Here is the bunch of flowers I had picked early Friday morning to take along to Claire's. Only just the day before we had planned a trip to Leicester to search out cloth for our quilting and patchwork projects. Even though I had carefully checked on line through Google maps how to get to our destination, and had even been able to see the intricacies of the roundabouts and turnings through google cameras, I had not checked the obvious. Luckily Claire had, and the early morning phone call was to say that our trip had to be put on hold as the Fabric Guild was not open for visitors that day. I said that I would take a picture of the flowers I had just picked for her, and post them for her to look at.
I just could not remember the name of the flower, and I've enjoyed looking for it, and then finding some interesting information about this very old fashioned flower. I would certainly recommend this plant for the garden as it flowers in between the end of the spring bulbs and the start of the early summer herbaceous flowers, and is good as a cut flower tot. I must look out the seed which I saved last year, and distribute this as widely as I can amongst friends. So if you would like some, be sure to ask.
I had originally bought three Hesperis plants at an evening lecture held by the NCCPG in Warwick, and this year's crop of plants were the offspring of seed which had been set in my garden. I gather that Hesperis Matonalis is in the mustard family. There are several old fashioned names: Dame’s Rocket, Damask Violet, Dame’s Violet, Dames-wort, Dame’s Gilliflower, Night Scented Gilliflower, Queen’s Gilliflower, Rogue’s Gilliflower, Summer Lilac, Sweet Rocket, Mother-of-the-evening and, Winter Gilliflower.
The plants have charming, large spikes of single, lilac and purple flowers, and have filled the garden with a sweet and spicy scent. The bees and bumblebees are over the flowers from dawn to dusk. I recognised these plants when I worked last year in the new Elizabethan Gardens in Kenilworth Castle. Theirs were sadly poor specimens compared to mine. The plants are biannual and where they set seed, dropped and grew, I thinned out the plants and transplanted them around the garden. They have done well equally in full sun, where the flowers are earlier, and in almost full shade, where the flowers are later. They start to flower with stems about 30 cm high, but on stronger plants are the flower spikes mature they are about 90 cm tall, and here is a picture of them growing through the lower branches of the plum tree. The cut stems keep well in a vase lasting about five days.