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

13th February 2011

Galanthus 'Fred's Giant' .
I sit here this week wedged between one snowdrop event and the next, so it is almost inevitable that I have some snowdrops to show. The weather has been kind, moist and mild, so flowers are all developing well, and the collection is more or less at it's peak now. Fortunately we had a perfect spring day yesterday. The sun came out, the wind dropped and the flowers opened beautifully.
In general terms I only buy cheap snowdrops and it is a policy that help me to steer clear of insanity (although I have recently started yearning for 'Ecusson d'Or', but I'll probably get over it). It is the same principle I use with Hemerocallis. The garden worthy and vigorous rapidly become cheap (though tissue culture has distorted this generalisaion a little). The fickle, wimpish and obstinately delightful remain expensive and I am happy to pass them over. Plants in the garden here have to tolerate being accidentally overlooked for a few years. Vigour (and I should probaby add, cheapness) is a great asset.
'Fred's Giant' is an example of the triumph of ignorance. I bought it from the Cyclamen Society Show as a dry bulb in 2006 and had no idea what to expect. It has grown into an excellent large flowered G.elwesii form that is getting better and better every year (if you overlook 2007, when I was quite convinced it was going to die). It turns out that it was found in Aberdeen in 1949 by Fred Sutherland, head gardener at Cruickshank Botanic Garden. There are a couple of clones around under the same name, but mine is big and remarkable, and makes me very happy. I can't think of a better way of spending 6 at a Cyclamen Society Show!
(Is it a bit mean to say that? I did buy some pretty boring Cyclamen at the same time that never make me as happy.)

13th February 2011

Galanthus 'Hill Poë' .
I went to the Snowdrop Study Day at the Garden House last week, and unfortunately the weather wasn't quite as kind. I have a wet camera and a lot of blurred pictures of closed snowdrop buds covered in sparkling raindrops as a consequence. Fortunately it didn't matter. Good speakers, good company and good apple cake will fend off all manner of meterological misadventures.
I had promised myself that I would come back with only one new snowdrop, and that I could stretch as far as the upper end of cheap but not to the lower end of expensive. If you are wondering what that means, the answer is 'Godfrey Owen'. I wanted a plant that reliably produced six outer segments instead of the usual three. I was prepared to be seduced by a poculiform beauty but didn't see one. I thought 'Big Boy' was great fun, but then I realised I was blushing, so it was left on the shelf (and it was certainly the upper end of expensive).
Back at home, 'Hill Poë' has being doing the same job in the woodland. It is a double flower, and usually has additional outer segments as well as the ruff of inner ones (though it isn't entirely reliable). My original plant came from Phillip Ballard, and is (probably) still in my mothers garden. This one came from Pottertons Nursery twenty years later, when I finally got tired of forgetting to dig up a piece in season! The first was quite expensive at 5. Twenty years later, the second seemed a bargain at the same price.

13th February 2011

Galanthus 'Spetchley Yellow'
The yellow snowdrops are a strange bunch. When I first got to know them, there was 'Lutescens' and 'Flavescens', both originating in Northumberland. One of them was impossibly fickle, the other almost impossibly fickle, but opinions were divided about which was which. Fortunately the ensuing arguments were brought to an end when it was suggested that both names were best treated as synonyms of 'Sandersii'. They all grow rather weakly and my garden can be rather unruly so I have left well alone.
Things change. The discovery of 'Wendy's Gold' was a great leap forward. Suddenly there was a yellow snowdrop that was (moderately) vigorous. It started me looking at the other yellow forms again, and thanks to the kindness of friends I am able to try a few out. In the years since they were united under the 'Sansdersii' banner gardeners have been out and about and selected a new range of cultivars. They are quite difficult to distinguish, and some are more vigorous than others. There is a pleasing circularity about it all!
This is the first year I have flowered 'Spetchley Yellow'. The green ovary is good to see, I am hoping that it will be a little vigorous as a result. I liked this picture with the yellow colour shining through the closed bud, full of hidden promise. I will wait to see if the promise is realised when it is no longer hidden!

13th February 2011

Galanthus 'Spindlestone Surprise'.
A fairly vigorous form, probably a hybrid between G.plicatus and a yellow G.nivalis that originated in Northumberland. The ovary and markings are a strange olive green but I have seen plants that are much brighter yellow, so I assume it has good and bad years, or perhaps it needs time to settle down.
Next week I am off to the RHS show to look at snowdrops. I don't think I need any more, and there isn't anything else that I am looking for, but you never know what will appear on the day.
And there is always the possibility of 'Ecusson d'Or' , though a recent example on e-bay suggests it may well be at the wrong end of the price range for 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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