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

6th May 2012

Pleione forrestii
One sunny day last week was enough to make it clear that summer is waiting around the corner, ready to pounce. The cold wet weather of April has hung on for longer than expected and when it ends summer will arrive with a percussive sizzle. No an easy sound to imagine, but my fried eggs do it when I put too much oil in the pan. A tiny explosion of delicious promise. Lunchtime coming, and I have distracted myself!
Most of my spare time this week has been taken up with planting. The greenhouse is still full of things that should really be in the ground, but it isn't as full as it was. We are promised a couple more days of rain next week. It won't be enough for the newly planted to establish, but it might be enough to assuage my guilt about leaving it so late.
The final few Pleione buds are swelling in the greenhouse and the great wonder of the season has been P.forrestii. I last flowered it in 2008 and was starting to think I would never see it again. I bought the pseudobulb in the winter of 2007 and the flower bud had already initiated, so the flower in 2008 wasn't really down to me. Since the flower would probably have developed from the dry pseudobulb, the most I can claim was that for a few months in 2008 I failed to kill the plant. This time I am going to take the credit!
When I got it I was quite convinced the plant needed sharp drainage, and planted it in a very open orchid mix, despite warnings from experienced growers that it liked moss and moisture. Eventually I took heed, and used good layer of sphagnum moss to grow it in. This is my reward for not being entirely deaf and obstinate.

6th May 2012

Podophyllum peltatum
The Podophyllum have been going out into the garden as soon as they start to show growth. This one had been occupying a larger and larger pot for several years now and was making it very clear that it needed more space. It sulked a bit when I put it out - wind and rain battered the emerging leaves, but it has bounced back and it looking fresher than it ever did in a pot. I was expecting to lose the flowers because the petals are very fragile when grown under cover but they have survived well, and the whole plant is looking sturdier than it did in the greenhouse.
A woodland species from eastern North America, it can spread into large colonies by underground rhizomes. I want a great mass of it under the trees and among the Camellia, and I got as far as raising a tray of seedlings but I think I may have protected them to death. They were also growing in the greenhouse, and there is no sign of new shoots so far. I will try again this year, and remember to leave them outside once they have germinated.

6th May 2012

Epimedium 'Fuku Juji'
All of the Epimedium were planted out last year, and they have taken a while to establish. 'Fuku Juji' is a Japanese hybrid, similar to E.grandiflorum but with very open flowers. The spurs on the inner petals are reduced in size, and the petals are held immediately under the sepals so the whole flower is rather flattened. The colour and shape are much more distinctive than they were in a pot.
Plants had been under cover for too long when they went out and were starved and tired. A few have died but most of them have started to grow more vigorously. The evergreen species have been faster to get away than the deciduous ones but most are now moving forward, and if I keep on top of the weeding they should do well this year. I am currently fighting to keep E.grandiflorum 'Nanum' free of weed seedlings. Its tiny leaves are about 2cm tall and get swamped very easily.
It is an exciting time for Epimedium growers, there is a deluge of new hybrids coming onto the market. At present there seem to be a lot with rather 'stylish' flowers in a range of colours intermediate between yellow and purple. 'Thundercloud' is a great plant and the name perfectly reflect the curious colour, but we don't need flowers in every shade from mud to vomit and hopefully we will see some brighter coloured hybrids emerging.

6th May 2012

Tropaeolum pentaphyllum
This poor old Tropaeolum still hasn't made it into the garden. It throws itself out of the pot in spring in a great tangle of stringy stems that look too fragile to cope with wintery weather, but I'm sure it would be better out there if I could find a suitable spot. The species grows in Bolivia, Argentina, Uraguay and southern Brazil and is pollinated by hummingbirds. I'm not quite sure which part of my garden offers the closest match for those conditions!
I rooted some cuttings last year, but couldn't get them to grow away with any enthusiasm, so I am waiting for it to produce some extra tubers. It is supposed to be self fertile but I haven't had any seed yet although I continue to pollinate flowers in hope. I am probably too large and clumsy to be mistaken for a hummingbird.

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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