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

23rd February 2014

Galanthus 'Lady Elphinstone'
I have been away for two days looking at gardens in the south east and have been struck by how patchy spring is. Some gardens are a joy at this season, and some are still trapped in cold dreariness. If you are looking for a window in the black dungeon of winter, I suggest you don't bother with Rhododendron. Three days summarised in as many sentences.
The clockwork orbit of the earth leads me to assume that the seasons will also unroll as smoothly as double cream but it isn't the case. If you whip cream by hand it remains soft and liquid until your arm begins to ache, and then suddenly becomes almost granular and starts to resist. At the beginning of the week I took pictures of the garden and the lawn was as soft as poured cream, almost impossible to walk on. When I got back it had solidified.
I continue to lift and divide 'Lady Elphinstone' whenever the clumps in the meadow start to look congested. Slowly they are spreading to cover the surface. It is a grandiose plan to develop a carpet of double yellow snowdrops and like most grandiose plans, it has run into a problem. With every passing year I seem to get fewer and fewer yellow blooms among the green.
Last year I bought a new stock of 'Lady Elphinstone' for the sake of comparision, to see if there is a better selection available. Growing in a pot, two of the four flowers are yellow. In the meadow I have a thousand flowers and the same number of yellow ones. The same number, note, not the same proportion. As ever the only course of action is to see what happens.

23rd February 2014

Narcissus cyclamineus
I couldn't miss the chance to take a few more pictures this morning. The ground is firm and a lot has changed in the last few days. On tuesday I had clumps of green leaves, today I have dwarf daffodils.
Narcissus cyclamineus is parent to a mass of dwarf hybrids that often inherit something of its charm as well as the swept back petals though they tend to be larger. It comes into flower at just the right moment to lift the decorative strain from the snowdrops.
The species comes from north west Spain and Portugal where it grows in moist soil in valley bottoms. This year has provided abundant spring moisture and I hope it will benefit.
Last year I pollinated a few flowers in the hope of raising an equally small and charming hybrids but I didn't get any mature seed capsules. I think the wind battered the plants while the seed was swelling. I will try again this year, but it may be that I will have to grow a few bulbs in the greenhouse if I am going to be serious about it.

23rd February 2014

Epimedium pinnatum colchicum L321
I started to weed the Epimedium border on late autumn, confident that I had a couple of months to get it done. Time has flown and the weeds remain. The plan is to spend some time this year separating the deciduous forms from the evergreen.
The evergreen Epimedium do a good job looking after themselves, all they need is a quick tidy at the start of the year and they are ready to go. The deciduous forms are more trouble and weeds can invade the clumps. If I had them all growing in a border by themselves they would be easier to keep on top of. I have a space put aside for them, but before I start I must burn the fallen timber of the last few weeks, which was stacked in a their 'convenient' gap.
During the dithering process I have discovered that they have started to grow and the whole process will be delayed. Roy Lancaster's collection of E.pinnatum ssp. colchicum (L321) has finer foliage than the broad leaved and enthusiastic form usually grown. It has also been the first to flower here over many years (last season was an exception).
I wasn't expecting to find flowers today and I might not have noticed this first spike emerging if I hadn't been looking for miniature daffoldils.
Spring is upon us (with apologies to Rhododendron growers, but frankly it serves you right).

23rd February 2014

Pieris formosa
Pieris are also a surprise. The flower spike form in the autumn and dangle from the tips of the branches like the little tufts of wool that sheep farmers find on barbed wire. The buds swell slowly and evenly into tiny white bells. I have a few young plants in the greenhouse that haven't started to move yet but some of the old bushes at the top of the hill have started to flower.
I would like to be able to say which of the many forms of Pieris formosa this is but there is a problem. Pieris are easy to move. They make a dense root-ball that transplants easily and they grow away without a check. This is one of my old specimes and was originally planted 25 years ago. And then replanted. And then three years ago it was dug up and replanted again. Pieris really do move very easily, I don't think I have ever lost one. Labels on the other hand, hardly ever move successfully and I have now lost them all.
One day I will be able to go through the list of plants I have grown and link it to the specimens in the garden but don't hold your breath. I have been following the same course of action with the evergreen azaleas (which have also been moved around at my convenience) and after ten years I think I have identified about half of them.

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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