Thats enough introduction - on with the plants!
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... out in the garden.
3rd February 2013
Narcissus 'Spring Dawn'
The world flies along with an enthusiasm that implies a destination. It is vaguely disturbing that the poor planet is on an elliptical orbit and will be returning to the start again. In the process
the seasons and the years will fly by. It is a stangely metaphysical way to introduce the idea that my childhood feels as though it belongs to another time, like the age of the dinosaurs. When I went to the cinema in my childhood
there would be two films showing, an 'A' feature which would be the reason everybody had come and a 'B' feature which acted as a warm up, to give people a full evening out.
It has been another mild week. Spring is lurking in the garden, surging through every twig and leaf (and through every frogs loins as I learnt from a friends garden). The main feature is about to arrive
but there is the lurking worry that we might have to sit through a B movie first, a disaster film about a snappy ice age. We just need to squeeze through a few short weeks. Come on dizzy globe, put your foot down.
Narcissus are currently the promise of the future, but I notice they are starting to open in the fields locally which is the cut-off point for my interest. I have been looking for early cultivars
to add variety to the garden. I want to fill the season between 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation' which is a wonder, and 'February Gold' which my mother used to grow. 'Spring Dawn' has done a good job.
The package promised flowers from January onwards and it managed it by a day or so. I was pleased to find something new and impressive for the garden and started hunting around for information about it
at which point I discovered I had grown it in 2003 and been equally impressed. Ten years later I don't remember a single thing about it. Childhood might just as well have been the age of the dinosaurs.
3rd February 2013
I am expecting the snowdrop season to build to a peak but that isn't the way it works. The season builds and builds and builds and suddenly you realise that you are going down the other side. It feels as though we haven't
got there yet and that probably means we have. Plenty still to open but the early ones are over.
'Seagull' is a large flowered snowdrop growing on a fairly short scape in the pattern of 'Mighty Atom'. It was found in West Porlock in the 1980's. I bought it from an AGS show last spring and it
has established and grown well (I wasn't really expecting it to bloom this year). I was rather taken with the large flowers. I like new varieties. I was a little gripped with Galanthomania at the time
and I had some cash burning a hole in my pocket. All perfectly good reasons for buying a new snowdrop.
No need for any other story. No need to mention a close friend who lives in a perfect little house overlooking the sea and is driven to insanity in spring by the uproar of nesting seagulls on his roof. No need to
comment on the tirades of abuse he launches in their direction at the drop of a hat or the lunatic measures he employs to deter them. Certainly no need to offer him a snowdrop for his garden.
Perhaps a small reason to grow one at home and have a good laugh from time to time.
3rd February 2013
Galanthus 'Sibbertoft White'
Snowdrops are quite delightful. The pure white flowers tremble on the tips of their stems and are trimmed in green to emphasise their beauty. Enough sentimental clap-trap has been written
about them to use a forest of wood pulp and make a flower fairy vomit. Confronted with a suffocating charm-slide of flowers it is hardly surprising that growers seek out every
monstrous variation that they can find and uncover every dark secret that the fair-faced little trolls are hiding.
There are a number of snowdrops that have outer segments instead of inner segments, inner segments instead of
outer segments, petaloid spathes and bracteose petals. I'm waiting to see one that has abandoned petals altogether and is just an ovary and some dangling genitals. Sooner or later it will be the outrageous sensation
of the snowdrop season. In the process of variation, some of them are accidentally lovely.
'Sibbertoft White' travels a little way towards 'Poculiformis', the inner segments are large and white and almost without green markings. It travels a little way in that direction but stops
short of becoming the full Godzilla. The flowers remain regular and ordered.
It was found by Richard Nutt in the garden of Lady Beatrix Stanley at Sibbertoft Manor. I have had it for a year and already it is a favourite.
3rd February 2013
Camellias feel like a guilty secret, like Begonias on sticks. I enjoy their shiny green leafiness, they sit in the ground with the conforting opulence of a Rolls Royce and then produce
Modern zoological gardens like to display penguins in pools with glass observation panels. You can watch them fly through the water with compact majesty. On a diet of fresh fish
their muscular bodies swim towards an inevitable conclusion. That is how I see Camellia flowers. It's like peering through a window into a magical underwater world and seeing a penguin fart.
Camellia grijsii is nothing like that. The tiny white flowers are appropriate to the scale of the leaves and the twigginess of the shrub. It is a species from south-east China where it grows at altitudes
up to 1500m. When I first got it there was some doubt as to its hardiness, so I have kept it in the greenhouse for a few years. This year it has to go out. It needs more space, more water and
less fussing. Experience is showing that it would be hardy here without much problem and it would be rather nice to grow it to the full 4m that it manages in the wild.
Breeders will no doubt feel the need to improve it. I am not sure how to pronounce the name, but have settled for Camellia "greasy" which is probably the direction that breeders will take. Currently
the species is perfumed but I can't help thinking about those penguins.
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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