In the garden today……

Arum italicum marmoratum…….

is one of the shining stars!

But this is one of those strange plants, because now you see it and now you don’t!

It has spikes of berries and no leaves now. 

Shortly it will be throwing up leaves:

All winter long you have quality marbled foliage, a star when little else is.

Fabulous then with shining dark evergreens like Portuguese Laurel and yew. Imagine a whole river of this beneath an evergreen screen or juxtaposed in borders with neat shrubs like Euonymus microphyllus and Sarcococca forms. Also great in association with Iris foetidissma. And bulbs such as snowdrops.

Beloved by flower arrangers in winter, you will see it in churches and drawing rooms up and down the land, the sculptural base to countless ‘Constance Spry’ efforts.

Then come June there is an awkward hiatus, when it dies down completely.

‘Just when I am out in my garden!’ you will say!

The way to work this one is that you grow it in woodland borders or odd spaces where feel is more informal and others things flop over it and grow up either side.

We grow it in association with Aconitum napellus. The Aconitum is quite definitely the star of the growing season.

With the Arum space almost unnoticed beside it. And in Spring the combination of fresh green Aconitum foliage and the older Arum foliage is genius:

 

Add a few Euphorbia lathyrus and Carex Frosted Curls and you have a star turn even without any flowers!

But that is another story. Now in the late summer the scuzzy Aconitum foliage is cut to reveal the next  Arum stage:

 

Its clubs of greenish fruits are by now orange red berries

So it has two main seasons of interest. Oh and there’s the purplish, typical Lords and ladies flowers which have fleeting interest in Spring.

That should be enough of a performance for any herbaceous plant!

To have nothing when you have everything else and something when you have almost nothing else seems quite an achievement.

Warning: It does come from seed which the birds will spread about and the seedlings are variable. You will have good forms, excellent forms and some also rans. The secret here is to allow a couple of years to pass before your final selection and whip out the ones which you do not like.

Fact: I wonder how many of you make the Canary Islands one of your winter holiday destinations. Get away from the touristy hot spots and it has a flora which will intrigue gardeners. That is where this originally came from over 300 years ago! 

L and R

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