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

4th November 2012

Crocosmia 'Ellenbank Firecrest'
Megalomania is my default setting, so when events in the garden seem to arrange themselves for my convenience I get a grossly inflated ego. The garden is saturated at the moment, but every time I go out there the sun shines. I go indoors for a warm drink, and it pours with rain. I go outside, the sun comes out. I am prepared to accept in principle that it is just chance, but if someone is controlling it for my convenience, thank you!
The ground is too wet for the rain to drain away so it runs through the grass in shining rivulets. Fortunately I live on a steep hill, so it does at least run away. I wouldn't want to live down in the valley at the moment.
My sense of omnipotence doesn't reach as far as commanding the beasts of the earth! Rabbits continue to be a problem, and the badgers are back, snuffling up the turf to find earthworms. It must be a cold wet occupation so I don't begrudge them an occasional meal but would be nice if they didn't make quite so much mess in the process.
This, however, defeats my powers of deduction. I found Crocosmia 'Ellenbank Firecrest' like this, yanked out of the ground. I can't believe it was rabbits or badgers. I assume I have been visited by human vandals, but it seems a curiously arbitrary thing to do. It grows in the middle of a border, and nothing else has been damaged. Have vandals have become more sophisticated since the sacking of Rome?
Another possibility remains. 'Ellenbank Firecrest' is rather similar to Dan Hinkley's 'Firejumper'. Perhaps this is the callous face of (horti)cultural Imperialism!

4th November 2012

Cornus 'Norman Haddon'
I decided a few years ago that I needed more flowering dogwoods in the garden. The thought was inspired by finding the dead stump of 'Eddie's White Wonder' under a Leyland hedge. It was an 'alas poor Yorick' moment. I had enjoyed seeing it bursting with shining bloom and suddenly it was just an old stump rotting in the ground. Like so many grand inspirations, it hasn't come to anything yet.
'Norman Haddon' was planted at the same time. It could be described as a small tree and it grows from a single trunk, but it more of a shrubzilla, dominating its surroundings. I could trim off the lower branches and push it upwards, but then it would flower and fruit beyond my perception.
It manages a second long season of interest in the autumn with these large red fruits. They pull the branches down with their weight and last for many weeks. Eventually the blackbirds eat them but they have to take them a bite at a time, hovering clumsily and snatching at them. I have raised seedlings from it but nothing has flowered yet. They would stand more chance if I planted them out, but I must clear a lot more space before that will be possible.

4th November 2012

Hesperantha coccinea 'Pink Princess'
Autumn flowers have a strange feel about them. This pale pink Hesperantha would be the darling of Chelsea if it flowered in the pastel foam of spring. Among the mist and sludge of autumn there is something rather mournful about it. It opens and shines and does its best to look hopeful, but it's the dregs in the bottle. A perpetual bridesmaid, spinster of the parish, still bravely smiling and laughing long after the party is over, amidst the debris and drunks.
'Major' flowers earlier, when there is still a chance of some hot sunshine and the kiss of a butterfly. It is a better thing.
New Hesperantha continue to be produced. Years ago I raised a few thousand seedlings from deliberate crosses between the best forms at the time. I was looking for plants that would extend the season into november and december, but the season is over and eventually even a megalomaniac has to accept that and let go.
They were all good, I didn't keep any of them. They made me feel gloomy.

4th November 2012

Liquidambar styraciflua 'Worplesdon'
Autumn leaf colour is much more cheering. There are very few shrubs or trees that will colour reliably in my climate. In the rare years when there is enough sunshine to produce some colour, the wind strips the leaves the moment they start to loosen. I have an Acer rubrum in the garden, the best coloured from a batch of seedlings I raised from 'October Glory'. While growing in a pot it was much more reliable than its parent. In the 20 years it has been in the ground, I don't recall seeing a single coloured leaf.
This Liquidambar has been more reliable. The species comes from the eastern USA and grows in swampy ground, so it is better adapted to autumn wet. It is worth growing a form such as this one, selected for autumn colour. I have a seedling of the species that is far less spectacular (dull would be the honest phrase) and also 'Aurea', which has never shown any inclination to colour.
It is a moderate sized tree, and I may well plant more of them. The leaves are spectacular in autumn, and they don't cast too much shade in the summer.
This particular plant has been rather badly mistreated and is starting to suffer. A few years ago I used it as an anchor point when felling some trees. I tied a rope around it, to stop them falling in the wrong direction and it got a bit of a jerk which damaged the bark. It now has a cankerous wound on one side of the trunk that isn't healing and during august a large branch fell off. Eventually I will have to cut it down but I hope to get a few years more from it first. There are some nice fresh growths coming from below the wound, so it will recover but it will take a few years before it makes a decent display again.

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.
I have a lot of good intentions when it comes to updating this site, and I try to keep a note about what is going on, if you are interested.
If you want to contact me, the address is infoMONKEYjohnjearrard.co.uk
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