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

1st January 2012

Galanthus elwesii 'Hiemalis'
I'm getting a bit frightened of saying how mild the weather has been. It has started to feel like I am tempting fate. The ground is now soft and saturated and footprint shaped puddles appear wherever I walk (which is really saying something on the side of a steep hill). Most of the rain has fallen at night and left the garden slimy in the morning. When it has fallen during the day it seems to have avoided the ground, landing mostly on me.
The snowdrops are quite convinced that spring is on the way. More buds open every day. If I spend all of March showing pictures of Camellias, it is because everything else has finished. In theory things are going slowly in the garden and I can get on with weeding the herbaceous border, but they aren't going that slowly. It would be useful if I could get the Epimedium tidied up before they start to grow and a sunny day next week would help out.
'Hiemalis' is a loose name applied to G.elwesii forms that flower before Christmas. My current plant has impeccable credentials but rarely opens until mid January. This current showing is the best it has managed for years and arrives at the same time as the first flowers on my typical (there is no such thing) G.elwesii, so I think the name has been applied with more optimism than observation in this case. No matter, it is lovely and has been a reliably perennial clone in a species that sometimes fades away like the promise of a good time at a party.

1st January 2012

Mahonia x media 'Lionel Fortescue'
The Mahonia are definitely party people - nothing they like more than getting to know eachother better in beds. Mahonia x media is the commonest hybrid grown and they are good plants, but both parents are quite similar so the hybrids all resemble eachother. Unsurprisingly, they seem to have become rather confused in cultivation. Mahonia japonica is a vigorous bushy evergreen with long, often lax, racemes of flowers. I usually think of M.lomariifolia as a rather tall, leggy thing with short dense upright racemes of flowers, but I have recently seen one that is cut back regularly (supermarket car park) and it is compact and bushy and you would hardly know the difference.
It may well be that I am the only one who is confused by their proper identities, but I am thoroughly confused. It doesn't help that when I planted the garden originally I put the different cultivars next to eachother for comparison. If I get a dry day and a gung-ho attitute I might go prospecting for the original labels but in the meantime I settled for buying new plants for comparison. This is 'Lionel Fortescue', with distinctive upright spikes of flowers. I have located another in the front garden, and the one next to it must therefore be 'Buckland' with slightly longer, slightly laxer flower spikes. I planted 'Charity' on its own, and that seems to have been confirmed - it is the first to flower and has long racemes of flowers carried almost horizontally.
Naturally, that happy confidence in their identities will be disturbed when I unearth the original labels, but perhaps that is an argument for lethargy.

1st January 2012

Ranunculus ficaria 'Oakenden Cream'
This is the first of the Lesser Celandines to open outside. I have had seedlings in flower in the greenhouse for a month now, but this is a very welcome appearance from the main collection. During the spring they were all moved into the shade border and I had the distinct feeling I had killed them all in the process (perhaps I worry too much). Some of the pots seemed rather empty when they were planted out. First leaves, and now first flowers show that most of them have survived.
Raised by Pam Gossage this was one of the early cultivars with bronze leaves and cream flowers. Like all Celandines, it seeds freely and the offspring are variable. The problem with all of the named selections is keeping the true plant free from seedlings. Now they are planted out, it is going to be a bigger problem for me. I try to remove the spent flowers before the seed forms, but it isn't easy to keep on top of it.
I have just read a short note suggesting that the named cultivars are not at all weedy. Good thing this chair has arms, or I would have fallen on the floor I laughed so much.

1st January 2012

Cymbidium iridioides
The greenhouse has been packed up for winter. Plants are tucked up under the benches where they will be protected and if we get cold weather, the benches will be covered with black plastic to keep off radiation frosts. As a consequence, almost all the interesting things are happening outside. This Cymbidium has stayed on top of the bench so the flower can develop properly but I will have to rush out and hide it if frost threatens. The plant has shown it can survive minus 5degC but I think the flower spike would be lost. I have to be quite ruthless with Cymbidium. Those that can survive in a cold greenhouse are worth growing here, but the rest are allowed to die. I was offered a beautiful plant of C.erythrostylum in the summer and turned it down. I may be a bit optimistic about growing conditions here but I don't think I can replicate tropical Vietnam.
Cymbidium iridoides from Nepal, northern India and the Himalayan countries through to south west China has a much better chance. In the more southern locations, it grows at higher altitudes which is a good sign. I don't think it would grow outside here in the wet and I doubt it would ever look good (Cymbidium don't need much of an excuse to descend into tattiness) but it has been fine in a cold greenhouse through the last few difficult winters.

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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