The South American continent has played a vitally important part in the culinary improvements of peoples throughout the world, not to mention (yet) of the ornamental delights the world enjoys. It is the original home of the potato, yam, tomato, sweet and hot peppers. Ornamentally, and with one solitary exception in the bromeliad, it is the home of many of the cacti (most being from the southern USA), aroids, monstera, philodendron, Scindapsus the Victoria lily and thousands more delights, including members of the palm family.
One of my particular favourites (as time passes they are always changing) is the Angels trumpets. Heavily and heavenly scented – medium to tall in stature – and extremely attractive, the Datura or Brugmansia might correctly bedescribed as herbaceous. The plants are soft wooded and tend not to live for years but rather months, and if their stems are damaged they will die out very quickly. There are two kinds of Angels trumpets which are also known as Thornapples because their fruits have a prickly/spiny surface to them. The Datura holds its trumpet shaped flowers up to the sun. The Brugmansia produces flowers which hang downwards. Seed is readily available in quite a few colours and the plants themselves seed readily.
They are likely to grow best if they are established a few weeks before the rains end and planted in a cool (but not dark) side of the garden where they can enjoy unrestricted growth and little shade. Angels trumpets often flower in the evening because they are pollinated by moths. The Datura and Brugmansia are a source of the truth drug scopalomine, and were once used in the treatment of asthma. They are still used by certain tribes in Central and South America as an hallucinogen.
As you’re working through your borders, cleaning, and trimming and pruning, you may well come across roses that require attention. For convenience sake I always sort them into four classes: bush, shrub, rambling and climbing roses. Of these four types of rose there is no question that bush roses are the most widely grown, and the ones to which you’re going to pay most attention. In the temperate zones of the world bush roses are pruned either in the autumn or the early spring, and generally they look as though the butchers have been at them once this has been done – just a collection of stalks no more than a couple of feet high. If they don’t look like this, the probability is that the job hasn’t been done properly. The whole point of pruning like this is so that when they flower they are not taller than you are, for all the shoots that are produced after this pruning will be flower-bearing shoots. In Guyana roses never look like they’re completely at rest. They may be producing flowers throughout the year, but if they are pruned properly there will be one period when they produce the most flower and are at their very best.
When you take the secateurs in your hand make sure that they are sharp and clean. Cuts will be made just a quarter of an inch above a bud, and angle the cut so that the rain runs off easily. You should cut off any weak shoots that have grown during the year, and try and shape the bush so that there are no overcrossing shoots. To keep the bush open try and cut to an outward facing bud, so that new shoots will not crowd each other. Shoots which are overcrowded are quite likely to be weak and liable to attract pests and diseases.
Shrub roses require little more than taking out the weakest and dead shoots. Ramblers and climbers need little more than cutting out shoots which are in the way, and letting them get on with it. You can be too fussy with them. They need to grow to the light.
Have an enjoyable week. Don’t overdo the work and leave spare time for looking at your plants. It’s the best way to learn about them.
Until next week may your God go with you wherever you may be.