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

23rd March 2014

Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide'
It has been a dramatic week that has behaved exactly as expected. The hastening spring took an occasional pause to give vent to its inner winter. I am reminded of my early teenage years when I dutifully did all the things that were expected of me in the most reluctant and inconvenient way I could find (sorry about that). The garden has moved on, the snowdrops have been left behind and on Friday I was standing in the middle of a field in the bright sunshine when I was hit by the heaviest shower of hailstones I can remember. A very stinging sting in the tail of winter.
This Camellia has also been working through some tiresome teenage issues. I bought it about five years ago, delighted by the flowers produced just in time for the winter solstice (I'm not going to us the c-word in March). They are on the pinkish side of crimson but still delightful. Unfortunately it has declined to produce a single one since it was planted. Like most teenagers, it has grown out of all recognition and done everything that was required of it without the slightest suggestion that it was co-operating. I would have been frustrated but secretly I find its surliness amusing.
Unfortunately the 'big wind' last month laid it flat on its side. I wasn't sure what to do so I have left it alone in the hope that it will stabilise and regrow from the base. I could prop it up again on a sturdy stake but I get the feeling I would do more damage in the process. Let sleeping teenagers lie.
The production of this single late flower is the image of a Camellia thumbing its nose at me.

23rd March 2014

Paeonia cambessedesii
Months ago I was standing in the garden by the last Hesperantha flowers wondering if I was going to have to accept that late autumn was becoming winter when I saw the first shoots of a peony pushing through the ground. They were doing something that peonies excell at. They were making opulent promises about the future. Sometimes I think it is the thing they do best.
In a matter of two paces I had moved from late autumn to early spring.
Paeonia cambessedesii is growing in the Agave house because I know it flowers very early and doesn't like to be too wet. The red shoots have been radiant with colour for months like the glowing fresh shoots of forced rhubarb. The buds were almost on the point of opening before the shoots lost the colour and the leaves expanded. Suddenly I am not sure which is best, the promise or the reality. The huge globular flowers beckon from afar wafting delicate threads of exotic scent which gets better and better the closer you are to it (unlike some strong scents which are only tolerable at a distance).
I am entirely wrapped in an exotic duck-down nose-duvet.
The species is found naturally (and very rarely) on the limestone cliffs of north Majorca and is substantially hardier than its reputation suggests.

23rd March 2014

Olsynium douglasii
The peony has been advertising its arrival for months but Olsynium douglasii has arrived almost unnoticed. The thin greyish green stems look very grass-like as they emerge from the pot after a long dormant season. The flower stems emerge from the sheathing leaves and the thin buds are barely visible until they burst into these large lilac-pink flowers.
It has been a favourite of mine for many years since it first produced a scattering of colour among the February snowdrops. It is late this year and I think it was delayed by the absence of winter but once again it has surprised and thrilled me.
It grows along the west coast of North America from British Columbia as far south as northern California. Discovered, and introduced to the UK, by David Douglas in 1826 at Celilo Falls on the Columbia River on the border between Oregon and Washington. This was during his second collecting trip to the western USA, generally considered his most successful (the first trip only lasted a few months and the third and final trip ended with him being gored to death by a bull which can hardly be called a triumph).

23rd March 2014

Pleione Eiger
There is a moment in the autumn when I recognise that the task of watering is over for the year. It seems such a little thing, but it changes the atmosphere of the cold season. I start to walk around enjoying things rather than checking all the time to see if they are dry yet.
A few months later and normal service is resumed. One day I walk into the greenhouse and realise that I should have watered it the week before. It happened about three weeks ago and now I have returned to the frustrations of the tangle of hoses that pass for an irrigation system here. It doesn't matter how much care I take, they always end up wrapped around each other and knotted into a ball that won't pull around a corner somewhere.
All of which thoughts are triggered by the Pleione which like to have a little bit of moisture as they start to grow to encourge the new roots. Too little at this stage and the flowers are delayed, too much and they get chilled in a cold spell and start to sulk.
My plant of the Eiger grex has always been one of the first to flower here. I enjoy the size of the flowers, marking a change from the timidity of the chilly start of spring to the opulence of the later season, fat with Magnolias and tea in the garden. It grows on short stems that droop over the rim of the pot but it has a perky shape and clean colours. It looks relaxed rather than fatigued.
It is an old grex that is slipping out of favour but it starts the season off nicely and I would grow some more clones if I could find any variation.

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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