It’s the time of year when my attention turns to my other love – rugby union and the the start of the Six Nations. However, the garden is never far away from my thoughts, so, for a bit of fun, I thought I’d devise a plant collection in celebration.
For anyone in the dark, this tournament takes place between the four home nations plus France and Italy. Our home teams all have horticultural emblems, which got me thinking! About coming up with a themed border.
If you didn’t know, I’m a Scot, living in England with an English husband. Our son, born in Scotland, considers himself, primarily, a Scot. Imagine our household on the day of the Calcutta cup! (The fixture between Scotland and England)
So, I make no apologies for starting with Scotland!
Obviously, the thistle. Onopordum acanthus – the Scots, or Cotton thistle. It’s a biennial that grows to 3 metres tall, with felted, spiny leaves and its characteristic purple tufts of flowers. Stunning and architectural!
Closely followed, of course, by England.
Aah! The Rose of England! So well loved by we gardeners. Rosa gallica officinalis – Apothecary’s rose or the Red rose of Lancaster. This, merged with the White Rose of Yorkshire, became the Tudor rose, which is the English national symbol.
Ireland’s emblem is the shamrock. Basically clover, which is not overly desirable in the garden, being invasive and a bit of a pest, it may not be the best choice for a border, but within the same family, we have trifoliums and oxalis, some of which make worthy garden plants. Instead, I chose Oxalis tetraphylla “Iron Cross”, which, although not a clover (it has 4 leaves – lucky?), is related. It has interesting purple splashed foliage with delicate sprays of red flowers.
Here, we have choices. Should it be the leek or the daffodil? Both seem to be applicable. And throw into the equation the “Prince of Wales feathers” which is actually on the shirt. But nobody sports the “feathers” in the crowd. It’s always leeks and daffodils. So, which one? It has to be the daffodil, for a border. The selection is immense, but while perusing the huge list of daffodils on offer, I spotted this one – “Triple Crown”. Well, that had to be the one! (The triple crown is awarded to the home team that wins against the other three.)
That’s the four home nations. Now it gets tricky! France and Italy don’t use botanical emblems for their teams – France uses a cockerel and Italy their national flag. So it’s down to me to decide for them!
France is, for whatever reason, associated with garlic and onions. So I went for that emblem, choosing a more decorative member of the allium family. Which one? Why not “Mont Blanc” – France’s highest mountain? After all, they will have a mountain to climb!
Lastly, (and that’s no reflection on where they may end up!)
Here I struggled to come up with an appropriate emblem, so opted for Phlomis italica, just because I like it! I saw this plant a.k.a Italian sage, on a fellow bloggers post and fell in love with its gorgeous soft pink flowers set against felted silvery green leaves. Of course, it’s now on my shopping list! But now that the montage is complete, I realise I haven’t done my homework properly. I have now realised a much more apt emblem for Italy – Bay or Laurel, (Lauris nobilis) used in Roman times to create wreaths to award to victors in sporting competitions. And it appears to be on their shirts under the flag! Oh, well, it’s done now! It’s just a bit of fun! They may not need them – and the Phlomis is prettier!
So there we have it! My garden homage to the Six Nations! All done from a purely biased point of view – no offence intended!
And may I add, please don’t try this at home!! 😉
May the best team win!