Lunaria annua (Honesty) seedlings

honestydetailYou have to watch where you walk in the shade garden at the moment. Here are my little lunaria annua seedlings. A thicket of them.  One of my shade garden success stories.

You will no doubt see hundreds, nay thousands of these plants each spring beside many roads in our part of France.

And if I were keen, I’d travel more widely and see them all over Europe at this time of year.  Honesty (or Monnaie de Pape here in France) are a wonde1detail monnaie de paperful woodland flower.

They only flower every second year. So these seedlings you see here will not appear as flowers until next spring. Which is why I don’t thin seedlings.  They have to endure a year of life in a crowded garden bed. And I might only end up with one in this clump.

Some will be accidently trodden on (by me). Others will be crushed when the cat chooses his snoozing spot between the shrubs. Plants will be uprooted when they are pushed aside by the moles which have plenty of runs here.  And I’m sure the slugs will enjoy them if they are hungry.

There have always been the ocassional honesty plant here, and I let them flower then seed as they are useful throughout the plant cycle.

The flowers are gorgeous – purple here. But one day I will remember to plant the white ones which are stunning 1flowers mid mayin Andrew’s garden.

And best of all, when the flowers go over (and the season is short) you get gorgeous green discs of foliage.  Sometimes I get lucky and can create bouquets with both the flowers from plants which are more shaded, and the green seed pods which have already finished their flowering cycle.

(You can tell I have been having a rummage in my Flowers in Vases folder. I’m colour deprived.)

But most people don’t even bother with the green pods for their displays.  They are waiting for the next phase.honesty after

And the reason why they are also called silver dollars in some countries. And the pope’s money here.  Delicious silvery discs of the dry seed pods. Paper thin, translucent in the light. And a perfect winter flower display. They will last for years.

You just have to carefully peel back the outer casing of the seedpods to reveal the three black flat seeds and the silvery interior.  The seeds get flung back out into the shade garden each autumn.

But the lunaria plants belong to the brassica family.  So they share the same pest. My least favourite butterfly – the cabbage moth butterfly.

Pause for hissing swear words under my breath as I type. Loathsome critters.  They will gladly alight on the honesty plants to lay their eggs early in the season. So you have to keep an eye out; they canhonesty hatch and a hundred caterpillars will strip the plant in days.  And thus the cycle is complete.

Luckily I walk back and forth along the path between the two shade garden beds where most of the plants will flower each day.  I will have my x-ray caterpillar alert eyes ready from May.  But for now, I just admire the little teensy seedlings coming up in the wrong places and wonder how many will make it through the year.