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

16th December 2012

Viola riviniana
This week saw the first puff of cold air drift down from the north. It brought a ground frost with it that finished off the last flowers of Dahlia merckii. They had started to look ragged and desperate like the last survivors of a shipwreck clinging to a liferaft. Call me an old softy but I can't bring myself to describe a maritime disaster as decorative. The cold air brought with it occasional clear skies and from time to time the garden sparkles with the water still trapped in the grass and moss.
Viola riviniana provides the promise of spring. It is a common local violet and over the years I have introduced selected strains from a number of nurseries (usually inadvertently). Sometimes they are good but usually they are nuisance, seedling everywhere and snapping off at the base if you try to pull them up. They hybridise with V.lactea and the progeny are sometimes spectacular flowering in short grass. The hybrids usually have yellow or creamy spurs which distinguish them. This one has a lilac spur and is not distinguished. I'm not sure if it is starting the new season off with a brave display of defiance or ending the old season with a whimper but violets, primroses and bluebells are the stuff of spring, and I am happy to have two of them already.

16th December 2012

Helleborus foetidus 'Chedglow'
The Hellebores are promising. They are crouching down at ground level, flower stems still curled and reaching back into the ground. I can understand their reluctance to get out of bed at this time if the year. They are promising but they will probably drag it out for as long as they can, I'm not expecting any significant display for a few weeks yet. The caulescent species flower a little earlier. H.argutifolius opened a first flower last week (rain damaged) and H.foetidus is making a good show.
This is Martin Cragg-Barber's golden leaved form of the species. Last year it was almost too bright to cope with. This year is it slightly gentler. The flower spikes have been forming since August and the first of the flowers are now opening. I have sown a lot of seed, and spilled a lot around the plant, but I haven't seen any germinating yet. They should appear in the first weeks of January and I am interested to see if they have bright gold cotyledons or not. I have sown them with a mixture of other forms and it would be convenient to know them apart. It isn't the perfect way to sow seed, but there is a limit to the number of seed beds I can maintain.
For some reason this is growing in the middle of the herbaceous border midst the exhausted remains of summer like a lonely guest after a Christmas party whose taxi didn't show up. I must find somewhere more appropriate.

16th December 2012

Helleborus x nigercors
While waiting for the 'real' Hellebores to put in an appearance I am being distracted by some of the hybrids that are becoming popular. As soon as Christmas is over they will start to appear in the garden centres, filling up the space currently occupied by Christmas Trees.
I coninue to grow a couple of plants of H.niger and to hope that I will one day get Christmas Roses in time for Christmas. It isn't looking likely. I think this hybrid with H. argutifolius is the closest I am going to get. The are a number of hybrids between H.niger and the stem forming species and more selections get named every year. I planted a few of the most popular last year in the hope that as they established they would fill me with joy. Unfortunately I am still waiting. I can't work out what the deficiency is but they aren't superstars. They are dressed like superstars and the have all the press exposure of superstars, but something isn't quite right. Perhaps it's the x factor.

16th December 2012

Haemanthus albiflos
Last week I had a little panic and brought a few things indoors. I have three pots of this Haemanthus and two of them will stay in the greenhouse and as long as they are dry they will be fine. However there is always the chance that a serious winter might kill them and I would hate to lose it. One has to come inside. It often flowers in winter but I don't think it is particularly controlled by the season. It flowers when it is ready. If I fed it more and repotted it from time to time I expect it would flower more often.
The pale flowers shine in the rather gloomy conditions of the house, acting like decoy ducks on a lake. This week has been dark and dreary (and it has been difficult to find enough light for photographs). Next week is the winter solstice, and the light will start to return thanks to the decoy effect of my Haemanthus.
I don't believe in Father Christmas any more but a person needs some ridiculous nonsense to hold on to. I'm going to hang my solstice lights in a moment. I might even do a little dance.

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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