Our native sunflower is one of my favorite flowers. It comprises the genus Helianthus, which…
Victorian gardeners treasured castor oil plant.
The ricinus, or castor oil plant, can offer both a showy color and tall structure for the garden.
It was a popular Victorian plant for both the outdoor vase and garden beds.
Tom Carter writes in his book The Victorian Garden “[William] Robinson lists as indispensable to the subtropical enthusiast ricinus (castor-oil plant), canna, polymnia, colocasia, uhdea, wigandia, ferdinanda, yucca, draceana, and palms.”
In his catalogs and garden magazine Rochester, New York seedsman James Vick (1818-1882) often recommended ricinus.
Vick wrote in his magazine in 1878, “This class of plants [sub-tropical] is becoming very popular,and are used in what is known as sub-tropical gardening, that is, gardens furnished with plants of a tropical, or sub-tropical, origin, such as Century Plant, Agaves, Cannas, Caladiums, Ricinus, Yucca, Wigandia, Tritoma, Pampas Grass, etc.”http://americangardening.net/free-ts-dating-site/
Ricinus fit the Victorian flair for bold and beautiful in the garden. It can grow several feet high with leaves that can measure three feet or more.
You can still find ricinus at garden centers in the spring and early summer.
Who knows? Maybe this old-fashioned Victorian annual might fit the bill for that center spot in a container or that flower bed where you need just that look.