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

13th January 2013

Ranunculus ficaria 'Oakenden Cream'
Cold weather in the garden is usually forecast by the appearance of flocks of Redwings. They move south in front of the cold air to stay clear of the freeze. The weather forecasters have been threatening cold weather all week, but so far no Redwings. Television weather forecasters seem to be getting more attractive as the years go by. Maybe it's just the same as policemen getting younger, a reflection of my own steady decay into decrepitude. On the other hand, if you have nothing useful to offer then maybe good looks will save you!
It certainly works for Celandines.
It has to be admitted, they are terrible weedly things. If the bulbils don't spread around, then the seedlings will. I planted the whole collection outside a couple of years ago, and they are starting to establish. At the time I accepted that the chaos in pots would be replaced by chaos in the garden. In cosmic terms, order is an improbable and transient phenomenon. It was time to step aside and release the chaos of the Celandines to the universe.
It hasn't gone too badly. I have to turn an occasional blind eye but the distinctive cultivars remain distinctive and the others aren't missed. There are a number with cream flowers and bronze leaves but it is 'Oakenden Cream' that is really prospering. In time it will absorb all the other names in the same way that 'Brazen Hussey' has gobbled up all the lookee-likees. Enthusiasts in energetic covens will argue the merits of indistinguishable clones and I will smile the inscrutable smile of senility (and dribble a little bit).
No Redwings yet, lets focus on the immediate future!

13th January 2013

Galanthus 'Richard Ayres'
The snowdrops have been making the most of the mild conditions. I don't think a cold snap now would make much difference, they are all on the move. Not much to see from 'Flore-plena' or 'Lady Elphinstone' but the first of the Greatorex doubles are open. I thought 'Jaquenetta' would be first but at the last moment 'Dionysus' has opened. The doubles are all quite confused and new ones need to show something distinctive to be worth a place.
I bought 'Richard Ayres' in 2010 because I thought there was something distinctive about the green markings on the inner segments. A couple of years later and I still think it is distinctive. The inner segments make a rather full rosette and the outer segments are well defined. There may be an occasional tepal that can't quite make up its mind but in general the flower is rather tidy.
Discovered at Anglesey Abbey in 1987 by Richard Nutt and named after the former head gardener, it is tall and vigorous.

13th January 2013

Tristagma uniflorum 'Charlotte Bishop'
It is good to have something different in flower when the garden seems to be dominated by Snowdrops and Hellebores. They are wonderful, but variety is the spice of life and in this case the spice is distinctly oniony. There are a great many onions. The best of them (by a considerable margin) come to the table steaming hot, but among the second best are a number that produce flowers just when the garden needs them. These are flowering in the greenhouse, the ones outside are still in the dull green leaf stage and will flower in a few weeks time when it really won't matter.
'Charlotte Bishop' is the best pink flowered cultivar I have seen to date. No doubt people are raising seedlings in the hope of improving it still further. 'Rolf Fiedler' and 'Jessie' are a vast improvement on 'Wisley Blue' and there is potential to do the same with pink.
In a pot it produces a mass of flowers and makes a decent display. Outside it can sometimes produce rather a lot of leaf for the number of flowers.

13th January 2013

Petrocosmea cryptica 'Whirlpool'
With clouds looming and the occasional spot of rain, I am happy to retreat to the greenhouse where this Petrocosmea has been flowering for a couple of weeks.
This is a rather striking gesneriad that has been in cultivation for about a decade, originating with plants sent from China by Chen Yi. It forms a tighly imbricate rosette of dark green leaves with broad pale lime regions along the major veins. Originally identified as P.rosettifolia, in 2011 Julian Shaw described it as a new species based on material grown at Wisley. There are a few different clones grown, but this one has been named 'Whirlpool' and is probably the commonest in cultivation (originally identified as G25K COO). The white flowers are charming and understated. The scapes emerge from the rosettes without spoiling their symmetry.
Breeders in the USA are 'having a go' at Petrocosmea and I suspect there are a lot more to come. They seem to be cold hardy, easy to grow and produce flowers at a useful time of the year.

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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