blogWhile the great rush of the spring flowering is now over, it’s true to say that there is never a season when Corfu is not in bloom, even in the baking heat of midsummer. Once the mass of flowers has seeded and the grass has died back, the spiny, structural plants come into their own. Growing now in June is Acanthus, or Bear’s Breeches, a tall spike encircled by innumerable two-lipped blooms, the top one purple and the lower white. The form of the flower head is considered to be the inspiration for the design of Corinthian capitals in Ancient Greece – is it the only flower to have inspired an architectural feature?
Acanthus was one of the earliest flowers to be brought into cultivation for aesthetic reasons rather than for food or other use; with softer leaves than its spiky wild cousin, Acanthus mollis is even now a common garden flower.
Later on in the month, Amethyst Sea Holly (Eryngo) sprouts in the now-dry soil (it is a perennial with a deep tap-root). Extremely spiky, it starts out a dullish green, then suddenly the whole plant turns a bright electric purply-blue, hence the name.
A particularly unpleasant structural plant is a very prickly thistle-like one with yellow sunburst flowers, just appearing towards the close of June.
However, the star of this year’s early summer must be the wild clematis, a delicate white flower which grows en masse, clambering through hedgerows and bushes, and swamping them in white. So prolific is it this year that whole hillsides are punctuated with bursts of ivory. It has a sweet scent which has no hint of the rot which lurks behind the perfume of jasmine, and for this reason it is called Traveller’s Joy. Once the flowers die back, grey fluffy hairs form around the seeds – cue in its other name: Old Man’s Beard. And there’s not a spike or prickle to be seen.

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