Thats enough introduction - on with the plants!
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... out in the garden.
9th September 2012
Roscoea purpurea 'Dalai Lama'
After the long lazy days of summer suddenly the autumn is here and with it comes the urge to action. I was watching the swallows chattering in anticipation as they swept over the fields
gathering up the last summer insects. Any day now they will pack up their luggage and gather on the telephone wires, say "thank you for having us" and be on their way. I have been watching the way
the low evening light slices under the tree canopies to illuminate the autumn bulbs. If I had more Colchicum it would be magnificent. I spent a couple of days last week visiting the Wisley show
and have started to correct the oversight.
Roscoea purpurea has had a long season this year. Low temperatures and some rainfall have kept them flowering but unfortunately the slug population has also appreciated the conditions. New
flowers are produced every day or two, so there is usually something in good condition. The same cannot always be said for the leaves, which have suffered.
'Dalai Lama' is a rather cheerful recent selection with red stems and purple flowers on compact plants. It doesn't have the astonishing colour of the red flowered forms, which were attracting
gasps of appreciation at the show (and prices to match) but it has performed well in the shade border.
9th September 2012
The day before I went away I decided that I needed more light on the south side of the house. Some of those trees had to go so rather than packing and preparing I spent the evening
felling them. It was immediately obvious that I had made the right decision. I have known for 15 years that the planting was too dense and it was a great relief to see a niggling problem resolved.
It will take a week or two to clear up the resultant wreckage.
The sun is still shining in the east. I needed to wear my big hat (I was told I looked like John Wayne, but not in a good way). It was amazing to see what it did to gardens. I can't reproduce the
effect here but it has given me a lot to think about. I came back to find the climate a little softer, and some gentle rain is falling to water in a few purchases.
The Tricyrtis appreciate the moisture. This one was allowed to get dry in the summer, and the leaves have developed brown tips as a consequence. In general I prefer the yellow species to the classic 'toady'
flowers of T.formosana, which are difficult to place. They make large clumps, but they blend into the background. They yellow species tend to be smaller growing and prefer more moisture
but they are better in leaf and more effective in flower. I don't do very well with Gentiana asclepiadea, but the combination might be interesting to try.
9th September 2012
Sinningia Dark Red
Promises promises, and it seems this plant is full of promises. I bought it at a Cactus show, though the seller got it originally from a nursery in Belgium. Marked 'Dark Red' because nobody
knew what it was. It has never managed dark red for me. The first two flower spikes struggled as far as faded orange and gave up the chromatic challenge. This flower has developed through the
summer and has at least reached red. The disappointment continues. When I bought it, the seller said "I don't know the species, but it is certainly a sin ninja". It hasn't really lived up to the name
which is a pity. I could have had some fun in the greenhouse with a sin ninja.
It has been easy to grow but it isn't going to be a serious challenge to the beauty of S.leucotricha or S.cardinalis. It is clearly a member of the Galea group of species,
with an extended limb to the corolla hanging over the top of the open tube, which is probably an adaptation to pollination by hummingbirds. A sip of nectar and a dab of pollen on the head.
There are plenty of hybrids being raised at the moment, but I think this is probably a form of S.magnifica. If we're honest, that is another promise it has yet to fulfill.
9th September 2012
Begonia cucullata has been largely forgotten as a garden plant. It was introduced to Berlin Botanic Garden in 1821 when stowaway seeds germinated in a shipment of plants from Brazil. It was used
(along with B.schmidtii and B.roezlii) as one of the parents of the Semperflorens group of bedding Begonias. It was then more or less forgotten.
In recent times seed has been collected just south of Tucuman in Argentina and distributed as a hardy begonia species. It is cold tolerant, but describing it as hardy is
stretching the truth a bit. It will be killed by a sharp frost, but seed will often persist and germinate in the spring. The wedge shaped leaf bases identify this as
B.cucullata var arenosicola.
I have appreciated the toughness of the Semperflorens Begonias for some time and had wanted to try B.cucullata. In a strange repetition of history, it just germinated in some plants I had imported from the USA.
It continues to come up wherever it pleases. I have tried to establish it in a pot of its own, but it wasn't having it. Now it wanders about among the Aspidistra in the company of some
Adiantum that also prefer the freedom of the open pot.
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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