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

9th December 2012

Fuchsia 'Hawkshead'
Spring has continued to crawl into the garden like a rampaging tortoise. There is a large and rather dishevelled plant of Spiraea arguta by the front entrance which periodically obscures the view onto the road. When I decide it is getting too dangerous to pull out onto the road with no visibility I prune it back. I say prune it back, last time I hit it repeatedly with slasher until it conformed to my idea of a reasonable size. I wouldn't have planted it, but it came with the house. A leaning untidy accumulation of grubby old stems that is hard to love. This week as I left the house the unruly stems that scraped across the windscreen have been studded with tiny emerald rosettes as the new leaves burst from the black twigs. It is joyful.
Some sunshine this week has allowed the ground to drain a little and opened the way for cold weather. Woolly hat on, woolly hat off. Woolly hat on ... and so it continues.
The worthwile Fuchsia will produce flowers until we get a significant frost. 'Hawkshead' gets greener and more interesting as the temperatures drop. It is one of the smaller growing of the shrubby Fuchsias (those that keep significant stems from year to year) and it should look like a tidy bun. I rather enjoy the fact that it doesn't. There is something rather wild and undomesticated about it that I don't understand like waking up after a party and wondering who's bed you're in (or in my case, waking up next to an empty glass of water and wondering where my teeth are).

9th December 2012

Rosa x odorata 'Viridiflora'
There aren't very many roses that grow well in the damp climate of the South West. It is probably heretical for a gardener to say it, but I'm not really a fan of them anyway (all faff and blackspot). There are a few that are trouble free and delightful, a few more that are unruly and uncompromising and one ot two outright freaks. Those few are welcome but the rest are better as cut flowers in other people's vases.
This is one of a small group of roses once treated as cultivars of R.chinensis but now thought to be hybrids with R.gigantea. They are vigorous shrubs or small climbers and with one exception they are quite beautiful. This is the exception, and it is a freak. The petals have been modified into monstrous green bracts and unfortunately they have lost their scent in the process. I grew it in front of the house where visitors could pour scorn on it at their convenience but it now grows in the middle of the garden where it attracts less derision and I seem to be its only visitor. The flowers last for months because the bracts are never shed. If I only had one rose in the garden (we can all dream) this wouldn't be it because I adore 'Toby Tristram', but if I only had ten then this might be nine of them!

9th December 2012

Petrocosmea iodioides
We all grew up with African Violets that finished flowering and grew weary before they expired with a little brown gasp of decaying despair. They fade like tragic heroines on the stage, one last feeble photosynthesis and they're gone. In my case they left behind a passion for the wistful beauty of the Gesneriads and an indelible stain on the windowsill. It is a large and diverse family and they are not all built to the same fragile standard. The Petrocosmea are the latest arrivals on the scene and they may well develop into the hardy equivalent of the African Violet without the hint of tragic despair.
Petrocosmea iodioides comes from southwest Guanxi and southeast Yunnan where it grows on shaded cliffs much like Ramonda myconii in the Pyrenees. It is also quite tolerant of drought in the summer. Plants benefit from drying out a bit between watering and constant moisture might be a problem outside. Mine stand right by the open door of the greenhouse, but I haven't yet taken the final step and planted any in the garden. As with many Gesneriads, young plants grow vigorously while older plants can become slow and stagnate. Tearing them into individual rosettes and repotting regularly rejuvenates them, and they will also grow from individual leaves removed as cuttings, though they are slow to produce new shoots.

9th December 2012

Galanthus 'Three Ships'
I haven't yet managed to convince anybody that spring has arrived. People are slow to catch on, they want winter and Christmas and suffering before the delight of spring. I am happy enough to bypass all of that nonsense and arrange the seasons to suit my fancy. The snowdrops do their very best to assist me though it has been difficult. The autumn snowdrops are a wonderful fresh relief from the process of watching summer collapse but this is the first of the spring snowdrops. I don't know what feature divides the two groups, they overlap in time but they are completely different things.
'Three Ships' is a very early flowering form of G.plicatus found by John Morley in Suffolk in 1984 and flowers reliably for Christmas. I have wanted it for a few years but only managed to obtain a bulb last year, so this is its first appearance in the garden. With new snowdrops there is always the worry that they will not be seen again, or they will not be what was promised and in keeping with its role as herald of the snowdrop spring this has trounced the gloomy doubt and announced the season of optimism.

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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