A question

There is a perennial vegetable plant in my garden which has an unusual  flower; unusual to me, that is.
The first time I saw this flower was on this day in 2013.
I picked it and took a photo of it, as it reclined elegantly upon a favourite plate of mine.

First flowering 2013

Since 2013,  the plant has  continued to grow and flourish, and provide us with delicious nourishment. But not a single flower was produced until earlier this week, almost 5 years to the day  from the first flowering.  And this time, there was not one flower, but two.  I was surprised to see them.
I picked them, arranged them in a vase with some foliage,  and photographed them.

Flowering Again 2018

Now here is the question.  Do you know  to which plant these strange flowers belong?

Keen gardeners will know, I am sure, and they will also know the possible reasons for the plant’s  flowering  schedule.

But, if you are not a gardener, and/or are curious and eager to know the origin of these flowers, take a peek here .

Are you surprised by what you read in the linked post?

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119 thoughts on “A question

  1. restlessjo

    I do love a bit of rhubarb! 🙂 🙂 Though they look for all the world like cauliflower gone wild. 🙂 I think I may have seen some in a garden on a back lane on my Algarve wanderings, Ann. Must look closer next time. Hope you are well.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Indeed the flowers are so cauliflower- like it’s hard to believe that rhubarb and cauliflower aren’t related! All well here , Jo, but blogging took a back seat for a few weeks as I had a friend visiting. Normal transmission may resume before Christmas but I am not holding my breath.

      Reply
      1. restlessjo

        Trying to forget about Christmas for a while longer, Ann. I’ll be back in Leeds with my son for a few days, but getting to the Algarve with my sanity intact is the goal at present. 🙂

        Reply
  2. anotherday2paradise

    My dad used to grow rhubarb, but I have to say that as a child, I never noticed rhubarb flowers. They are really lovely. Now you have me remembering our dear mom’s delicious rhubarb tart or crumble, coated with her special vanilla custard. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Oh delicious! I have yet to pick any of my rhubarb but I must get on to it. The rhubarb struggled a bit after the appearance of the flowers but it is now looking lush and strong again.

      Reply
  3. melodylowes

    I have always pulled my rhubarb flowers before they bloomed! I was told that they attract harmful insects and that the plant puts too much energy into creating seeds to bother making any delicious stalks. I don’t know if that is true, but I have acted on that advice for over 20 years… and I have always had delectable rhubarb from my reliable plant year after year. Mine must be a slightly different variety – the flowers are not so tightly bound and they break down really easily, almost ‘raining’ tiny little bits (immature seeds?) when they are picked. Definitely not quite so pretty as yours…

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Melody, I picked the rhubarb flowers at a very early stage, I think. They may have changed if I had let them mature more. I don’t know about harmful insects but something has been nibbling very big holes in the rhubarb leaves! As long the ‘something’ leaves me the stalks I don’t mind. 😉

      Reply
  4. inmycorner

    I have rhubarb that I’ve tried to move from one place to another. It most certainly did move to its new location easily – but it does NOT leave the older spots. Now I have five plants which grow in abundance. I try to stop them from flowering every year! My father told me the rhubarb gets tough if you let it flower and the taste changes. So, I’ve always cut the flowers away – before they bloom. I think I will try something new next spring – on my fifth spring!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I am smiling over your 5 plants. That is a lot of rhubarb! Your father’s observations about rhubarb are interesting. I would hate tough rhubarb, so I think I must pay more attention to potential rhubarb flowers.

      Reply
  5. Sheila

    The flowers are beautiful – I’ve never seen anything like them even though I love rhubarb. That’s wonderful that they provide so much. I’m glad you’re enjoying your garden!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Sheila, I think the garden is enjoying itself! It is in a state of spring riot. The weeds are out there laughing at me. I am glad you are another fan of rhubarb. Do you like it in any particular way? I have just remembered that I love homemade rhubarb jello. I haven’t made that particular dish for years!

      Reply
      1. Sheila

        That’s great – the wild gardens are the best! I’ve mostly had rhubarb as a jelly with strawberries or as a pie. Rhubarb jello sounds like fun – enjoy!

