Good Chias or Mark and the Giant Sagestalk

In the last few days it seems to have become darker much more quickly. I’ve been occupied at the computer writing transition blogposts and sending emails. It took a reminder from Emily that back in September I’d promised her some marigolds if they were still blooming in November, to get me up and out to have a look around.

Giant Chia

On the way out this morning I looked up at the enormous Chia (Salvia hispanica) in the conservatory, straining against the roof. Charlotte bought me the seeds for my birthday in May, for eating rather than planting because they’re delicious and full of nutrients (a resilience food in the native Americas). But I planted a hundred or so anyway to see what would happen with this annual Mexican sage. And they ALL germinated. And grew. And grew. Way beyond the two to three feet that the literature tells you they grow.

Handsome plants with big heart-shaped aromatic leaves, happy inside and out, amongst the sunflowers here and in with the anise hyssops and buddleia in the community garden at Bungay Library. But no blooms. I’d been looking forward to seeing the blue flowers, but had finally come to terms with the fact that this light and heatloving, oil-producing tough old Mexican was not on home ground!

Blue Chias in November

But wait! What was that shimmer of blue at the top of the plant on those buds? I climbed onto a stool. And there they were. On the 7th November. A head of sky-blue sage flowers with a dash of white. I nearly fell off the stool with excitement (other plantlovers will understand this reaction if not everyone). Went to get the camera. And decided that I’d plant the seeds three months earlier next year, at the beginning of February.

Preparing the Plant Medicine bed for 2012

At this point cautionary but kind voice in head kicks in: “I thought you weren’t going to do seeds next year. The plants take up so much time, and you know how you fuss. And you’ve got the Plant Medicine Bed at Bungay Library to see to.”

Me in physical reality: “Oh yes, but I’ll only do a few, you know some sunflowers and cosmos and marigolds and morning glories and tithonias and a few mints and other sages, oh and I’ve got that geranium, a few daturas and… it’ll be fine!”

Outside, that other Mexican plant was still blooming – the cempoalxochitl (Nahuatl for ‘twenty flowers‘) or Flor de Muerto (Spanish for Flower of the Dead) marigold, a little bedraggled from the recent wind and rain and the flowers no longer in such abundance. But there are probably seven or eight you could take for the event on the 10th, Emily (see photo below). And I’d love to show you the good chia…

Cempoalxochitl – ‘flower of the dead’ – descended from wild Oaxaca seeds. 7th November 2011

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by adrienne campbell on 07/11/2011 at 12:57 PM

    Mark, lovely post. Can you send me some seeds of the Mexican Chia along with the chili that Charlotte has promised me? I will gladly send you some of mine – do you have tomatillos already? They would complement your mexican selection. I’m still slightly resisting going dormant with the darkness and can be seen poking about after dark on my allotment with the light on my mobile phone…

    Reply

  2. Sure I can Adrienne, glad you enjoyed the post. Some tomatillos would be lovely. Are they yellow or purple ones? Charlotte just told me that Ann (our fellow social reporter) has enormous ones growing everywhere in her polytunnels.

    What is it with giant plants this year? Several growers we know have reported huge potatoes and even we got one here in our mostly wild garden.

    atb, Mark

    Reply

  3. Posted by EMILY on 07/11/2011 at 4:38 PM

    THANK YOU MARK ,HOW EXCITING TO FIND YOUR PLANT FLOWERING AND IN NOV IN SUFFOLK,THE EVENT IS ON THE 10TH AT THE ARTWORKERS GUILD IN LONDON PLEASE COULD FRANK COME OVER AND COLLECT SOME DAY OF THE DEAD FLOWERS ON WEDNESDAY?
    TEL IF NECESSARY [FRANK DOESNT DO E-MAIL ] 01379586653

    Reply

  4. Posted by Jo on 30/01/2012 at 12:57 PM

    Thanks for your seeds, Mark. I’m looking forward to trying these out – will plant quite soon, as you suggest.
    x

    Reply

  5. […] grew until the one in the conservatory reached over seven feet and bloomed in November with its incredible bright blue flowers. The problem is I love seeds! I love collecting them, planting them, giving them away, sending […]

    Reply

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