Silene italica. Photo by Tony Garn

Silene italica

On the hot hillsides of Crete Elspeth saw the potential of Silene italica. A feature of the Mediterranean macchi or its poorer relative the garigue scrub vegetation it was growing in association with  Helianthemum and Pistachia species. These short lived perennials were growing at c. 772 metres on goat grazed hillsides as isolated plants. Due to the baking sun, thin soil and impoverished nature of the terrain the plants were a maximum height of 600mm; here in the rock garden the benefits of rainfall and a deeper soil give growth to one metre height. The massed white flowers appear as a cloud, each has a quiffed trio of anthers adding to the spectacle.