Thats enough introduction - on with the plants!
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... out in the garden.
26th May 2013
Rhododendron 'Loderi King George'
I am not a lover of big cities. I was brought up on the fringes of London (in the days before that was the name of a hairdresser) but spent my time wandering around in the fields and using a stick
to poke anything that looked as though it needed it (my assessment of the things that need poking with a stick has changed as I have matured). However I do relish some of the joys of a big city.
I like walking around a corner and being hit with a gust of turbulent wind. I even like the little bits of grit that always seem to be carried in it. I'm sure that if I was fighting my way to work in the morning
or struggling to look important on a sunny day then it would lose its charm, but I'm not. In my garden the wind blows like a friendly giant dancing. I can stand at the top of the hill
and feel like a kite, the connection to the ground is so tenuous. As a consequence I don't mind the occasional gale, but last week it took down a large Leyland Cypress which landed in my neighbours meadow
and has had to be cut up and carried home to protect their nosey pony which, frankly, deserves poking with a stick.
The link to Rhododendron 'Loderi King George' may not be immediately apparent. I'm not a great lover of Rhododendrons, I feel cheated when they are scentless. Consequently I adore the Loderi Group.
Last week the border was perfumed even before the fat buds had opened and for yards around little wafts of wonder would dance to me on the breeze. Goodness me I love that plant, and with the blind
faith of the lovestruck I planted three in a row to make a fat windbreak. Can you imagine being assulted by hurricane force sweetness? Well, enough to point out that the larger Rhododendrons
don't really enjoy that sort of exposure. They are growing slowly, and two of the three have started to flower but it wasn't my brightest idea.
26th May 2013
The Rhododendron windbreak was planted at the north end of the shade border. The removal of some of the trees around it has let a lot more light in and some of the plants that were struggling have
started to prosper. It would seem that shade is only really useful for sleeping in on a sunny afternoon. Disporum lanuginosum spent far longer in a pot than it was happy about
and sulked for a couple of years when it was planted out, but at last it has returned to flowering. It doesn't carry it to excess - I have three green flowers in the entire clump
and they are neither scented not showy but finding them is a fleeting joy, like seeing a cloud in the shape of an elephant.
All of the American species of Disporum have recently been moved into a genus of their own (Prosartes) but I haven't yet seen the reasoning so I'm dragging my heels. It might just be because they are American.
D.lanuginosum grows in the east coast states, from New York south to Alabama mostly in moist woodland along the Appalachian mountains.
26th May 2013
There are some wonderful plants among the Peas, from gaudy perfumed Sweet Peas to delicious Sugar Snaps and they promise flowers from scarlet to gold and blue. I tend to buy plants when I see them, but my
interest doesn't extend as far as seeking out the seed and growing an extensive range. I work on the principle that the less well known ones have remained in obscurity for a reason.
However, they are amusing to stumble across. It's like walking along the tide line on a sunny afternoon. A pleasant thing to do and you may well find something fascinating
but you will tramp through a fair bit of crud in the process.
I bought Lathyrus aureus a few years ago at a plant sale. I didn't know the plant but the name seemed to hold a promise. In the event it is more of a Vetch than a Pea
but the flower spikes are lovely. It is taller growing than Lathyrus vernus but cast in the same mould. It comes a bit later and it flops a bit more but it isn't a problem.
I grew it in the greenhouse for several years while I got to grips with it. Partly I was hoping it would produce seed more freely in a sheltered place but there was also a part of me that was expecting it to be short lived.
If it was going to die of old age after a year or two it might as well do it in a pot as in the garden. Time has shown that it is reliably perennial and it has performed much
better in the border than it did in a big pot, where it was rather prone to red spider mite.
It comes from the Taurus Mountains in southern Turkey and would be more popular if it produced more seed and germinated more freely.
26th May 2013
The hardy Pinguicula are currently filling the greenhouse with their short purple flowers. I seem to have Pinguicula grandiflora coming up in unexpected places. I don't
remember running about scattering seed willy-nilly, though it is the sort of thing I might have done. It is more likely that the fine seed has blown about in the wind.
Among the pots of purple flowers I was suddenly struck with rapture at the sight of Pinguicula leptoceras. I wasn't expecting it and it has been years since I last saw the distinctive flowers.
The species is closely allied to Pinguicula vulgaris which I have repeatedly failed with. I would usually assume that I was failing because I am stupid/incompetent/lazy (take your pick)
but in this case the plant has a northern distribution. My garden is just too mild in the winter. P.leptoceras has a more southern distribution. I last saw it in the Maritime Alps in France
after a day spent slugging up a mountain in the summer heat. When Chiltern Seeds offered it in 2009 I thought it was worth a try.
Two seedlings germinated and seemed to be growing rather weakly. All of the temperate Pinguicula look more or less the same in leaf so my enthusiasm for the little specks of green was
softened by seeing P.grandiflora seedlings turning up about the place. I was wrong to be so cautious, this is the real thing and I am amazed and delighted that it has grown
vigorously enough to flower.
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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