Thats enough introduction - on with the plants!
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... out in the garden.
20th October 2013
Hedychium 'Gardner Waters'
I am not by nature a very decisive person. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I avoid crisp and irrevocable decision making. It isn't quite the same thing as drifting.
During the week I was looking at pictures of Jarvis Island, a little speck of mud in the middle of the Pacific, and wondering if ships ever crashed into it by accident. I wonder
if captains ever get faced with the immediate decision to turn left or right to avoid catastrophe? I prefer to think that I set a general direction to my life and steer cleer of situations
that will require catastrophe-avoiding certainty. I have an inkling that the best view of Jarvis Island comes via Google earth.
It has been a reflective week in an indeterminate season in a county that manages to balance between hope and reality. There is a sense of security in knowing what to call a thing
so this week has been part of autunmspring, a long and generally satisfactory season that extends to fill the gap between hot summers (it may last for several years).
Hedychium 'Gardner Waters' arrived here a number of years ago (sorry, in steering clear of catastrophic certainty I have somehow avoided saying 2006) from Hawaii via Thailand.
It was a rather sad little chunk of rhizome at the time and has taken several years to produce a flowering stem. Raised by the late Gardner Waters, a Hedychium hybridiser from California
and named after him by Larry Shatzer, it has long spikes of pale primrose flowers. So far it has seemed quite similar to a number of other named cultivars (spot the carefully chosen phrase).
20th October 2013
Oxalis massoniana was named after Francis Masson who was sent to collect in South Africa by Sir Joseph Banks at Kew in 1772. It is only known from Van Rhyns Pass near to Nieuwoudtville
in South Africa. It only occurs in pockets of clay that occur in the sheets of sandstone and is described as rare and very localised.
Fortunately it was in cultivation in New Zealand and in 2000 some plants were sent to the UK where it is now quite widely available. In habitat it is a winter grower
and so it tolerates wet conditions through the cold season.
I find it easy in a pot grown among the bulbs and every year the orange flowers are a surprise. They open at the same time as the Nerine but the colour is still quite
startling. The thin leafy stems emerge at the start of October and rapidly form buds and open in any sunny spell. The plants in cultivation seem to belong to a single clone
and I have not seen any seed set.
20th October 2013
Aristolochia x kewensis
We had a very late start to spring this year. The first warm days didn't seem to arrive until the start of May and I was thoroughly fed up with having a house packed with little (and not so little)
treasures that were too precious to risk outside. I decided that a lot of things were going to have to take their chances outside or in the greenhouse. Anything new and tender that I can't resist
will be getting a shock in the winter.
The first part of the plan has been a success. A lot of things have been planted out and have grown well through a warm summer. The second part of the plan involves them taking their chances
with the weather and I am anticipating the results with growing anxiety.
This Aristolochia was planted in the Agave house and it has grown vigorously throught the summer. If it had tendrils or twining stems then it might had hoisted itself up the support post
but in this case I had to grab the pile of floppy stems and yank it upwards. Young plants have survived out there through the worst recent winters, but this stock plant has always come inside
and I am a little jittery about it. This magnificent flush of flowers is hopefully a triumphant song and not a last gasp.
In the last few weeks I have been wandering around photographing things that might well be dead before Christmas. I console myself with the thought that there will always be new and improbable
plants to kill and maim in the New Year.
20th October 2013
The Autumn snowdrops extend the season of mortal fear. As soon as summer reveals the winter survivors the snowdrops become dormant and months of anxiety follow. Will they ever appear again
or will the bulbs rot or be eaten by Pot Trolls? Although I pretend to remain phlegmatic I have been watching the pots for the last few weeks. I have cleaned all the summer weeds from them
under the guise of good management, but really as an excuse to examine the pots closely for signs of growth.
Galanthus peshmenii has always been the first to appear for me. I repotted them last summer and disturbing an established pot is always a worry, so it was a great relief and delight to see
the bud elongating at the start of the week. It appears several weeks earlier than G.reginae-olgae though when discovered it was though to be a Turkish form of that species.
In recent years molecular data has placed it closer to G.elwesii.
This should probably mark the start of the snowdrop season, but it doesn't. This is just a warning that the snowdrop season is coming. For many years I have fought off Galanthomania
but I have a feeling that it is slowly gaining ground, both metaphorically and literally.
By the time Jack Frost has destroyed this year's tender vanity, next years snowdrops will be softening the blow. That is how I avoid crashing a ship into an island.
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