The strange 'bottlebrush' shape of the flowering raceme gives rise to the common name of the callistemon, reminiscent of a traditional bottle brush.
|Callistemon flower and developing seed pods|
Long stamens carry pollen at the tip of the filament, all but obscuring the inconspicuous petals. Most flower heads are red, some are yellow, orange or white. Some of the stamens hang on to the bitter end whilst triple-celled seed capsules develop. In most species these will remain enclosed, though a few species release the seeds annually. What I haven't seen before are the callistemon flower buds.
|Callistemon buds resting on pelargonium leaves|
So many plants hold distant memories of places or people. In the instance of the callistemon, although I am certain I saw it at Tresco Gardens when I was a child, it was a visit to an old family friend of my father's who encouraged me horticulturally whilst still a young woman. Tom Edridge was a giant of a man with a shaggy mariner's beard. He lived with his wife overlooking the water at Newton Abbot. Sadly they never had children because he would have made a tremendous father. We walked around his garden one day and already an avid gardener/propagator I picked the hard, rigid seed pod from his bush. He smiled indulgently...'if you have any success with those let me know,' he remarked with a twinkle in his eye. He did eventually divulge that the seed pod required a fire of some intensity to release the seeds.
So, I took the seed pod as a reminder of a day with Tom. A habit I still have, be it a leaf, a seedpod, shell or a stone.