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

26th August 2012

Roscoea auriculata 'White Cap'
When I moved to Cornwall it was like moving to another world, a place of holidays and beaches where you didn't need a coat, even in winter. The years roll by like congested traffic and nothing seems to change. I was in London briefly this week, saw some lovely gardens and nurseries but I wasn't on holiday any more, there weren't any beaches and the congested traffic wasn't a simile. The garden here has had another few days of overcast misty weather. I was hoping that a trip to the bright lights would be filled with the zing of high summer but the colour had all faded, like a sepia tinted photograph. I was happy to be home where I don't have much zing, but the squelch is in technicolor.
I have overlooked Roscoea this year. They were all planted out in a rush last year so it is all very confused. I have had to wait for things to flower to find out where they are. They are growing much better in the garden than they were in pots so it was a good move but I have been reduced from active cultivator to bemused observer.
Plants of R.auriculata in cultivation are fairly uniform. 'White Cap' is exceptional for the white dorsal petals that form a little umbrella over the stamens to keep them dry. It does the same job in Cornwall as it would in Nepal and Sikkim and the plant seems to grow well here.

26th August 2012

Crocosmia 'Firejumper'
The Crocosmia collection was grown in pots for many years, wintered under the bench in the greenhouse. Three years ago I planted them all out to take their chances in the garden and we immediately had a run of extreme winters. Many of then plants were damaged, some were killed and that hasn't been entirely bad. There are a lot of cultivars currently available and they aren't always clearly distinct. Those that have prospered have been magnificent, many are recovering slowly and heroically and a few have sloped away discretely before they were asked to leave. There is a small group of dead and distinctive that might be replaced if the mania strikes me again but I am planning a year or two taking stock.
'Firejumper' comes into the category of heroic recovery. It had barely flowered for a couple of years and I had almost written it off. Raised by Dan Hinkley in the USA it is a compact plant that makes tight showy clumps of flower in a blend of orange and red. It stands out from the crowd, which is no mean feat for a plant that stands head and shoulders below the orange and red competition. This year it is coming back into form and I am pleased to have it.

26th August 2012

Hedychium densiflorum 'Stephen'
A wet year has suited the Hedychium that have been outside. I wish I had moved them all out for the summer, but there was nowhere to put them. Under cover they have been too dry and there isn't going to be a lot of flower.
I like 'Stephen', the creamy apricot flowers fill my head with imagined summery puddings. 'Sorung' is an excellent plant but it doesn't have the same 'tart' factor. It was introduced from the Dudh Kosi Valley in eastern Nepal by Tony Schilling in 1966. It was growing with the smaller flowered forms of H.densiflorum and there have been various hybrid rumblings over the years but research in the USA has shown there is little significant genetic variation between the large and small flowered forms.
The small flowered forms are also smaller growing. To my eye they have more rounded pseudo-rhizo-cormo-bulboids than the large forms (I don't know what to call them. The annual stems branch from a horizontal rhizome and they swell at the base into a storage organ. The underground rhizome grows on, and these cute little fattened stem branches are left clustered at the surface to leave me morphologically perplexed.).
Small or large, they have all been thoroughly explored by the slugs of the wet season. At times there have been more slugs than leaves on the stems. I usually pick them off and throw them into the distance but it has been futile this year, wherever they land they are among friends. A friend keeps ducks, which would love them, but I can't bring myself to save them up in a bucket for him. On the other hand, a bucket of slugs would be an unforgettable present!

26th August 2012

Disa uniflora Clone 7
Disa should be entirely wrong. They flower in the middle of summer when there are plenty of other bright flowers to astonish and beguile the senses. I don't know what it is about the large flowered orchid species that appeals but there is something unique. Perhaps it is the irregular shape of the flowers. Poppies do better colours but don't attract the same attention. Whatever the reason, this has been a Disa year. I have built a new bench for them, I have repotted them all and I have pollinated more flowers than I can possibly grow on. The attraction is real, but I'm not convinced it is rational.
Disa uniflora grows in permanently wet conditions on Table Mountain and other mountains in the Western Cape where it is pollinated by a rather elegant large butterfly (Meneris tulbaghia). In the greenhouse it is pollinated by a short-sighted man with a bamboo barbeque skewer, which is an unfortunate fall from grace. The colour ranges from the pink side of red to the scarlet side, most of the variability is expressed in the hood. There is also a fabled pure yellow form which I have killed twice and am currently admitting defeat with.
It is one of the hardiest of the species and the foundation of all modern breeding work. It has very short stems, and modern breeders have an eye on the cut flower market (where rumour has it there is still some money to be made) so it has been crossed with taller growing species to produce some magnificently flowered and gravitationally unstable hybrids.

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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