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

2nd June 2013

Rhododendron 'Kirin'
I think I live in a reasonably practical world. Ideally a t-shirt has four holes in it. One to slide the body into, one for the head and one for each arm. Any less than that presents some problems. If there are more than that and I throw them away. It is a simple arrangement and it has worked reasonably well over the years. Shoes are another one of those things that have a practical function. One fits on each side and if they don't cause instability I am happy. Some people have an enthusiasm for shoes that I don't really get and then I realised that for some unfortunates, shoes had become the Aspidistras of the feet. You never quite have enough.
Hats are another matter. I understand hats. It has been a hat week. I have a dozen or more hats. Woolly ones for winter, floppy ones for summer. Hats to protect the balding head from the gifts of the universe. I haven't gone as far as aluminium foil hats to protect the head from mind-probing aliens but who knows what the future holds. This week I have needed my sun hat and I wear it with some anxiety. It has served me well for several sweaty headed summers and it has developed a distinctive odour. However it is a favourite. Nothing else quite does the job as well. We have had a sudden burst of summer and a pungent head has seemed like an appropriate precaution.
When I started to build this garden I was going through a rhododendrophobic period but I still managed to plant a dozen or so varieties of evergreen azalea. They have grown. I move them around the garden from time to time and over the years the majority of the labels have been lost. Recently I have started to move them into a single long border to make a big splash at the end of spring.
'Kirin' is easily identified - it was the only hose-in-hose variety I planted at the time. One of 50 cultivars introduced from Japan by Ernest Wilson in 1918, originally as 'Wilson No.22' which has a practical ring to it.
It has been a hot week, I am wearing my hat and the azaleas are flowering.

2nd June 2013

Roscoea cautleyoides 'Early Mauve'
The Roscoea burst out of the ground in a flurry of enthusiasm. They are the hardiest of the gingers, but they still like a bit of heat to get them moving in spring. R.cautleyoides is usually the first to show and some forms will still be producing flowers well into autumn. If you had spoken to me on friday I would have said that it comes in two colours, yellow and mauve. A number of cultivars have been named that vary in their flowering time, but that most of cultivars that have been named that are indistinguishable.
Yesterday I was introduced to a white flowered plant (yellow mark on the labellum) that was charming and distinct. It was exactly what I was hoping for when I purchased 'Vanilla' years ago. It temporarily reduced me to inarticulate burbling (for which I apologise to its appropriately proud raiser).
'Early Mauve' and 'Early Yellow' do exactly what they promise. In a warm spring the buds burst through the soil at the end of March, before the stem and leaves have started to show. This year things have been much delayed and they are all going to bloom at once. It will require recourse to the standard technique to tell them apart (reading the label).

2nd June 2013

Disa sagittalis
Summer arrives on the scene and with it comes the promise of Disa flowers. A few weeks ago there was no sign of movement from the plants, but as soon as the sun started to warm the greenhouse the rosettes began to elongate into flower spikes. It is rather strange to look at them from the door, all leaning slightly to the west because of a large tree on the east that shades them in the early morning. Something will have to be done, but it isn't a job I face with any enthusiasm. Perhaps it will wait for another year or two.
Disa sagittalis came to me as a small jar of seedlings grown in sterile culture. I have tried to germinate it before, but failed. The first winter demonstrated that it isn't as cold tolerant as D.uniflora and its hybrids. I lost most of the seedlings but a couple regrew from below ground. This year I have kept one indoors on a windowsill, given one to a friend with a heated space and spent the cold nights running in and out with fleece to protect the ones in the greenhouse. The flower spike started to emerge in February and I was convinced that the cold weather in March would kill it, but I was wrong. It has made it into flower. I tried to raise hybrids from it last year but got nothing.
In habitat in South Africa the plants experience a period of dry dormancy in late summer after flowering. I didn't manage to replicate that last year, the plant simply grew a new rosette of leaves about three weeks after the flowering rosette had died off. If I had a plant to experiment with I would try to dry it off, but it doesn't divide as freely as many species and it may take a few years before I have a spare.

2nd June 2013

Luzuriaga radicans RH 0602
I first grew Luzuriaga radicans thirty years ago from a cutting given to me by Terry Jones. For a long time it crept about slowly under the staging in a poly-tunnel. The tunnel collapsed in the snows of 1988 and the plant has never been quite as happy again. I have never seen it flower. A couple of years ago I bought a new form from Crug Farm Plants. Collected by Dick Hayward and Martin Rickard in Chile where it was climbing moist tree trunks.
It grows in the same shade that is affecting the Disa, which is a good reason for not meddling with the tree for a while. This is the first time it has flowered. It seems to be quite vigorous. I grow it in a pot that stands over a large tray of water. I was hoping to produce some local hunidity, which is probably pointless considering the ventilation at that end of the greenhouse. It made me feel happier.
I was surprised when the trailing stems from the plant rooted into the water and produced a tangled aquatic mat. It does mean that I can easily pot up some small ones and eventually I will try one outside.
For many years it was treated as a member of the Philesiaceae which put it close to Lapageria. Last year I tried to pollinate L.polyphylla with Lapageria 'Flesh Pink' wothout success. It temporarily occupied a family of its own, the Luzuriagaceae but it is currently maintained as one of the tribes within the Alstroemeriaceae along with the Australian genus Drymophila.

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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