Thats enough introduction - on with the plants!
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... out in the garden.
4th December 2016
We have had a cold week. The air was as still as a plume of smoke in the 'moonshine' belt. Three ground frosts that greeted me when I got out of bed were still there when
I went out an hour later. One of them lurked in the shadows until lunchtime. Fortunately the tempestuous weather systems from the Atlantic have returned, rattling the windows
with their hot-headed fury. They may stay for the month, or they may disappear tomorrow.
New Zealand has a marvellous flora, shining in a light that is a few degrees warmer than ours. It doesn't have to cower from the cold but it does have to deal with strong winds, sunburn
and dessication. The plants are tough, hard, wiry and dare I say defensive. There is something ruthlessly survivalist about them. The magnificent blooms of Hebe, for example, are
like a flower arrangement in a bomb shelter.
Hebe speciosa is the brightest of them. I had a garden full of them until the winters of the late 1980's, which killed them all. They fell out of favour until this one appeared,
an unexpected seedling in a pot. I potted it on, and it sailed through the last run of bad winters to flower now. It also survived this weeks frosts without damage so things could be worse.
4th December 2016
If you were wandering around the garden here it is unlikely that you would run into either Goldilocks or the Three Bears. If I had to make a guess, I would say that the bears were more likely
but it wouldn't put me off my porridge. There is far more chance of meeting Impatiens tinctoria.
I have had a tropical planting moment at the top of the herbaceous border. All sorts of things were too large for the greenhouse and eventually out they went. A couple of mild winters would
be quite useful now to let them establish but either they grow or they don't. Impatiens tinctoria went in to keep the idea alive even if everything else dies. At the top of the border
it was open to the skies and the radiation frost has turned it to mush. Down by the greenhouse my potting shed blocks the flow of cold air down the hill and the Impatiens beside the door
has melted like spinach in a stir-fry. Up nearer the house I have a little lath shelter where I keep the Ficaria verna forms. Protected by a Magnolia overhead and half way up the hill
an Impatiens has survived untouched. Not too open, not too enclosed. Just right.
4th December 2016
Primula allionii 'James'
Last weekend I was looking at the fat buds on the Hamamelis. They form in the autumn and look as though they could burst at any moment, but they will remain unopened on the branches
until the first cold snap releases them. I thought the frost this week might be enough, and there are some hints of colour peeping between the bud scales, but I think they are going to hang on
a bit longer. Most spring flowers wait until they have been chilled before they will open, but Hamamelis are particularly determined, crossing their legs in frustration until winter releases them.
Primula are more relaxed about it. There are primroses about the place now, and a double white one with a handful of flowers down in the frost pocket. It is a time of the year when there
is generally an odd flower to be found if you get there before the slugs.
My small collection of P. allionii forms has looked dreadful through the last months of autumn. Capped by the dead summer growth, the rosettes have looked bedraggled. Suddenly they have perked up.
Clusters of new leaves have formed in the centre as they prepare with alpine stoicism for the winter to come. 'James' has got a bit carried away, popping a premature flower just because he has no patience.
I don't have a system for growing them that works, simply one that hasn't quite failed yet.
I hope for a decent display in the spring and I wish I knew what I was doing, both with the same confused optimism.
4th December 2016
Helleborus x hybridus
Somehow in the flurry of autumn I have failed to cut down the Hellebore bed. It was on the list of good intentions, but I keep getting side-tracked. The cold weather will have been enough to set them off.
In the next few days the crowns will swell and the flower spikes appear. If I don't get them mown down this afternoon, it will be too late and I will have to do it by hand.
I went looking for a spring Camellia flower, thinking that one or two might have made a false start but there was nothing. This gentle little hellebore shelters between 'Debbie' and 'Drama Girl'.
I have had it for decades and it is reliably early flowering in December ot January according to its annual whim. It is surrounded by a gang of its children, but nothing that can match it for timing.
It serves to reming me that spring is coming and that I should be paying more attention to borders of hellebores than collapsing piles of Impatiens. It reminds me that I should check if I have any petrol.
Check that the mower will start. Most importantly it reminds me to get out there now and do it while it's dry. Lunch will have to wait.
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.
I have a lot of good intentions when it comes to updating this site, and I try to keep a note
about what is going on, if you are interested.
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