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

21st October 2012

Talbotia elegans
The last few weeks have been a bit frantic. Everybody seems to organise meetings and events for the last days of autumn and I was getting a bit frazzled by it. I was supposed to be in London this weekend, but I woke up on Friday and just said no. I wanted to get up and drive like I wanted grilled octopus for breakfast. I feel a little guilty, but the world will survive perfectly well without me. The best part of it all is that I have had a couple of unexpected days in the garden.
I have burnt the bonfire and made some progress on a shelter to protect the Agave for winter.
This is a great time for ambling around the place looking at things. This Talbotia would have gone unnoticed if I had been in a rush but instead I have enjoyed and repotted it. They were both important tasks. A small South African tuft (I think of it as a bulb, I grow it like a bulb but it doesn't have a bulb) that I grew from seed and it has stuck with me through periods of neglect. It gets overlooked because it isn't part of any great plan, doesn't particularly fit in with anything else, and is tiny. It is sometimes called the false Dracaena, which is as wild and unexpected a connection as a rational mind could create. It belongs to the Velloziaceae which contains Vellozia (I don't think I have ever met it) and Barbacenia, an equally odd, purple flowered, not-quite-bulb from Brazil.

21st October 2012

Polyxena longituba
Another strange little plant. It comes from the Roggeveld in South Africa, a cold region with winter rains. It is in the Hyacinthaceae and looks like a rather odd Scilla (except the South African Scilla don't generally look like Scilla). It is fairly easy to grow - when I got it I was advised to keep it above 10degC which was never going to happen. Fortunately I had also seen it growing in unheated alpine houses so I wasn't surprised when it survived minus 5degC here. It is probably the commonest of the Polyxena in cultivation and seems to derive from a seed introduction in the 1960's. Since then a number of other species have been introduced and the genus has been better defined and described. In 2004 Manning, Goldblatt and Fay felt confident in transferring the whole lot into Lachenalia.
I am sure they are right but like the grilled octopus, it's too much for me to swallow at the moment.

21st October 2012

Oxalis massoniana
I must have missed the subtle trigger that tells the autumn bulbs to flower. The greenhouse has been moderately warm and sunny. I don't think I have watered any more or less than usual, but still they all seem to have responded to some distant call to flower. It was probably cool nights but when I wander along the benches I keep an inquisitive eye open just in case it was pixies.
Oxalis is a very troubling genus. The good ones are spectacularly good and the bad ones are irredeemably wicked. Trial end error is the only way to find out which is which, and the errors will be with you for decades. I have two or threee nameless species that wander through the potted bulbs despite my best efforts to exterminate them, and have been doing so since my life changed in 1974 (I put up my first greenhouse).
Oxalis massoniana was named for Fancis Masson, sent to botanise in the Cape by Joseph Banks at Kew in 1772. He probably discovered it in 1774 when he was known to be in Nieuwoudtville. The Oxalis is a rare plant, known only from the Van Rhyns Pass, south west of the town. It was introduced to cultivation in the UK in 2000, from plants cultivated in New Zealand.
One of the best of the genus, the orange flowers are produced in large numbers through the autumn. It might continue until Christmas, though it will be looking a bit tired by them. It is completely dormant through spring and summer and needs a dry rest, so I can't imagine it prosepring outside but it is simple enough under cover.

21st October 2012

Galanthus peshmenii
We didn't have much of a summer, cloud and rain kept temperatures down and the exotic spectacle of the summer garden didn't really materialise. Imagine a show-girl who has been dipped in the sea and you will have the general effect. As a result I have been hanging on to the idea of summer, hoping for a desperate rush to flower in the dying season. It hasn't happened, and it's time to let go for the year. The bananas are looking lush but the one by the conservatory has barely struggled to knee height. The arrival of the first snowdrops helps me to pack the old season away and look forward to the dangling wonders of winter.
Galanthus peshmenii was originally thought to be a Turkish form of G.reginae-olgae but in 1994 Davis and Brickell described it as a new species. It has glaucous or glaucescent leaves unlike G.reginae-olgae which has green leaves with a glaucous stripe. It grows in a tiny area of Antalya in southern Turkey, and on the nearby Greek island of Kastellorhizo.
Plants in cultivation mostly derive from a collection by Martyn Rix in 1974 on Kastellorhizo, where it grows in soil pockets in limestone rock and cliffs by the sea.
It has increased quite rapidly under cover, and has been the easiest of the autumn snowdrops to flower. Outside it has struggled and I can't see any sign that it is going to flower.

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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