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

22nd September 2013

Mahonia nitens
I heard a rumour during the week that the Met. Office had taken on an external contract as advertising advisors to the National Lottery. It seems they needed someone with experience in unfulfilled promises. I have been sustained through a dank week by the thought that the weekend would improve but it hasn't happened.
During the summer I took to wearing knee-pads in the garden. They are a bit awkward but I was getting tired of kneeling on spiky things. In the dank garden they also keep my knees warm and dry. I had not anticipated the greatest advantage, however. With an inch of padding on my knees the ground isn't as far down and it isn't so far to get up again afterwards. I have spent the week on my knees, weeding in the dank borders.
I have a row of Mahonia under the trees. The wind was whistling through the garden between the trunks and the intention was to cause an obstruction. They aren't dense enough yet but they are growing. My planting has coincided with the arrival of a wealth of new species, mostly from China, and I am trying as many of them as I can. It might have been wiser to use well established cultivars to make a reliable windbreak, but where's the fun in that?
Mahonia nitens makes a small shrub on a similar scale to M.aquifolium. I was immediately attracted to the orange-red flowers when it first became available but the Flora of China suggests that they should be yellow or pink so I think this is probably 'Cabaret'. It is thought to be the hybrid M.x emeiensis (M.gracilipes x nitens) which occurs naturally on Mt.Omei where the parents grow together.

22nd September 2013

Crocosmia mathewsiana x paniculata
The Crocosmia are appreciating a bit of late season moisture. They were all planted out in the herbaceous border several years ago having spent far too long in large pots. They all struggled for a while, but most are now growing away strongly (they were badly starved in the pots and then the rabbits chewed them to the ground). I have lost a number of yellow flowered forms, and those with large flowers but I am left with a river of orange flowing through the border and I am quietly amused to find that it starts at the top with 'Orange River'.
Next to it grows C.mathewsiana x paniculata. This is as close as I have been able to get to C.mathewsiana. I am informed that it is now in cultivation but I have never seen it. The species comes from a small area of Mpumalanga Province in South Africa where it is locally common. It is closely related to C.paniculata but it is said to grow up to 8ft tall and it has larger flowers.
I was told that this plant was a first generation hybrid between the two species and that it was created deliberately. It would be worth saving seed and growing a second generation but I haven't got around to it yet. If the weather dries up this afternoon I might go and make sure it self pollinates.

22nd September 2013

Gladiolus carmineus
The autumn weather has started a range of interesting bulbs into growth or coaxed them into flower. The grassy leaves of this Gladiolus have been growing for most of the summer but it is only in the last few weeks that I have noticed the flower spikes emerging. The species grows on coastal cliffs and rocky outcrops in the Western Cape, always within sight of the ocean. I grew it from Alpine Garden Society seed, repotted a year after it was sown and then left to its own devices in the greenhouse. It is summer growing and after a couple of seasons it started to produce occasional flower stems at the start of autumn.
From time to time it becomes necessary to overhaul the plants in pots, decide what is being repotted and what is going to be planted out. Most importantly it is good to go through the bench sorting everything out. This week I have made a start in the bulb house dealing with things that I have been ignoring for several years. This Gladiolus for example, was last repotted in 2009 and deserves better treatment.
Pottering around in a bulb house sounds like such relaxing work in damp weather, but that isn't the way things work out. I need more space on the ground for large pots so I have removed a section of bench. Underneath the bench is a large tree stump. When I put up the greenhouse fifteen years ago, I cut down some large trees to clear the space. I couldn't remove the stumps so I built the greenhouse over the top and arranged the staging to hide them. I had hoped that fifteen years of decay would have made them a little less determined to stay in place but I was wrong.

22nd September 2013

Nerine masoniorum
The main reason for messing about with bulbs in the greenhouse is the Nerine collection. I keep getting new ones and raising little pots of seed and it has reached to point that I no longer have much idea what I have or where I will find it. I had intended to get it all done in July while they were dormant so I'm only running a couple of months late. The flower spikes are starting to emerge from the bulbs and I have to be careful as I repot them. Nerine get very congested and the fattening bulbs distort the sides of plastic pots. The easiest way to dislodge them is to tap the rim of the pot sharply on the side of the bench but it is also the surest way of snapping off the new flower spikes. From time to time I have to admit defeat and cut the pot off.
As ever, it will all be marvellous when it is complete and I can forget about them again for a few years safe in the knowledge that they will flower much better without my meddling.
Nerine masoniorum is endagered in the wild, known only from one locality in the Eastern Cape. Fortunately it is well established in cultivation and easily grown from seed. It is more or less evergreen and I try to keep it growing through the winter. It seems to be cold tolerant and for the second year it has been the first of the Nerine to flower (ignore the leaves in the background, which belong to N.undulata).

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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