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.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Spiral Gingers

Gingers grow well here, and the Costus family, or Spiral Gingers, are some of the most interesting types.  The foliage spirals around the central stem and the flowers range from cones to soft, crepey petals.  They thrive in light shade or morning sun and are blooming right now.  Two of my favorites:

Costus barbatus has a bright red cone with yellow petals.  The flower cone can be almost a foot long and the ginger grows to 6-7' tall.

Costus woodsonii has a wonderful trade name -- "Dwarf French Kiss."  It only gets 2-3' tall and can even be grown indoors in bright light.  Be careful if you google that name!

Interesting fact about that Costus woodsonii::  it secretes a lot of nectar on the bracts and flowers, which is then harvested by ants.  The ants in turn feed on the larvae of a fly, which only lays its eggs on the flowers and immature fruit of this ginger.  Without the ants, the larvae would destroy a fair number of the seeds before they matured and dispersed.  A great example of evolutionary biology! 

But all's fair in love and war:  this assassin bug is feeding on the ants that feed on the nectar and fly larvae.

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