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

20th February 2011

Helleborus x hybridus Blue .
Last week I was sinking slowly into the delight of snowdrops, and visited the show in London, which was wondeful, but it is time to move on.
A warm wet week, with worryingly cold nights, has moved the garden on in great leaps. There is now more going on than I will manage to record here. Last week was white, this week is filled with colour.
The Hellebores have been quietly pushing up out of the ground and are making a good show. I mowed all the leaves off last autumn so they are emerging from bare ground, looking a bit more naked than I am used to but I am happy with it.
This strange colour is called 'blue' among breeders. It doesn't photograph well - any light transmitted through the petals shows red, so pictures are often much closer to purple than they are in life (the same problem makes the blacks difficult to photograph as well). I have three groups of them planted in the garden - a small group of Ashwood Hybrids (very blue, very round flowers, very expensive), a larger group of seedlings from blue strains ( which are more variable but all lovely) and a group of seedlings that have come up in mixed batches and were intended to be black, but have come up rather more mixed. This is one from the middle group, a selected blue strain which still produces the occasional black flowered plant but is reliable enough for the relatively small number of seedlings I raise.

20th February 2011

Crocus chrysanthus 'Blue Pearl' .
Lasy year I had grand plans to raise some Crocus chrysanthus from seed. The seed I bought in didn't germinate (the fault is almost certainly mine, I just planted it in seed pots and left it alone) and the seed I had hoped to collect from these plants never materialised. There must be a reason that new forms are not introduced very frequently, and I think I may have stumbled on to it.
One fortunate consequence has been that the stock plants in pots have prospered and are filling the greenhouse with cheerful colour. It has been a dull, overcast week and I didn't think they were going to open properly, but yesterday was bright and sunny dawn to dusk and thay have made a stunning show.
I would like to have carpets of Crocus under the trees, and have repeatedly tried to establish Crocus tommasinianus but the corms seem to fade away. This year I have a single flower to show for my efforts, so I don't think the environment here suits them. I will try a few Crocus sieberi, which seems to prosper in pots and possibly a few C.chrysanthus but I might have to admit defeat (and grow Erythronium instead).

20th February 2011

Narcissus asturiensis 'Van Tubergen Clone'
There isn't anything very surprising about yellow daffodils, though they make a nice counterpoint to the blue flowers. There are a number of daffodil farms in the area so I am used to seeing fields of them in season and they have to be rather special before I buy them for the garden. This is so special that I even decided to feature it in a self-portait. I call it "Daffodil with Finger".
I adore this tiny little morsel of cheerfulness. Many years ago (Oh dear, why do I ever look things up? It was 1981.) I bought a single bulb from Avon Bulbs and it slowly divided to fill a 10inch pot with wonder, tidy blue green leaves and an elfin field of these charming yellow flowers. Unfortunately I started taking it for granted, and it slowly faded away. A couple of years ago I set out to replace it and this is the result. In the intervening years this stock has acquired a clonal name but it is the same delightful little plant and I won't be taking any liberties with it.

20th February 2011

Tecophilaea cyanocrocus .
The wonder of the week has been the shockingly "Blue Crocus" from Chile. Last week I was delighted to see little shoots emerging, this week I have a flower as well, so it has survived a measure of neglect through the summer. It is adapted to be a snowmelt plant, growing and flowering up the mountains of Chile (around Santaigo, approximately 9,000ft) and then dying down quite rapidly for a long dry summer, so it does quite well in a pot. It would probably do less well outside, though I have seen prospering colonies in drier counties (ah, Tecophilaea I have known - that's probably a rather boring story, let's not go into it).
It was believed to have become extinct in the wild in the 1950's, as a result of collection for the trade and overgrazing. Collection would have damaged the population, but it is the overgrazing and consequent degredation of the habitat that finished it off. It's a double edged sword. Commercial collection meant that it was well established in cultivation, with reasonable genetic diversity. Kew have formulated a plan to grow seedlings and re-establish it in the wild, which will be a wonderful thing. And then in 2001 a new wild population was discovered, not far from the original location, so plans are on hold.
It is very pleasing to discover that this astonishing little thing has (for the moment at least) survived becoming cattle fodder. It I planted it out here it would have to survive rabbits and I don't think there would be such a happy outcome.

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.
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