At least four years ago, I grew from seed three of one plant that I just adored for the clear blue flowers on slender stems that I had seen in photographs, Aristea capitata. It is a South African native, and so, for me, it had to be a pot plant, though it is reputed to reach 2m in the wild. It is doing very well with me, or was, until this winter, when instead of taking it into the house, I improvised a cold frame with some big old windows that we had in the barn, and put it in there with lots of other things. Well, I think it would have been fine if I had started watering it earlier. Suffice to say, that I sort of forgot and when I checked it out, it wasn’t dead, but it wasn’t in a forgiving mood. And it has remained thus. Aristea capitata or Aristea major as she names it, was another Annie’s Annuals inspiration, my favourite Californian nursery, her photograph of it shows why I bothered in the first place…
Stonking great iris-like spikey leaves and then a towering flowerspike in gentian blue- what’s not to like? Mine has almost the height, being about 1m tall without flowering (!), but I have got 3 in a pot, so, aside from asking forgiveness, I think I will repot them into their very own pots at the end of summer, and bring them into the house this time.
It’s cousin, Aristea ecklonii, which was treated to the same fate by me, good idea but too long without water, has actually recovered brilliantly, and today, flowered for the first time ever. I was so thrilled I nearly dropped the pot. This is not the best photograph, as there was a breeze and this is the best of about 12 efforts, but the flowers barely last a day and are very fragile, so I persisted. Though, I could have gently brought the pot into the house, I guess. Aristea ecklonii is a smaller, more delicate plant than major, but the blue is the same brilliant gentian shade. I am sure you get the idea! PS. I have now inserted a much better photograph with no wind effects from the next day.
And, because I was on an Aristea roll, I also grew another smaller Aristea from seed, and by my winter’s antics, I have managed to reduce the population from 3 to 2, and a serious sulk is in place. But, I hope that Aristea inaequalis will also forgive me. Annie describes it as indestructible. Mmm..it wasn’t supposed to be a destructibility test!