Cleome Sparkles In Early Morning Dew

Early morning sun revealed water droplets on Cleome petals in the side garden this morning.

Dew on Cleome (Spider Flower)  09-10-2012

Old-fashioned Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower) is an annual that reseeds easily in my zone 7b garden. Many years ago a friend gave me a few plants she had started from seeds purchased at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home in Charlottesville, Virginia. The plants came to me with her warning, “They will spread.”

They did and they do; I love them. They grow easily but require little effort to pull up if they get into the wrong spot.

Cleome were still blooming last year in November. By mid-May this year Cleome seedlings were again on their way. I transplanted a few to other areas of the garden. In one new situation where it was very sunny they did well, but another area was perhaps too shady for them.

Cleome Seedlings Mid-May 2012

Cleome hassleriana has such an interesting form with buds, open flowers, fruiting bodies and sticky, palmate leaves all coexisting to create a complex architectural structure. As buds continue to open near the top, fruit forms underneath and all the while the stem grows taller and thicker, easily reaching 3-5 feet by the end of the flowering season in fall.

Cleome (Spider Flower) 8/24/2012

The flowers are delicate and airy with 6 long stamens suggestive of spidery legs (in shape, that is, not in number) and four oval petals.

The fruit of Cleome hassleriana are long capsules. Being dehiscent, the capsules split open when mature, discharging the seeds and setting up another possible encounter with dew on Cleome petals in the garden next year.

Cleome (Spider Flower) Capsules

The weather is beautiful. Temperatures began cooling Saturday night and lows in the 50s and 60s are forecast for this week. Highs will be 79F tomorrow and 80s for the rest of the week.

12 thoughts on “Cleome Sparkles In Early Morning Dew

  1. Cathy

    Perfect weather for you too then. 😀 I really do love Cleome, and your photos are gorgeous. I will try and grow them in large pots next year, in an attempt to stop the snails nibbling!

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Thanks! Hope you can thwart the slugs next year so you can enjoy cleome in your own garden. Deer don’t bother them here which is first on my checklist of whether I can grow something. Enjoy the nice weather–losing our humidity this week has been such a relief.

  2. Christina

    Isn’t it wonderful when the weather cools down after a long hot summer? Cleome is a plant that I too obtained from a stately home (Clivedon, Taplow England). I don’t have it here but if it grows so well for you, I’m thinking it would do well for me too. Christina

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Yes, exciting change in weather. I’ll be interested to know how cleome does for you there Christina. It is pretty drought-tolerant and one of the few plants that didn’t seem to benefit much from the extra-heavy rain we had here this summer. I’m going to look up Clivedon.

  3. Debbie

    Cleome is one of my favorite annuals. They make sure a statement in the garden and I love how they reseed. It’s always fun to spot the distinctive leaves in other areas of the garden.

  4. sandy

    I love the fact that your plants originated in Thomas Jefferson’s garden. They are really lovely, and add so much to the garden. I have never planted them, but had one come up in the garden a few years ago. Sadly, it did not reseed.

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      How nice to get a volunteer cleome dropped into your garden, even if short-lived!

      I enjoy that association with Monticello–my husband has a huge interest in Jefferson. I doubt my seeds “originated” in TJ’s personal garden, but they were purchased at Monticello where cleome have traditionally been grown in the Roundabout flower walk garden. So I imagine they were collected from his “contemporary” garden. (I need to learn more about heritage seeds.)


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