Thats enough introduction - on with the plants!
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... out in the garden.
9th October 2011
Last weeks hot spell has remained as a pleasant memory, but autumn has reasserted its dominance in the garden. I seem to have had a bonfire every evening this week, so everything smells of
woodsmoke. It is amazing how much stuff I can find that is worth burning, if I really put my mind to it. In the summer I took down the last of the cherry trees in the meadow.
They had long ceased to be attractive and were little more than adventurous obstacles for the mower. They did stop me from cutting the meadow in straight lines which was a good thing,
but I also had a frustrated urge to ram them repeatedly with the ride-on which would not have been helpful. In the end I accepted the obvious, and removed them. I am far too lazy
to carry the resulting big pile of sticks very far, so they have been getting in the way for months waiting for me to introduce them to a match. Now I have no cherry trees and a big
circle of scorched earth. I will scatter the ash and hope that the scar repairs before the daffodils appear.
In the meantime, this might be an Ipheion appearing. Or it might be a Nothoscordum. Or it might be a Tristagma. It is one of those plants where you pick the genus
by sticking a pin in a list. Whatever the genus, it is undoubtedly one of the yellow ones. From my perspective, the pin will once again be required to pick a species name. This was
originally distributed as I.philippii but some growers have ammended that to I.hirtellum. I was sent it from Germany as I.hirtellum/philippii and there is a simple
logic in that which appeals to me. A delightful small bulb from South America with yellow flowers in autumn and winter, this is Ipheion/Nothoscordum/Tristagma hirtellum/philippii.
I don't know how it differs from any of the other very similar species.
9th October 2011
I have been gathering together a small herd of Rhodohypoxis and their relatives. This is the most recent addition, an Australian species I got from Graham Hutchins at County Park Nursery.
All through the summer I have seen buds developing without seeing a single flower open so it was a special pleasure to find this one unexpectedly. The species is distinguished by the long hairs
covering the plant, which curl up in dry weather, and straighten out again when it is wet. I hadn't noticed, but then I keep it rather damp in the summer.
It is supposed to be fairly hardy, but the last couple of winters have damaged most of the Hypoxis (although the Rhodohypoxis have been fine). It has grown quite vigorously
since it arrived here but I don't think there is any danger of it bursting the pot. I have been trying to find a picture of it growing in habitat without success, but I imagine it speckles
the damp pastures of its home habitat, rather than carpets them with golden stars.
9th October 2011
There was something rather stange about having the Nerine in full flower during a heatwave. It has meant that many of the plants are flowering together and I am
taking the opportunity to pollinate different plants like a genetic maniac. These days, a genetic maniac with a pair of reading glasses and a mug of coffee, but who said mania shouldn't be
uncomfortable? The heat has also made the flowers more receptive (as it famously does for people) and I am looking forward to a good seed set. N.filifolia hybrids are already
ripening and in barely a couple of years I will be able to see if any of them are actually hybrids (they never have been in the past, but now the cherry trees are gone, I need something
frustrating to bang my head against).
Nerine humilis is one of the more widespread South African species and is quite variable. A number of variations have been discribed as distinct species in the past, but they are slowly
congealing into a single taxonomic lump. It seems to be hardier than N.sarniensis, but without the colour range of that species so it is not often found in cultivation in the UK,
although alpine growers are starting to recognise its charm. My plant has some signs of virus and so it lives in a greenhouse far away from the other Nerine. My goal for this year is to
get enough seed from it to produce a virus free plant (at which point, whisper it softly, this one will nourish my pyromania).
9th October 2011
Summer snowdrops are all wrong. We needed some good autumnal gusting before they could congruously nod their foolish heads. This is the Turkish equivalent of Galanthus reginae-olgae,
recently recognised as a distinct species. It grows far better for me than G.reginae-olgae which is always looking for a reason to take a sick day, though I have heard rumours of stocks
that are so vigorous they escape the garden and wander the hedgerows and fields uninvited. I will believe it when I see it. Gardeners are sometimes a little optimistic in their assessments.
I have this one growing in a pot in the greenhouse, where a dry hot summer changes suddenly to a cool moist autumn when I remember to turn the hose on it. It happened a couple of weeks ago
and now I have the flowers. There is also a plant growing outside, where it is said to be hardy, but no sign showing yet.
Light drizzle has made the autumn leaves shiny in the garden, and helped to preserve those that were drying out. We may get a decent show of autumn colour. My Liquidambar has survived the gales
and the tail end of a hurricane with enough reddening leaves to raise some hopes. Light levels have dropped low enough to mean that my camera is one again struggling to focus
and I am throwing out a lot of pictures that say to me "life before reading glasses". The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, or as my mother used to say, time for hiding in the greenhouse.
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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