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

27th November 2011

Arisarum vulgare var typicum
A rather splendid little aroid to celebrate a rather splendid week. It could be winter, but instead we have a re-run of September. The dry weather has continued and I am hoping to get onto the mower one last time before winter weather forces me to behave like a grown-up (I tend to drive round the garden making noises like a fighter pilot). If I can get it done then the main paths should stay passable until spring is well underway.
This Arisarum is unfortunatley not as hardy as A.proboscideum, probably because it is full growth in autumn and winter (the exact season is always rather muddled) while the tougher species is busy underground planning it's next assualt on the garden. A.proboscideum invades new territory with all the enthusiasm and threat of a three inch storm-trooper. It isn't very frightening, and it has an unshaven macho charm so I let it be in the borders and mow it off in the paths. Neither strategy seems to deter it in any significant way.
A.vulgare needs a bit more care, and lives in a pot in the greenhouse where it is slowly increasing. I have killed it outside and I have killed it in a heated greenhouse, so it clearly prefers to have its porridge neither too hot nor too cold. Goldilocks would have approved. Not for the first time in my life, I find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with a fictional character.
(Goldilocks and storm-tropers in one paragraph, I didn't know that was going to happen when I started).

27th November 2011

Aristolochia cucurbitifolia BSWJ7043
The strangeness of the seasons continues but perhaps it is the process of change that is disturbing. Once the winter actually hits, all the problems will be solved and I can relax again until the spring. Everything that is going to die will be dead, and everything else will be fine. It is the anticipation of a massacre that is unsettling. I have been leaving things outside for as long as I can to enjoy the light levels and the last puff of warmth in the greenhouse. Once they come indoors into the dark they will just have to grit their teeth and wait for spring to return.
I was down in the greenhouse taking pictures this morning, and most of the excitable summer flowering things have finally given up for the year. The place had a cold and dank atmosphere that speaks of the end of autumn and the start of winter. In tribute to the generation that coined the term 'winterval' to cover the randon collection of celebrations to come, I have coined the term 'Wintumn'. It stands for "I don't quite know what to call this strange weather but if you come from the lowlands of Taiwan you should probably come inside"
And that is the situation with Aristolochia cucurbitifolia. A rare species, this is the introduction by Crug Farm Plants and experience has shown that it hates cold weather marginally more than it hates dark conditions. Not hardy, no hope of it ever being hardy. Not really sure why I am growing it. When I got it, the plan was to take as many cuttings as I could, give them to everybody I knew and hope that it would be secure in cultivation. It had one leaf when I got it, and now it has about five. I have to fight with mealybug constantly for control of the new growth. When I moved it indoors this morning, I found that they were building nests under the ties holding the floppy stems to the cane, so they won't be doing that again.

27th November 2011

Cyclamen coum
I have a few Cyclamen coum under the trees in the garden, and in the early years I selected the strongest colours because I like the way the flowers work with the dead leaves and potential for snow in January. It was a surprise to find the flowers emerging earlier in the week. It is another one of those plants that I go looking for as soon as the new year arrives. I have never been up there with a torch in the dark and intoxication, but the idea has struck me, so this might be the year. Usually I wait until the morning of New Years Day.
The adult plants grow well, but I don't seem to get any seedlings. I think I may have to build a little cold frame somewhere to make a comfy seedbed for them. I would love to have a lot more but it has become clear that they will need something rather more practical than good intentions if I am going to have a carpet of magenta to walk through from winter to spring ( or springter as I have decided to name it).

27th November 2011

Narcissus bulbocodium var pallidus
There is a short season at the end of summer when the leaves of the hoop-petticoat Narcissus push through the soil in their respective pots and they carry the top inch of compost up into the air with them like some ridiculous bonnet on a straw haired scarecrow. The trick is to dislodge the compost without knocking the foliage over. Once it has started to sprawl the most you can hope for is untidiness with flowers, it will never be beautiful. I think I got away with it this year, and this flower is an unexpectedly early bonus.
I admit to complete confusion when it comes to the naming of the Bulbocodium section of the genus. As far as I can see N.bulbocodium (mainly) from Spain and Portugal and N.romieuxii from North Africa are distinct simply because they do not produce fertile hybrids. It is a rather complex character to test for in the field. It doesn't help that N.b. var pallidus comes from Morocco and that this individual has flowered now, when it should properly wait until February.
The flower looks exactly the same as it always does, but I am prepared to accept the possibility that N. romieuxii has seeded into the pot in order to perplex me. I try to remove the seed pods but I may have missed one, it is easily done.
It needn't have troubled, I was already perplexed.

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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