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

13th April 2014

Erythronium californicum 'White Beauty'
Last week the weather was trickling slowly down and filling the water butts, this week I had to buy a new sun hat. I'm not making any predictions about the week to come.
The garden has been moving forward rapidly, both camellias and magnolias have started dropping petals into decaying carpets. It's a subtle hint that spring doesn't go on forever and it's a hint I took. I have spent the weekend visiting Orchid Shows and spring gardens (two of the former, four of the latter). Spring flowers seem to work best accompanied by sunshine, tea and cakes. The weekend has delivered all in abundance.
While I have been away from the garden, Erythronium californicum 'White Beauty' has produced a few flowers for me, an abundance of buds for the pigeons (who knew they liked them) and a scattering of lush mottled leaves. It is an old selection of a northern Californian species listed by nurseries in the USA since the early 1900's. It divides vigorously, which is probably the key to its success.
I planted a bag of dry bulbs under the camellias in a slightly moist soil. I am hoping that they will spread into a thick ground cover though so far they have not increased as much as I would like. This year they will be fed and mulched in the hope of speeding things along.

13th April 2014

Cymbidium goeringii
Last year I decided that the Pleione deserved a richer compost than I was using, and repotted the whole collection. This year it will be the turn of the Cymbidium. For some time I have been unhappy with their performance. People have muttered dark warnings about cool nights and winter rests among other things, but I think the problem is simpler. More feeding, less dessication. To that end I am moving towards a compost that will drain freely but retain a bit more moisture and I will be moving to a more 'pleione' style of culture. Feed and water as much as possible through the summer to produce strong new growth and then keep them completely dormant through the winter.
Having said that, this year is already looking good with spikes emerging on a number of plants. We have had a very mild winter and it has helped - spikes that start to grow in autumn are often frosted off before they develop. I have also remembered to put down slug pellets.
Cymbidium goeringii comes from China and Korea, but especially from Japan where it is known as the Spring Orchid and developed into a number of forms. This one is not a named selection but it is pinker than typical plants. I didn't notice the flower spike growing, so it was a surprise to see the flower.

13th April 2014

Serapias lingua 'Mars'
The Tongue Orchid is widespread in the southern Mediterranean growing in damp meadows and good soils. Like many Mediterranean orchids, it starts into growth in the autumn, flowers in early spring and then dies back before summer heat and drought become a problem. I have tried it in a large pot outside but it didn't survive. It is fine in the greenhouse, again in a large pot but remembering not to water it once the flowers die.
'Mars. Is a very pale form, mostly white with hints of peach in the lip and a purple spot in the mouth. It originated at the nursery of Col. A. J. Mars at Haslemere in Surrey. I bought a division last autumn as it started into growth, and this is the result. It has been in flower for three weeks and should keep going for a few more.
If I were better organised it would stand in a group with the other winter growing bulbs but when it arrived I was in the middle of repotting and it was put down in the first available space. I'm still trying to think of somewhere more suitable.

13th April 2014

Pleione Krakatoa 'Wheatear'
The Pleione are well underway. If I knew an idiot-proof way of raising seed I would have a go at hybridising but seed raising takes time and care and I seem to spend my life rushing around and improvising.
This is an Ian Butterfield selection from one of his own hybrids (P. yunnanensis x forrestii). It seems to be vigorous and has almost upright flowers that are almost yellow. It stands out among the magenta and pink flowers on the bench.
At the end of summer last year I closed some of the vents in the greenhouse around the Pleione to keep temperatures up as long as possible and I think I got a few extra growing weeks as a result. I think the plants produced larger pseudobulbs. I am planning to do the same again this year on the principle that big bulbs means more flowers.
With spring progressing rapidly I have started to move on to the Hemerocallis. Much of the collection has been static in pots for several years and they are looking starved and tired. Hopefully repotting will rejuvenate them and give me something for mid-summer. I saw flowering plants of H. middendorffii while I was away so I need to get a move on.

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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