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

29th April 2012

Erythronium 'Pagoda'
The week has had its blustery and showery moments. I have been repeatedly driven in from the garden, too cold and wet to continue. Last night the weather forecast was threatening strong winds and rain all day today so whatever happens I am gong to spend the day sitting around in my slippers with a mug of cocoa, watching it through the window. In the event it doesn't look too bad out there, but I have a disco-dancing Eucalyptus on the skyline suggesting that appearances are deceptive. Hopefully it will still be there tomorrow.
Erythronium dawned on me very slowly. They don't like growing in pots (and I'm a potaholic) so I admired them from a distance for many years. They look so refined that I couldn't believe they would survive my miscreant mud. I was spectacularly wrong and it is delightful. I planted 'Pagoda' under the trees among the snowdrops and the clumps are building up year by year in a very satisfactory way. When the leaves die down in summer I plan to lift a clump and spread them a bit more widely. I would like a golden carpet of flowers shimmering in the breeze. Wisley do it very well on the rock bank, but they planted thousands of tubers while I planted twelve. I am going to be lifting and splitting for a few years yet.
A few more cultivars have crept into the woodland border this year, and I have a feeling I will be adding more. They do a magnificent job filling the space between the end of the blissful spring flowers and the start of the hardcore herbaceous.
Raised by L.Slikker and introduced by W.Blom & sons sometime before 1959, it is a hybrid between E.tuolumnense and E.californicum 'White Beauty' (though the second parent was originally listed as E.revolutum'Album').

29th April 2012

Aquilegia 'Spring Magic'
Aquilegia is a genus that does very well in pots, and I tend to disregard them for other reasons. Promiscuity is the wrong word. It is a human word, and there is an inevitable assumption of sex within the species. It has been a long time since modern humans were able to to have sex with neanderthals, and Aquilegia go a lot further than that. Most of the species seem to be interfertile and most of their offspring are fertile so in gardens they rapidly evolve into a chaotic hybrid swarm, which is amusing but unreliable. Fortunately there don't seem to be any ugly Aquilegia, but that is the limit of predictability once seedlings start to appear.
I am perfectly happy with the rather ordinary strain of A.vulgaris growing in the garden (in the absence of a less perjorative term, 'common' will have to do). I see little reason to mix things up. They look after themselves. From time to time I think I should have a few more and then I get distracted and they get back to looking after themselves.
I don't even remember why I bought 'Spring Magic'. They aren't very long lived so I assumed it would flower in a cheery way and drop dead. I was wrong, and it has prospered. It is better this year than it was last and I am glad I found the space for it. There are a few seedlings around the parent and if they are anything like it, they will also be welcome.
I'm not sure how many more species I need, but I have started yearning for A.viridiflora again, and A.canadensis was very good in Savill Gardens last weekend ... and there are quite a lot of others ... and perhaps that is really why I stay away from them.
I don't mind the sex, it is the insanity that goes with it that troubles me.

29th April 2012

Fuchsia 'Diana Wright'
Spring seems to have found a reverse gear. One of the consequences of living in a maritime climate is that the seasons stagger three steps forward and two steps back. I found a flower on Galanthus plicatus 'Warham' yesterday, a month after the main show finished. This Fuchsia is an encouragement to warmer times and cheering as it is, the heat it gives off is entirely conceptual. I am going to have to light a fire shortly to warm the house up.
It isn't really a surprise to see it in flower. John Wright raised a number of hybrids between Fuchsia magellanica var molinae and Fuchsia excorticata at the end of the 1970's. They have a good shrubby habit and are reliably hardy. At the time he was hoping to introduce the green and yellow colours from F.excorticata into modern Fuschias hybrids but it hasn't quite worked out yet. It did introduce the "aubergine" gene which gives some rather dark purple new cultivars. My favourite is 'Lechlade Magician' but there are plenty of new varieties that show the colour to greater advantage.
A number of white varieties were selected, hoping to remove the red and purple pigment and expose the underlying yellow. The plants are all good even if the colour didn't quite work out.
F.excorticata flowers from the bare twigs in January. I didn't get any flowers this year - we only had a few frosts but they were perfectly timed to destroy the buds. 'Diana Wright' has inherited the behaviour. These flowers are coming from the old wood, not the new growth and are late enough to be safe from the frosts. 'Whiteknight's Blush' and 'Whiteknight's Pearl' are very similar (I can no longer tell them apart) but less willing to flower in spring.

29th April 2012

Pleione Caroli 'Cape Robin'
I have an old house and all of the rooms have open fires. I am going to light one of them shortly and make use of the chimney but most of the fireplaces are now blocked off and the chimneys unused. They are a favourite nesting place for the local Jackdaws and when I am relaxing in the bath I can hear this years chicks scrabbling and quarreling in the cavity. They are familiar and welcome. They are also grey. I am as certain of that is I am of anything (making allowances for subjectivity and the reckless involvement of philosophy). At present the pinkest Pleione I grow (and the pinkest pink I can currently imagine) is P Tongariro 'Jackdaw'. There must be a connection, I just don't get it.
So it is with P Caroli 'Cape Robin'. It is a complex hybrid raised by Ian Butterfield and registered in 1998. P.forrestii crops up repeatedly in its ancestry along with a range of pink species. Like the Cape Robin this has an orange throat, though the rest of the bird is drab. Perhaps it was really named after someone called Robin from the Cape with both sunburn and a suntan? Perhaps something gets misplaced in the translation of birds to Pleione. It mystifies me.
This bulb was my Pleione self-indulgence for the year. I grow a number of pink ones and a number of white ones and if I want anything different I have to be prepared to pay real money. Hanging around in friends greenhouses looking wistful is no longer sufficient. I assume that anything expensive will also be slow and troublesome but this is quite new so I may be surprised. In a couple of years time friends will be standing around in my greenhouse looking wistful, and they may get lucky.

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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