        Reply
  6. Tiny

    I had seen these flowers on your table before and we had these growing in our garden when I was a child. You make all your table arrangements so wonderful. Dylan agrees and sends his regards 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Tiny, you have a keen eye and a great memory! Rhubarb seems to have a found a home in so many countries; it knows how to appeal to people, I guess. 🙂 Love to Dylan. He must be happy to have you home again for walks.

      Reply
  7. Kate Johnston

    My MIL grows rhubarb. It thrives in our humid summers. She doesn’t let it flower as one of our favorite desserts is strawberry-rhubarb crisp. You kind of need a lot of it in a recipe as it cooks down so much. Tart rhubarb paired with sweet strawberries–great combo!

    The plant is pretty when it flowers!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Kate, it sounds as though your MIL makes a great strawberry-rhubarb crisp. I have yet to try the strawberry- rhubarb combo. It’s on my to do list; may this year be the year I remember to do it!

      Reply
  8. Clare Pooley

    I recognised the rhubarb flower, not in the first photo but in the second. Our rhubarb plant flowered two years ago but I cut the flowers off having been told the plant would be weakened if it set seed. I had no idea the flowers could be eaten! We love rhubarb but we didn’t get any this year. Richard pulled some to take to our May Day Fete, not as much as usual, but spring weather was late this year and we hoped for more sticks later. However, we had such a drought this summer the plant didn’t do at all well and we will be digging it up and starting again with a new plant in a different place. I make rhubarb fool which is a lovely dessert, and pies and crumble and just plain stewed rhubarb. It is supposed to go well with oily fish like mackerel though I haven’t tried it.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I hope your rhubarb flourishes in a new place. It is a handy plant to have in the garden for an easy dessert. And, like you, I am a fan of rhubarb fool.

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          🙂 🙂 I am glad I have come to like rhubarb but I suspect that fans of rhubarb are outnumbered by those who are not fans. I was once a non-fan.

  9. Michele LaFollette

    Not a clue, so now I know! It is beautiful though. As you may have guessed, I’m drawn to things in shades of pink. I’m familiar with the china pattern though. I’m a bit obsessed with china! It’s beautiful. I visited a shop last weekend and asked about a very pretty powder pink, gilt bordered teacup and saucer in a display case. She unlocked the case and lifted it out and before offering it to me said “It’s priced at $2,100! Needless to say I declined to even touch it! I believe in using my fine china. But, I couldn’t afford to buy or use that cup and saucer!

    Reply
  10. Juliet

    How fascinating. I’ve come in late, but being totally ignorant on this one, I’m happy to read the unfolding information. As usual, you manage to take a beautiful photo.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you, Juliet. I am very happy to have my camera in working order again. There are so many lovely flowers and scenes to capture at this time of year.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Hmmm, that’s interesting. I am sure my rhubarb would be thrilled to soak up all the delicious compost, fertiliser etc which you lavish on your garden. I guess there’s no telling with some plants. They can be very adamant about where they will or will not grow. 😀 Do you like rhubarb?

      Reply
  11. Karen

    Such an interesting post, I would never have guessed it was a rhubarb flower. Like the others, I thought it would be some form of broccoli.

    Reply
  12. Born To Organize

    Such a beautiful flower along with your accompanying dish. I clicked over to your link and was surprised it was rhubarb. I first thought it was broccoli rabe. Isn’t nature something?

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I have just been out for a quick walk in my neighborhood. It’s a beautiful spring day; blossoms and flowers in abundance. Nature surely is something!

      Reply
  13. Playamart - Zeebra Designs

    It’s always fun pulling up the rear of the queue, as the comments add a lot to the post! Rhubarb? Wow, it looked like some kind of new cousin to broccoli! It looks highly nutritious as well.

