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

25th March 2012

Chorizema cordatum
A dry week with some spectacular sunny days and the occasional misty morning. I planted some hybrid Hellebores a few weeks ago and yesterday one of them started to wilt so we haven't had rain for a while. April and May are often quite dry here and I view the garden with mounting concern until the weather breaks in June (for the benefit of holidaymakers I should add that it only ever rains at night, honest).
I bought this Chorizema in spring last year as a rooted cutting. It has been a long time since I grew any of the species and it seemed like time to try again. It comes from the moister parts of southwest Australia. I grow Cephalotus from the coast of Western Australia and it seems hardy enough in a cold greenhouse so I thought this one had a chance. Fortunately we have hardly had a winter this year, so it has come through undamaged and I was pleased to find a few flowers on it. The greenhouse gets reliably hot through the summer, so it is able to put on plenty of good growth before it has to deal with the cold. That may be a significant factor in its long term survival.
Last time I grew it I used a rather shaded greenhouse that stayed cool in summer. It was not a happy bunny and the winter of 1987 killed it. As it was dying inside, I was standing on top of the greenhouse with a broom trying to clear 8inches of snow without falling through. I was happy enough that the greenhouse survived and not too concerned about the contents.

25th March 2012

Tulipa sylvestris
The herbaceous border is slowly coming back to life and making it very clear that I have to find time to weed it before the season really starts. Fortunately the clocks have gone forward, so there should be some extra time in the evenings to get it done. It is also possible that I will get the last of the Hemerocallis planted out.
Last year I planted a few tulips out there. The large bedding cultivars went out just for the fun of it. I had no reason to suppose they would survive but they are spectacular in the first year. 'Apeldoorn' has surprised me by flowering again this year and there are a couple of other clumps of leaves that may yet produce buds.
I also planted a few species tulips, and T.sylvestris was one I particularly wanted to establish. It is naturalised in the UK although almost certainly introduced from the mediterranean countries in the middle ages. In the UK it usually grows in light shade but I have never managed to get it to grow under those conditions. These are in full sun and get a thorough baking in the summer. They have flowered here for three years now and I have enough confidence to consider planting some more. I would like a long drift of them at the front of the border. It is perverse to have yellow tulips when everyone else has daffodils but I think it will look good.

25th March 2012

Pleione Masaya
This is my second year with Masaya and for the second time it has been the most striking thing in the garden (greenhouse really). It opened pure yellow and over the last couple of days it has blushed slightly pinker. This year it is producing decent sized pseudobulbs and there are plenty of tiny bulbils clustered around the top of the old bulb so it is increasing well.
The hybrid was raised by Ian Butterfield and registered in 1997. The parents were his own hybrid, P. Piton crossed with the natural (yellow) hybrid, P. x confusa. I have a single clone of the hybrid P. Piton (P.formosana x P.yunnanensis) and it has a well proportioned flower on a distinctive upright flower stem that shows the bloom off to advantage. It also has an upright dorsal tepal which I consider an advantage. In many modern hybrids the uppermost tepal lies along the top surface of the labellum and the flower looks as though it is still waiting to open properly.
Crossing it with the yellow P.x confusa has introduced the potential for yellow flowers. I have seen pictures of plenty of pink seedlings, but this is the only yellow clone I have seen. It is vigorous and attractive, and if it hasn't been given a clone name yet, it should probably receive one.

25th March 2012

Lamprocapnos spectabilis
I have a tiny little patch of woodland that seems to occupy my attention more than any other corner of the garden. It doesn't take much work but it is endlessly entertaining. I grow a lot of the snowdrops up there and they are magnificent in the winter and early spring but they are over now (honourable mention for G.plicatus 'Warham' which is currently sensational but too late to matter, like a news story that is repeated the day after events have resolved).
I expend a lot of thought on ways of extending the season of interest, looking for plants that will naturalise in woodland, flower reliably after the snowdrops and disappear early enough in the season to allow me to clear away the undergrowth in autumn and leave a bare bed for the snowdrops.
The Wood Anemone's are good. I have been impressed with Erythronium 'Pagoda' and the primroses are making a good show. I have a couple of plants of Lamprocapnos spectabilis up there that were a failure for ten years or more but suddenly came into their own when I reduced the canopy and let some more light in. Last year I planted a couple more to make a small group and they have established (not always certain in a dry woodland). This year I bought a handful of dry roots in the winter and potted them up ready for planting in spring. Spring seems to have arrived rather fast and I have not yet got around to planting them, so they have flowered in the greenhouse. A bit more light in the evenings means they will go out shortly and take their chances.

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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