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Thats enough introduction - on with the plants!
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... out in the garden.

30th January 2011

Galanthus 'Jaquenetta' .
A return to freezing weather this week is a little unwelcome but not unexpected for the end of January. With luck sometime during February it will warm up and stay that way (thought the possibility of staying frozen until the end of March remains). The problem this week was whether to go out on an overcast day and take photographs in poor light, or to wait until there was a bright spell and do pictures of plants that were frozen and drooping. In the end I waited for the sun, which has been beautiful in the garden all day today, but the ground is so hard you would think I had laid green Tarmac and most of the plants are wilting in the frost.
One or two plants have managed to hold their heads up. Under the trees at the top of the garden, 'Jaquenetta' has had a bit of protection and there are a few reasonable flowers. It has been vigorous for me, and though the flowers aren't large, they are produced with enthusiasm. It has very long stems so it is good for cutting but looks rather tall and lanky in the garden.

30th January 2011

Helleborus 'Walbertons Rosemary' .
In the last few years the Hellebore world has gone a bit barmy. The market is dealing with legions of mass produced tissue cultured plants derived from odd hybrids. This is a hybrid between H.niger and H. x hybridus, which breeders have been trying to create for many decades with the intention of adding some early flowering potential to the hybrids. There have been a couple of successes, but the hybrid has never been fertile, so they have been largely irrelevant. Recent success in tissue culture means that there are a couple of clones available now and they are an interesting novelty. 'Wabertons Rosemary' is the deepest pink I have seen and the bud has been emerging from the ground since Christmas, but it was slow to open fully. Perhaps in a gentler year it would have given me pink Christmas Roses, but this year it is opening at the same time as the H.x hybridus forms, so there is little advantage.
Tissue cultured hybrids have almost displaced H.x hybridus seedlings from the general market and it remains to be seen if tissue culture will mark the end of large scale Hellebore breeding. Producers find t/c plantlets easier and more uniform to grow on, and the end result is predicatable, so they prefer them to difficulties associated with seed. The same problem effectively destroyed the market for double Primula a decade ago and it would be a pity if the more skilled breeders of Hellebores were forced out of the market by these vigorous, pushy and (sadly) rather mediocre hybrids.

30th January 2011

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane'
The Hamamelis are notorious for flowering in the dead of winter, and standing up to anything that the weather can throw at them, so it isn't a surprise to find that this weeks freeze has left them untouched. Hybrid Hamamelis have used the red colour found in some forms of Hamamelis japonica with the reliability and flower power of H.mollis to create a great range of forms. At their best, they are better than either parent, but sometimes selections fall a little short of the desired perfection. To my eye, the darker red forma are a little difficult to see in the garden and they don't have the power of scent that makes you hunt out H.mollis from the other side of the garden. The pure yellow forms are much more effective in flower, but they are competing with H.mollis and they are less strongly scented, so they tend to lose out. (I have just bought 'Sandra' and for the life of me I can't think why, though I expect it will be nice eventually).
Consequently, it is really only the orange forms that I think are significant. The commonest is probably 'Jelena', though I find the colour a bit washed out (my plant is still a tiny baby, I am sure it will improve) and at the moment my favourite is 'Orange Beauty' (though you need the eye if faith to see it as much more than yellow).
'Diane' was raised by the de Belders at Kalmthout in 1969 and is one of the darker red cultivars available. In good light it is a delight. On overcast days it is less noticeable.

30th January 2011

Clematis napaulensis .
Another plant that has been in bud for months, but only just opened. I went looking for it at the start of December when the first freezing weather hit, and it was covered with fat buds. As it turns out, obstinate fat buds. Eight weeks later they have just burst. It is related to C.cirrhosa which has larger flowers, but hasn't been very successful for me. This is said to be very vigorous, and I have a small tree earmarked for it's final destination, but for now I have it in a pot. I am going to plant it with the Clematis montana forms, my only concern is that if it reaches the promised 30ft high I will never see it in flower. I don't like climbing ladders at the best of times and I'm not sure this Clematis has what it takes to get me up there in mid-winter.
At some point, I will be forced to act (it is too vigorous to stay in a pot) but for now I am happy with the outcome. I raised a pot of seedlings from it last year, so if the worst comes to the worst I will plant it out, and enjoy one of the babies in a pot. It is also about time I had another attempt to please C.cirrhosa, there are a lot of new selections available now, there must be one among them prepared to tolerate me?

Acorus Alocasia Anemone Arisaema Arum Asarum Aspidistra Begonia Bromeliads Camellia
Carnivorous Cautleya Chirita Chlorophytum Clivia Colocasia Crocosmia Dionaea Drosera Epimedium
Eucomis Fuchsia Galanthus Hedychium Helleborus Hemerocallis Hepatica Hosta Impatiens Iris
Liriope Ophiopogon Pinguicula Polygonatum Ranunculus ficaria Rhodohypoxis Rohdea Roscoea Sansevieria Sarracenia
Scilla Sempervivum Tricyrtis Tulbaghia Utricularia Viola odorata Watsonia

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.
I have a lot of good intentions when it comes to updating this site, and I try to keep a note about what is going on, if you are interested.
If you want to contact me, the address is infoMONKEYjohnjearrard.co.uk
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