Last Thursday the University Botanic Garden in Cambridge recorded the highest-ever temperature for the UK, 38.7 C (that's 101.66 F for anyone still using the old money). I was there a few days before that when it was just pleasantly warm and these were the tree and flower that attracted my attention.
Silver Lime - tilia tomentosa (Chelsea Sentinel)
Towering over the scented garden is this Silver Lime tree, known as a Silver Linden in the USA. This specimen is derived from a now fallen tree which once stood in the grounds of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea. This particular tree, Chelsea Sentinel, is known for its habit of growing to form a tall slender tree with a nicely rounded crown.
It's not merely by chance that it finds itself growing next to the scented garden; at this time of year, when it's in flower, it adds its own powerful fragrance to the mix of plants in the garden below.
To fully appreciate its scent and graceful lines it's worth walking around to the tree, pushing through the overhanging branches and entering that special intimate space directly under the canopy.
It gets its name Silver Lime from it's habit, in hot or dry spells of weather, of turning its outer leaves to reveal their whitish underside, which cuts down the amount of water it loses. I really should have been there on Thursday to witness this phenomenon!
It comes originally from the Balkans but it's by no means a rare tree to find in British parks and gardens. Our flower for this month is also frequently grown in gardens, adding it's own brand of spicy hot colour even in our usual more temperate summers.
Crocosmia or Montbretia
Although they are grown as garden plants over most of the world Crocosmia is a small genus of flowers coming exclusively from Africa and Madagascar.
They are considered an invasive species in the British countryside, though it doesn't seem to grow wild anywhere around here. I have seen it growing in a valley on Exmoor and presumably it does grow wild elsewhere too. I suppose you could also say it grew wild in my mother's garden - we planted some in the 1960's when we moved in and it was still there 50 years later without any care from us.
In the Botanic Garden it's mainly found around the new research labs and Corey Lodge, which used to be the residence of the Director of the Garden. It has the effect of unifying the disparate architecture of the two buildings.
There are also a few examples of the orange variety growing close to the glasshouses.
I've always admired the precise symmetry of the buds before they begin to flower.
And now I'd better click on "Publish" or it'll be August before we know it!