August's plant of the month

Colutea arborescens

One of the many plants of Mediterranean origin that thrive in the Glyndebourne gardens is the shrub, Colutea arborescens. Throughout the summer it is covered with coppery-yellow flowers that resemble those of the pea family. It’s the startling, inflated seed pods, though, that are the main attraction of the plant. They give Colutea its common name of Bladder Senna.

As the season develops the pods take on an attractive bronze hue and by the autumn they are paper-thin. In a strong breeze you can hear the ripe seed rattle inside the fragile pods.

The plant was introduced into Britain as long ago as the 1560, probably because it was assumed to have medicinal purposes. In 1597, the herbalist John Gerrard records having it growing in his garden, observing only that it is not the true senna.

Click on the image gallery for each month’s special plant, and return here next month to discover more about our plant of the month for September.