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

1st September 2013

Plumbago auriculata
Is it just me, or do the best times happen when you're standing around wondering what to do next? The summer has been very summery but the first of September feels like a watershed of some sort. The business of summer has ended and the performance of winter hasn't yet started. I am reminded of the time spent waiting for the bus to school. The frantic process of getting out of the bed and dressed and washed and fed and pushed out of the door pauses for a moment. I stand around on the pavement watching the world drive past until the bus comes and the universe slips into gear again.
The garden isn't waiting, but it is standing around watching the world go by. In the quiet moments I stand in it and it is very satisfying.
Plumbago auriculata is an old friend. I still see it with the eyes of a child rambling across the roof of a small greenhouse and showering its faded sticky blooms into my mothers hair. It has struggled in small pot for several years, but last autumn it was planted out in the greenhouse and a mild winter has helped it establish enthusiastically. I failed to provide any support for the stems, so it has collapsed onto the ground but I wasn't really expecting it to survive so this counts as success.
It comes from South Africa, but it isn't really frost hardy and it may not survive a real winter. It doesn't really matter how many times I kill it, I am going to carry on planting it.

1st September 2013

Mahonia gracilipes
I have a number of small Mahonia species in the greenhouse where they are slowly growing large enough to be planted out. Apart from noting the fresh colour of the new leaves in spring I have paid them little attention. I hadn't noticed that M.gracilipes had produced flower stems. I would like to say that the outer sepals are bright red, but I nearly walked past them so 'bright' is an exaggeration. The inner petals are creamy white and I am able to enjoy them thanks to the wonders of digital photography because I didn't have my glasses with me.
From time to time I moan about autofocus cameras. I have taken endless pictures of distant backgrounds because the camera refuses to recognise the object in the foreground. Mostly it drives me nuts, but occasionally autofocus manages something I couldn't have done myself like judging a sharp focus when I haven't got my glasses. Three (slightly begrudging) cheers for technology.
The Mahonia comes from China and was first introduced from Mount Omei by Roy Lancaster. It has wonderful chalky white undersides to the leaves. I recognise that only an enthusiast would get excited about that, but I am.

1st September 2013

Veronicastrum virginicum 'Roseum'
The herbaceous border is full of all the little things I couldn't find a home for when I was planting it. I knew at the time that I would have to sort it all out at a later date and that day is coming, but in the meantime I am trying to sort out what makes a satisfactrory planting. My conclusion is that I don't really like the small things. I like plants that occupy their space in a rather uncompromising way. Last year I added a few things just because they were big and this year they are the things that stand out.
This Veronicastrum was a random aquisition from Beth Chatto. I had decided I wanted to try one, and this was the first one I saw so in it went. By chance the pale flowers stand out well against the shade of the trees behind. I have a plan to plant some holly in the gap between which will give a darker and crisper backdrop and provide an evergreen block to the wind. It has been a plan for a couple of years now, without moving forward into action. I am wrestling with the urge to plant a collection of cultivars when I know that I need a row of common holly, dark and prickly and uniform.

1st September 2013

Schizocarphus nervosus
The bulbs in the greenhouse are being sorted. It was supposed to happen in the summer when they were all dormant but it didn't. Now I am trying to sort them as they start into growth. Winter growing bulbs at one end, summer growing bulbs at the other. I am fed up with weeding the pots and having to check every label to see if it should have leaves or not before I pull the surplus vegetation out.
I wanted to get it done before the Nerine started to grow because the flower stems are easily damaged but I haven't got there in time. Leaf tips have started to appear at the top of the bulbs like green water droplets.
Acis autumnalis was the first of the autumn bulbs to flower and it has been followed by this Schizocarphus. It comes from the grasslands of the eastern Cape. It's natural distribution stretches up the east coast of Africa to the tropics, but plants in cultivation are almost certainly from the southern end. It has been hardy here in a cold greenhouse even though it has leaves through the coldest part of winter. Thanks to the wonders of molecular biology recent studies have taken the genus Scilla and smashed it into little pieces and this is one of them.
On warm days it has a slight but delightful honey scent of the sort that would only excite an enthusiast.

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.
I have a lot of good intentions when it comes to updating this site, and I try to keep a note about what is going on, if you are interested.
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