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

18th November 2012

Dahlia merckii
The first hints of seriously cold weather have been rumbling around all week, but in the event it has been quite mild. I have been buying tins of soup, which is a bad seasonal sign like a squirrel storing nuts for winter. I am currently trying to decide what is worth protecting and what will have to take its chances with the weather and I'm not very good at it. I'm fine as long as I don't go and look at things. Perhaps the best plan would be to stay out of the garden for a few weeks and then sort out the wreckage in the spring.
Dahlia merckii is hanging on hopefully. Last year we had an inch of snow at the end of November that finished them for the year. If we keep clear of frost then it will continue to produce an occasional flower through into the new year. It is a gloomy time of year, and it feels as though there is nothing new growing for the weeks ahead, in which case you will be seeing a lot more of this Dahlia!
This is the hardiest of the species I have grown, and the only one that has survived reliably outside. If I had the protection of a wall, I might get away with a few others but my only south wall has a conservatory on it and on balance I would rather have the conservatory. I first saw it as a teenager growing behind the service glasshouse at Wisley. I was amazed, and I am still. My plants are all seedlings, and there is some variation but I am always looking for more. There is a white flowered form in cultivation that I have killed twice. It doesn't seem to establish as easily in the first year. Next time I try it I might keep it in a pot and get some seed in the hope of producing something stronger. In the meantime this is the darkest coloured of my seedlings. It has been magnificent throughout the summer but it is starting to droop into gloominess now.

18th November 2012

Crocosmia 'St.Clements'
The Crocosmia had a moderate year. They appreciated the rain but would have benefitted from a bit more warmth. Most of them are just piles of brown leaves. 'St.Clements' was very slow to get going in the spring, and it producing the first flowers now. They open a very delicate pale yellow and darken slightly to a pale orange. It is quite low growing and there is nothing 'shouty' about it. The herbaceous border has more or less given up for the year, and this isn't quite enough to decorate it. This is more like a shining cherry on a stale bun. Before long I will get out there and tidy it all up for the winter.
This was raised by Gary Dunlop in 2002 and is surprisingly small for a plant that has C.paniculata as one parent.

18th November 2012

Vallea stipularis
There are still a few bright colours about and this Vallea is growing with summery enthusiasm, mostly because it is still in the greenhouse. It started flowering in September and the early flowers were very pale pink, but they have got deeper and deeper as the weeks have gone by.
I bought it at a plant sale and the only thing they could tell me about it was that it was rare. It came into the greenhouse and I intended to take some cuttings before I planted it out, and that is as far as it got. Next spring it is going out. I haven't worked out where yet, but it is going out. In the warm and dry conditions of the greenhouse it has grown rather straggly and would benefit from more moisture and a better root run.
It comes from the northern Andes where it is reputed to make a small tree and grow up to altitudes of 4,000m. It seems to have been distributed quite recently, although according to Kew it has been grown in Europe since 1928.

18th November 2012

Sinningia cardinalis 'Innocent'
A pure white form of the scarlet species. I want this to be a Pope rather than a Cardinal but in the final analysis I am happy enough not to have either living in the greenhouse (and I think it is probably mutual). I can always find space for more Sinningia however. There have been recent rumblings about the hardiness of some of the species but nothing has survived here. I am content to accept that they need to come in for the winter and the tubers allowed to dry out slowly until the spring. It comes from the Atlantic forests of Brazil, so there is no reason to expect it to be hardy. This white flowered form was introduced in 1967 by the Geo.W.Park Seed Co. in the USA , though the original plants came from Denmark.
American gesneriad growers are experimenting with hybrids between the species, and there are some interesting looking plants appearing. I would try it myself, but I haven't managed to get any seed to set yet.

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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