My husband loves Mesembryanthemum and I've been meaning to grow some for him for ages. So when I saw some Mesembryanthemum plants on the wonderful plant stall on the Nottingham Victoria Market I had to have them. I think they cost less than £2 and like so much in gardening what a return they are giving for the investment. I planted them in a ceramic pot (2/3 B&Q horse manure soil improver as the base layer and 1/3 B&Q peat free compost and a shake of chicken manure pellets above). From the very first Mesembryanthemum flower opening my heart jolted with joy, I had forgotten how much I loved them too! Now each morning when the sun smiles on them the pot full of flowers raise up their heads and sing to me as I walk past, it is a very happy moment. This kind of UP is vitally important in my battle to keep positive when the painful and debilitating elements of CFS/Fibro are by their very nature dragging me down.
In a garden full of beautiful flowers it is amazing that the Mesembryanthemums have been noticed and commented on by so many of our friends. They had forgotten how much they loved them too! I'm getting plants for them all next year!
The biggest surprise to me is how much the hoverflies love them. I do so much planting with pollinators, particularly the marmalade hoverflies, in mind; how did Mesembryanthemums slip under my gardening radar. Perhaps they are not fashionable and I had simply not read about them or seen them. Anyway back to the hoverflies. The first Mesembryanthemum flower that bloomed had one constant hoverfly companion. I had a very happy hour photographing them. Now with a pot full of flowers to choose from there are 6 or 7 hoverflies constantly darting about like madcap children full of drive but often spooking each other with some competition to get to the best flower. It makes photographing them more challenging. As pretty as it looks through the lens it is a life or death business for the hoverflies as they need the protein from the pollen to live and to gain strength in order to mate and lay eggs. I think they have about 12 days to do this.
What I love about the hoverflies, on the Mesembryanthemum, is their systematic approach to pollen gathering; it is one stamen at a time unless spooked. They, seem to, tenderly hold a filament as they harvest the pollen off the anther. I assume they do not clear all the pollen off the stamen in one go but by the time I come to deadhead the spent flowers many of the stamen are totally clear of pollen. Focussing, through my macro lens, on this gentle methodical, and oh so beautiful, approach makes my life stand still and feels as calmingly therapeutic as meditation.
Further Info: Many Mesembryanthemum species are known as Ice Plants because of the glistening globular bladder cells covering their stems, fruit and leaves. Mesembryanthemum where originally named by Jacob Breyne in 1684 using mesembrianthemum 'Midday Flower'. In 1719 the spelling was changed when some species were found to flower at night. Mesembryanthemum 'flower with the pistil in the center'