Thats enough introduction - on with the plants!
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... out in the garden.
24th June 2012
It has been a cold wet week. I was quite determined to have a flaming june, so between showers I lit the bonfire. It didn't have much impact on the garden but it cheered me up for a moment. Just until
I realised it was the longest day and now it's downhill to Christmas. Fortunately in a garden as steep as mine, downhill can be exhillarating. I have thought about installing a slide
so that at the end of a long day I can whizz back to the front door gleefully. Cost and mechanics have defeated me (so far). Eventually everything ends up at the bottom, so nothing is ever lost in the garden for long.
Dahlia merckii has been by turns a wonder and a worry. I grew a number from seed several years ago and they make larger and larger clumps in the herbaceous border with every passing year. The first flowers have just opened
and they will continue until a serious frost kills the top growth. It is a magnificent spectacle, but every day through the flowering period the plant grows taller and wider. It is flowering here as a tidy
couple of feet but by September it will be six or eight feet wide and still spreading. I have only just uncovered a group of Hosta that were engulfed last year. I could stake it or trim it back
but it seems ungrateful. A Mexican species, it is the only Dahlia that has been reliably hardy here.
I have the white one as well, but it needs rescuing from the arms of a large Hosta that is fighting back.
24th June 2012
The Hemerocallis have been dithering on the point of bloom for a couple of weeks. I have great bunches of buds at the end of the stems, but nothing that has been open at the right time to photograph.
In a week or so the larger flowered hybrids will start but at the moment this is probably the most striking thing in the herbaceous border. Hemerocallis growers seem to be heading in two different directions.
The hardcore fanciers are growing larger, brighter and frillier flowered plants. It would seem that there is no limit to the floral excesses that are possible (though blue and pure white are still eluding breeders).
The larger flowered forms and the complicated doubles are best in dry sunny weather and don't always survive the onslaught of summer rains in the UK.
In garden borders the species and some of the earlier hybrids seem to be taking over. Twenty years ago H.liliosphodelus was almost unavailable commercially, now it is found everywhere. It makes a reliable
show at the start of June and doesn't have an untidy season, from the moment the fresh green shoots emerge in spring to the depths of winter, when the dead brown leaves remain attached to the clump until cleared away.
I think I have seen it in every garden I have visited this year and it has never looked out of place.
The herbaceous border has demonstrated the value of some of the reliable old perennials. They have formed stout clumps that resist invasion by weeds and give a structure and form to the planting. Hemerocallis, Asilbe,
Iris and a host of other traditional favourites are keeping the border from falling apart with all the flimsy novelties I keep planting. I need to consolidate the border, simplify it and stop faffing about!
24th June 2012
Gladiolus cardinalis Pink
I have tried the hardier Gladiolus in the herbaceous border, but without success. A run of extremely cold winters hasn't helped but the border is at the bottom of the hill and gets quite wet through the
winter. Gladiolus cardinalis is one of the species that played a part in the production of the modern hybrids. It grows in winter and flowers in late spring. The species comes from South Africa where it is found
growing on wet cliffs and waterfalls in the Cape. The typical form has bright scarlet flowers with white marks on then lower petals.
I got this salmon flowered plant as a pink selection of the species, buit I have some serious doubts. It is too tall, spring growing and rather too tolerant of drought. The flowers are too large and the petals are too
narrow. It has been suggested that it is a hybrid of G.cardinalis, which is perfectly reasonable but there is a part of me that suspects it is just a selection of the variable G.nanus.
24th June 2012
The Disa have been a distraction. There are buds swelling all over the bench and I have been running up and down the path all week hoping for something new to open. Last week I showed the first
flowers on D. Trata and a handful of other seedlings from the cross have flowered since then. I only have one plant that produced pink buds and I have been watching it with mounting excitement.
It opened on thursday and as a proud parent I can confidently say it is the most wonderful thing ever and will never be eclipsed by any breeder. Ever. Ever ever.
Back to the real world for a moment. It is a decent enough colour. It might be a darker pink/red than anything else I have but not by a lot. D. Watsonii 'Bramley' is a very similar colour.
I don't know the parentage. I sowed all the seed I wanted in 2008 and then mixed the rest together and gave it away as "Disa hybrids". I was left with a little bit so I sowed it rather than throw it in the dustbin.
The flowers are rather tiny, so it is one of the hybrids I did with D.tripetaloides and the colour suggests that the other parent was D. Watsonii or the red form of D. Kewensis,
but it is all just speculation. It would be nice to combine the white colour of D. tripetaloides with the large flowers of D.uniflora. This small flowered red plant achieves the opposite.
If there was a genetic equivalent of the sat-nav it would now be saying "when it is safe, make a u-turn".
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