Thats enough introduction - on with the plants!
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... out in the garden.
26th January 2014
Helleborus x hybridus
An uncertain week when plans have been flexible. Everything depends on what it looks like outside when I open the door. I managed to clean up the last of the Sarracenia
just in time to see the first flower buds starting to grow. The rain has arrived and the cold weather hasn't. I went to a garden talk where the speaker
boldly announced that we had never had a bitingly cold winter that set in after January 23rd. I keep an open mind. I'm happy that the chance of a cold winter has
passed but there is still time for a bitingly cold spring.
I noticed in November that I was falling out of the bed in the morning with a dull thud rather than a bounce. Those who have lost all flexibility will be clinging on to winter
but the rest of us have got spring.
The Hellebores are unrolling from the ground. The stems have a hydraulic power about them as though they could reach full extension and then fold their petals, curl their heads
and coil themselves back into the ground. The early forms are astonishing and flower reliably in January. The late forms might not open until March and need to be very special
to justify the space they occupy. Every year I pollinate the earliest of them, hoping to stretch the season into December but without clear progress.
26th January 2014
Galanthus 'Lady Beatrix Stanley'
The snowdrops have been throwing up a flower or two for weeks, but they are now moving towards a full display. I have spent several years watching 'Lady Beatrix Stanley'.
I have it from two sources and I am now convinced I have two different clones. This is 'Lady Beatrix Stanley (early)', the first to bloom, with slightly larger flowers
and a good clumping habit. 'Lady Beatrix Stanley (late)' is still pushing through the ground, has slightly smaller flowers. It will come to a peak of flowering about two
This has been my conclusion so far, but I am happy to suspend judgement when it comes to distinguishing taxa.
I went away overnight to visit the Myddleton House Snowdrop sale.
Spent the night in a hot hotel (temperature, not theme) and got very dehydrated. In the morning I bought a litre of apple juice and when I threw away the carton
I noticed that it was actually pineapple juice. I don't always manage to distinguish the taxa (and I should wear my glasses more often).
26th January 2014
Narcisssus papyraceus 'Paperwhite Grandiflora'
Narcissus papyraceus has a wide distribution around the mediterranean covering southern europe (Portugal to Greece) and north africa (Algeria and Morocco).
It is widely cultivated and there are many selected forms so that 'natural distribution' and 'typical appearance' are difficult to determine. Widely grown in the UK
as a forcing bulb for christmas and well known as 'Paperwhite Narcissus'. I have tried it outside but not succeeded. It grows well in wet places through the spring
but needs a dry summer rest. If I plant the bulbs outside in autumn they dont seem to be touched by frost through the winter but they don't come back the following year.
I think the bulbs don't grow large enough in my cool spring, or ripen enough in summer to resist rotting when the autumn rains come.
As with everything else marginal, this year I am trying again in the Agave house to see what happens.
Plants in cultivation are very mixed. 'Paperwhite', 'Paperwhite Grandiflora' anbd 'Ziva' are all available. I bought five bulbs as 'Paperwhite Grandiflora' with larger flowers
held in less congested clusters on the scape. Three of them are true to name, the other two seem to be 'Paperwhite'.
'Paperwhite Grandiflora' is probably the same thing as N.papyraceus var grandiflorus, described as a botanical variety from Italy but possibly just a
I like it, and it has been a few years since I last killed any so it can satisfy my blood-lust. The powerful fragrance helps to disguise the fact that the Agave house is a
bit danker in winter than I had hoped.
26th January 2014
Primula vulgaris 'Juliet Newton'
At first sight, primroses should produce the same gardening lunacy as Snowdrops. They are the earliest flowers of spring but they have failed to attract a fanatical following.
There was a time when the double primroses were drawing attention, but then the micropropagators stepped in and made them commonplace. I can't imagine a Primrose sale day
being a great success. I think it would be flooded with bedding polyanthus.
There are a few rather pretty named forms still available, though P.v. 'Viridis' is more curious than pretty. The green flowers nestle among the leaves and do not produce seedlings.
John Gerard knew it, and included it in his herbal. Over the years a number of slight variations have appeared (discounting 'Francesca', the green polyanthus) and
'Juliet Newton' is a selcted form with reliably single flowers and petals that are green but still resemble petals (there are forms that are twisted and semi double
with petals that are half way between calyx and catastrophe). Along came the micropropagators and made it easily available, so here it is.
Naughty little micropropagators!
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