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

25th August 2013

Cyclamen hederifolium
Am I getting old and slow or is the world speeding up? No need to answer that really. I have got used to climbing on a chair to reach the top shelf in the kitchen. When I was younger I would jump up and try to snatch things as I passed. It was never very satisfactory but there is something about jumping that is its own reward. I like to think that climbing on a chair was a sensible development but the truth is that jumping became harder to do. Earlier in the week I dropped a teatowel on the floor and rather than bend over I leant on the back of a chair and 'climbed down' to the floor. It seemed easier, but it felt like a new low.
And so to Cyclamen. I have been watching for them like a grim vulture anticipating the death of summer and they haven't appeared. Suddenly this is the week. They are late this year but that is evidence of warm weather. They start to grow as temperatures drop in the autumn. Soon the shorts and t-shirts will be packed away and I can have a good time worrying about the winter like a proper old bloke.

25th August 2013

Pelargonium sidoides
I have always assumed that a hardy Pelargonium would be a great innovation, but perhaps I am wrong. Hardy Fuchsia are interesting but they haven't really changed things - we all still prefer to grow the tender ones.
There is a small group of species that come from Turkey (P.endlicherianum and its ilk) that will take the cold but not the wet of our winter, but they don't really look the part.
Pelargonium sidoides comes from South Africa and grows from a network of thickened underground branches that allow it to regrow if the top growth is frosted off. The flowers have the same deep purple colour as Geranium phaeum and get the same painfully tasteful hyperbole piled onto them. Unfortunately brooding dark flowers are not as popular as the editors of gardening magazines would like to pretend.
The typical form has narrow petals that are almost black but it is rarely seen. This is the popular form (sometimes distributed as 'clone 2') with broader petals and shades of pink and purple. The same selection has happened with Geranium phaeum. Nobody wants the black forms, all the new selections are in shades of mauve and pink. We like stylish plants, we just don't want them. I think the same might be true for hardy Pelargonium, they would fill a niche in the market that everybody raves about but nobody buys.

25th August 2013

Crocosmia x crocosmoides 'Mount Stewart Late'
An uncommon hybrid in cultivation, this clone was found in the gardens at Mount Stewart and probably persists there from an introduction in the early 1900's when the hybrid was first distributed. The hybrid name is an irritation - the Crocosmia that looks like a Crocosmia - but there is a long tradition of using tautologous names once the well-spring of inspiration runs dry, as it inevitably does when describing Crocosmia. I took some photographs at a show a few months ago of Pleurothallis pleurothalloides to mark the linguistic lunacy of that name.
Crocosmia x crocosmioides (C.aurea x paniculata) - the Crocosmia that looks like a Crocosmia - should not be confused with Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora (C.aurea x C.pottsii) - the Crocosmia with flowers like a Crocosmia - they are quite different things!
This one grows by the side of the Hedychium house where it was sheltered by a row of Leyland Cypress. No longer, they have been removed. On wednesday when I took this picture there were still a few visible in the background but on thursday they were felled. Soon it will be September and I can have a bonfire!

25th August 2013

Utricularia dichotoma
Plants come and they go, it is a constant process. Sometimes, like the Leylands, they are no longer needed. Sometimes they are no longer wanted. This year I finally got fed up with the selection of rather weedy Utricularia that were sitting in the water trays like the rubbish stranded as a botanical tide recedes and I threw them all out. The plan was to keep only Utricularia reniformis because it is hardy, leafy and worth having when it flowers (though it doesn't do it very often). At the last moment I couldn't bring myself to part with U.praelonga or U.dichotoma so I kept them while I think about it.
The plant is native to Australia and New Zealand and there is some variability though most in cultivation look like this. It has been suggested that the Australian plants are less hardy and I have always assumed that this clone originated in New Zealand but I don't have any evidence. I got a few leaves in a tiny pot many years ago and it took a long time to get going. It was much faster when I raised the water level so that it was almost drowning. Now it has filled a small water lily basket and long stolons are snaking out of the sides towards other pots. Utricularia are often invasive and although I like this one, I don't want very much of it.
It may be one of those things that survives by being overlooked.

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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