Thats enough introduction - on with the plants!
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... out in the garden.
20th March 2011
Pulmonaria 'Blue Ensign' .
It has been a beautiful week with bright sunny days. There has been the potential for frost overnight but I haven't been up in time to see it
and nothing in the garden has been damaged (yet). The frantic rush of spring is well underway - I was in London yesterday for the
Orchid Show, and they certainly had a frost up there! Meantime in my quiet county backwater I have been leaving the doors and windows open through the day
to let the warmth in.
I have a long history with Pulmonaria as a consequence of a minor infatuation when I was younger. Anything that will flower at the very start of the year
is worth having and too much of a good thing can be wonderful! Unfortunately although they make good ground cover where the ground is already under complete control,
they don't have the vigour to compete with any weed strong enough to deserve the name. I was given this one last year by a friend and it seems to be happy
where it is, so I may be tempted to try a few more in the herbaceous border.
This is one of the best of the modern 'blues'. Like most of the Boraginaceae the flowers of Pulmonaria can suffer from pink flushes when young,
but this one manages to throw off the rosy tone completely and opens pure blue. It was discovered as a seedling at the RHS gardens Wisley in the early 1990's
and is one of the best for early season effect.
20th March 2011
Hepatica maxima .
A strange species of Hepatica from Korea, where it is found only on Ullung Island. It is a large growing plant with shiny green leaves
but unfortunatley the flowers are held beneath the leafy cover. They are small and white, backed with large green leafy bracts that are fringed with long silky hairs.
Very occasionally plants are found with pinkish flowers, but they are never strikingly attractive. This is the first time in several years that I have
managed to take decent photographs. Usually I don't remember to look until they have gone over.
It is an easy plant to grow, much more obliging than the species more usually seen. It's size makes it a bit more resistant
to being overlooked and the evergreen leaves mean that the roots are always active. Those species that lose their leaves at the end of summer
also have dormant roots which can suffer from dessication or excess moisture in the soil and are not particularly easy to please.
In recent years hybrids with H.nobilis have started to appear (H.x schlyteri) and the best forms combine the good qualities of both parents.
20th March 2011
I generally think of myself as a quite lucky person, but with Tulips my luck seems to wear a bit thin. It is a widespread genus growing in a range of habitats,
there should be a few at least that are easy and adaptable. Not with me it would seem, though Cornwall is a bit moist and cool in the summer
to expect outstanding results from dry sun loving bulbs. I just seem to run out of luck, and a small setback is enough to send a Tulip off in a huff
for years after. I had a lovely display of Tulipa humilis outside a couple of weeks ago, but overnight the rabbits ate all of the flower buds.
Fortunately they have left the leaves alone, but it is a bit frusatrating.
I do slightly better with the smaller species in pots in the greenhouse, though I think they would like more stable soil conditions than a pot allows.
I managed to flower this last year, and it has repeated the achievement this year which is more than I usually manage with the genus. I don't think it minded the cold winter
because it is flowering a month earlier (but last year was exceptionally cold during March).
Native to northern Iran and Turkmenistan it is seriously threatened in the wild by grazing though it is prospering reliably (with other people at least)
20th March 2011
Magnolia x loebneri 'Merrill' .
It has been a funny year for the Magnolias. I finally got around to removing a lower branch from this tree in the autumn, and put a section of it in a vase
where it flowered in January. As a result the first flowers on the tree felt like old news but I should have known there was more to come.
Walking underneath the tree in full flower this afternoon the sun was eclipsed by the bright petals, and a blanket of perfume fell from
the sky as intangible as the fading fragments of a joyful dream. It is a delicious tree, and seems to get better every year. I have also planted the
pink flowered form 'Leonard Messel' but the rabbits and I are currently contending ownership.
This cultivar was raised from a deliberate cross made at the Arnold Arboretum in 1939 between M.kobus and M.stellata. The two parents are
very closely allied and are sometimes treated as two forms of a single species (M.kobus). In the last few years I have planted a number of
new Magnolias around the garden, inspired by the beauty of this one, and perhaps there are even more astonishing wonders to come, but this was one of the
first things I planted in this garden and will always be the most precious of them to me.
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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