Monday, January 6, 2014

One glorious summer

Call me a sensitive petal if you like, but I'm always aware that when I grow and harvest vegies I am cutting these plants down in their prime, depriving them of their full lifespan. It doesn't really bother me, but it's always in the back of my mind, and so when I saw both of our chicory plants sending up spectacular flowering stems, I decided to let them grow on, flower and set seed, not only to see what happens, but also to collect the seed. And this morning we got the most delightful surprise.

This beautiful flower is a good, impressive size,
more than an inch across, and it's very pretty.
It's from the chicory plant with the superb cultivar
name of Cicoria Catalogna Puntarelle Brindisina.
It's a type with noticeably serrated, emerald leaves. 
This chicory has sent up multiple flower stems,
some curled weirdly, others fairly straight. Its next
door neighbour in the vegie bed, Cicoria Spadona,
has long paddle-shaped leaves, and its flower
spike has reached six feet in length, but no
flowers yet. Stay tuned for that event, folks.
These are the respective seed packets, bought here in
Australia from The Italian Gardener

The heat of summer is not a great time to be growing leafy greens in Sydney gardens, and planting new crops really should be delayed for another eight weeks or so, until things cool down a fraction. So, I'm getting my kicks right now just letting the existing spring plantings live out life to the full, spending one glorious summer flowering then setting seed, just like they did a zillion generations ago when they were the wild ancestors of these delicious kitchen garden cultivars. Somehow this thought appeals to me more than it rationally should. 


redambition said...

I let my basil go to flower last week - I was away and didn't want to burden the house sitter with having to pluck off all the flower heads daily! It looks absolutely stunning and is attracting bees, which is great news for my tomato plants.

I hear you on the leafy greens - I'm trying to grow lettuce in the shade of my tomato plants, and it's a struggle. I'm looking forward to cooler weather so I can get some spinach and kale going too!

Jamie said...

Basil flowers are bee-magnets, aren't they?

We've reduced our leafy greens plot to a couple of pots which are positioned so they get morning sun and miss out on the afternoon furnace. Bring on autumn, I say!

Shivangni said...

Lovely flower, I wonder if it is the same chicory used to mix with coffee in South India?
One of my new year resolutions is to stop being lazy and comment here rather then through the mail.
I am glad that I made the effort, its nice to revisit this site, like meeting an old friend!

Jamie said...

Hi Shivangni. I'm not sure which variety of chicory is used to make the coffee substitute, as there are so many different forms of chicory being cultivated.

redambition said...

They do attract all the bees - I've been really happy to see some native bees buzzing around too!

It's funny you mention the pots - my whole garden is in containers! I don't have any garden bed space, and we're in a rental so creating one is not really an option.

I'm waiting for it to cool down just a tad befor I try to sprout some lmore ettuce seeds. It's just been way too hot for delicate small seedlings recently.