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

2nd December 2012

Ipheion hirtellum
Fortunately I went to London in the week to see some gardens and laugh at the cold people up north. It was a week of change when the wet weather of the last few months gave way to some cold clear air from the north. Cold weather isn't especially welcome, but it is different. The same description applies to some recent changes in the way internet browsers handle HTML. One consequence has been that all my pages that were once neatly aligned to the left have now been centred (older browsers have not been affected yet). It is a bit tiresome, and can only be fixed by adding a little bit of code to each page. I have made a start but it is going to take an age. In the meantime, many of the older pages on the site will look less attractive than I had hoped.
This was also the week when I finally had enough of autumn and put it aside. A quick trip north to see the last of the seasons decay and when I came back the garden was filled with the promise of spring (I don't do winter - late autumn turns into early spring without the need for a miserable season). Ipheion hirtellum is a cheery reminder that the spring bulbs are on the move. Some have become visible, others are still lurking below the surface but great things are afoot.
This Ipheion comes from the parts of Argentina and Uraguay where the Rhea roam and I assume they nibble daintily on its oniony flowers. The yellow Ipheion are a confusing group. They all look much the same and none of them look much like the rest of the Ipheion. They have occasionally wandered into Tristagma but current thinking is that they should all be Nothoscordum (in this case, Nothoscordum hirtellum). They look nothing like the other Nothoscordum so it isn't a perfect fit, more an ugly sister trimming her feet to get into Cinderella's slipper.
All together now, "Oh no it isn't" !

2nd December 2012

Epimedium x setosum Sasaki Group
This Epimedium is one of the unexpected signs of spring in the garden. I was looking at the Epimedium beds and considering the weeding that needed to be done when I spotted the flowers. These are a little premature. I think the plant heard whispers of spring and got a little over excited. It is sheltering under the last fresh flowers of the blue hydrangeas. It is a combination that I couldn't have predicted, and find completely incomprehensible.
I have used a name that will not be familiar for this confused plant, and it is probably worth an explanation. The name 'Sasaki' is commonly used but there are clearly a number of different clones under the same name. Some are pink, some are white and a single cultivar name is difficult to defend. The name E.x sasaki is used in Japan for naturally occurring hybrids between the red form of E.sempervirens and E. x setosum. It is a little inconvenient (but not surprising given the very small number of species native to Japan) that E. x setosum is a hybrid between E.sempervirens and E.diphyllum. I think that the western view of taxonomy would treat all hybrids between two parent species (whether simple or complex) as the same hybrid taxon, so back crossing a plant of E. x setosum to one of its parents would still be E. x setosum. The fact that the red form of E.sempervirens is specified does not alter the hybrid epithet, but it does mean that the use of a group name may be appropriate for the progeny, and that is the solution I have plumped for.
There are those who still maintain that Japan is home to only two species. E.diphyllum, to include everything that is obviously E.diphyllum, and E.grandiflorum for everything else. If you hold that opinion, then this is just an expression of the unpredictable E. x youngianum.
There.I have opened the can of worms. I have seen that they are wiggly. I have closed it again.

2nd December 2012

Schlumbergera 'No. 2'
If you believe that these are Christmas Cactus, then this is the pink Santa. I prefer to see them as the first Cactus of spring, when they will produce the peak display. This comes into the category of advance warning. Spring is coming, and it is going to be strident. It is also a gentle way for the plants to remind me they are in the greenhouse, and need to come into the house for a bit.
A couple of years ago I was sent a great parcel of Schlumergera cuttings without names and so I gave them all numbers, to keep them distinct and to reassure myself that the universe was an ordered place. I own a copy of 'Christmas Cacti' (A.J.S McMillan and J.F.Horobin, Succulent Plant Research, vol 4, 1995) so I thought it was possible that some of them might be identifiable at a later date.
I still think it is possible.

2nd December 2012

Narcissus 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation'
A couple of weeks ago I was stomping back and forward across my tiny meadow removing trimmed branches and now I walk on tip-toes between the daffodils shooting from the ground to get a picture of the first flowers. I have been waiting for signs of 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation' and December is perfect timing. If they come in November it is a little too early - I am still battling with autumn leaves and pretending I don't need the heating on in the house. By December I am ready for spring to appear. There are promising shoots on snowdrops, new roots on crocus (I knocked the pot over by mistake) and the daffodil bulbs I bought in August and forgot to plant ('Green Pearl') have (mostly) rotted in the bag.
The main reason for clearing more space around the meadow, and letting in some additional light, is to get a better display from 'Rijnveld's Early sensation'. Several years ago I planted about 30kg of bulbs and I want a bold splash of yellow at the start of the new year. It isn't the strongest growing of the daffodils and it is a bit disorganised. Some will flower now, and a few more will bloom every week until January, when the majority will open. I usually get an odd flower or two hanging on until March. I have tried adding other cultivars to the mix in an attempt to extend the season even further, but I have never been very happy with the result and they get removed again. Better that the meadow does one thing well than try to do a lot of things in it rather poorly.

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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