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#BotanistLens: Modular Greens

Summer is for color. Summer gardens are filled with vivacious annuals and perennial flower colors. But summer in a woodland/sun garden is also to relish the greens! Elephant ears, Colocasia is one such 'summer green' to enjoy, the flowers are inconspicuous, but the large fleshy leaves are eye catching.

Did you know that plants are modular organisms? "Most plants are modular and are certainly the most obvious group of modular organisms. In modular organisms, neither timing nor form is predictable. In the growth of a higher plant, the fundamental module of construction above ground is the leaf with its axillary bud and the attendant internode of the stem. As the bud develops and grows, it produces further leaves, each bearing buds in their axils. The plant grows by accumulating these modules." (Unitary and modular organisms - Species Richness - Ecology Center).

Since form isn't predictable in modular organisms, it is exciting when you plant bulbs, corms and tubers. Unpredictability of the flowers, leaves and the overall shape of the plant is exciting. Especially when it comes to Elephant ears or Naked ladies, Lycoris sp.

Elephant ears (Colocasia sp.), Crocus, Gladioli are all corms. Crocus are fall planted corms to enjoy in the following spring, whereas Gladioli and Elephant ears are spring planted corms to enjoy in mid-late summer.

Naked ladies, Lycoris squagimera and Elephant ears are two beautiful bulb/corms blooming at London Town right now. In Lycoris the leave emerge in spring, then die back and in late summer only flowers emerge on tall stems. How many, where and in what shape they will come up, is not known, plants are modular organisms after all! Same thing with Elephant ears, when you plant the corm, it’s a wait and watch till mid-summer of how many, where and how tall the leaves will get.

Bulbs, corms, bare roots and many more varieties of ground covers and ornamental plants will be featured in our plant sale in Sept. Can’t wait to buy bulbs already? Members and Volunteer can now pre-order bulbs at:


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