Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Monday, 14 April 2014

100 Flowers : #026 #027 #028 #029 Cabbages and Kings

What wonderful sunny weather we're having and the flowers bursting open so fast I can't keep up!

In the vegetable garden, inside the pigeon proof pen, the brassicas are quickly running to seed but it's worth pausing and admiring the flowers before uprooting them to make room for wigwams of peas.

In fact the provide a valuable food source for insects and I could leave some to set seed to save for sowing for a fresh crop of Kale.

#026 Brassica oleracea

Kale var. Ragged Jack

This is probably the easiest of Kales to grow, sown in late Spring last year. There were leaves to pick through the late summer, then it looks a bit forlorn in Winter before erupting with tender new shoots in early spring.

With the warmer temperatures and longer days the flower spikes suddenly shoot up almost over night!

Put aside thoughts of a cabbage gone to seed and look at the elegant flower spike, the bronze stalks, pale blue-green buds and pretty four-petalled flowers.

Four petals – that's what you have to look for to find the Cabbage cousins, here's a British country cousin . . .

#027 Alliaria petiolata

Garlic Mustard or Jack-by-the-hedge

Please don't dismiss this as a weed and pull it up, there are very good reasons to allow it to stay in the flower borders . . .
1: it is edible, it tastes of garlic (Alliaria means 'like alliums') and mustard and peps up a ham sandwich very nicely.
2: it is the food plant of the Orange Tip Butterflies' caterpillars.
3: it has zingy bright olive/lime green leaves that perfectly set off Forget-me-nots and Bluebells!
4: if you find you have too much of a good thing, Garlic Mustard is very easy to pulls up.

#028 Lunaria annua


Honesty is a biennial, the little plants grow one year then flower, make those pretty silver moon-like (Lunaria = moon-like) seed pods and die the next year.

I just let the seeds scatter and plants find their favoured places to grow – this one is growing almost in a large Lupin plant, it's happy and is putting on a glorious display of purple flowers.

Up close you can see Honesty flowers are exactly like the Kale flowers except for being bright purple instead of yellow.

#029 Erysimum cheiri


More biennial brassicas, I bought these as bedding plants last Autumn but I could easily have grown them from seed if I'd remembered to sow them and grow them just like the Kale plants. The small plants are sold either in containers or bare rooted to plant out into containers or flower beds in Autumn. It feels like a bit of a palava until in early April when they start to flower . . . just like a cabbage running to seed but in a good way.

The colours are rich and intense – yellows, golds, orange, russet, red, crimson and burgundy. The four petals are large, soft and velvety in appearance, but it is the fragrance that sets these cabbage-cousins apart – a rich warm spicy 'ginger biscuits' perfume that fills the air around them. I've planted some of the Wallflowers in containers with violas and tulips outside our kitchen door where the perfume can be enjoyed as we come and go.

Erysimum is from a greek word meaning to help/save because the Wallflowers were used in medicines. They were also once a popular cut flower, especially for fragrant posies – cheir = hand and anthos = flower. 

Wouldn't it be wonderful to fill the flowerbeds with Wallflowers?! I'm making a note to sow lots in June! 



  1. I've never ever grown a wallflower, presumably because I never remember to plant the seeds. I know I have some seeds, I must try and find them.....

  2. Inspiring photos! Loved what you wrote about the garlic mustard and totally agree that they have their place in the garden. And oh those wallflowers!

  3. What a lovely blog! I found it via Wendy Rainthorpe's 'Hens in the Garden' and then recognized your linocut prints from 'Country Living' - one of life's serendipities. Wallflowers are fantastic - although I've found them a bit disappointing grown from seed, their scent is incomparable.

  4. Celia, you are a delightful teacher! I am really enjoying each of these flower posts. I had absolutely no idea before now that kale and honesty were related. My oh my! Now I will be more attentive to four-petaled flowers when I spy them.

    I do wish I had some of that garlic mustard to add to the ham and brie sandwich I'll soon be packing up to take to work for my lunch!

    I don't think I've ever experienced the wallflower scent. Must try to add that experience this year. I'll do some investigating amid my favorite flower stands at the farmers market. Surely someone will have some wallflowers.


  5. I grow wallflowers every year as they look so good alongside the tulips, I love the scent and range of colours they come in - I don't think they are very fashionable now but I wouldn't want to be without them.

  6. I've noticed that the bees just love brassica flowers. I always leave some of my PSB to go over for the bees.

  7. We're at that time of year when things grow by the hour don't they? There is so much bounty to be had I see you are numerically racking up the numbers in growth spurts ! The kale flower is a thing of beauty, very refined. Saw my first orange tip yesterday, probably later than your neck of the woods.


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