Sunday, October 3, 2010

Millettia sp. is flowering on my side deck railing, Hedychium 'Elizabeth' below it

Thought I might not get any flowering on the Millettia this year. It only flowers on fairly mature stems and that usually means wood from a previous season. Last winter wasn't especially cold by our standards, but a lot of this plant's growth died anyway. I'm not sure what to make of it but I like it anyway. I know two other Millettia sp. in the DC area: we have one in KO, the Korean Triangle in the Asian Collections USNA; and Ed Aldrich has one that covers 30+' ?of a fence in his garden in Alexandria Virginia. Both the other's, not mine, seem to flower heavily and freely. Ours at the Arboretum has a distinctly shrubby growth habit while Ed's and mine are enthusiastic vines. The first time I saw Ed's in flower he brought the floral fragrance to my attention; whle I found it interesting, the general consensus was that it wasn't an asset to the plant. Mine seems not to have any fragrance. I've checked all times of day both on dry and humid days....nothing. So all three would seem to be different plants, which makes some sense as there are over 150 species in the genus. It's interesting that though the genus is composed of tropical and sub-tropical species, all three of these different taxa have survived a number of winters here in USDA Zone 7.

Hedychium 'Elizabeth' is one of my favorites. The flowers are large and relatively long lasting. The fragrance is less powerful than most but also nicer than most. The only drawback for those of us who use it as a dieback perennial, is the fact that it often waits till October to flower.....actually, maybe that's a good thing and a bad thing.

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