|Zantedeschia 'Kiwi Blush'|
But this year my wandering affections have been taken by the aroids. The family Araceae is a large family and includes all sorts of curious plants from familiar houseplants like Dieffenbachia, through to Zantedeschia (arum lilies) and monsters such as the giant flowered Amorphophallus. But my current infatuations come in three genera; Alocasia, Colocasia and Xanthosoma, all with similar lush foliage. The common name of elephant's ear that is applied to them all adds to the confusion. All are tropical and need a greenhouse to grow well in the UK, although some intrepid exotic gardeners have had amazing success particularly with Colocasias outdoors in sheltered locations. All grow from fleshy rootstocks, need starting in a warm greenhouse and overwintering in frost-free conditions.
I've dabbled with a few Colocasias in the past and grew an impressive 'Jack's Giant' two summers ago. This year I seem to have seen them and their relatives everywhere from chilly Norfolk in the UK to the sunshine of New York. Inevitably Will Giles had a some in his exotic garden including some great Xanthosomas in his new polythene tunnel. Not surprisingly there was a good selection at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and a few in the Conservatory Gardens in Central Park. What did surprise me was their usage in planters in public areas. I wonder if this would work in the UK? I somehow doubt we would have enough sunshine and warmth to encourage them to really thrive! Anyway here's a few pictures to show you what has grabbed my attention. Naming may be a bit hit and miss as some inevitably weren't labelled. If you have a better guess - let me know or leave a comment! First some Alocasias - probably the most difficult to grow.
|Alocasia macrorrhiza 'Calidora' - probably the most often seen and here photographed at the Eden Project UK|
|'Calidora' again but with other exotics in Times Square New York - (a reader comments that this is 'Portadora') What's the difference?|
|Alocasia sanderiana - often available as a houseplant|
|Alocasia cuprea 'Dragon Scale' - scary looking cultivar at the Tatton Park Flower Show|
Now Colocasias - lots of them and some great foliage colours. Google them and you'll find even more curious cultivars.
|Colocasia esculenta - (corrected to Xanthosoma sagitaefolia)|
|Colocasia antiquorum (syn esculenta) 'Illustris' in Brooklyn Botanics|
|Seen in Central Park New York - possibly the cultivar 'Black Coral'|
|'Black Magic' in the arboretum flower garden in Nottingham last year - we like our exotics!|
|'Jack's Giant' - my own garden a couple of years ago - largest leaf was almost 90cm (3ft) long|
|Possibly 'Lemonade' - seen in Central Park|
|Cultivar called 'Pink China' maybe? Brooklyn Botanics.|
|Love this one - possibly 'Rhubarb' - vigorous grower and Central Park again.|
Finally some Xanthosomas and I have to admit I really hadn't much noticed them until this year. I'm also on shaky ground as I'm not quite sure what distinguishes these from Colocasia.
|Xanthosoma violaceum in Will Giles' tunnel|
|Planters in New York - could this be Xanthosoma 'Lime Zinger'|
|'Lime Zinger' again but just love this picture.|