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

3rd March 2013

Narcisus obvallaris
Another cold week, though we stopped short of frost as far as I can tell. Nothing of note on the thermometer anyway. After a couple of weeks without rain the ground is dry and it is easy to get on with things. Last weeks fallen Leyland Cypress took a couple of hours to clear away and I wish I had given it the heave-ho years ago. One of those things that is easier to appreciate in its absence.
I have been to a couple of shows and plant events recently (the season has started) and one of the pleasures is hearing peoples delight in simple things. I grow some daffodils in the meadow, 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation' for the simple wonder of its flowers when you've had a Christmas pudding and are feeling like one, and Narcissus obvallaris to produce dainty little flowers in March. Unfortunately it is all too much cleverness. The Rijnveld's are still producing an occasional flower along with sheaves of leaves and the overall effect is like a mixed box of chocolates and chewing gum. Nothing wrong with either, but best not presented together. The N.obvallaris need to be moved but I can't see me getting around to it and I don't think the wind will oblige this time.
The species is known from Tenby and west Wales though there are significant doubts about its natural origins. For a long time it was assumed to be a form of N.pseudonarcissus selected in cultivation and then naturalised. Some plants are clearly sterile triploids but fertile plants have also been recorded. No clearly wild population was known until Fernandez Casas located a population in the Montes de Toledo in Spain that he believes to be the same thing. How it got to west Wales remains conjectural.
Coo, innit luvly.

3rd March 2013

Hepatica nobilis Double Red
Gardens are a remarkable reflection of the evolution of man from hunter-gatherer to software engineer. If I had evolved as far as software engineer I would be able to afford all the Hepatica I would like to grow. I visit the shows, see lovely things, buy some of them and I seem to grunt quite a lot in the process. Perhaps it is a modified contact call. With luck we will never know.
All the lovely things come home to be potted and stood around the place in a rather aimless way but eventually gathering gives way to farming. I find a suitable tool, bash the vegetation into submission and plant things out. Sometimes the bashing is successful, the native vegetation is subdued and the plants grow. Sometimes the situation requires more bashing.
The Hepatica I grow have followed this simple path. A couple of years ago it became clear that they all needed to be planted out so spaces cleared, holes dug, fingers crossed. Hepatica are not the most forgiving of plants so I have been a little concerned. Most of them appeared again last spring but I didn't get much in the way of flower. This year they are just starting to move and although the fingers are still crossed I think they are going forwards rather than declining. If that is true then the agricultural phase will give way to a period of photography, smugness and the general head-up-the-arseness that evolution seems to lead to.
This double red is the first into flower. It is a European form, not the same clone as 'Rubra Plena' but not one of the Japanese selections either. It has grown as strongly as a Hepatica can, unlike 'Rubra Plena' which could be described as 'slow' (if we were talking heart rate, people would be exchanging solemn looks).

3rd March 2013

Helleborus viridis
There is a fascination about the clump forming (acaulescent) hellebore species that is difficult to explain. They are small flowered, often green and easily overlooked. I never seem to have enough of them. They are not commonly available, seed produced from cultivated plants often produces hybrids and the species are not easy to distinguish. Perhaps it is the same fascinated and evolved smugness that comes into play with Hepatica. I grow a few, but mine are generally single plants and I have been looking out for partners for them for a couple of years. This season I have been lucky.
This is my established plant of Helleborus viridis and I have just bought three seedlings to keep it company and give me the chance of some home produced seed in the future. H.viridis comes from Switzerland, parts of Germany and France but stays north of the Pyrenees. Plants growing south of the Pyrenees in Spain are now considered to be a species in their own right, H.occidentalis. It is these plants that are sometimes found growing wild in the UK, though it is assumed they are naturalised from gardens. I suspect it will take a few decades before we stop calling them H.viridis ssp occidentalis.
This plant has suffered in previous years. The young shoots are bitten off by rabbits at the start of the season. They don't eat them - even the young shoots are too toxic - but they feel the need to bite them off just to try. They only take the flower stems, so the plant is growing bigger and is it enlarges the rabbits are losing interest and have moved their attentions to my new bed of picotee seedlings.

3rd March 2013

Tecophilaea cyanocrocus 'Violacea'
The Tecophilaea have yet to face the ordeal of being planted out. I may decide it isn't worth the risk. I have only seen them looking good outside in one garden and I'm not convinced they hadn't been bedded out (although the owner assured me they had been there for years). In a pot in the greenhouse they are slowly increasing. If I ever get around to building the bulb house that I keep promising myself to hold all the Nerine then the Tecophilaea will get a place with them.
The story of the Andean Blue Crocus is well known. Growing in a tiny area of Chile it was believed to be extinct in the wild until rediscovered in 2001. It had been maintained in cultivation where it is slow but not difficult. Traditionally there are three forms grown. The typical one is a pure rich blue, those with a white centre to the flowers are grouped as 'Leichtlinii' and those with purple tinged flowers as 'Violacea'.
In recent years people have been crossing them and raising breathtaking new colour combinations. New cultivars will have to be propagated by division so we will all be holding our breath for a long time.

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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