Thats enough introduction - on with the plants!
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... out in the garden.
18th April 2021
Another cold dry week in the garden. It has suited me very well, I am continuing to plant things out. I haven't been planting tirelessly, I have been sleeping like a log between
days of intensive labour, but I have been planting ruthlessly. Things that should be growing outside are being planted outside. It doesn't matter too much about location, that can be adjusted
when there is more time, what matters is that things go in somewhere before heavy rain or summer heat forces me to stop. The coming week is looking cool and dry so I am planning to continue.
As I walk up into the garden I pass Amelanchier canadensis. Originally I had an avenue of Eucalyptus underplanted with them. Three or four of the Eucalyptus have survived
the decades but only one of the Amelanchier. For most of the year it is a nondescript thing, I am relieved that the original planting didn't survive for long. It was very stylish for
a few years but also very dull. The gentle curve of the path as it meandered up the hill was more interesting than the garden bordering it. I was ready for change when it arrived.
A serious gale thinned the Eucalyptus and an absent-minded moment driving a mechanical digger removed the surplus Amelanchier and straightened a pointless wiggle in the path.
Now I have a single Amelanchier that sparkles in its season like froth on jar of potted shrimps. It is a delicious thing that fades into the background the moment the flowers fall. There
are a number of new selections of Amelanchier that have arrived wreathed in spectacular language but I have yet to see any significant improvement on this.
18th April 2021
Dendrobium x speciokingianum .
In the greenhouse spring arrived early. By the end of January it felt warm down there and the Dendrobium started their slow wind-up for the season to come. I added a number of new plants to
my small collection last year and was keen to see how they fared. I worried about cold through the winter, I have worried about damage to the buds during spring, and I will worry about the slow
pace of growth through the summer. The worry is unfortunate but not entirely unwarranted. I have a large flowered selection of D. kingianum that I bought in August last year
that was still trying to grow at the end of December. A sharp frost killed the fresh young cane to the ground. I am hoping that it will start into growth earlier this year
and have a more mature cane before winter sets in. To be honest I would be happy with any sort of new cane, I am still hoping that the growing point wasn't killed.
So Dendrobium have been a worry. The appearance of buds and eventually flowers on D. x speciokingianum justify months of uncertain anxiety. It seems to be tough enough to survive
under my conditions, flowering late enough for the buds to be protected through the winter but early enough to give time for the new seasons canes to develop. The plant has the growth habit of D. kingianum
but the flowers are less sweetly scented. I can see the presence of the other parent, D. speciosum, in the name but not really in the plant.
18th April 2021
Gentiana ligustica .
Gardening has been very pragmatic this week. Dig holes, put plants into them, move on to the next. I moved a large, purple leaved Sambucus yesterday. The leaves had just started to appear
along the knobly stems. It couldn't stay where it was and if it was left for another week it would have been too leafy to move. It had to come out there and then or not at all, so it did.
I found a new location for it where the sombre foliage will be a good foil for brighter things. I cut it back hard in the process to ease the shock.
It was followed by a large Acer palmatum that had outgrown the space. Either the Acer had to go, or a dwarf Cryptomeria that had been in place for 30 years. The last time I tried
to move a large Cryptomeria I think it was dead before I got it out of the ground so I chose to lift the Acer. New growth is gleaming like droplets of water along the bare branches,
I have my fingers crossed for it. In the process I rediscovered the label, happy to be able to identify it at last. The label reads "name lost". Very efficient of me to remind myself of that.
Gentiana ligustica has been the unexpected joy in a mechanical week. It has no business being alive, I can kill gentians in seconds. However, either this one is tough or I have been lucky.
I bought it in 2018 and it continues to grow and flower. The autumn gentians should be better in this garden, they ought to prefer my moist and slightly acid soil however I have tried many times without success.
This spring flowering species is unsuited to my conditions, lives in a pot and produces occasional flowers beyond all reason or expectation. It is an aesthetic antidote to the trapped mud
that I can't seem to shift from under my fingernails.
18th April 2021
Erythronium 'Pagoda' .
Planting things out can be a thankless task. There is some satisfaction in getting it done - thank heavens that is done, now I can have a cup of tea. The satisfaction is slight but very real.
Fortunately I know that I will be glad I did the work before long. Things that I planted out last spring are looking happy. I have lost one or two but it is a small price to pay
for seeing the new growth forming on the rest - and knowing that I'm not going to be watering them in pots through the summer.
A few years ago I bought a lot of Erythronium 'Pagoda' for myself as a birthday present. It took me several hours to plant them all under the trees on a hot August day. It was a Saturday,
a miserable, sweaty Saturday and when I had finished I could hardly stand up straight. It took a lot of work to finish and a long time to recover. I still remember the struggle, the sheer effort
and unpleasantness of planting large numbers of bulbs between the tree roots. However, it was worth it. Easy to say when the hard work is finished, but it was worth it.
The snowdrops have finished under the trees, the bluebells haven't yet started but the Erythronium have reached a peak this week, they look magnificent. Strangely I have another birthday
coming up this summer, another couple of hundred wouldn't go astray.
It might happen, I'll wait and see what conclusions memory delivers.
To find particular groups of plants I grow, click on the genus name in the table above. Click on the "Index" box at the top of the page for the full list.
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