Cleome, again

Judith Adam

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Cleome with seeds (Photo by Brendan Zwelling)
Cleome with seeds (Photo by Brendan Zwelling)
Cleome with seeds (Photo by Brendan Zwelling)

Sept. 7, 2011 — I wrote about this last autumn, but I just have to mention again that the tall stems of ‘Purple Queen’ cleome in the front garden are beginning to spill their seeds. This summer annual has been self-seeding in the garden for several years, and the successive generations come true to the original deep purple. I appreciate their vivid colour when most of the perennials there have passed over, and this wonderful show requires absolutely no effort or cost.

Cleome is a hardy annual, which means the seeds survive being frozen through winter on the soil surface, and then germinate when spring days are warm and nights are still frosty. (Calendula, cosmos, dianthus, nasturtium, nigella and viola are also hardy annuals.) I find the purple cleome all through the front bed in spring, and pull out the ones I don’t want, leaving a clump or two to grow on. I even have a few coming up between paving stones on the front walkway. This year I’m going to harvest the seeds each day as the long thin seed capsules ripen, and scatter them through the back garden.

I’ve always liked the colour combination of hot red and vivid purple, and that’s what I’ve got with a newly discovered cardinal’s nest hanging just over the cleome. There are two devoted parents and three little nestlings in constant motion out front, and it’s all very colourful.

Other posts this week by Judith Adam:

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