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

2nd March 2014

Galanthus 'Sibbertoft White'
Cold weather has been threatening but it is the beginning of March so it's a little late to hit the panic button. I went away to the Alpine Garden Society early spring show in Harlow to get a taste of cold weather in Essex. It feels a little uncharitable to say, but they are welcome to it. If I had stayed any longer I might have convinced myself it was still time to cover things up. As it is, spring is warming and I have started to move things out of the house and back into the greenhouse.
The snowdrop season is moving to a conclusion. There are plenty still to come, but there are also plenty of ragged flowers hanging on which detract from the pristine appearance. This is the last flower on 'Sibbertoft White' looking its best with the sun (yes, we've had sun) catching it.
It was discovered by Richartd Nutt at Sibbertoft Manor. The long inner segments have no green markings though it did produce a couple of tiny green spots the first year after it was planted. I now have a small clump and it really stands out, though it takes a while to work out why.

2nd March 2014

Cymbidium iridoides
Some time in the autumn, when the sun was shining ominously (warm days, cold nights) I tucked the Cymbidium away under the bench and wrapped the whole structure in black polythene to keep the worst of the frost out. I have a few Dendrobium that moved into the house at the same time. Last week the sun was shining, the greenhouse was warm, the flower buds have started to show on the Pleione and it was time to return things to normal. The Dendrobium were carried out, and the Cymbidium unwrapped.
When they went away there were flower spikes starting to show, when they were unwrapped the first of the flowers were open. In a cold year the flowers would have been destroyed but we haven't had a cold year and there's no point fretting over it.
This is probably C.iridoides, which came from China, where it may be native to Yunnan. It is broadly similar in colour to C. erythraeum but with broad petals. The flowers do not always open widely and they grow on much shorter scapes than C.erythraeum. As well as uncovering the plants, I remembered to apply some slug pellets so there is a chance that the flowers will survive for a few weeks. I don't always get flowers and slugs are the usual problem.

2nd March 2014

Camellia cuspidata
I have a few species Camellia in the greenhouse at the moment while they grow large enough to try outside. It is quite difficult to find information about their hardiness so I pot them up in the greenhouse and cross my fingers.
In autumn the thin green buds started to expand and become paler. There were long thin buds with imbricate scales like the leaf buds of a Beech tree. As the winter progressed the outer surface of the white petals started to show at the tip like the head of a snake blowing a bubble. Finally the bubbles have burst and the flowers opened.
I have problems with 'Cornish Snow', a delightful but rather fickle hybrid between C.saluenensis and C.cuspidata. Since C.saluenensis is fairly reliable I had assumed that C.cuspidata was the problem, but it seems both parents are hardy and 'Cornish Snow' has discovered an idiosyncratic fragility of its own.

2nd March 2014

Primula allionii 'Cissie'
There comes a time in the life of every pair of underpants when difficult decisions have to be made. They are comfortable but they aren't really reputable. They fit, but they have lost their appeal. If I looked for the exact opposite of old underpants, then I would find Primula. They are appealing, but they don't really fit in here.
From time to time my determination to shun the genus slips and I find something new to try among the the charming pink confetti of death-by-vine-weevil.
Primula allionii is native to a tiny area of the Maritime Alps straddling the border between France and Italy. I went there once filled with youth and enthusiasm to see it growing on shaded cliffs and in caves to be defeated by a raging torrent. It grew on the south side (facing north) and I stood on the north side facing the option of a (very) cold bath, which I declined.
Recent years have seen me try one or two cultivars in pots fully expecting an equally brief and frustrating encounter but 'Cissie' has been with me for three years now and produces flowers. I don't have the lavender buns of an expert and I regularly overestimate its need for damp shade but lately I have recognised my mistakes before they become terminal.
I wouldn't show off about this Primula and I wouldn't go on a date in these underpants, but I needn't be embarrassed either.

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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