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

28th April 2013

Jeffersonia dubia
A wonderful week of spring weather has moved the garden forward another giant leap. A couple of showers and some misty mornings have created the illusion of rain but nothing significant has fallen. I have a bucket under the gutter of the greenhouse that is conveniently full of water when I need to settle in something I have just potted and can't be bothered to fetch the hose. I emptied it at the start of the month and it has remained bone dry. Under the trees at the top of the garden the leaf litter has started to crunch like a gravel path. Sooner or later the water will fall, and I think it might land on the summer.
Jeffersonia dubia is a wonderful plant, producing fragile leaves and lilac flowers from a tough rootstock. It comes from China and Korea and flowers here reliably every year. Photographs are a little less reliable. The petals are incredibly fragile and drop at the slightest encouragement. I took this picture and then decided it would look a little better if the petals were slightly wider open. Previous experience has taught me that waiting for a few hours is a mistake. The petals always fall the moment you look away. I therefore supported the flower stem and blew gently into the top of the bloom. It could hardly have been more catastrophic if I had hit it with a big hammer, so this is the picture you get. Jeffersonia dubia in un-assisted beauty.

28th April 2013

Cymophyllus fraseri
There seems to be more happening this week than the garden can reasonably contain. Perhaps it is the sudden contrast with the period between the end of autumn and the start of spring (I no longer acknowledge the concept of winter, it seems to me it is just a conceptual ruse to encourage gloominess). I have taken pictures of a lot of wonderful things that I would like to show here and the process of editing them has caused some serious searching of the heart. Under most circumstances a sedge in flower would be thrown out at first consideration, I'm not a great lover of things grassy but I think this is an exception. It comes from mountain woodland in the Southern Appalachians (Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Viginia and thereabouts). The white flowers in spring are clean enough to be pretty and it has tough broad evergreen leaves. I was sold a tuft in a pot and warned that it had been recently divided. When I got home and planted it I discovered that meant it didn't have any roots which in my world means it wasn't a plant it was a bouquet but let's not split hairs. The significant issue is that it grew. It isn't a lot larger this year but it has flowered and I am prepared to take the presence of roots on trust.
I have been told that it is rare in cultivation though it is said to be common in habitat. Perhaps it is just overlooked among a mass of fashionable but despicable grasses. I may have to re-examine some old prejudices. I saw a good-looking Restio yesterday, and I have always thought that was an oxymoron.

28th April 2013

Ranunculus ficaria
It has been a difficult year for the Lesser Celandines. They had been suffering in pots for too long and so I finally planted them out hoping they would burst into enthusiastic growth. They have tried hard but sometime in the autumn my local Wood Pigeons discovered their delicious leaves and at the moment I have vigorous tufts of petioles but hardly a leaf blade to show. I had never noticed damage on wild plants before so I was unprepared. I might be forced to put little wire hats over them but they will look rather silly and it isn't a favourite idea. I have taken the easy way out and decided to 'wait and see'. In the last week or so a few leaves have survived, so perhaps there is more palatable pigeon food available now. Ranunculus ficaria produces leaves and flowers from November under cover and I have always wondered why it wasn't one of the splendours of late autumn, exploiting the period when the ground is clear of competition. I think I have found the answer!
I have not been very successful at breeding orange flowered forms (to date this is only my second to flower) but I am hoping for more in the later generations. This one is a first generation cross between 'Coppernob' and 'Double Mud' and I was expecting the seedlings to be yellow flowered with a few dark leaved ones. This orange is a surprise and I must pick it out from its brothers and sisters before the petals fall and it is lost again. I am filled with hope that if I self pollinate it, I will eventually get the double flowered orange I am looking for. In the meantime, it is a rather handsome thing.

28th April 2013

Freesia laxa ssp. azurea
...and finally something blue. Well, blue is a rather bold assertion, but this is blue in the sense that it isn't the typical scarlet. The species grows along the eastern side of Africa from Kenya south to the Cape. It has has a complicated nomenclatural history but has eventually settled into Freesia. The blue flowered form is a little strange, it sets off into growth in autumn when the type subspecies is still dormant and is susceptible to freezing weather. As a result is is less often seen than the scarlet form - I had to seek it out, and this is the first time it has flowered.
I have a few other colour variations (red, white, red and white) that seed about gently and have the ability to come up in pots of things that have died to stop me throwing them out. A few years ago I tried to sort them out so I had one colour to a pot. It lasted for a season. I have come to accept that like the Romulea, Freesia laxa is beyond my control. There was a period a decade or so ago when the Temperate House at Kew was covered with it, growing as thickly as grass blades in a rough turf. I haven't got to that stage, so I'm not going to worry.

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.
I have a lot of good intentions when it comes to updating this site, and I try to keep a note about what is going on, if you are interested.
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