Thats enough introduction - on with the plants!
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... out in the garden.
11th November 2012
Mahonia x media 'Lionel Fortescue'
Another autumnal week in the garden. It has delivered everything except frost, which is fortunate because I haven't started bringing things under cover yet. The Hellebores have finished growing for the year
but haven't yet started growing for next so I made the time to cut a couple of Ash trees down (they were in the way, I haven't jumped on the hysterical Ash disease bandwagon). I cleared all the cut timber
away in the pouring rain and was feeling very powerful and confident, so had another stab at identifying the various cultivars of Mahonia x media. There's nothing like an impossible puzzle to deflate
the autumn ego. Mine went down with a big enough crash to make the bankers jittery again.
I have managed to salvage some facts from the research wreckage that followed. This one is certainly 'Lionel Fortescue'. The upright clusters of flower racemes are distinctive. A first generation hybrid
between M.lomariifolia (now M.oiwakensis ssp. lomariifolia) and M.japonica that resulted from deliberate pollination by Lionel Fortescue at the Garden House. He selected and named
'Buckland' from the seedlings
(and I think I have worked out which one it is in the garden) and sent some seedlings to Savill Gardens, where they selected 'Lionel Fortescue' as the most striking.
In the garden it has become a large shrub, this picture shows a couple of cut stems that I removed to get a closer look. They are now in a large vase in the kitchen that spikes me if I go too close.
I was relying on the prickly nature of the leaves to bolster my memory - plants that stab you viciously are not easily forgotten. Fortunately in this case popular culture has provided
a better aide-memoire.
11th November 2012
Clematis cirrhosa 'Wisley Cream'
Things in the greenhouse are warmer, drier and less prickly. I bought this Clematis as a rooted cutting last year and have been growing it on in a pot. I have tried it before outside
but it didn't establish. It might have been too wet, or too small to survive the slugs. This one will be grown on until it is large enough to stand a chance and then I will look for a
sheltered spot, or possibly a spare corner in the Hedychium house.
The species is widespread in the Mediterranean though probably best known from Majorca (C.cirrhosa var. balearica). In recent years a number of cultivars have been selected
with more, or in this case less, spotted flowers.
It was raised at Wisley by Ken Aslett from seed collected in southern Europe.
I was told that it had citrus scented flowers, but I only have two of them and perhaps that isn't enough.
11th November 2012
Also from the Balearic islands, Corsica, Sardinia and the west coast of Italy, this is the only autumn flowering species of Arum. It is also said to be distinctively scented, though
in this case it is of horse dung. I can't say I have noticed, perhaps it is too cool or a single flower is insufficient from a distance (only a fool pokes their nose into an Arum flower
for a good sniff). It has been surprisingly reliable in a cold greenhouse. I grow it in a deep pot and more or less ignore it. The leaves grow through the winter but aren't damaged by cold -
they go a bit droopy in severe freezes but perk up again rapidly. They die off at the beginning of summer and after a summer rest the first thing I notice is the new flowers emerging
If I could find some variation in leaf marking then I would grow more of them but so far the magnificent 'Primrose Warburg' has eluded me. I grew a pot of seedlings a few years ago, but there wasn't any significant
difference between them.
11th November 2012
Galanthus reginae-olgae ssp. reginae-olgae
Queen Olga's snowdrop - so good they named it twice. The flower has been slowly extending for a fortnight now, but it took some bright sunshine in the week to open it fully.
This is the autumn flowering form, G. r. ssp. vernalis flowers in spring and is also really lovely. Really really lovely (pointless), really lovely.
A Greek species with a complicated history in cultivation, I don't find it as strong or as reliable as the Turkish G.peshmenii. I have tried both outside
without conspicuous success. They seem to need more sun in the growing season than I have been providing and less rainfall. I could build a raised bed for them somewhere,
but it is a pile of stones too far for something that does just as well in a pot in the greenhouse.
As I cleared the felled trees, I was walking back and forwards over the snowdrop beds, and making an effort to stay away from the earliest cultivars. The autumn snowdrops are late this year
and the first of the spring snowdrops will start to emerge in a couple of weeks. There are a few ragged primroses starting to open, and a few ragged Dahlias still hanging on.
It would be an interesting arrangement in a vase, but at the moment I have a kitchen full of Mahonia. As they start to dry I can smell them from my office.
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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