Thats enough introduction - on with the plants!
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... out in the garden.
4th March 2012
Billbergia 'Santa Barbara'
There is very little precision to the changing of the seasons, but from time to time events make it clear that change has happened. There are a series of cues that tell me spring has come, from the first flowers
on Ranunculus ficaria in autumn to the clocks going forward (not there yet). I cling to them all with enthusiasm. The promise of spring to come is almost as alluring than the spring itself. Almost.
Walking down through the garden this afternoon with the sun shining through the bare branches, the season would be difficult to improve.
It is a rather roundabout way to arrive at the greenhouse. I rejoice in the spring when I go into the greenhouase and feel the warmth for the first time, and it has happened this week. I have started the process of removing
fleece and lifting plants out from under the bench and that is where I found this Billbergia, laughing in the face of a winter that didn't really happen.
'Santa Barbara' is an unknown hybrid Billbergia that is clearly close to B.nutans but may include some B.disticha in the mix. It seems taller growing with broader leaves
than any 'straight' form of B.nutans I have seen. I got it in the 1980's when I bought a box of bromeliad pups from a nursery in the USA
and this is the best of the handful that are still with me. I have a tendency to shove it under a bench when I am short of space but it seems to forgive me. In recent years a variegated plant has been distributed
as B.nutans 'Variegata' which may be the same thing. I grow them side by side, but it is still too early to make a meaningful comparison.
4th March 2012
The stark emptiness of winter heightens the senses and makes flowers precious that would be ignored at any other time. It is stretching a point a bit to describe the garden here as stark or empty during the winter
but I do have a number of ignorable flowers. This Freesia is reliable under glass, it seems to shrug off the cold and flowers without fail. The failure part is all attributable to me. It flowers every year,
but I don't always notice. These at the latest of this years blooms and I ran across them by accident while clearing up dead foliage in the pots of bulbs. They will go on to produce shiny round seeds that will
fall all over the place and next year or the year after I will have little green flowers in all sorts of places where they won't be noticed. If I could devise a suitable rain hat I would try it in a tub outside
but it would be too wet without some form of protection.
The species come from the south western Cape and I have never seen any significant variation - they are all small and green. It is pollinated by night flying moths.
Scent is always a problem. I grow two forms of Hamamelis x intermedia that I can't tell apart (at least as young plants), 'Arnold Promise' and 'Westerstede'. This year the difference seemed to be
that 'Westerstede' was scented, while 'Arnold Promise' merely smells.
In general I would say that Freesia are scented but Freesia viridis smells.
4th March 2012
I was in a garden last week looking at the bare twigs of some Cornus and trying to convince myself that they could be described as winter colour. I failed. I walked away muttering 'jolly well done'
in the sort of patronising voice I save for people who grow things I wouldn't give garden space to. I was especially unimpressed by a stooled willow that promised black stems but delivered rather ordinary pea sticks.
Winter will have to heighen the senses rather a long way to convince me. It's a diversion. I turned a corner and was confronted by a stunning pink almond in full flower. The cherry-blossom has started.
Everywhere I go there are little puffs of pink or white blossom in people's gardens.
'Okame' is one of Collingwood Ingram's hybrid cherries (P. incisa x. P.campanulata). I bought it last year when I was convinced I needed more small trees in the garden in general, but failed to find
a place for it when it came down to specifics.
I found a quiet corner to heel it in and shortly it will be moved to its final position (I found somewhere). While it was waiting, it has produced a few flowers and if the weather is kind, it will continue
for two or three weeks.
4th March 2012
Tulipa humilis 'Lilliput'
I have a few things that lie around and make me feel guilty. Plants that I don't need to grow in pots, but haven't got around to planting yet. Some good small daffodils
have been making a show and will be planted out while they are obvious. If it isn't done by the time the flowers fade they will be overlooked for another year.
Among them I noticed a splash of pink and closer investigation uncovered this tulip. A couple of years ago I tried some of the more vigorous forms of the species, as a compensaton
for not growing T.humilis 'Albocaerulea Oculata', which is the one I really want. It is too frail for my conditions. I have the sense to know it, but it doesn't stop me wanting to try.
'Lilliput' produces more than one flower to the stem and seems to survive here from year to year. It produces occasional flowers, and that is enough. I haven't yet found a tulip that will prosper and flower freely every year.
My mother grew a colony of 'Red Riding Hood' in a stony south facing bed but I was there a couple of days ago and they have all died out. I think she used to sneak in new bulbs every year
when no-one was looking.
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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