    I find myself more and more sensitive to all plant growth; if i water plants that are stressed more than others, i still have to water every single one or else think that they’re wondering ‘what about me?’.. if i plant something, i don’t want to later ‘pull it out’ – if i wanted it there, then it deserves its home… and even if pruning, i touch the plant first with compassion and state, ‘i’m sorry but —‘

    and usually transplant the cuttings…

    the arrangement in the photo is lovely! well done, artista!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Lovely to see you, Z. I wonder if my reply will catch you before you go off line again. 🙂 I don’t know how nutritious the rhubarb flower is but it does seem to be used/cooked much like broccoli. I understand your sensitivity to your plant friends. I have several trees (small ones) which are not in good shape. They really should be removed but each year I hesitate. They have been with me for years now; it seems wrong to destroy them just because they are not as healthy or as pretty as they should be. They are trying their best to survive in the world, just as I do. 🙂

      Reply
      1. Playamart - Zeebra Designs

        hi again— i’ve had a ‘nap’ and am about to meet friends for breakfast and then ‘out of the city’ and home again. there was a reception at the museum yesterday.

        almost a year ago i moved a small plumeria from casa loca. after about six months in one spot, it still had no leaves but seemed ‘well’ – supple.. just bashful perhaps? i moved it to a sunnier location and added coarse sand to the soil.. again, six months or so – no new leaves.. just the ‘stick’…. i wondered if it was a sign that it did not approve of the new location and maybe i was to move to another gps point… alas, this past week i noted the suggestion of new growth at the very tip point… perhaps it’s decided not to boycott the new home!

        i remember long ago i moved a peony three times before it thrived. hopefully your small trees will eventually find their true smiles!

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Ah, you have made me smile. My sister had a similar experience with a plumeria. It took a long time to find exactly where it wanted to be in her garden. Enjoy your breakfast. I am off to bed now.

  14. danniehill

    Well, now I know what a rhubarb flower looks like– and I like it. May even have to try eating a rhubarb. Can’t remember how they taste. I’m growing sesame just because I want to see what the plant looks like

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Sesame! I am fascinated that you are growing it. From what I can see on the internet, sesame looks like a very attractive plant. I hope your harvest is good. I grow a few plants of flax just for the beauty of the flower. I have grown buckwheat as winter ground cover. It was pretty, too. Do you grow coriander? That’s another one I like just for the flowers. As for rhubarb; if you have room, it’s worth a try. 🙂

      Reply
      1. danniehill

        We do grow coriander. It is used very much in Thai food and yes, it is pretty. We’ll be heading back to Thailand in a few weeks to check on things and just plain relax. Something I really need

        Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      That’s very interesting to know. Maybe this season is a good one for flowering rhubarb. Have you had a warm spring, like we have had down here in Christchurch?

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I am wondering if I should have let these flowers mature, Eternal Traveller. Some websites tell me it’s better to remove the flower. Other sites tell me the plant will be fine, tho’ less vigorous, if the flower is left to mature. Ah, the internet, so helpful and so confusing, all at the same time. 😀

      Reply
  15. insearchofitall

    My goodness, this is a bit like going down a rabbit hole. One post leads to another of wonderful information. I would never have guess but then I don’t eat rhubarb. Have never seen it grown either. I lived a very limited life. 😉 The flowers are stunning and I would grow the plant just for those flowers. Thank you for sharing all this wonderful information.

    Reply
  16. restlessjo

    Such a simple little post, but always so beautifully presented, Ann. I didn’t know whether to focus on the rhubarb flower or your and Cynthia’s lovely plates 🙂 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Sometimes, I don’t know which way to focus either, Jo, which is why many of my posts combine such a mixture of things. I am guessing you will be busy at the moment trying to decide which lovely plates or other items to pack. Or maybe it will be a clean slate, take nothing, move. 🙂

      Reply
  17. thecontentedcrafter

    Ha! I was guessing some kind of exotic cauliflower and was really surprised when I followed the link! I grew rhubarb for years and it never flowered. Although maybe that was because we ate it as quickly as it grew 🙂 It’s quite attractive isn’t it and I do like how you put matching plates and ornaments beside your floral arrangements.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Pauline, I expect your rhubarb didn’t flower because it was eaten quickly, as you say, but you probably looked after the rhubarb better than I do. Rhubarb is known as ‘a gross feeder’ ( I love that term!), and needs lots of compost and manure. A rhubarb flower can mean the plant is hungry! It’s a stress signal. Glad you like the plates and ornaments. It’s fun to play with all the little things I have collected over the years. 🙂

      Reply
      1. Su Leslie

        I keep meaning to plant rhubarb, but then forget. It’s something I associate with gluey, over-sweet puddings my mum made, though I know there are lots of very yummy-sounding recipes that use it.

