There's no telling which tree and flower will grab my attention when I stroll around the Botanic Garden, but here's a tree that I simply hadn't noticed before...
Honey Locust - Gleditsia Triacanthos
It was one of the few trees in the garden that was beginning to show just a touch of autumn colour and it also looked so light and delicate against the blue sky. All its label told me was that it is native to the south-east United States. So I took a few photos.
Although the tracery of branches may look intricate and dainty, that's rather misleading - dainty it ain't! This is a tough and resilient tree capable of surviving in a wide range of environments and in some places being regarded as a horribly invasive species. Here in the UK it's just an attractive small tree requiring very little specialist care.
Most Honey Locust trees have branches equipped with sharp spines which can be long enough and sharp enough to puncture car tyres. I didn't notice any and can't spot them on my photos so I'm guessing that this tree is a cultivar which has been selected for its lack of thorns.
The areas of bark which I did study had no sign of thorns but had some interesting shades and textures.
All in all it's a bit of an enigma: it looks delicate but is in fact hard as nails - quite literally as its thorns were actually used as nails in the past. In many places it's a popular tree which has fast growth and can be grown in all sorts of climates and on all kinds of soil. However this toughness can also make it an aggressive invader of agricultural land. I suppose you can't please all the people all the time.
But I know I can please at least one reader with my choice of flower this month.
Autumn Crocus - Colchicum Autumnale
The first thing to mention is that this "autumn crocus" is not a crocus at all but a member of the Lily family, whereas the true crocuses belong to the Iris family. Just to confuse things a bit more the common name of the Autumn Crocus is "Meadow Saffron", but it's not the plant that saffron is obtained from; that's Crocus sativus, a member of the crocus family which also flowers in the autumn!
There are in fact several closely related Colchicums, and many hybrids and cultivars, all of which are usually called Autumn Crocus by most gardeners. There are several similar plants growing in various parts of the Botanic Gardens - the Autumn Garden, the Limestone Rock Garden and the Alpine House.
They have a very individual life-cycle in that they burst forth from the soil at a time when everything else in the garden is thinking of shutting down for the winter. Its leaves have appeared in early Spring but they die back and then nothing happens all through summer till it flowers at the last possible moment, bringing a little cheer to the shortening days of September.
All parts of the plant are poisonous, especially to cats, though presumably most pussycats are too intelligent and discerning to try them. A drug is extracted from the plant though, which can be used for the treatment of gout.
The flowers are short-lived and often fall over on to the ground. But even that they do attractively and gracefully.