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

20th April 2014

Pleione formosana 'Blush of Dawn'
A warm week has brought a lot of things out, not least my knees. It has been too hot for long trousers in the garden in the day and too cold for shorts in the evening. I have spent the week dropping my trousers at a moments notice, which is not as much fun as it used to be.
Back in the days when I could wear short trousers without looking as though I had just written a letter to The Times about fishing, I grew a few Pleione. They represented a challenge. The taxonomy of the genus was still unresolved. P. formosana was represented in cultivation by a small number of similar clones, unremarkable but distinct. It was a simple situation, which is the very best foundation for chaos. It created a lack of clarity around the identity of P. formosana that sloshed pinkly over the whole genus.
A number of clones were named, among them 'Blush of Dawn' with pale primrose markings in a white lip. Over a few decades the situation clarified. I bought a pseudobulb at the time, from one of the bulb merchants with bright shiny catalogues (I can't remember who). I grew it for years until one day I listened to a Pleione grower filled with the wisdom of rational taxonomy who convinced me I needed a better drained compost. Naturally it died.
Old people wearing shorts attract nostalgia like seagulls to a beach picnic, so when I saw it for sale at last weeks Orchid Show we were reunited. I know a great deal more nowadays, and that might be a problem.

20th April 2014

Camellia rosthorniana 'Elina' CUPIDO
My relationship with the genus Camellia is complicated. I have a lot of opinions about them, and they aren't really compatible. I'm not even sure which of them are mine. I am clear that I don't like big pink flowers that could double as pan scourers. I do like the large evergreen shrubs with glossy leaves that fill the garden with comfortable smugness. Commonly the two things occur together and I run into difficulties.
In general terms I do like those with single flowers, but I seem to plant a lot of doubles anyway. Perhaps I will never make sense of something that doesn't contain any.
In recent years I have developed a fascination with the species. Generally they make less significant shrubs with less significant flowers. Perhaps I am just enjoying the lowering of tension. I haven't gone as far as to seek anything out, but if I see a species I haven't grown I like to give it a try.
That is how C. rosthorniana 'Elina' CUPIDO arrived. I saw it for sale in a garden centre and took it home. Small leaves on vigourous growths that arch out gracefully from the main stem. The flowers a white, tinged pink and the new growth is bright red.
If it weren't a Camellia it would be an astonishing new shrub but it's a Camellia, and they do astonishing like nothing else I know.

20th April 2014

Haberlea rhodopensis 'Virginalis'
Another return to form for the Haberlea. I grew all of my hardy gesneriads on a bench on the north side of the house, where they prospered in the damp shade. Unfortunately, I ran out of space, the house walls were getting damp and it became time for a change. The bench went, and the gesneriads were relocated and have sulked in brighter light. In the last year I have managed to plant them out in more suitable conditions. This is the first to respond with flowers (which I haven't seen for years).
The species grows in Greece and Bulgaria, typically in damp places on shaded limestone outcrops. It divides easily and it is probable that plants in cultivation derive from a small number of clones.
The pure white flowered form is slightly less vigorous but the flowers are more striking than the normal pale lilac. This one is currently in the Hedychium house while it regrows to a decent size.

20th April 2014

Magnolia dianica
Over the last couple of years I have planted a few of the smaller evergreen Magnolia. I have been surprised by their toughness. When they were all Michelia I was convinced that they would not survive here and the rapid death of M. maudiae several years ago did nothing to change my opinion. Renamed as Magnolia, they all seem much more growable and those in the ground came through the last run of bad winters without significant damage.
With reduced nervousness I bought M.dianica and put it in a large pot in the Hedychium house. The intention was to get it well established before it was planted out. It has covered itself in these scented white flowers as an early bonus. It might eventually grow into a small tree about 20 feet tall. Under protection it has become a little leggy and will need a decent stake if it is to survive the 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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