Thats enough introduction - on with the plants!
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... out in the garden.
30th June 2013
The autumnal weather has continued for most of the week. The garden has been wrapped in mist that drifts about in ribbons, weaving between the trees. At least, I thought it passed between the trees.
It seems that much of it gets trapped.
I don't have a water supply at the top end of the garden so I collect the rain from a roof in a water butt. If there is water in the butt, I can plant things up there and water them in; if there isn't, I can't.
It's a very simple measure of the suitability of the season for planting. Last weekend I ran out of water and planting stopped.
We have had mist every night this week, but I didn't think there was much hope of it producing usable water so I was surprised that I have collected 300 litres. I have a large
Pinus radiata that overhangs half of the roof. Mist has been condensing on its needles, dripping onto the roof and hence into the water butt. The half of the roof in the open has collected nothing.
I was amazed to see it in action, but it explains how the Monterey Pine survives the dry weather of coastal California.
Further up in the garden, the Hellebore border has been resting through the summer. It is a large green area under the trees and it is a calm space through the 'not cold' season ('hot' would be pushing the point),
but I have a gardeners meddlesome need to pretty it up a bit. I planted a few Allium cristophii to see if they would give a display in summer. It was a clever idea, but it didn't impress me
so I put it aside. This year there have been some Aquilegia up there that looked good, and I might plant more, but the Allium have returned and this time I like them. Possibly I wasn't bold enough
previously, and I need to plant a thousand to have impact. The bulb catalogues have started to arrive so I will have to think about it.
30th June 2013
Rodgersia 'Chocolate Wing'
I woke up one morning in 2010 (like you do) and realised that I wasn't growing any Rodgersia, that I hadn't grown any for years, and that there were lots of new ones. I decided I needed a change, and quite
by chance I ran across 'Chocolate Wing' the following week at a Hardy Plant Society sale. This is the random nature of the way I garden. I planted it in the herbaceous border because at the time I was planting
the herbaceous border. It would be nice to imply that there was a plan, but the reality is there was a space. The following year it was a thing of beauty and in 2012 I started to collect together some more. I can
understand why people feel the need to plant National Collections of them and fill the nooks and crannies of their lives with leafy magnificence.
So far this year the tally reads: Bought - 2; Given - 4; Regretted - 0.
'Chocolate Wing' was selected for its rich brown emerging leaves which slowly lose their colour through the spring to become firm textured mounds of muted dark green supporting heads of pinkish flowers that darken as they age.
Anything with the word chocolate in it fills me with great expectation and so far the spring foliage hasn't quite lived up to it. It may be that I was hoping for too much, or perhaps I have been spoiled by 'Crug Colossus'
(mine is still tiny-wee but it will grow). The rumour is that 'Chocolate Wing' is protected by a plant patent, but I haven't been able to locate a copy (or I would know a lot more about it) and the patent number published
doesn't seem to relate to it. (Patent no. 1,454,510)
30th June 2013
Paeonia 'Buckeye Belle'
The last of the Azaleas have faded this week. They die with more dignity than the Camellia (which are still hanging on unfortunately). The flowers have a day ot two of curled brownish decrepitude
like an old newspaper found behind a cupboard and then the new growth hides them and they drop off. It marks the end to spring in the garden. I haven't gone looking for new buds on the Cyclamen
yet but they can't be far away. I rely on the herbaceous border to deliver interest for the next few months. I didn't manage to finish weeding it in April so it is bright with the flowers of pink campion
now, and I had started to think there weas nothing much to see. Fortunately, I was wrong. Things are starting to slow down at last and with luck there will be some time in the evenings to finish the weeding.
It won't improve the look because the campion is wonderful, but it will make me feel happier.
The huge scarlet flowers of 'Buckeye Belle' shone out from a distance and I was frightened of looking too closely in case they turned out to be a disappointing piece of wind-blown refuse trapped in the border.
As I got closer, the shiny petals were distinctive. It was raised in 1956 by Walter Mains in the USA and is generally regarded as a hybrid that involves P.officinalis. The foliage is certainly
stouter and more compact than the P.lactiflora cultivars. I first noticed it about 20 years ago in an article in the RHS journal. It was the one variety that really stood out in a comparison piece.
It has taken me this long to obtain one and arrange suitable growing conditions.
As a young person I may have been in too much of a rush for peonies, certainly I have only succeeded in recent years. It may be that peonies, like piles, are most common among the older generation.
30th June 2013
My relationship with roses has always been complicated. I like to think that I don't really like them but if I didn't have any to not really like then I am certain I would miss them.
From time to time I find another to join the very select group of roses that I am genuinely pleased with. 'Celeste' arrived here many years ago when I decided that a small rose garden in front of the house might be
an appropriate way to deal with the space. My front garden is a tiny little patch wedged between the house and the road - the 'real' garden is hidden round the back - and it is an irritating problem that I finally
solved by parking on it. Of the dozen or so roses I planted, 'Celeste' was the only one I dug up and saved.
I replanted it in the herbaceous border - that's where I was planting at the time - and it promptly became a mixed border. Rabbits chew the occasional shoot but so far they have only done minor damage
compared with the salad-vengeance they have wreaked on the ground cover roses which are clearly tastier and more accessible.
'Celeste' is a very ancient Alba rose that is well recorded from the 18th century and had probably been around for a couple of hundred years before that. It has grown to about three feet tall in the border
though I was once able to get it up to seven feet by propping it up with a shed. The double pink flowers have the sort of scent you are grateful for. It seems to be fairly resistant to the diseases
that generally afflict roses and tolerates the dull weather and mists that characterise summer.
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