A windowsill makeover
|Before: evidence of my shameful treatment of Aloe vera|
"... What's that doing on my seat?", I asked NAH.
"It's getting in the way, and I'm fed up. What is it anyway?"
"It's Aloe vera. I keep it there in case we have a burn to treat."
"And how many times have you used it?"
"Er, none," was my shamefaced reply, "that's why it's got rather out of hand."
Aloe vera is a tough succulent suitable for growing indoors in the UK. That pictured little lot goes back well over nine years, as I was given an offshoot to pot up by my GNO friend H well before I left my last permanent job. The only care I've taken since then was to pot up the pictured three pots of them grown from the original offshoot, and to trim the dead ends and leaves from time to time.
I'm shocked by my own neglect, yet pleased NAH in his Drastic Gardener guise has stirred me into action.
|After: two small offshoots of Aloe vera flanked by two different Plectranthus species|
Barbara gave me another two Plectranthus species, related to the coleus we looked at in my Keep it Simple front garden recently.
She thinks the plant on the left is Plectranthus habrophyllus*, but can't say for sure as she herself received it as a cutting. It's an aromatic plant, which has a quite a minty overtone when I gently crush a leaf.
On the right we have Plectranthus amboinicus, another aromatic plant with a host of common names e.g. country borage, French thyme, Indian mint, Mexican mint, and Spanish thyme. Barbara called it Cuban oregano and I'd say it has more of an oregano/thyme aroma than mint. The leaves are fleshy and fairly hairy, and the plant grows quickly on my sunny south facing windowsill.
It doesn't seem to mind being chopped back quite severely, so I'm going to experiment with using it as an alternative to basil and oregano in my pasta dishes this winter. Basil in particular does not grow at this time as there's insufficient light, so it'll be interesting to see what my new plant brings to the kitchen table.
Note: if you're wondering where the windowsill referred to in the title is, I've spared you the sight of it as my windows need cleaning.
* = Update: Barbara has subsequently identified it as Plectranthus grandidentatus.
Latin without tears
- Aloe derived its name from the Arabic word alloeh meaning bitter, because of the bitter liquid found in the leaves
- vera means true or genuine in the context of being the most effective healer in the case of Aloe vera
- habrophyllus is derived from the Greek habros meaning graceful, and phyllus for leaf. The frilled leaves of Plectranthus habrophyllus are quite pretty in my view
- amboinicus means 'of or from Ambon (or Amboina), the name of both the island and the capital of the Indonesian Spice Islands in the Maluku island group' (source: Plantlives)