Friday April 08th 2011, 4:09 pm

rhubarb in flower and going to seed

Everybody’s rhubarb seems to be going to pot round here, going to seed and throwing up flower heads. Any rhubarb lover worth their salt will of course cut them off as soon as they appear so as not to exhaust the plant, like I showed in my last post and also wrote about here. Some people just don’t care and leave this vegetable to do its own thing. I must admit I love the sight of towering rhubarb flowers but love the taste of rhubarb more (this is starting to sound like a Harry Hill ‘F-I-G-H-T’). As I’ve got big preserving plans for my own homegrown rhubarb I am happy to leave the flower cultivation to others.

rhubarb in flower and going to seed on Aylburton allotment

I have often noticed some rhubarb growing on an allotment in the village. It forms a particularly lush band going right across the width of a plot. Today I saw that it was all in flower so decided to stop to take some pictures. The old guy whose plot it is, thought I had stopped to request some rhubarb, as he doesn’t eat it! He said he sowed a packet of seeds three year ago, a variety of which he had no recollection, and this is what resulted. As far as he was concerned he’d be happy to get rid of the lot.

rhubarb in flower and going to seed on an allotment

I have seen the flowers on sale in London as a cut flower. Can’t imagine them being popular round these parts but it’s a shame as the flowers, though strangely triffid-like, are rather grand and statuesque. I cut one off a plant in my garden and have it currently on my mantelpiece as a cut flower in a vase. They are big heavy blooms with hollow stems and like other cut flowers with hollow stems you need to hold them upside down and pour water into them till full, then bung up the end with a piece of cotton wool, before returning to upright and placing in a good heavy, topple-proof vase filled with water. The flower seems to be continuing to grow day by day, which is rather spooky.

rhubarb as a cut flower on my messy mantelpiece

Wow! That’s very striking! I didn’t know that trick for hollow stemmed flowers either. Will definitely be trying that.

Comment by Rebecca 04.09.11 @ 2:40 am

Is that true of daffodils, the upside down trick?

Comment by Dixie Nichols 04.09.11 @ 3:20 pm

I love the rhubarb flower on the mantelpiece and had never known how to care for hollow stems, so thank you for sharing both.

Comment by Denise | Chez Danisse 04.09.11 @ 4:59 pm

I don’t think it is necessary with daffs, Dixie. You fill the stems with water if they are big chunky hollow stems, like amaryllis, delphiniums, lupins etc.

Comment by laundryetc 04.09.11 @ 5:50 pm

Great photo. The rhubarb flower does look great the way you have it.

Comment by Jane 04.10.11 @ 10:56 am

I am really hoping to do some preserves with rhubarb this spring. I’ve had no luck growing it…just too much shade. But, I am hopeful that a neighbour will provide us with some. Love the pics as always.

Comment by The Turnbulls 04.10.11 @ 1:05 pm

Funny that so many rhubarbs are flowering now, mine isn’t thank goodness and yesterday, rather late, I have placed two terracotta chimney pots over the crown… although the stems have already grown they will still pink/blanche and become sweeter and softer. I too did not know the hoow stem thing, thanks for the advice. Do you think that you could crystallise rhubarb stems?

Comment by deborah s m 04.11.11 @ 12:12 am

Gosh! Quite triffid-like, aren’t they? I was just admiring one in a friend’s garden on Sunday. Great tip for hollow-stemmed flowers. Must try that. Thanks.

Comment by Scrapiana 04.12.11 @ 11:56 am