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

1st May 2011

Magnolia wilsonii
It has been a long and busy week, and nothing seems to have got done, but that's the way it goes. If I had time to stop and enjoy it, it wouldn't be spring. A cooler week, we have been promised showers but they didn't actually arrive until this morning. I was looking at the Sarracenia benches because I thought they were getting close to drying out, but we have had enough rain to put off watering them for a few more days.
I have had some confusion over this Magnolia. I planted it in 2004 and didn't label it. Somewhere along the way I managed to convince myself that it was Magnolia sieboldii . It flowered for the first time in 2008 and is getting better every year, so this year I have gone back to my original records and see that it was labelled M.wilsonii when I got it. I have looked at the various descriptions, and see no reason to suppose the original label was wrong, so Magnolia wilsonii it is!

1st May 2011

Entelea arborescens
A shrub or small tree from the North (warm) Island of New Zealand. It grows below 350m within 8km of the sea, and the garden here meets both those criteria, so there is only the small matter of frost intolerance to deal with. So far I have moved it into the conservatory for winter, where it suffers in the low light levels but becomes sufficiently dormant to survive for a few months. This flower promises the seed of a new generation that I can torture with inadequate growing conditions. In writing this, I have discovered that it is not supposed to tolerate dry conditions. Glad I didn't know about that this winter.
I was given the seedling in 2009 and it has been like discovering a new plant. I last grew it when I was a kid, and all I have is a vague memory of leaving the saplings for too long in a pot and then killing them when I tried to divide them. That was when I still believed in doing things properly, nowadays I would just pot up the whole mess, and leave it to get on with it.

1st May 2011

Tropaeolum pentaphyllum
I have an affection for Tropaeolum that owes nothing to the delights of the obscure species now available, but which is firmly seated in the fat Nasturtiums of childhood. From time to time I still get the urge to grow them, they are wrapped in an exotic opulence that is a blend of innocence and gaudiness and quite lost to grown-ups.
So now I grow a few of the species, and pretend to myself that it is their cool elegance that attracts me. This one is certainly cool and elegant, so it is either a triumph of style or an emblem of my self delusion, you must judge for yourself.
I first met it at Rosemoor, where it was adding summer interest to the stems of a young Mahonia and it is prospering in a greenhouse here because I was unsure about its hardiness. No sign of the plant at Rosemoor a couple of weeks ago so my caution may be vindicated. I tried to root some layers, but they shrivelled as soon as I detached them. Fortunately I am quite lazy about clearing things up, and I see there are now tiny shoots appearing in the pots. I welcome them with wide eyed glee, like chocolate cake or fresh sheets.

1st May 2011

Pleione aurita
Pleione are as pink as a teenager on a first date, filled with the idea of the loss of innocence but not yet tinted by it. This is an orchid straight from the pages of a colouring-in book.
This is a recently named species, introduced to cultivation from China in 1988. Plants that were available in the early years were all wild collected but more recently it has been tissue cultured.
Often described as 'vigorous' I suspect that this was an assumption based on the large size of wild collected pseudobulbs. In cultivation I have always found it rather fussy, more at the P.forrestii end of the spectrum than the P.formosana end. I have killed it before (along with P.forrestii), but possibly experience increases understanding. I'm not asserting that with any great confidence, just opening the door to possibility. Ask me again this time next year!

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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