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

18th December 2011

Helleborus foetidus 'Chedglow'
The winter weather that has been threatening for a while now finally arrived. It wasn't a bad week by any means, but very wet and very windy. Only one serious tree branch fell, and that was from a Leyland Cypress that can spare a few. It will take about an hour to clean up and I couldn't be bothered this morning, so it will wait for a sunny day. Hopefully that doesn't mean August.
The weather has finished off the last of the summery flowers that were hanging on. As expected, no more Impatiens stenantha this week, and I have seen the last flowers on Dahlia merckii until the summer. I haven't seen a ground frost yet but the leaves on Musa basjoo have darkened and become shadowy (think vampire banana) so they must have has a chill (I would have been in bed at the time, I'm not stupid).
This Hellebore started to produce occasional flowers in October, but this is about the best it has been. During the summer, the gold foliage makes a striking addition to the herbaceous border (in the shade of a golden Liquidambar, which is not as nauseating as it sounds). It was found in the garden of Major Soden in Wiltshire by Martin Cragg-Barber, who specialises in the strange variations found among native plants. It comes true from seed, although mine has yet to set any, and has been sold recently under the name GOLD BULLION.

18th December 2011

Hacquetia epipactis
I was in a bit of a rush six weeks ago when I mowed the Hellebore beds. It is the easiest way a controlling the bramble and sycamore seedlings that would otherwise take over. The Hellebores don't seem to miss their old foliage, and the new growths are still safely underground. In the process I managed to mow the Hacquetia as well (it's small, and neither my eyesight nor my memory are really sufficient for the high speed thrill of a ride-on mower). Fortunately it is small enough to have passed under the blade with no significant damage, just in time to produce a few new flowering shoots. It should continue to produce flowers until the middle of spring next year. I'm sure it has the intention to produce a carpet of lush green leaves and golden flowers in the same way that I have the intention of building an Agave house. It's a very slow process, that's just the way things are.
It comes from the mountains of central Europe and is tough and hardy. I keep hoping for seedlings, because it is one of those things that I would happily have carpeting the ground under the Hellebores, but so far it hasn't obliged. I planted the variegated form 'Thor' next to it, in case it wanted a companion to produce little babies with. Last year I finally gave up splitting and spreading the double snowdrops through the same bed and bought a load in from Lincolnshire (it had better make a carpet this year or I'll be spitting venom - I spent a whole day digging little holes with a trowel and planting the bulbs). I might have to use a similar technique to add some muscle to the Hacquetia. If I can get a decent patch seeding, then I will raise a carpet in a seed tray. If that worked with stair carpet I would have another problem solved as well.

18th December 2011

Clematis napaulensis
I have been postponing the day when Clematis napaulensis finally has to go into the garden. I am worried that it will grow up into the top of a tree, and I will never see the flowers. I suppose I could plant it up Eucryphia moorei and have a feature with two seasons of inaccessible beauty. The option of keeping it in a pot in the greenhouse is becoming impractical but it does mean that I get to enjoy the winter flowers in relative comfort (we had a significant shower of hail stones while I was taking these pictures).
When I got it, I was warned that it was as vigorous as Clematis montana. I have one of those that has grown to the top of the tree supporting it, and now trailed down to the ground again and wrapped itself around a mature Camellia. I don't need any more of that sort of unruly behaviour. Further investigation suggests that Clematis napaulensis will stop at four or five metres, and that is reasonable enough to plant at the base of a Camellia, and let it do what it will.
In the greenhouse, the scented flowers have proved quite popular with slugs whose gourmet tastes never cease to amaze. Low temperature don't seem to slow their appetites at all. Last week I spread a flimsy covering of horticultural fleece over the benches to keep off the worst of any possible of frost. After a gusty week I have collected it all from a heap at the end of the bench and spread it about again optimistically. I knew I should have fixed it down more securely.

18th December 2011

Helleborus x hybridus Double Pink'
I am very partial to raspberries, and I was young and innocent once. Innocent enough to plant a large bed of rasperry canes when I moved here. I had a lot of spare ground back then, and rasperries seemed like a good idea. To be fair, I had several years of pink stained gluttony before I lost control completely. Then I planted some saplings through the raspberries, and for years I rode the mower between them to make access paths, snatching handfulls of rasperries as I went. Looking back, not such a bad way to lose control. Eventually the trees took over, produced enough shade to keep down the worst of the weeds and (yes, there is a point) now I have a Hellebore border.
The lower half of the Hellebore border was shaded by some large pine trees that killed everything beneath them. To be fair, that was why I planted the pines, but they also stunted the Hellebores. So a few years ago I had a rethink. The pines came out, the sun came in, and the raspberries made a comeback.
Time for another rethink. This year has seen a return to raspberrycide. I have spent several months cleaning up half of the Hellebore border and as a consequence, most of the plants have been lifted and replanted. This pale pink double is a favourite and easy to recognise even in a new position. I am especially happy to have it in flower so early in the season, and that there has been plenty of rain to keep it well watered. I have probably misplaced a few old friends in the moving process but I expect they will show themselves in the spring. Gardening is about making mistakes and learning from them. The Hellebore border gets better every time I restructure it. I doubt I have it entirely right yet but I find the process rather nourishing.
I still miss those raspberries, but nostalgia is the safest place for them.

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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