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

30th March 2014

Helleborus x hybridus Black
Spring is certainly here. I have had to put an extra jumper on to write this!
If old wives tales are to believed we should look for March winds to be replaced by April showers. I have spent the week dodging them. Perhaps they started early. It has been interesting to walk up the garden on a firm path, shelter under a tree for a few minutes and then slide back down the same path. Imagine one of the more slippery winter sports stripped of its dignity. I have been there. I was rushing around this morning taking pictures and now I have a long brown skid mark in the turf where my left foot ventured and my right foot didn't follow.
The Hellebores nod their heads and tut-tut silently. Smug little bastards.
The Long Hellebore border has come through the winter well. Last autumn I cut everything to the ground and used a herbicide to kill the perennial weeds that were invading. I worried for a moment that I would kill the Hellebores as well but they seem to have survived. Even the small seedlings are growing, which wouldn't have happened if I hadn't done something about the stinging nettles. The new leaves are expanding, they might even work as ground cover eventually.
Unfortunately it hasn't been a very good year for flower. I think the border under the trees is probably drained of nutrients and due for a feed. It would be good to mulch it as well but I can't imagine finding a spare day to push bark chips up the hill in a wheelbarrow. Not a favourite job even in good weather (which is another thing I can't imagine at present).
This black one appealed to me. It is part of a group of black seedlings that I thought were second rate when they first flowered. One or two of them seem to have improved as they have matured.

30th March 2014

Erythronium tuolumnense
The collection of Ranunculus ficaria forms is grown in a selection of large pots in the shade border. I was attempting to keep the different cultivars apart and it has worked reasonably well (if you discount the legion of self sown seedlings). Unfortunately once the Celandines have finished, the pots look a bit boring for the rest of the year. I have started to plant dwarf Narcissus and Erythronium in the pots with them and it has potential to become quite complicated.
With a couple of exceptions, the Erythronium seem to be prospering. E. tuolumnense was planted as a single tuber and it has increased well. It has open flowers when most of the others are just showing buds (except for E.umbilicatum which isn't showing at all and is probably dead).
It has been the parent of a number of good hybrids. The flowers are small but intensely yellow and the colour is reflected in the shiny green leaves. If it continues to increase at this rate I will have to plant it out and I imagine the Celandine in the pot will get free at the same time.

30th March 2014

Pleione Piton
Last year was a Pleione year. I went to a few shows, visited as couple of growers and managed to get some nice new plants without spending too much. This year I am planning to take things more gently, spend more time sitting with the orchids, and get to know the newcomers a bit better. Naturally that plan will be thrown out of the window if I see anything really good at the shows, but I feel comforted by the intention.
Pleione Piton is the grex formed from the hybrid between P. formosana and P. yunnanense, first raised by Ian Butterfield and registered in 1986. I already have a vigorous pink clone that has always impressed me with its tall straight flower stems, so I was on the look out for other good clones.
Almost by accident I found myself in the home counties with an afternoon spare during the Pleione season last year, and took the opportunity to visit Ian Butterfield. He had a large pan of seedlings of the grex and kindly let me pick my favourite in flower, which was labelled up and posted to me this January while dormant. It was a very satisfactory way to do things. There is the excitement of picking out a beautiful flower, then the excitement of getting a parcel and waiting to be reminded of the plant I had selected.
In this case I liked the poise of the plant but it was the fleck of darker pink through the upper lateral tepals that made me want it. I don't think I have seen that before.

30th March 2014

Arum hygrophilum
It is the fate of all gardeners that conversations rapidly degenerate into complaints about the terrible weather. We may briefly get sidelined into complaints about bad backs but inevitably we will mention how much worse our backs have been since the start of the terrible cold weather and we're back on track. I once thought that gardeners were just grumpy but I think it is more complicated than that.
This is Arum hygrophilum. It is a slender species from the middle east, though it has also been reported from Morocco and Cyprus. The elegant spathe has a narrow waist and is edged with purple. I would like to spend a week explaining the joy I have had watching it slowly unroll, day by day. Unfortunately I doubt you have the patience and I know I don't have the words. I have had it for a couple of years and I currently have a single flower and a single leaf that partially obscures it. If you said it in a very caring way I might accept that it isn't a classic of floral beauty but I am more likely to growl at you and group you with the nodding Hellebores.
It is astonishing that it has been hardy. The first time I saw it was growing in a frost free greenhouse at Kew but time passes and wonderful things are discovered. Faced with the seeming impossibility of sharing more than mote of the joy it brings me I will add that I had to bend over rather uncomfortably to take the picture.
I could really feel my back in this cold wind.

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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