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

24th February 2013

x Cuprocyparis leylandii
From time to time at the end of winter a bubble of cold air will fall off of the arctic snowcap and drift south through northern Europe, turn right at France and sweep towards Kent freezing everything in its path. We have had a warm wet winter so a blast of cold dry wind was a shock. The garden is drying out very rapidly and there was a danger that new growth would be dessicated. Temperatures have dropped, but I think they will bounce back rapidly. With luck the arctic circle is beginning to feel the warmth of spring and this will be the last blast of air from the freezer for this year.
Wherever I go in the garden the ground is covered in fallen branches. In a strange way I was enjoying them. There was nothing very large, it was evidence that I am slowly getting on top of the dangerously senile trees. I was enjoying it until I found this Leyland which went over on friday night. A little too much lager with its curry and when the wind hit, over it went!
This is the season for removing awkward trees in the garden, and I had already looked at this one quizzically. It was in the middle of the herbaceous border and I didn't want it, but I was too lazy to remove it. Job done. It will be a bit tiresome to remove, and I expect it has done some damage to the border but all things considered it was a lucky break. If it had fallen the other way it would have blocked the road and everybody would be very grumpy.

24th February 2013

Pulmonaria 'Blue Ensign'
I have always thought of myself as lucky. Yesterday afternoon I was working in the garden trying to decide how long I could put off removing the Leyland Cypress. While I was thinking, I was demolishing another section of my old workshop (no longer required). I was standing on the roof, swinging a heavy hammer when insight struck. This structure is no longer safe. As I say, I am lucky. Insight strikes when I am standing on the roof, not as I fall through it.
I visited a number of gardens last week (the season of garden visiting opens with a shiver) and was struck by the number of Pulmonaria I saw. Last time I looked mine were just little brown nodules pushing from the ground. The falling Leyland missed this one by inches and drew my attention to the first flowers opening. It is one of a number of shade lovers that were clustered under the tree. They will all have to cope with more light now. I need to rethink the border anyway (somehow I have to squeeze in another hundred or so Hemerocallis) so the shade lovers may be relocated.
'Blue Ensign' has deep green leaves and is one of the best blue forms now available, though it is later into flower than 'Mawson's Blue' or P.angustifolia 'Azurea'. It was a lucky discovery as a seedling at Wisley in the 1990's and it looks as though it is still lucky.

24th February 2013

Epimedium x versicolor 'Sulphureum'
I was in a garden society meeting once in a school hall that had overrun its allotted time. The caretaker opened the door, switched out the lights and bid us all farewell. The snowdrop season has ended equally abruptly though nobody has told the snowdrops. Visiting gardens made it very clear that the next round of spring plants had started and the snowdrops were being pushed out. The fat scarlet buds of herbaceous peonies have been especially striking pushing through the soil. I was (briefly) tempted to show four pictures here but thought better of it.
During the 1960's my mother dyed her hair black and wore bright red lipstick when she went out. She also grew peonies. Those days are long gone but as I watched the bright red sticks pushing up through the ground I wondered if the season of snowdrops gave way to the season of the zombie lipsticks.
The Epimedium border was shaded by three large Alders which I removed a few weeks ago. The Epimedium needed more light and the Alders were reaching the end of their safe life. I was quietly weeding away in the week, thinking I still had a month or so before they started to grow when I ran into these flowers. The whole clump is on the move so I need to finish the weeding pronto. (Removing the Leyland is pressing but not appealing). This is a vigorous lemon hybrid between E.grandiflorum and E.pinnatum colchicum that makes evergreen ground cover if allowed to spread. Unfortunately it isn't quite vigorous enough and soon becomes ground cover with occasional brambles if left to its own devices.

24th February 2013

Fuchsia excorticata
Fuchsia excorticata has also benefitted from recent tree removal. It is fairly hardy but flowers in the first weeks of the year so I planted it under a large Leyland to give it some protection. Unfortunately the Leyland kept getting larger and eventually it had to go. The Fuchsia has appreciated the extra light and water but I was worried that the flowers would be too exposed. This winter has not been much of a test and I have been watching the buds swell for a month. This week of cold weather arrived at exactly the wrong time but so far it has survived. If it is possible for an old cynic who no longer believes in the Easter Bunny (don't get me started on bunnies) to cross his fingers, that is what I am doing.
The first fuchsias must surely be an indication that warmer weather is on the way (even if it is an upside-down fuchsia from New Zealand with seasonal jet lag). To celebrate the anticipated arrival of the warmth, last week I went out into the greenhouse and covered everything over again to protect it from frost. It may be that this was the last bubble of arctic air for the season but I like to see March arrive before I start taking chances.

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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