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

13th October 2013

Strobilanthes nutans
Some years happen without definition. Seasons flow into eachother imperceptibly, everything feels as though it will last forever and then it is a new year. The sort of year that adds one to the accumulated total without leaving a memorable residue. This year has not been like that, the seasons have been filled with character and the changes have been abrupt.
A cold spring changed at the start of May into a long hot summer. Summer was magnificent and lasted (at least in spirit) until Thursday when the promised cold winds arrived from the north. I walked down the garden kicking through the fallen leaves from the sycamores as I went. Suddenly the Cyclamen look brave and fresh and not like sweaty Yorkshire Terriers seeking respite from the heat.
Strobilanthes nutans has a short season of perfection here. In a few weeks the leaves will be shed, and the fragile fowers that shelter under them will be marked with brown bruises. I have to part the leaves to see if there are any flowers and I do it tentatively, in case I am let down. I am never let down, and I never take it for granted.

13th October 2013

Ceratostigma plumbaginoides
Pure blue flowers are uncommon, even in gardens where we gather them together. I wanted this Ceratostigma to produce a light shimmer of colour in the late summer border, but I underestimated its need for warmth. I wanted flowers in August and they haven't arrived until October as the autumn leaves start to colour.
It grows vigorously, so perhaps I need to move it to the sunniest place I can find and replace it with C.willmottianum, which is twiggier and paler but has a similar effect and flowers more reliably in summer.
It may be one of those plants that needs some protection in summer to make sure it gets warm enough. If it hasn't done well this year then I can't imagine it ever will. I remember it being rather feeble last year and I made excuses for it but now I am less inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt.
On the other hand, I am rather fond of it for nostalgic reasons so I might look for an excuse to grow it under cover.

13th October 2013

Hedychium gracile
The Hedychium all suffered from a cold spring. They need a good long run up if they are to flower well in the autumn and this year they didn't start to grow until the end of May. Some of the warmth lovers in the greenhouse didn't show above the ground until the middle of July. Fortunately they come up in a great rush when they finally start so they all have good growths now, but the season has been short and it will affect their performance next year.
H.gracile appeared at the start of June and the flower spikes have opened this week. It grows in a pot that stands outside through the summer but comes into the greenhouse for winter. It needs repotting and I meant to do it this spring but other things got in the way (one of which was lethargy - it's in a big pot and it takes a lot of effort to wrestle it out).
The leaves are very like H.densiflorum and it makes similar clumps, but the large white flower heads are quite distinctive.

13th October 2013

Lapageria rosea 'Albiflora'
This Lapageria also grows in a pot in the Hedychium house. I have a couple of spots outside that might suit a Lapageria but I am short of the courage it takes to plant one out. Perhaps one day I will have a spare that I don't mind losing, but it hasn't happened yet.
The typical red flowered form is a thing of great beauty and I assumed this was it, but after a couple of years it produced a pure white flowers to my delight. I have since bought a red one as well, with the intention of growing seedlings (the seed is very short lived so the most reliable way is to sow it straight from the plant) but I don't have any buds yet this year. The plant grew very strongly in the summer but the new growth is still very soft and there isn't much old growth to flower from.
So far this year the seasons have all arrived rather late and I am hoping that winter will do the same. If we keep clear of major frosts until the new year then the soft growth will have hardened and things look good for next year.

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

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