Thats enough introduction - on with the plants!
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... out in the garden.
6th April 2014
Pleione San Salvador
The clocks have gone forward and the evenings have been brighter. I am a simple soul, it has been confusing. I have been working in the garden
thinking I have plenty of time, and suddenly it is late in the evening. I'm not complaining, just repeatedly late.
The weather hasn't helped. I will qualify that, the rain has helped but it hasn't arrived in a helpful way. Pots and containers were drying
but I have been soaked on several occasions and had quite a chill on wednesday.
During the spring it is delightful to have a greenhouse to hide in when the weather turns unhelpful. Is it a natural wonder that just as I want to escape
from the rainy season, the Pleione start to flower? No, I'm sad to say it is just the expenditure of hard currency over several decades.
Fortunately the Pleione have a cheerful demeanour that lifts the spirits from the financial drizzle.
San Salvador is a grex that exemplifies the joy and frustration of the genus. Raised by Ian Butterfield, it is a hybrid between P. forrestii and
P. Shantung, so I assume he was hoping for some deep yellow flowers. This one is beautiful. All the clashing colours of spring artfully arranged on a stick.
Note the lemon cheesecake lip drizzled with raspberry coulis. It has a boldly shaped flower with good substance and grows vigorously. It is outstanding
among the plants in flower at the moment.
As for yellows, I don't think it produced any. Certainly I have never seen one.
6th April 2014
Fortunately there have been some splashes of sunshine during the week. They haven't lasted for long, but they have been cheering. On monday I went so far
as to check the weather forecast for the week to see when it would be worth taking photo's. Wednesday looked like the safest option, and Narcissus
'Eystettensis' opened just in time to take advantage of it.
I have been looking forward to this for weeks. Queen Annes Double Daffodil is a small and elegant little thing which comes as a surprise among double daffodils
where the words small and elegant would normally drip with poisonous sarcasm. It has been known since the 17th century though it has occasionally been 'lost'
it has a very distinctive star shaped flower that makes it easy to identify when it is 'found' again. My plant came to me amid the last great
flourish or rediscovery in the 1980's, and I managed to lose it myself for a while until I found it again a couple of years ago, flowering in an unlikely corner.
Perhaps the plant is well named and Queen Anne enjoyed hide-and-seek. Probably worth noting that it is Queen Anne of Austria that is
remembered here not the British Queen who presided over the Act of Union between England and Scotland (1707) that is currently being debated.
6th April 2014
I have been slowly acquiring Erythronium for a couple of years now. It happened quite by accident, as things usually do.
I have a small piece of woodland at the top of a garden (a few square yards, the term 'woodland' describes ecology not the acreage) that I grow snowdrops in.
I have spent many years looking for things to extend the season of interest. I tried Hellebores, but they are too evergreen and make it difficult to
control the weeds. I have flirted with Lamprocapnos spectabilis as ground cover, but it isn't very practical. Eventually I tried Erythronium 'Pagoda'
and after a couple of years it was clear that I had stumbled on a good addition. Just as I started to acquire more Erythronium I realised that the snowdrops
would look better if I had large drifts of a few cultivars rather than keep the entire collection dotted arround. Most of the snowdrops have been moved out
and a few vigorous ones have been divided to make much larger patches. At the same time I decided that I only needed 'Pagoda' as a wonderful carpet
of yellow in April. A spotty mixture of yellow, white and pink cultivars would look messy.
Unfortunately by the time I realised that, I had already started collecting some others together so they have been found alternative locations. E.californicum
is currently growing in a big pot among the Epimedium and has been a lot more vigorous than I was expecting. It doesn't seem to be missing the mountain woodlands
of northern California.
6th April 2014
Primula 'Aire Mist'
Some of the European mountain primulas have also surprised me in recent years. As a teenager I grew one or two forms of P.allionii because they had a difficult
reputation and I saw them as a challenge. I wasn't especially successful. A cold climate, clay soil and short attention span did nothing to improve their chances.
Eventually I decided that their difficult reputation was well founded and moved on.
Fortunately a combination of nostalgia and bloody-mindedness sees me review past failures from time to time, and I had another go at Primula allionii.
Part of the inspiration came from a belief that I am older and wiser. These are the delusions we cherish. Most of the inspiration derives from the
Alpine Garden Society shows, where the members sales table had a few plants for sale for pennies. It seems that I have got older and cheaper.
This time things have gone better. I wanted to try a couple more but last year I couldn't find a suitable P.allionii so bought this hybrid
with P. 'Blairside Yellow' raised by Peter Lister. It has been unexpectedly vigorous and encouraged me to keep going. Yesterday I bought P.marginata
from Cornwall Garden Society's show, another species I have failed with in the past.
It rained all day but I stood there for a while clutching a little pot of glee. With the rain dripping over my face I looked out to the sodden agricultural landscape
and a single thought filled my head.
I hope I can get my car out of that field.
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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