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

22nd April 2012

Prunus laurocerassus Variegated
Summer seems to have lost its way this week. The rain has been very welcome and a bit of gusty wind can be quite bracing. The temperatures have dropped, but not low enough to do any damage in the garden. It is entirely to be expected that April will bluster a bit but it follows a month of such beauty that it feels like summer lost rather than a month of early summer gained.
In the garden I was cheerfully putting away winter tasks and preparing myself for the frustration or waking up the dear old mower, which once started at the turn of a key but now requires the electrical assistance of a booster pack. Wet weather has offered a welcome chance to avoid dealing with the cantankerous tantrums of Mecha-Godzilla in the shed. It requires a warm dry day and is one of those very rare jobs improved by a cup of wine. It should probably be in a glass but I am getting hot and frustrated in a shed with a mower. A plastic beaker is safer.
So I slipped back into wintery thoughts and set off into a little corner of wilderness looking for enough space have a little bonfire of the undergrowth when I stumbled across this Cherry Laurel. I was given the original cutting in 1980 and the shrub it became has long gone to make space for Cornus 'Eddie's White Wonder' which has also gone now. I had forgotten I had propagated the Prunus. I was pleased to find it again, I must do some more. It isn't very special and it isn't very stable but it reminds me of an old friend who was.

22nd April 2012

Primula 'Elizabeth Killelay'
Undergrowth clearance is a dangerous business. It creates new possibilities and it unearths things that were lost. I have been planting a row of Mahonia to fill in the space under a row of trees. The trees still block the wind up above but it whistles around their ankles in a very disturbing way. I could probably knit tree-socks to keep them warm but no-one else would be amused, they would just roll their eyes and smile kindly. Before the Mahonia there were rows of double primroses (I had a bit of a thing, once). I have rescued a few and not quite known what to do with them. It's the facebook problem. You run into somebody you knew at school years ago and you don't quite know what to do about it. Then you remember that you didn't much like them at the time and it all gets rather awkward.
The primroses are slightly different but a little more embarrassing. My eyesight means I can no longer see to pollinate them without my glasses (and I never have those when I need them). Without the sex I'm ashamed to admit I lost interest!
'Elizabeth Killlay' is a double gold laced primula and it has been a few years since I last saw flowers. Given a new pair of glasses we might yet pick up where we left off.

22nd April 2012

Urtica dioica Golden
This golden Stinging Nettle is a much more straightforward lost and found. I grew 'Good as Gold' for a few years but it was invaded by green Stinging Nettles and it was too precious to lose, so I dug it up and potted it for a year while I cleaned up the ground. Stinging Nettles hate being planted in pots. I already knew that, but it didn't stop me - there is an unfortunate gulf between knowledge and the wisdom to act on it. Into that gulf slipped Urtica dioica 'Good as Gold'. It is such a lovely plant (like a spiteful child with an innocent smile) that it went on the list of things to replace.
A couple of years later and I found this shoot growing in the herbaceous border. It might be a surviving bit of the original plant but I think it is probably a seedling. I am going to leave it in place and see how it turns out. 'Good as Gold' was a kindly parent with a rather mild sting. This one will inevitably get me at some point in the year and we will see quite how spiteful the child is.

22nd April 2012

Epimedium alpinum
When I was a teenager fresh and mild, and before I had owned a goose, much less said 'boo' to one, I got involved with Epimedium. At the time there were a handful available and I sought them out and planted them in my mothers garden. We have to gloss over a few decades (enough time to find me recently collecting seed from a Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca' I put in at the same time) and growing between the brickwork of a low wall I found a small piece of rhizome. Transplanted to my current garden it evoked the wonder I felt when it first bloomed. These small red flowers were the wonder of the year. Up to that point all my Epimedium had been yellow and wrongly named. I had started to think they were the diagnostic characteristics of the genus.
I was in Surrey yesterday, looking at gardens and realising how mild my own is. Thunder clouds were rumbling, I got repeatedly drenched, and I haven't seen a single decent Magnolia flower. They have all been wrecked by hail and frost. And I came back with two yellow Epimedium as emblems of a trip into nostalgia. 'Frohnleiten', because I know my plants are all imposters (I have several, all wrong) and 'Weihenstephan' because you can never have too many yellow Epimedium.

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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