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

12th May 2013

Scilla verna
After a long spell when it looked as though summer might be on the way a few cold rain showers have been welcome. The cold wind that delivered them was a little tiresome but at the end of the day everything was watered and nothing blew over. The rapid oscillation between summer and winter creates the appearance of spring and perhaps that is as much as we ever have.
Scilla verna is a common enough plant of the sea cliffs locally, though it seems to be declining. It grows in the short turf that was once maintained by rabbits. In recent years it has been the feet of enthusiastic walkers in the early season that keep the grass low and I think they are trampling the flower spikes as they emerge. The leaves look exactly like grass, so they can't be blamed.
My favourite population grows in the turf approaching Godrevey Lighthouse but the thick carpet of blue that once covered the ground has been reduced to a few tough individuals. As the facilities along the coast improve, walkers are able to come out earlier and earlier in the season. The flora is experiencing a long slow death by beach-cafe.

12th May 2013

Pleione aurita
This has been the year of the Pleione. I have been adding new ones to the collection for a couple of years and many of them have flowered this spring for the first time. I have also bought a few of the newer hybrids that should be spectacular in future years. I have been impressed by some of the orange and scarlet cultivars that are now being selected, though most are too new to be available yet. When I look back on the season however, it is a large hybrid I saw in Ian Butterfield's greenhouse that I was most impressed by. It had a large flared lip and the flower was shaped like a Cattleya.
The distinctive shape of the flower came from having P.aurita as a parent. The species comes from western Yunnan and has been established in cultivation in recent years. Breeders have been busy taking the opportinity to create new flower shapes and it is also producing some interesting colour combinations.
I struggled to grow it for a few years but recently I have been keeping it moister during the summer and it is now increasing slowly.

12th May 2013

Uvularia perfoliata
I have a shade border at the top of the garden that was constructed in a rush as a home for those things in pots that could not be accommodated any longer. It is not especially shady and is exposed to the wind so I have been surprised by how well some of the fragile woodland plants have coped. Uvularia have thin glaucous leaves and I was sure that the first spring gale would flatten them. I was mistaken. The wind was blowing when I took this picture. I took it seven times before I got one in focus because the plant was blowing around but the moment the wind drops they stand up straight again. The petals are a little less robust. I have a small collection of forms of U.grandiflora that were perfect for one summery day and were then stripped of golden petals by the breeze overnight.
U.perfoliata grows in woodland in the eastern states of the USA from Maine to Texas, though it prefers the northern part of the range and is declining in the south.
I prefer the pale primrose yellow flowers to the more strident chrome yellow of U.grandiflora but it doesn't produce very many of them among the ghostly grey sheaves of leaves.

12th May 2013

Epimedium alpinum
The Epimedium provide some spring cheer when the wind has stripped all the petals from the Magnolias and rain has left the Primroses prim-fallen. The important lesson I have learnt this year is not to plant the deciduous species mixed in with the evergreens. It is a patchwork nightmare to maintain. During the winter they will be moved about so that the ground covering evergreens can cover the ground while the deciduous ones can be mulched and marked.
E.alpinum comes from southern Europe and was introduced to cultivation in the UK around the time John Gerard was writing his herbal. It was a curiosity, though it was believed that Barronwort might make women infertile. In the mid 17th century the apothecary John Parkinson wrote that it could be used to "keepe womens breasts from growing over great".
It has fallen out of favour in cultivation though I think that has more to do with the arrival of a wealth of asiatic species than a change in perspective on the larger bosom.
When I first wanted it I had to search it out, but it is tenacious. I recently revisited the first garden I planted in and came away with a slender piece of rhizome prized with some difficulty from between the bricks of a path. It is small flowered and has a certain wanderlust but I wouldn't want to be without it. There is little chance that I could achieve it if I did.

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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