Quick questions & answers
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.