Brilliant colours, searing heat
From the bloggers I follow, gardeners in the US and Europe are getting into the swing of high spring, simultaneously breathing sighs of relief and keeping an eagle eye open for a late frost or sudden storms. Wherever you garden you have to be ever alert in case the climate catches you out.
Our plants are suffering -as are we! – in a heatwave that has seen temperatures close to record levels in Cairo. It has been in the mid-40s Centigrade this week. Stepping out into the garden is rather as I imagine it might feel to enter a fan oven set to “High”. It’s only possible to work outside if you get up at dawn; even the sunset hour is an inferno.
But even as the thirsty bees congregate around any collection of water they can find, especially the bowls we put out for them and for the dog, there are some plants that actually seem to thrive in these conditions. Here, for Carol’s Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day for May – see http://www.maydreamsgardens.com/ – are my favourites. All colour and no perfume, they are spectacular at this time of year:
Delonix regia, appropriately known as the flame tree, reigns supreme in our street right now. Superbly colourful, the clusters of brilliant red flowers are eye-catching especially against the trees’ generous green foliage.
Delonix originates in the Caribbean, but it is widely planted in Egypt’s public spaces and takes over from the lavender-coloured jacarandas once they have finished flowering in late April.
Then there are the hibiscus, H. rosa-sinensis. Whatever the conditions of summer, these lovely shrubs are among the most rewarding we have: the only thing that seems to upset them is infestation by mealy bugs, and then they are truly miserable. Otherwise, they flower almost non-stop through the hottest of days.
The flowers last for only one day: spectacular and showy, they are also strangely lightweight and fragile. Ants adore them.
Last but not least, I would add two migrants from the UK. Self-seeded nasturtiums, Trapaeolum majus, that have popped up in a raised bed; and a sunflower of strangely small size and shy habit, with unusual colouring and a tendency to blow over in the wind. I am not sure what this specimen is: