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

4th December 2011

Camellia 'Drama Girl'
Warm weather continues, although there is a slight chill in the evenings. I bought myself a new padded shirt so that I could sit at the computer in style as well as warmth but it isn't quite right somehow. I have abandoned it for now and dug out the old one. It is faded, misshapen and it smells slightly of the memory of recklessness (but it might be mildew). It is reassuringly familiar. I had to abandon last weeks plan to mow the grass one last time in the dry. The rain hasn't been heavy, but it has been frequent. With luck it will keep the low temperatures at bay for a while longer.
'Show Girl' was the first of the Camellia to flower, and I didn't think I would be seeing any more for a month or so, but I was wrong. 'Drama Girl' is a bit of a monster for the fragile part of winter but the first flowers have opened and can't really be ignored. I once described it as "The most repulsive thing imaginable" but perhaps I was being a little harsh. The colour is quite interesting. A shade of red that would probably be pink at any other season, the flowers will die and turn an unquestionable brown. Nowadays I remove them by hand whenever I pass. In the early years I beat the bush with a stick until they fell off which had a peculiar satisfaction about it. I don't think that was a healthy thing to continue.
It was a surprise to find flowers open so early.

4th December 2011

Fuchsia 'Diana Wright'
Last week was a very curious one in the garden, everything seemed to be in flower at once. With the first Narcissus flowers open, I had a fanciful idea to include flowers appropriate to spring, summer, autumn and winter on this page. I abandoned the idea because I had things to show that didn't really fit the theme. This week the situation is very different. The garden has very clearly let go of summer, there is hardly anything left of the fluff of warm weather. The borders are dank and weatherbeaten, leaves have fallen from the trees and there are berries everywhere. I pulled a handfull from Iris foetidissima and threw them under the trees where they will probably naturalise without any further effort on my part. I wish it was always that easy.
This is one of John Wright's hybrid Fuchsia, a cross between F.magellanica var molinae and one of the new Zealand species. When I got it I was determined to find a place in the garden well away from 'Whiteknight's Pearl' and 'Whiteknight's Blush' (same breeder, same appearance) so that I didn't get them all confused, and it has worked. I can't distinguish the other two but this is certainly 'Diana Wright'. If I was pushed, I would say that this has slightly smaller flowers and a slightly deeper shading of lilac but I don't have a lot of confidence that I could spot it in a line-up. I'm not talking about my expanding waistline when I say that you wouldn't be able to push me far.

4th December 2011

Elaeagnus x ebbingii
Big fat Camellias are quite difficult once the garden has settled down to the tiny specks of optimism that characterise winter flowering. I plant quite a lot of things for winter interest because I know how desperately I will search for the promise of spring once I have to wear thermal socks and a woolly hat. To save the potential for embarrassed silence among my friends I should point out that yes, I do know what I look like. I am delighted to be a hothead again though it means something completely different in bald maturity.
I planted a lot of Elaeagnus as low windbreak when I was a young hothead. I wanted something fast and compact and I really believed that was possible. I had only ever seen it planted in full sun and didn't understand it's true character. In the shade it converts from a compact evergreen dome to a sprawling monster. It will leap 10m or more up a Leyland Cypress in a season or two and clutch at every tree around with long flailing arms. The side shoots grow at a reflex angle to the stems so that it hooks on wherever it travels and is almost impossible to dislodge. I have removed most of them but one or two remain to terrorise the herbage around them.
These tiny winter flowers in the axils of the leaves would be like the deranged decorative laughter of a mocking monster if they weren't so strongly perfumed. A single flower on a branch is enough to be worth sniffing out. The few shrubs that remain may well be 'controlled' from time to time, but they are safe from eviction.

4th December 2011

Camellia 'Glenn's Orbit'
I was wandering round the garden this morning, uncertain whether I was delighted or horrified by the appearance of 'Drama Girl'. I enjoy the idea that spring is coming and I enjoy the incredibly slow way it unrolls through the garden. The rest of the seasons seem to progress so rapidly that it is nice to watch a slow change develop from week to week. On the other hand it is winter and Camellia flowers now have all the mixture of fear and delight of a premature baby (is that tasteless? well, too late).
In a rather strange philosophical reverie I looked up and saw 'Glenn's Orbit' flowering in the distance. I think the name is meant as a celebration of the early space age, I don't think Glenn's orbit was an especially pink or frilly one, just something that should be commemorated in a camellia (like you do). I would check the details for you but I am currently offline thanks to a dead internet router. Try explaining that to a call centre. Which of the lights are showing? None of them. Have you tried plugging it in? Yes, I have tried that. Don't get me started.
This is a seedling from 'Donation'. It has a better shape to my eye, much less congested than its parent which looks like an abandoned wedding corssage that somebody sat on by mistake. It is a better shade of pink. A difficult concept to explain because they are almost identical but this is light and cheery while 'Donation' is an errant blancmange. The most significant feature is that the dead flowers will shatter and fall so if looks less ugly as it crumbles. The parent hangs on to every brown petal with a grim miserly intent at odds with the idea of a 'Donation'.

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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