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

8th December 2013

Ipheion sessile
It has been a calm week here despite the meterological drama around the country. The weather has been mild and stable and the garden has been still. It always amazes me that summer packs itself away so tidily. The surplus leafage falls to the ground and suddenly it has gone. The garden is left bare and bright in the occasional moments of sunshine. It isn't a time to wander aimlessly, poking and prying. It is a sensible, purposeful time for walking about importantly and enjoying the things you walk past.
The greenhouse is one of those places I walk to. Sometimes I go there just for the pleasure of the journey. Sometimes I go there to check the jobs that need to be done. I am in the process of repotting everything and that always requires more thought and more space. When things are working out, I go down to the greenhouse to feel smug.
Ipheion sessile has been charming me for a couple of weeks now and seems to be oblivious to the taxonomic storms blowing around it. Eventually that too will become still and tidy, and this may well have become Tristagma recurvifolia but I don't think we can relex just yet. It requires no talent on my part to grow it and produces fresh flowers during the darkest weeks of the year.
Nomenclatural uncertainty is an inevitable consequence of taxonomic systems, but it can be a little unsettling. I have just done an internet search to see if there is a word for the fear of uncertain naming, but there doesn't seem to be one. Eek!

8th December 2013

Nerine undulata 'Crispa Large Flower'
The Nerine have had a strange year. I keep imagining that a time will come when everything is perfect and thing behave normally. I'm not sure what that means, but I am convinced it should happen. This year I started to repot them all as soon as they came into flower. It wasn't part of the plan. I meant to do them all during the summer but the time slipped away. I was left with the option of repotting them as they flowered or leaving it for another year and I'm not sure they would have survived another year.
Nerine undulata is an interesting species. It is certainly as cold hardy as Nerine bowdenii but I have never seen a decent clump of it outside. Perhaps it suffers in wet conditions. It has rather small individual flowers but it produces plenty of them. I have been collecting together a few different clones to see if I can find something special among the slight variations and I have been very impressed by this clone, mass produced from Holland. It is being sold as N.undulata 'Crispa' but the name is a bit of nonsense. N.crispa is just an old synonym for N.undulata. This form is unusual in having very large, bright pink flowers. It may well be a hybrid, and I would love to raise some seedlings from it to see what happens, but I have only just repotted it!

8th December 2013

Mahonia oiwakensis ssp lomariifolia
The Mahonia in the garden flower for months through the autumn and early spring. They grow well in the shade, but they flower best in the sun. I'm still planting in the shade, because I'm slow to learn (and I have a lot of shade). It is very satisfying to walk past them on a mild day.
This one had been flowering for a couple of weeks before I noticed. I planted it in the sun when it was about a foot tall and now it is shaded by the surrounding trees and the clustered scapes of flowers form above the leafy rosettes. I can't see them from below any more. In past years I have got a ladder out to take pictures but this year I settled for bending down the stems to eye level. It isn't as strongly scented as M.japonica and it is too prickly to sniff up close.
In recent years M. lomariifolia has become M.oiwakensis ssp. lomariifolia and eventually I will get used to that. Hopefully the type subspecies will be introduced and comparison can be made. The original stock of M.lomariifolia seems to be very uniform, possibly even a single clone but in recent years some variations have been introduced with more compact habit and finer foliage.
This one is an elderly, gawky, prickly and inconveniently large shrub. I am very fond of it.

8th December 2013

Galanthus elwesii Hiemalis Group
In the quietness of the garden other things have been going on un-noticed. This is the season for clearing things up and getting ready for next year. I made a start in putting away the Hedychium and should probably have continued this weekend but it isn't very exciting. I took a break and cleaned up the snowdrop beds instead. I have been watching the noses of the bulbs pushing through the ground and I thought I might just be able to see the white buds wrapped tightly between the leaves this week. It seems that things move faster than me in a mild December week.
Galanthus elwesii is a spring snowdrop with occasional early forms that bloom in the last week or two of the old year. Sir Frederick Stern grew one that flowered at the end of December and came to be called 'Hiemalis'. In recent years it has become clear that there are a number of clones circulating under that name and the Hiemalis Group was born.
I like to have the earliest forms I can get in the garden. A few extra weeks at the beginning of the season make an enormous difference in the garden. A few extra weeks of snowdrops at the end of the season, in April, hardly seem to matter. This one was planted in the hope that it would add to the early selection, but I am surprised that it has been the first to flower. Last year it didn't put in an appearance until the end of February and I was suspending judgement on it (in a not very impressed sort of way).
This week I have watched autumn slip into stillness, taken a deep breath and found the first snowdrop. It has made a significant impression.

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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