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

5th May 2013

Primula veris 'Sunset Shades'
In a garden that is fortunate to be wet for most of the year, I am not going to complain about a month of sunshine. That it should happen to coincide with the peak of spring growth is a wonderful thing. Low spring light illuminates the space under trees and traces magical shadow patterns over the ground. It is quite wonderful.
So it isn't a complaint, more of a wry observation on my life. After a five year gestation and nine months of occasional hitting my hand with a hammer, I have just finished a small greenhouse for the Agave at the top of the garden. I have tried to get a hose up there, and failed. I spent nearly an hour last year peering down the end of a hose hoping for a soaking but it wasn't to be. I like to think this is a relaxed garden and I simply don't have the pressure. The greenhouse relies on collecting rain to water the plants and we haven't had any, so planting will have to wait for the return of summer weather.
Meantime I have finally got to the herbaceous border, which needed the suggestion of discipline to keep it in order. In the absence of rain I have been reluctant to move anything but yesterday I finally bit the bullet, connected together some incompatible hoses and had some fun. We have the technology.
Protected by trees, this red Cowslip has been good this year. 'Sunset Shades' is one of those cheery names that covers over the fact that breeders haven't quite managed to separate the red from the yellow yet, so it comes up as a mix or colours. I chose a couple of the darkest reds I could find and planted them together. I am rather pleased with the result.

5th May 2013

Gladiolus huttonii
Gladiolus is a curious and diverse genus. It is currently fashionable to look down one's nose at the large florists hybrids, probably because open-mouthed astonishment is too innocent for the i-generation.
The species are another matter, though they are better in the greenhouse than they would be in the garden. Easily raised from seed and (currently) easily available, I have long abandoned any idea of pricking them out. Sown in a small pot, they get moved to a larger pot as required and one day they flower.
G.huttonii is a winter growing species from the southeastern Cape. When it started to grow most of the pots of bulbs had turned to straw and I was late tidying it up. The thin cylindrical leaves push through in October with the promise of flowers and a new season to come. The growth is remarkably tough and withstands cold winter weather under cover. I haven't tried it in the garden yet.
These flowers are a little on the large size for the species, and it may be that these are part of a swarm of hybrids that have been raised between G.huttonii and G. tristis recently. Somewhere there is a breeder who couldn't resist larger flowered hybrids with a wider colour range...

5th May 2013

Anemone pavonina
There has been some heat in the sun at long last. I have unpacked my gardening shorts and spent the day walking around with grubby knees. A few weeks ago I made a vegetable curry that glowed with tomato paste and scarlet chili. Half of it went into the freezer for another day and promptly turned beige. The colour of the window displays in charity shops. Yesterday it came out again, and as it heated up the colour returned. The same has happened in the garden, the tentative chill has dropped out of the colours and there is some full blooded scarlet on display.
Anemone pavonina has become a favourite by accident. I am very fond of the colours in A.coronaria but I haven't found a place they really like. They flower for a year or two and then one day I don't notice that they aren't there. I started to grow A.pavonina on a promise that they were easy and would grow anywhere, which isn't entirely true. By the time I discovered that, it was too late and I was hooked. It is much leafier than A.coronaria and spends longer in the spring and summer as a plant so it fits more easily into a garden situation. It is more tolerant of shade and summer rain but grows best in full sun. This group has been in place for three years and is looking stronger every year.
Raised from seed it can produce a range of colours, extra petals and larger blooms.

5th May 2013

Paeonia mascula ssp. mascula
Peonies are another wonder of the season. I have problems growing the large herbacous P.lactiflora forms. I think they need more heat and less water in summer than I can easily manage. I am having a bit more success with some of the species, grown in raised beds. I don't think I will ever have the great splashes of colour sometimes seen in the gardens of the eastern counties but if I get a flower here and there I will call it success.
I bought this seedling last year at a Plant Heritage sale and was amazed to see a bud forming on the end of the shoot this spring. I wish I had bought a dozen of them but it was meant as a trial to see if I could get it to grow. It has given me a bit more confidence to try some of the other species that are available.
There is a word for it I'm sure. That moment when you have lifted the hot chocolate and inhaled the aroma, but before you have tasted it. The trembling petals of a peony flower opening. It's a small word, and it might be happy.

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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