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

28th August 2011

Aconitum austroyunnanense
Cool weather suits me well in august, though I am sure the beaches are filled with shivering bodies. Enough rain to keep things lush, and just enough thunder to make me consider turning the computer off for its own protection. It would be nice if I had also managed to mow the grass, but it will have to wait. It has already got beyond a joke, so one more day isn't going to make much difference.
I have been convinced that nothing new had happened in the garden this week (mostly because I have hardly been out there) so I was surprised by what I finally found.
In recent years a lot of new Aconites have been coming from China, and there are some very good things among them. This one is from Yunnan where it grows in rough ground and scrub at 1700 -2500m. It should be hardy though Bob Brown notes he lost it to cold. A climbing species, it hoists itself up through shrubs to a height of 3m (Flora of China), but probably less in normal circumstances.
I planted it in spring under the lower branches of a Rhododendron. I had great plans of it snaking its way through and flowering at the top, to give the a second season of interest. The Rhododendron is still too young to flower, so I am technically still waiting for a first season of interest but you get the idea. Unfortunately the early twining growth was eaten by a curious rabbit (hopefully with extreme stomach ache) so these flowers have been carried on trailing stems lying on the ground. Early days!

28th August 2011

Neriene masoniorum
I have seen a few Nerine flowers out and about over the last few weeks, but this is the first to open here. It is a charming little species that increases easily and makes tight little clumps in a pot. I would love to try some hybrids to get a range of small growers in different colours but I think it is going to repeat last years performance and go over before anything else opens. It is rather chilling to think that last year we had serious frosts before any of the Nerine heads ripened - I didn't manage to harvest a single seed.
The species comes from the Umtata area of the Eastern Cape and was first collected in the 1920's by Marianne Mason. It is considered to be critically endangered in the wild. It is only known from a single location that is being degraded by informal building and is close to extinction. Fortunately it is easy in cultivation. Probably not tough enough to grow outdoors in most of the country it has no problems under cold glass (at least with me - I have a friend in the midlands whose greenhouse temperature dropped to minus 15 degC last winter, and it might have objected to that).
It has long thin thread like leaves, very similar to Nerine filifolia but the flowers have shorter, broader petals and are more numerous in the heads.

28th August 2011

Tricyrtis ohsuniensis
The poor old toad lilies are suffering at the moment. They should all have gone out into the shade border this year but there hasn't been time. They are just recovering from their last major setback and I'm not sure how much more they can take. A couple of years ago during the summer, my neighbours horse leapt the fence (an astonishing achievement for an animal as fat as it is tall) and browsed the tops off the whole collection in pots. It then followed up by eating the top inch of compost. Too many concentrates and not enough fibre in its diet in my opinion, but I held my tongue. I even smiled sweetly when they came to collect it. They have a child built to the same template so I suppose the horse needs fortifying....
The genus divides into those that look like toads and are generally quite tough, and those with yellow flowers that require some extra care and consideration in planting. They like rich moist soils in light shade and they don't fight off competition very successfully.
This one comes from Japan and has short upright stems and large flowers. Grazing horses are a large problem but fairly uncommon, the real difficulties come from grazing slugs, which are slow but relentless.

28th August 2011

Zingiber mioga 'Crug's Zing'
And still in Japan, where the flowers of this hardy ginger are used as a culinary garnish. Pause here for one moment.
Quick trip into the garden to see if the flowers tasted gingery, but unfortunately not. Rather coarse flavour, not entirely pleasant to me though it would probably work with a stir fry. Aftertaste of bitter lettuce leaves - the really old ones at the base that the slugs climb over to get to lunch.
Pretty enough as decoration, they are usually yellow but described as "lilac-pink" in this collection by Crug Farm Plants from Chejudo Island, between Japan and South Korea.
I have grown the species for years in a pot where it is easy and tough but it has never quite made it into the garden and that is something I should change!

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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