Sunday, 14 August 2011

Cleome (Spider flower)

Cleome (Capparidaceae)
 Although the flowers of this plant are unusual, the stems and leaves are even more so.  They are spiny, the stem is full of spines and so are the underside of the leaves.  It is an annual and the snails, slugs and caterpillars love it.  One minute the foliage was lush and lovely, the next completely devasted by cabbage white caterpillars, however many I pick off they reappear, and all that is left is the rib of the leaf.  Why they should be attracted to such a spiny plant I don't know.  What I do know is that they look a mess, have been a complete disaster, and I definitely won't be growing them again.
Antirrhinum (Snapdragon)
From spider flower to dragons.  In complete contrast is the Antirrhinum, nothing attacks this plant, it is what I would call a good doer.  The flowers last all summer long and are fully hardy, I have known them overwinter and reappear the following year.  To keep them flowering it is best to remove the seed heads, the picture shown is the second flush of flowers.  They can be propagated by seed in late spring or by stem cuttings in autumn.  I have never tried this, but may well experiment this year, and see how they go.  They come in all different colours and all different sizes.  This one is a Tom Thumb variety which only grows to about 6in. and I have used it as ground cover beneath my young wallflower plants.  They have trumpetshaped flowers that open to look like a dragon 's head when you press the sides of the flower You all knew that though didn't you?


  1. Too bad about the insects and such attacking the cleomes. They are so pretty!

    I still make the dragon 'snap' whenever I look at snapdragons. ;)

  2. As Diane says it's such a shame about the cleome, and I must grow some snapdragons next year! Flighty xx

  3. The small 'snaps' are okay but next year I want to grow lovely tall ones.

  4. I sympathise, it is only this year that I have realised they fall prey to the cabbage white, I think I will have to grow a sacrificial crop, because although I lost all my cleome this year too, I really miss them, for all their spininess.

  5. I remember growing Cleome in my own garden many years back, after seeing it grown en masse at The Lost Gardens of Heligan. I think mine did quite well, but took up far too much space. I introduced Snapdragons to my garden a few years back, and every year they pop up in different places, so they're here to stay! x