Thats enough introduction - on with the plants!
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... out in the garden.
20th May 2012
It is easy to forget that this is the middle of May, temperatures are low and the sun has been softened by cloud. It wasn't enough to save me from a touch of sunstroke on tuesday,
but it reminded me that we had reached the season of the silly hat. It has been chilly but dry. The forecast is talking about sunshine and rising temperatures next week
so I think summer will arrive with a bang rather than creeping imperceptibly towards us from the south.
The garden is filled with early season promise. As I was walking around this morning the herbaceous border was looking lush and leafy. The Hosta and ferns are at their best. I was
determined to show a few here, but I have been distracted by flowers!
I get an occasional Dactylorhiza growing in the meadow and in the hedges and I have spent years trying to encourage them without any significant success. I have grown a number of species in pots
and from time to time I find seedlings growing in pots outside. I have no idea what this one is. I have never grown anything as robust or enthusiatic and I assume it is a hybrid. I could worry at it
for hours with a key and a magnifying glass and only manage to confirm that I don't know what it is. It is growing in a pot that once housed Dahlia sherffii and it's a fair exchange.
20th May 2012
Every now and then I run into a newly introduced plant that delivers far more than it promises. This odd little aroid is a prime example. The Pinellia are a fun group, but they are far less
striking than the Arisaema and much smaller so they get rather overlooked. It is a pity, because they seem to survive the winter better and divide more freely. Some of the species could become weedy in the garden
but I haven't had a problem yet with either seedlings or bulbils.
It is an eastern Chinese species with a fairly limited distribution in Fujian and Zhejiang but it seems to be very adaptable, growing easily in a pot and increasing slowly in the ground. The peltate leaves are thick
and shiny and make a good rounded clump throughout the summer. The flowers are the first thing to appear in spring, but it goes on producing them right through the season. The flowers have a slightly fruity scent
that isn't offensive and isn't particularly enticing but I assume there is a little beetle out there that finds it irresistible. I have never seen fruits on my plant, so perhaps there isn't (or it
requires a Chinese beetle with cultivated tastes).
20th May 2012
During the winter I spent a few weeks making a new bench for the Disa so that there was room for them to expand. The danger of a new location is always that the plants will not be happy
with the new conditions and it will all go backwards. Fortunately I think it is working. The new location gets a little less morning sun than the old greenhouse but it is better ventilated, warmer and easier to water.
This is the first flower on the new bed and although it is leaning a little towards the light I don't think it is going to be a problem.
Disa uniflora is the foundation of Disa hybridisation. It is one of the hardiest species with large scarlet flowers but it has rather short stems which make it unsuitable for the cut flower industry.
Breeders use other species to give longer stems and to add extra flowers to the spike but flower size and the intensity of colour are often reduced in the process so they regularly revisit
Disa Langleyensis is a hybrid that combines the multiple small flowers of D.tripetaloides with the long stems of D.racemosa. It produces small flowers in a shade of pink
so powerful that even Barbara Cartland might have kept it at a safe distance.
Disa Unilangley is the hybrid between the two with larger flowers that are opulent enough to carry off the shade.
20th May 2012
This garden is only possible because of the large trees scattered through the site that break the wind and make it possible to grow smaller plants. Rather late in the day I realised that I didn't have a strong understorey
of smaller trees to maintain protection down to ground level. I have a lot of Field Maples, but they are rather dull for much of the year and there is a limit to the number of rampant climbers that can be used to decorate them.
They have to be rampant to stand any chance of establishing among large trees, but they also have to be decorative or there isn't much point. I have been looking for small trees to plant
as I thin out the Acer and some of the Magnolia have been very effective.
M.wilsonii is a Chinese species (Guizhou, Sichuan and Yunnan) that makes a small tree. It has grown rapidly in light shade and I would be happy to have a few more of them. This tree produced
enough seed to grow a single seedling but a very athletic slug jumped up and gave it the sort of love bite it won't easily forget. I don't think the outlook is good. In the end I will probably just buy some more.
The flowers have a rich powdery perfume and as the breeze shakes them I expect to see a fine cloud of icing sugar fall, of the sort found in the bottom of the bag once you have eaten all of the jelly-babies.
It makes me very happy.
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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