>> Saturday, October 3, 2009
Jack-in-the-Pulpit is another exceptional one to watch as it transforms. It provides visual interest in all stages, from the striped canopy covering "jack" to the bright berries at the conclusion of it's growth.
One year, we grew loofah gourds on a trellis and were amazed at the size of the fruit. The real fun started after the gourds dried. The children whacked the gourds on the ground to loosen the skin and expose the dried pulp. The sound was great, and the large black seeds exploded in all directions. It was like a natural pinata! We were left with wonderful loofah sponges, which soon became my favorite dish scrubbing sponge.
Cardoon is a striking addition if you have a large, sunny space. I planted three, small, pitiful looking specimens and ended up with a dense cluster approximately 4 foot wide by 5 foot tall. The leaves measured up to 24 inches long. The flower head resembles an artichoke, then bursts with a cluster of purple filaments. When it goes to seed, the head pops open and black seeds are carried on the wind like fairies. The stalks are edible and have a texture similar to cooked celery.