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

9th June 2013

Aquilegia vulgaris
I live in astonishing times. Summer has been extended to a second week. The forecast predicted light showers overnight and I was looking forward to some rain. The top of the garden was getting quite dry and it's a long walk carrying water (the hose gives up the struggle with altitude about half way up). Lying in bed with the thunder rumbling around I noted that there was no sound of rain. Fortunately it had preceeded the thunder and whispered its way to the ground without waking me.
The Hellebore beds needed refreshing. They are remarkably tolerant of drought but they were starting to look fed up. During the summer the beds are enlivened with Red Campion, which I find almost impossible to eradicate, and stinging nettles. I have been looking for ways of adding interest to give some colour once the hellebores have finished and reduce the impact of the weeds.
So far I have had a series of ideas that seemed good at the time. Fortunately the garden has started to provide some suggestions of its own.
These Aquilegia have put themselves into the border without any help from me and are providing a small patch of cheer. They come up through the Red Campion and turn the stinging nettles into a useful leafy foil for their delicacy. When I moved into this house there were one or two pale Aquilegia growing in the garden. I collected some of the seed and sowed it sometime in the 1980's to boost their number, but that is as much active cultivation as I have ever done. Seed has probably been spread around in the compost from time to time and now the odd plant could turn up anywhere. It is a happy outcome.

9th June 2013

Roscoea humeana 'Inkling'
'Inkling' has started to flower in the garden and presented a problem. For several years it grew in a pot in a shaded greenhouse and produced the deep purple flowers for which it is known. A couple of years ago I planted it out in the garden and now it is producing these mid purple offerings. The flower shape remains the same but the colour has gone. Published reports suggest that it can fade in strong sunlight and I have certainly reduced the shade in the border in recent times but it is still quite protected. It is possible that the plant has been replaced by a seedling.
The original was raised by Kath Dryden and distributed in 1994. There have been suggestions that some stocks were later raised from seed and that the colour varies. I would be quite content with the idea that my original plant had been a seedling had it not flowered in dark purple beauty for several years.
All of the Roscoea are late this year. They don't start to move until there is some warmth in the soil and they will probably all flower together. It should be a good time to sort out the various identities which have become a little confused in the move from the greenhouse.

9th June 2013

Magnolia wilsonii
One of the reasons there is more light in the shade border is that I have trimmed Magnolia wilsonii. For a number of years I allowed it to grow as it would. I was so happy to see new growth that I didn't really care. Last year it became clear that the lower branches were rubbing against eachother and sticking out at strange angles. The decision to trim them out caused some anxiety but in the event things have worked out well. I now have a clean central trunk that produces flowers at eye level and provides light shade. The first time it flowered I had to lie flat on the ground to photograph the hanging flowers as they dangled just above my nose. Much as I enjoy the chance for a little lie down, the current situation is an improvement.
I am not entirely clear about the differences between M.wilsonii , M.sieboldii and M.sinensis. If plants I have seen are correctly named then M.wilsonii tends to be a small tree, while the other two are more like large shrubs. The best distinction I have been told is that M.wilsonii has a delicate powdery perfume that transports you momentarily to a delightful place while the other two smell of cat's piss.

9th June 2013

Arum petteri
People say of busses that you wait for ages and then two come along at once. It is useful to bear that in mind when trying to distinguish between busses and arums. In the case of Arum petteri you wait for ages and then you're not sure if one has come along or not. I planted the seed in December 2005 and have watched the undistinguished leaves grow and wilt through succeeding years in the hope that a flower will confirm the identity of the plant. And here is the flower.
As the saying goes 'answers on a postcard, please'.
A.petteri is often included within A.orientale, a species from the Caucasus that seems to be quite variable. When this flower was forming I was concerned that it might just be A. italicum that had been stunted by my careful cultivation. The short rounded shape of the spathe in this case makes that unlikely but I was expecting more purple colour. Pure green flowers are known in A.orientale but they aren't the norm.
I am prepared to accept that the heat this week has impaired my judgement. On Wednesday I finally abandoned my woolly socks for the season, but I didn't really adjust to it until I had a cold shower. Which reminds me of another story, but best not go into that here (unless you have a Knickerbocker Glory, a long handled teaspoon and an easily offended aunt to hand, in which case I might be tempted).

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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