Thats enough introduction - on with the plants!
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... out in the garden.
15th December 2013
Rosa x odorata 'Viridiflora'
Another mild week and it is still moderately warm in the garden. We haven't yet had the series of cold nights that will drain the last summer heat from the soil. It is strange.
The leaves have fallen and the ground is clear but it is warm, damp and occasionally misty. We had a few showers of rain in the last few days but they weren't cold. The humidity goes up and
the garden smells as though the windows need opening.
As I look around, I am struck by the things I grow that are late for their kind, or early. Things that flower right in the middle of expectation get rather overlooked. The same is true of the seasons.
I look for the first signs of spring, and the last echoes of autumn. Fortunately the two things overlap and I am able to dispense with the idea of winter, which suits me very well. By the time I am
forced to let go of autumn, spring will be well underway. I do acknowledge the presence of a quiet period in the garden. The still space between breathing out and breathing in. A moment when the garden
turns on its heel and faces in the opposite direction. It is a moment of coughs and sneezes between spring and autumn. Perhaps it should be called Sputumn.
All of which brings me (not very attractively) to Rosa x odorata 'Viridiflora'. It started flowering in April and has been toiling away unnoticed through the summer. It is only these last few
flowers that attract attention, once the lush green foliage of summer has faded to brown. It isn't very vigorous and it isn't very pretty. There's something about 'birds of a feather' that I'm not going to pursue.
It is, however, of the moment.
15th December 2013
I have grown a number of evergreen Berberis over the years. For the most part they make satisfactory evergreen lumps. All of them flower. Sometimes that is significant.
They fill in the background, they fill me with a sense of satisfaction and from time to time they fill me with spines. Over the years many of them have given way to changes and developments in the garden
and lately I have started to miss them. They are effective without being memorable and therein lies the problem. I have forgotten which one this is.
My best guess is that this is Berberis candidula 'Jytte'. Failing that, Berberis x frikartii 'Amstelveen'. I was never very clear about the distinction. Years ago I took trays full of cuttings of each
and swore I would never do that again. I learnt a significant lesson but it didn't involve taxonomy. There is a very slim chance that it is Berberis x frikartii 'Telstar' but I am almost certain
that was the one I drove a tractor over by mistake during the great Eucryphia milliganii massacre. Live and learn. I'm going to call it Berberis candidula and wait for someone to contaradict me.
There is an appeal in these single flowers that is lost in plants like B.darwinii with flowers in drooping congested panicles (redeemed by the bright orange colour). They sit on the branches like little custard tarts,
crisp and delicious. I could do with more evergreen Berberis. This time I will take more care with the labelling.
15th December 2013
For the most part, Fuchsia revel in the warmth of summer but there are a small group of species from New Zealand that have been isolated from the rest of the genus for long enough
to have developed new habits. Fuchsia excorticata is found throughout New Zealand and can make a large tree in habitat. It isn't reliably hardy
in the UK but collections from the south and from higher altitudes have been made and there are a few tougher clones in cultivation. It flowers in the shortest days of the year, and in
its home it will be almost entirely frost free. In the UK it still flowers around the winter solstice but the temperatures are a bit more testing. If we get a serious freeze (more than three of four degrees
of frost) then the flower buds will all be destroyed. It blooms for me most years, but the display doesn't always last long. If we get an early cold snap then it can be forced into
dormancy before the buds form, in which case it will flower in March as temperatures rise.
I grow it where it is sheltered by tall evergreens. It would grow larger with more light and flower more freely, but not as reliably. I would love to have one grown as a tree but I don't think it is possible
here. The tallest I have seen locally is about 10 feet and it wasn't a thing of beauty.
15th December 2013
The Nerine season is coming to an end, and it is the very latest that have most impact. This is the first year I have flowered 'Gloaming', but if it is reliably December blooming
then it will make a big impression. It is a very bright "sarniensis" selection with long tepals and a pale eye. A month ago I'm not sure that it would have stood out but at the moment it is magnificent.
I have pollinated it, hoping to raise some more late flowering seedlings but it depends on the kindness of the season. A hard frost now will destroy the developing seed before it is ripe enough to
remove. The early flowering forms have already got ripe seed on them, but these late ones will not mature until March, so seed production is uncertain, at best.
I haven't been able to find out much about it, but there is a suggestion that there is some N.undulata in its ancestry, which seems reasonable.
It has been good weather for clearing the garden and getting on with the structural jobs that are put off in the summer. Next week we pass the winter solstice and the days start to lengthen again.
The coldest weather of the year will probably follow, but the garden reacts by starting to grow again. Buds begin to burst and the Jackdaws start dropping sticks down my chimneys
to make nests. The last flowers of autumn will start to look out of place among the first flowers of spring and the snowdrop season will take hold. I have to dig a small terrace into the hillside
to stand a little greenhouse on. It is one of those jobs that you do a bit at a time through the slow winter period. I think there is about a week of that left.
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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