The Fern Area, Galeazza Garden, Crevalcore (Bologna)
There’s nothing really special about this woodland walk at first glance, but many of the plants came from Japan directly or are of Japanese origin, and just knowing this makes it more attractive to me. The castle might be a ruin, but raking the path, watering the ferns, and keeping this area neat makes me feel better.
From Green to Black: Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’
This Japanese plant is, at least in one way, like the bamboo in the next post: it begins green and becomes black. This black is definitely the blackest in the Galeazza garden… and then flip over one of those smooth black leaves, and look at the fine pinstripe pattern on the back; just exquisite!
On the label we have only Japanese characters, except for the words “Cyclamen coum”… This is probably one of those Italian natives I picked up in Kyoto, Japan last year and brought back to the mother country for no good reason other than I like to smuggle plants, and I liked the silver leaves… but that’s reason enough, isn’t it?
This little guy reminds me of a Japanese tenor I heard once in an Italian operahouse - small, clear and bright voice. Can’t say I adored his performance or this colour, but the leaves make it worth keeping!
The black berries are from Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ (Black mondo grass, Black lilyturf, Black dragon grass) - the common names are many, but they all have “Black” in them because without a doubt this beauty is very, very black.
Will they grow if I sow them? We shall see! It’s quite an expensive little plant here in Italy, so I wouldn’t mind having “free” ones if they pop up!
The photo is from February 14th 2010 - back before I had this blog to share photos with people… The berries of the Japanese Ophiopogon are perfectly blue this time of year, but this year they’re still under about six inches of snow… but by day it is slowly melting… melt, snow, melt!
This little plant IS very Japanese, though, and I doubt I could have found it around here very easily. It was in almost every Japanese garden that I visited in November, showing off some very glossy green leaves and bright red berries. It grows to about 3 feet tall, but I have no idea how long this little pup, only a few inches high at the moment, might take to flower or fruit. It seems to be doing well here, but it also looks like a slow grower. Any idea what it might be in Latin?
And the final word is… the Japanese says Manryo, and I’m going with some kind of Ardisia…
Ophiopogon japonicus - It’s time for those fantastic berries that almost look like lapis lazuli or blue glass beads. Tiny little plants that are stubbornly slow to spread in our heavy soil, but such a beauty!