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Indeed! When I was a child, rhubarb either came in a sickly sweet state, or, if my parents cooked it, without any sugar at all. It’s a wonder I ever wanted to give rhubarb a second chance.

  18. Steve Gingold

    That floral cluster is lovely and a nice addition to your plate. We used to grow rhubarb but I am not sure why we do so no longer. I photographed the leaves but never the flowers. Strawberry Rhubarb Pie is a favorite with a nice dollop of whipped cream on top. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Rhubarb can be zucchini-like in its abundance. You end up almost paying friends and neighbours to relieve you of the rhubarb harvest. Perhaps you simply got tired of endless rhubarb, and let it fade away. Time to replant, I wonder, so you can enjoy more of those delicious rhubarb pies. 🙂

      Reply
  19. Clanmother

    I am continually amazed by our amazing world. Who would have thought that rhubarb would produce such an exquisite flower and unpredictable intervals. I know that gardens have conversations – I just wish I knew how to speak their language. Hugs!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Clanmother, I am smiling over your comment. I can imagine those garden conversations happening right now. “Where is SHE? She promised us mulch and compost weeks ago. She hasn’t delivered. What about all those riff-raff weeds? She told us they would be gone in a week. The neighborhood is really going downhill. I don’t know why we bother to flower for her. Tut, Tut…” My ears would be burning if I could understand every word they were saying; I am sure of that.

      Reply
  20. shoreacres

    I never would have guessed rhubarb. We had a large patch when I was a kid, but all I remember are rhubard/strawberry jam and pies, and the fun of using those large leaves for various purposes: fans, hats, and so on. The flowers are beautiful. They reminded me of broccoli that’s bolted, and I suppose that’s the same term that would be used for this phenomenon. I did learn that suddenly warm temperatures often cause other veggies to bolt. Could that have been the reason for yours getting so enthusiastic?

    I enjoyed seeing your plate in the linked post, too. A friend and a friend’s mother had that same pattern, and it’s lovely. Beyond that, you’ve inspired me to finally try and put together a post about my own special dishes. I keep thinking about it — I’d say it’s about time to stop thinking and start writing.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Unusually warm temperatures may indeed be one reason for the bolting rhubarb. It may also be lacking food, and, in fear for its survival, it is producing flowers/seed. Rhubarb is supposed to be easy care but, in my garden, that usually equals no care.
      While I was researching for this post, I found a song by David Bowie which recalls a childhood time in the rhubarb fields. The lyrics may resonate with you. https://youtu.be/HjHHIjBy6ag

      Reply
    2. Gallivanta Post author

      The Desert Rose pattern was obviously one which had as much appeal to Americans as this pattern http://www.potteryhistories.com/page57.html did for my mother’s generation in New Zealand. There are similarities in style, though not colours. My mother, over the years, collected a complete service of Belle Fiori. She still has most of it.
      I am not sure what stories I could write about the Belle Fiori plates, but I do hope you will find time to tell us about your special plates.

      Reply
  21. Cynthia Reyes

    Well I know this only because I cheated and went to the post you linked. Rhubarb flowers! They are beautiful. We have them every other year and yes, I just let them bloom, as I am not a rhubarb cook. But here’s the other thing I wanted to say: I have those Franciscan plates! Made in USA and getting on in years, but I just sent you a photo.

    They are such pretty plates and we’ve had them for decades now. Because I only have four (the salad plates), I rarely use them, but once in a while, I display them because the colours are so gorgeous. Your post made me check the back to realize that we have the same pattern.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Cynthia, I probably should have let them bloom fully this year. Every plant, or being, should have a chance to complete its full cycle. It was mildly mean of me to cut them short. And how splendid we have the same plates. I adore mine. Until recently I used them almost every day but I have decided to use them a little more sparingly now. I want to keep them as long as possible.

      Reply
  22. Steve Schwartzman

    I certainly wouldn’t have guessed rhubarb. The way the flowers cluster tightly made me think of sumacs, even though I don’t know of any sumac that serves as a vegetable. You’re fortunate that the plant has flourished for five years; may it thrive for many more.

    Reply

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