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

27th February 2011

Cyrtanthus brachyscyphus .
Spring has broken into the garden like a hungry farmer into a meat pie and it is difficult to know what to include here. I should be showing a deluge of Hellebores, but they are suffering from their usual problem - they are long lasting and reliable. They will still be good next week!
Another warm, mostly overcast week with some rain and some bright spells. Yesterday during one of the latter I ran out to take some photo's, and just made it to the greenhouse before the hailstones came. Little balls of ice, but I am starting to hope we won't be seeing it on a larger scale, a serious frost now would be quite damaging.
I have a weakness for Cyrtanthus, they have an ability to surprise me, and sometimes that is a good thing. C.elatus has been grown as an easy and adaptable bulb on windowsills for decades (probably centuries) and drops dead with me at the first opportunity, however some surprises are better. This one has been producing a tiny flowering spike since November, through the freeze. It has produced this little coral pink flower for the spring. Not a common colour among spring bulbs, and it wouldn't grow outside, but it has been undamaged in a cold greenhouse. From the Eastern Cape and Kwa Zulu-Natal it varies from yellow to bright orange and if I manage to find any other colours, I will happily make a space for them.

27th February 2011

Tulipa humilis 'Violacea Black Base' .
Tulips don't do particularly well here - too wet in the summer, but I have a plan. I am sure that if I can grow them in raised beds in the sun then I have a chance of watching them prosper year after year. Not that I am especially fond of them, but I have a weakness for the ridiculous and tulips have a particular talent in that direction.
The smaller species tulips are a little easier to please - these are growing in a bucket of sand to keep them dry in the summer. If they survive the rabbits eating the leaves, then they have a chance of surviving in the long term. This is one of my favourite little species, flower colour varies , as does the colour of the base. The most covetable is 'Albocaerulea Oculata' with stunning white flowers and a pure blue base. I grow it in the greenhouse where it is grumpy. This bright pink wouldn't fit into any colour scheme. I defy any disigner to make it look natural or harmonius, or anything except contrived. We live in a golden age, where anybody can experience the chromatic shock of life for the sake of a couple of quid or a few bulbs. They may not particularly like my conditions, but I will always be happy to make space for some tulips. Last week there was no sign of buds in the garden, and this week I have a fanfare of the ridiculous.

27th February 2011

Asarum maximum 'Ling Ling'
The Asarum are still suffering from neglect here. I feel quite guilty about it, but some of them are forgiving (and some of them are less so). I need to spend more time weeding them, I need to spend more time looking after them, I need to grow more seedlings. Maybe this year I will have more time and more space. The greenhouse they are growing in is slowly turning into a bulb house so I will have to make some changes, and that is probably a good thing.
Asarum maximum is one of the easier species and can be relied on to produce these large black and white flowers at the first sign of spring. One of a great many species that have become available recently from China, new cultivar names are popping up all over the place. The flowers are all more or less the same (there is some variation in size, but they are all big) but the leaves vary from green to silver, with every conceivable spotted and streaked variation in between. They prefer to be moist and shaded, but they are quite fleshy with long bootlace roots that rot of they are moist and cold. It is an awkward balance to strike, and I haven't got it quite right yet, but I'm getting there. I use a very free draining compost that is kept quite wet in summer and then allowed to dry almost completely in winter. I'm still getting flowers, so I haven't got it quite wrong yet either.

27th February 2011

Camellia grijsii .
The garden is full of Camellia. They prosper here without any effort and they make good strong evergreen shrubs so there is plenty to admire about them. I wish I had more around the edge of the garden where the wind bursts through the gaps. And they flower of course. Sometimes that is a good thing. There are a few I enjoy, a few that I find shockingly exciting and a few that glow. The sort of glow you might expect from a plant raised in the waste outflow from a nuclear power station. The sort of glow that you wouldn't dare compare to the complexion of a lady (but perhaps to someone you wouldn't dare describe as a lady).
Last year I started to take the species Camelia a little more seriously, and ended up with a few little shrubs of doubtful hardiness but interesting leaves that promise smoked salmon flowers (good taste!) Through the winter they have been sheltering in the greenhouse, and the freeze has done a certain amount of damage, but I have unwrapped them from their insulating covers to find this one has aready burst into flower.
A chinese species that may be threatened in the wild by habitat loss, it has not suffered any leaf damage under cover, so it should be worth trying outside. A spring flowering species quite closely related to C.sasangua but much more upright in growth. I'm on the look out for a rather special place in the garden to give it a try.

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.
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