Pied Beauty

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Butterfly Gingers

or Hedychium coronarium, a reliable standby in the Houston garden.  These lovely gingers seem to tolerate a wide range of exposures, from full shade to almost full sun. Last year's freezes killed them to the ground, but they grew back again from the roots, and much more quickly than the variegated gingers did.  They are vigorous, and clumps can spread rapidly, but they form a nice tropical thicket in the right location.  I have mine planted on the downhill side of a gentle slope.  The dense canes slow the rainwater runoff and they love the water.  I don't know if it's possible to overwater them!

(I wish I could capture the fragrance in a photo!)

Butterfly gingers have beautiful flowers too, which are strongly scented.  To me, they smell like gardenias.  The white flowers and powerful fragrance are signals for night pollinators -- in this case, the beautiful hawkmoth.  These large moths are as big as hummingbirds, and can sip nectar without perching on the ginger flowers.  They can be quite an eerie surprise when you're in the garden at night!

(Photo: Umbergo Salvagnin via Wikimedia Commons)

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