Here's the parent in my mother's garden at the end of October. It's a lace-cap hydrangea which has inflorescences of tiny fertile flowers (with stigmas and stamens) surrounded by infertile flowers which are collared by leaf bracts coloured like pink petals to attract insects :
Other plants have developed even further in their efforts to diversify their genes, exhibiting dichogamy, changing sex effectively to maximise both pollen export and ovule fertilisation. Pollen and ovules are protein-rich, their production expending much energy, but the plants are prepared to exert themselves as their sole aim in life is to produce as many seeds as possible.
Clerodendrum, otherwise known as mexican hydrangea, has been the highlight of my autumn garden. We have a love-hate relationship ... it grows uncontrollably, up through the patio a few feet away from the major clump and popping up on the other side of the neighbour's fence too. I cut it down to the ground last year, not bothered if I never saw its huge, sinister, foul-scented leaves again ... my feelings have softened since.
I didn't notice the intricate purple veining last year or how the heart-shaped leaves tried to woo me ....
Once their work is done, the stamens bend over.
This week I decided to share the link to my blog with someone from the real world.
At first I kept the blog a secret, I started talking about it in January but I didn't want to share it for fear of getting writer's block. I was amused at the first comment of feedback :
(1) it sounds like I was suicidal until I discovered gardening
(2) no wonder I spend such a long time writing posts
(3) the interaction of the blogging community is lovely
Botany : an introduction to plant biology By James D. Mauseth
Hydrangeas under a microscope :