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

7th October 2012

Prunus subhirtella 'Autumnalis'
I am writing this with cold hands, so there can be little doubt that autumn has arrived. We have had a couple of waves of heavy rain in the last two days. The weather man warned us to expect up to 2 inches, but it nearly filled a bucket I had left outside. It brought down a large branch from a Liquidambar but it was already damaged at the base and could have come down at any moment, the rain just gave it a little nudge. I planted some daffodil bulbs, meaning to water them in later. It wasn't required.
Warning signs pop up like mushrooms in the wake of worried people. Sometimes they are useful, sometimes they dare you to ignore them. I was driven around Longleat Safari Park when I was a child, and a useful sign read "Beware of the Lions". If you are going to keep lions, then from time to time somebody will be eaten and it must be comforting to say I told you so. Chill winds in the garden mean that before long I will have to worry about winter, and the first cherry blossom is the warning. It promises that spring is on its way and the subtext says 'once you have got through winter'.
Putting aside its role as a prophet of doom, I would hate to have a garden without it. It will produce its fragile flowers on every moderate day from now until the end of march. Those in the darkest days of january will be a little smaller but by then the message will be entirely about the spring to come and the whispered subtext will be forgotten.
There is an 'Autumnalis' and an 'Autumnalis Rosea'. As a younger man I grew them both and fretted about the differences. I am older and either wiser or lazier. The distinction is slight.

7th October 2012

Liparis coelogynoides
Faced with the risk of chilling showers in the garden my first response it to run and hide in the greenhouse. In some ways it is a pity, because there is plenty out there still in flower but I haven't yet wrapped myself in the insulating layers of winter clothing that make a cold wind exhilarating. For now I am happier to close the greenhouse door and pretend it is still september.
I am not doing very well with this Liparis, I think it probably wants warmer drier conditions than I have managed so far. It is an epiphytic species that grows on tree trunks in the vicinity of Brisbane, Australia so I need to reconsider its culture. I got it from the late Graham Hutchins of County Park Nursery who had it in a shady greenhouse. He assured me that it would produce greenish yellow flowers and it has done. I get the feeling that it is doing it out of a sense of obligation to Graham, not because of my treatment. This winter I am going to try a warm windowsill and drying it out a lot more than I have previously. It has fat pseudobulbs and grows on bare trunks so it must be fairly tough.

7th October 2012

Lapageria rosea var albiflora
Gardens start in wild disarray and slowly sediment into sets for tea party theatre. The process is so slow that it is almost imperceptible. Anybody who has ever dug over a new bed will have experienced the years of weeding that are needed to get to the stage where you can nonchalently mutter that it more or less looks after itself. Lapageria are slow growing and they make loose cover. They don't outcompete anything so when they appear in gardens they are a testament to hidden decades of megalomaniacal weeding. When I look at my history with them it becomes clear that it marks the taming interval, that period required for a garden and a gardener to negotiate a satisfactory peace treaty.
I first grew a small collection in my parents garden, taking advantage of the decades of slash and burn horticulture that had converted a field of battle into the lawn of suburban relaxation. At the time I didn't understand the process. I haven't come as far in my own garden, but thirty years later I have returned to Lapageria with a sense of optimism. I haven't planted any outside yet but I think we have agreed a peace treaty in the greenhouse.

7th October 2012

Bomarea boliviensis
For many years the wild nature of the garden has kept me from growing Alstroemeria. I grew a lot of species at one time, but as soon as they outgrew the pots they were doomed. I wouldn't have minded if winter had killed them in the ground but the truth is that I lost control of the weeds once they were planted out and never saw them again. More recently I have come to Bomarea which have been refreshingly free of the emotional baggage of failure.
I bought this one from Crug Farm Plants who raised them from seed from Dan Hinkley's garden at Heronswood. It is a species that doesn't climb. In the greenhouse it has produced long trailing stems but shown no desire to wrap itself around things and hoist itself upwards. Said to be variable in its natural habitat, the taxonomy of Bomarea is sufficiently complex for me to leave it at that. The flowers have a long narrow tube, and they don't seem to open very wide at the mouth. They are a combination of pink and green that blends into the colour of the foliage, unlikely as it may seem.

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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