H. Perennial & Old Fashioned Garden Plants & Flowers by John Wood
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Morina Longifolia - Hardy Perennial
Author: John Wood
Morina Longifolia Described.
Morina Longifolia - Syn. M. Elegans; Whorl Flower; Nat. Ord. Dipsaceæ.
Until this plant comes into flower there is little about it for us, who are trained to dislike and almost despise thistles, to admire. It is not a thistle certainly, but the resemblance is very close when not in flower, and the three or four specimens which I grow have often caused a laugh from visitors at my expense, but I pocket the laugh and ask them to come and see my thistles in June. When, too, weeding is being done, it is always needful, for the safety of the plants, to give some such hint as "Do not pull up those thistles;" but if this plant is no relation to that despised weed, it belongs to another race, the species of which are also formidably armed—viz., the Teasel. It comes from the Himalayas, and is comparatively new in English gardens.
It is hardy, herbaceous, and perennial, grows to a height of 2ft., and the flowers are produced in whorls or tiers interspersed with the thorny foliage near the top of the stems. At this stage of development the plant has a noble appearance, and the rings of flowers are very beautiful—though when I say flowers I here mean the combination of buds and blossoms in their different stages and colours. The buds are pure white and waxy, and when open, are of a delicate pink; as they get advanced, they turn to a lovely crimson; these are all the more pleasing, because the flowers last a long time. In form they are tubular and horn-shaped, having a spreading, uneven corolla, five-parted. Each flower is 1in. long and ¾in. across, six to fifteen in a whorl, the whorls being five to ten in number. The whorl-bracts are formed of three arrow-shaped leaves, deeply cupped, and overlapping at their junction with the stem or scape; they are spiny and downy underneath. Calyx, tubular and brown. Segments (two), pale green, notched, alternated with long spines, and surrounded with shorter ones. The leaves of the root are 9in. to 12in. long, and 2in. wide in the broadest parts; pinnate, waved, and spined, like the holly or thistle. The leaves of the stem are similar in shape, but very much smaller. The whole plant, and especially if there are several together, has a stately appearance, and attracts much attention; it is a good border plant, but it will be more at home, and show to equal advantage in openings in the front parts of the shrubbery, because it enjoys a little shade, and the shelter from high winds is a necessity, it being top heavy; if tied, it is robbed of its natural and beautiful form.
It thrives well in sandy loam. Slugs are fond of it, and eat into the collar or crown, and therefore they should be looked for, especially in winter, during open weather. To propagate it, the roots should be divided as soon as the plants have done flowering, they then become established before winter sets in. Plant in the permanent quarters, and shade with leafy branches for a fortnight.
Flowering period, June and July.
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