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

4th August 2013

Hedychium densiflorum 'Stephen'
What is it about the height of summer that brings out all the bad things? We wait for it all year in the hope that it will make ammends for the terrible spring (summer; autumn; cold; rain; neighbours; crisis; smell - whatever) and when it arrives we feel bad. I have been weeding the herbaceous border hoping to get a few weeks when it is both tidy and flowering and I have been feeling bad about it. I should have done it sooner, or better or more regularly. The heat and humidity are exhausting. If I walk up to the top of the garden I have a little rest halfway to catch my breath and everybody is feeling old and aching and wishing they could get more done.
I should remember that this is the season for cool drinks and hammocks and allowing the garden to flower itself silly.
The Hedychium have started to flower. Last year I took all the large pots out of the greenhouse and stood them along the path for the summer, where they were delightful, grew with more vigour than they have in years, and got in the way. It was a good move and I have repeated it this year but cleared a spare corner especially for them. They were late to start but are now growing sturdily and producing flowers on compact stems away from the shade of the Hedychium house. If I could think of anywhere to put the evergreen ones, they would have come out as well. Unfortunately they are in 25 litre pots and all I can think of is what hard work it would be to carry them about. Aches and pains, must be the weather!

4th August 2013

Filipendula camtschatica
The herbaceous border has been a ribbon of colour for months, which is a good thing. More specifically, it has been a ribbon of Pink Campion for months, which is not so good. I started weeding it out in March but had to stop (for something or other - it probably seemed important at the time). Once it was in full bloom I determined to remove it before it seeded, but didn't. Now I have started weeding again in a last ditch attempt to restore the appearance of order before the end of the season. The beds are full of the sound of rattlesnakes. As I walk between them, the seed capsules rattle ominously as they scatter next years ribbon of pink. As they say one years seeding, seven years weeding. Guess what I will be talking about this time next year.
Last year I felt the border was getting a little too uniform. I have masses of Hemerocallis and they all had to go somewhere. I started looking for things with distinctively different shapes to add and Filipendula came to mind. I used to grow F.rubra 'Venusta' and keep hoping I will find a bit hanging on somewhere but in the meantime I bought F.camtschatica. The large white flowerhead (I only have the one so far) towers above the daylilies and the bold leaves do exactly the right job. I get the feeling that it will probably bulk up quite quickly.
The species occasionally occurs in the UK as a garden escape though it actually comes from Japan, Sakhalin, the Kuril Islands, Kamchatka (not surprisingly) and the Beth Chatto Gardens, all places far to the east.

4th August 2013

Centaurea macrocephala
Looking back at the last paragraph, I see I have implied that things happen to a plan and I should correct that misconception. Things happen, and occasionally the appearance of a plan can be forced upon them. Last year I bought some big plants and as it happens they will provide some contrast with the daylilies when they are planted in the herbaceous border. That is the only space I have available so that is where they will be planted. Quite unexpectedly this year I have become interested in Aconitum and when they are planted the blue and purple shades will make a fine addition to the orange-red shades of the daylilies. Rather like my life, the herbaceous border happens by accident and then I try to make sense of it. In another curious parallel it is weeding things out that makes the most difference. Probably best to stop there.
Centaurea macrocephala has great big yellow flowers that grow rigidly upright, and big floppy leaves. I watched it all last year hoping for a flower to come up, but all I got was a small cluster of greyish leaves. I had started to think it was going to object to the dank moisture of my garden. This year it has been much more determined - I think it needed a while to recover from being starved in a small pot. In the USA it is recorded as an invasive weed that once established is difficult to control. I'm not anticipating that sort of problem.
Originally from the Caucasus and cultivated in the UK since 1805 (reportedly), I'm not aware of any selections, varieties, seed strains or the like. Perhaps it is already perfect.

4th August 2013

Acis autumnalis 'Cobb's Variety'
As I stomp my way up through the garden I get to a restful place in the shade of an old Sycamore. The path leads on over a small ridge and seems to rise up into the sky. Over the hedge the neighbours field sparkles with a million buttercups dancing in the misty steam rising from the horse poo. It is a perfect place to allow the wheezing to subside.
Under the trees I have planted some Cyclamen hederifolium that flower following the first rains of August. They mark a significant change. You get to the top of the roller-coaster and just start to tip down the other side. The Cyclamen flower and I don't know if I'm smiling or screaming. We aren't there yet.
In the greenhouse, Acis autumnalis has stolen the Cyclamen thunder and started to flower. In this case it is 'Cobb's Variety' though the detail is of uncertain significance. It has felt the approach of autumn. Like an air-bed with a slow puncture, I can feel the soft deflation of the season starting and the mind starts to turn to the hard bump of winter. The Acis confirms the fact, and it turns out I'm smiling.

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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