Quick ques­tions & an­swers

Amateur Gardening - - Ask John Negus -

QPlease can you iden­tify this plant? Mrs E Gol­land, Ne­wark, Notts

AThis is a com­mon ju­niper (Ju­nipe­rus com­mu­nis), a Bri­tish na­tive colonis­ing chalk scarps, open moors and Scot­tish pine woods. It makes a soft, gray­ish bush to around 26ft (8m) high and is good for wildlife. Birds like its soft fleshy berries.

QCan you tell me what the flower is in this photo? I have lost the la­bel. S Smith, via email

AThe plant is clary sage (Salvia sclarea).

This is a hardy bi­en­nial or short­lived peren­nial na­tive to the north­ern Mediter­ranean re­gion, but nat­u­ralised all over Europe.

It is a lovely gar­den plant, pretty much tak­ing care of it­self and seed­ing quite hap­pily. It is also the source of a much-val­ued es­sen­tial oil that has been in use for cen­turies. Q Is this flower on one of our fox­glove plants very un­usual?

Mrs Josephine Evans, Wey­mouth, Dorset

AThis ab­nor­mal fox­glove has mu­tated. In­stead of de­vel­op­ing a spike of tubu­lar blooms, it has formed a ter­mi­nal pelo­ria. Very beau­ti­ful and sel­dom seen, you are lucky to have wit­nessed it.

Oc­ca­sion­ally, seed can be col­lected from this flower that will, if you are lucky, pro­duce seedlings ex­hibit­ing th­ese amaz­ing blooms.

Botan­i­cally, it is called Dig­i­talis pur­purea mon­strosa. The mo­ment a peloric bloom ap­pears, there is no fur­ther de­vel­op­ment of the flower spike.

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