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

10th February 2013

Crocus 'Snowbunting'
Bedraggled has been the word of the week. The rain hasn't been especially heavy, but it has had a peculiar characteristic. I have been standing in it! Quite by chance I have started jobs in bright sunshine that I have wanted to complete and then it has started to rain. If there was a need for a mantra of the week, it would have been "Just finish this and have a nice warm bath".
The rain has ensured another mild and burgeoning week in the garden. Heavy snow falls along the east coast of North America yesterday might wander across the Atlantic over the next week or so but significant freezing seems increasingly unlikely. If the weather here has a single reliable characteristic it would be innovation. We were frozen during the first two weeks of March last year and a repeat would lack imagination.
In a number of local gardens I have seen the bedraggled buds of Crocus appearing. With the possible exception of a wet sheepdog, nothing could look so dejected. I occasionally plant them in the garden, but they die out. Too wet and too shady. I grow a few in pots in the greenhouse which are also in the process of fading away, though in this case feeding and repotting would solve the problem. Under cover the flowers open wide every time the sun shows for a moment and close again seconds later. If I had a suitable tiny mechanism I could use the movement to harvest solar energy. A big bed of Crocus producing a nice warm bath. For all its occasional dullness, February could be magnificent!

10th February 2013

Helleborus odorus
Hellebores are coming to a peak. I moved a lot of plants last year and many of the hybrids are having a sulky season. Plenty of new growths but not many flowers coming up. Most of the plants are hybrids, but I have a small collection of species. Unfortunately most of them are single plants so I don't get any useful seed. This H.odorus goes on from year to year getting better and I must find a way to get a few more to keep it company.
The distinction between H.odorus and H.cyclophyllus is a little vague. H.odorus comes from Romania, Serbia and Bulgaria and the H. cyclophyllus takes over moving south into Greece. In theory H.odorus is scented but I can state with confidence that it isn't scented when it's raining and I'm in a hurry. If I ever get to grow a big patch of them it might be a different matter.

10th February 2013

Galanthus 'Lady Elphinstone'
'Lady Elphinstone' is the fabled double yellow snowdrop, and like most fables it is a glossy exaggeration rooted in an underlying truth. From time to time the plant will produce a double yellow flower, but most of them are double green. Over the years I have managed to convince myself that the early flowers are green and the later flowers tend towards yellow but I haven't done the counting and recording that would be necessary to demonstrate it convincingly and I have no intention of doing so. It is one of those tasks that would simultaneously expose an interesting truth and a pointless life.
I bought a bulb from Broadleigh Gardens in 1988 for 4 and it has grown vigorously. It took a couple of years to start producing yellow flowers, but it has managed a few every year since. It is a little like buying a golden lottery ticket. Every once in a while you get lucky and it is all worthwhile. Last year it had grown into a large clump in the meadow. At the end of the season I lifted it and spread it over a much larger space. It will take a year or two to recover but eventually it will carpet the ground with obstinately green flowers filled with unlikely promise.
I was a little worried that my stock had drifted further into greenness than was needed and started to look at other people's plants. People talk about reliable golden flowers and like all the best fables, I wanted to believe. Last spring I bought another bulb from a grower at a snowdrop event. It had a large golden flower dangling from the stem to prove its authenticity. This year it is green and I am getting over the wishful self-delusion.

10th February 2013

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Pallida'
Here I am, perched on the cusp of perception. Hamamelis x intermedia 'Pallida', woeful or wonderful? I can't make up my mind. Last year it didn't matter, this year it is starting to trouble me.
I planted it four or five years ago and at the time I was completely enchanted by it. The flowers were distinctly paler than the usual yellow Hamamelis and I assumed it would get better and better as it grew. As is so often the case, I was planting a hope and it hasn't been fully realised so I suppose I am just being sulky. 'Pallida' seems to promise so much, but this isn't pale creamy yellow it is just yellow. The shade is only distinct when the two are compared side by side. It isn't well scented. I'm considering underplanting with Sarcococca to correct its deficiencies.
I could live with all of that. I loved it at the time and something of that survives the irritation of the passing years but there is another problem. It is very late. I had noted in previous years that it was the last of them to flower but the mildness of this year has emphasised the problem. It has only just opened fully. The garden is filled with snowdrops and daffodils, primroses fill the hedges. The garden if full of the stuff of spring and this is looks wrong. I may be forced to eat my words. There is still time for a week of decorative snowfall and H. x intermedia 'Pallida' will be the last magnificent flourish of winter. I almost want it to happen. Almost.

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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