single, harsh call - its always such a giveaway - a glory to watch with its flash of red against the peeling grey white of a silver birch - an echo of the red flowers on the pineapple sage.

1 comment:

Andrew Martin said...

I had no idea that Pineapple Sage (aha, so tags do work. How very clever!) had such a vibrantly coloured flower, and just in time for Christmas too. Maybe you could open for a couple of weekend days leading up to Christmas to share those winter flowerers with the hoi polloi? And provide an opportunity to buy your plants as Christmas Presents too ... Happy Christmas!