Thats enough introduction - on with the plants!
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... out in the garden.
9th March 2014
I didn't really notice the long nights of winter. I would have been engrossed in something or other that seemed really important.
I'm sure I would have wondered where the time was going to come from. I have felt the urgent tug of spring, and noted the return
of light evenings and jobs that are pressing. I shouldn't really be writing this, the greenhouse needs watering.
I have never visited the tropics. Somewhere at the back of my mind I see the broad belt around the equator as row after row of
gloomy old sheds and it doesn't appeal. That is my experience of the tropics, anyway. Dermatobotrys saundersii went into
a gloomy old shed at the beginning of December and it has just come out again. It isn't elegant and it is far from perfect, but it
gets frost protection. The plant is almost dormant anyway so if I keep its spell in the shed-tropics as short as possible, it survives.
My first job in the sunshine yesterday was to empty all the plants back into the greenhouse and discovered that during its
enforced rest this curious epiphytic shrub from South Africa had produced some pale flowers. In decent light they would have been scarlet.
9th March 2014
Anemone nemorosa 'Variegated'
The second surprise of the day came in the form of this Anemone nemorosa. I was looking at the ground under the trees last week
to see if there were any signs of growth. I was really checking for the first signs of Erythronium pushing up through the soil.
No sign of Erythronium and no sign of Anemone. This week I have both.
This is a variegated clone of Anemone nemorosa. It isn't spectacular but it has occasional leaf lobes splashed with white.
It is the only one currently showing above ground and it is very early. I wouldn't expect a variegated plant to be especially vigorous
or early or enthusiastic, but then I remembered that this clone comes originally from Finland. Presumably the northern populations
have adapted to rush into flower at the first warmth of spring to maximise the growing season. My lazy old British population
is still snoring and yawning and saying "...just a few more minutes..."
9th March 2014
Tulps have also been attracting attention. At the start of the week I sat on the front steps with a cup of coffee enjoying the fat shoots of tulips
bursting out of the compost. I planted a few pots of them in the autumn and have forgotten why. There wasn't any selection involved
so I imagine they were just being sold off at the end of the season. It was a sudden whim several weeks ago and I can no longer remember
what I expected to achieve. In the event I have been repaid with fat green shoots which have the same satisfactory appeal as a nest of duck eggs
tucked under a bush. Promise of little ducklings/flowers to come and extremely satisfying in themselves.
Yesterday I found the first signs of flowering on 'Johann Strauss'. The elongated tips of the red and white petals poking from the ground level bud
like the legs of a hermit crab emerging from a shell.
The greenhouse produced something extra in the form of Tulipa sogdiana. It comes from the semi-deserts of Central Asia and is said to need
protection from summer wet. I have had it in the greenhouse since 2010 and try to remember to keep it dry but watering in the middle of summer involves
a big hose and a lot of splashing about so it isn't always protected. It seems to flower every year despite my failings.
9th March 2014
Galanthus 'Warley Place A'
Last year I planted a long border under the Camellias with snowdrops from my mothers garden. They have gone over now and attention has switched to the
emerald green shoots of Erythronium 'White Beauty' pushing up between them. Snowdrops with Erythronium is a combination
that seems to work well and I am using it frequently. At the start of the year when there is a serious danger of trampling all over the ground to look at the
snowdrops, the Erythronium are completely safe underground. At the end of the snowdrop seasson when the last flowers are looking ragged,
the Erythronium appear and extend the interest.
Many years ago I was given half a dozen bulbs from Ellen Willmott's fading garden at Warley Place by Essex Naturalists Trust, who wanted them identified.
They are part of a swarm of seedlings of G.plicatus ssp. plicatus and G.p. byzantinus that have spread and naturalised. I have three
of the original plants that were distinct (as well as a number of later seedlings to confuse the issue). This is 'Warley Place A' which is the first of the
group to flower and has a large 'X' mark on the inner segments. Over the years it has bulked up into a nice tight clump and is making a good show. The
leaves of Erythronium 'Pagoda' have come through the soil, and in the next few weeks the yellow flowers will carry the effect through to the end of April.
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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