Red Valerian

Centranthus ruber

Red Valerian (Centranthus ruber)

I have grown Red Valerian in my garden for many years now. Whilst on holiday in Torquay I noticed it growing along the clifftops and walkways, and I was so taken by it I bought a few seeds back with me where they readily took and grew. I love their long-lasting blooms, and they attract quite a few insects like bees, moths and butterflies, as they are a rich source of nectar.

Red Valerian can actually be pink, red or white, and the small flowers appear in numerous clusters on the plant. The plant is fairly tall and can grow up to nearly 80cm high.

It flowers May to October, and it is often found naturalised on the coast on cliffs faces, rocks, and on sandy and shingle beaches. It is also found on railways embankments, old walls and buildings, waste ground, parks and gardens. It was introduced from the Mediterranean in the late 1500s as a garden plant, and has now become naturalised. It is very common in the south of Britain, rarer the further north you go.

Photograph of Red Valerian (Centranthus ruber), taken August 2016, rear garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D7200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

 

Saucer Magnolia

Magnolia × soulangeana

Also called ‘Chinese Magnolia’ or ‘Tulip Tree’, this tree or shrub produces large, showy and often fragrant flowers in springtime. It is one of the most commonly planted magnolias planted in the British Isles. It is a hybrid between Magnolia denudata and Magnolia liliiflora. It can be a large shrub or a small tree, and it produces large upright flowers 10-20cm across. They are coloured various shades of white, pink and purple, and are produced in mid-spring. The leaves are dark green, ovate and pointed at the tip.

Widely cultivated and planted as a street tree, or planted in parks and gardens as a specimen tree.

This magnolia was bred in 1820 in France by Étienne Soulange-Bodin, and was soon introduced to England where it has been widely planted, as it has been since throughout the rest of Britain.

Photographs taken March 2014, seen from rear garden, Staffordshire.