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

27th April 2014

Pleione Mageik 'Black Kite'
Another week of mixed weather, well suited to spring. I walk around the garden at the end of the day to enjoy the season, and gather up the armloads of discarded clothing that seem to accumulate wherever I have been working. If I am lucky I recover it before it gets rained on. In between the gentle showers (don't take too much notice of the weather-forecasters of doom) the sun has shone.
The Pleione are flowering and dry out every couple of days. It is remarkable because they have no leaves and hardly any roots but they still need watering. 'Black Kite' has a very dark flower and a broad lip with yellow ridges running through it. It has been in flower for a couple of weeks and stands out among the paler pleione-coloured Pleione (there must be a better term for the peculiar pink of Pleione but I can't think of one).
It hasn't been a sensational year for flowering, the plants have come into flower in dribs and drabs following a mild winter. Last year they all come together in the same three weeks and the greenhouse was dazzling. It inspired me to buy a number of new ones so now I am hoping for a good growing season, plenty of new growths and a basket full of fat bulbs by the autumn.
The glass can be half full or it can be half empty, it is a personal choice or a matter of disposition. When I started to grow Pleione, fat bulbs meant plenty of flowers. Now I find my standpoint has shifted. Plenty of flowers are the promise of fat bulbs to come. They will give me a great deal of pleasure at the end of the season though I am less likely to share photographs of their naked corpulent bodies.

27th April 2014

Lamprocapnos spectabilis
Another case of half full or half empty, though I hadn't realised it before. This is not so much a picture of what you see as what you don't. The snowdrop beds. By this time of the year the leaves are dying away and the undergrowth is taking over. It would be nice to think that there was a carpet of Wood Anemone to obscure the yellowing foliage, but in truth it is Red Campion seedlings.
I have put a lot of time and effort into finding something suitable to create interest once the snowdrops have finished. To begin with I tried Hellebores, but the evergreen foliage makes it difficult to control the weeds between them. Erythronium are starting to establish and will be safely underground by the time I mow the weeds off in August.
Lamprocapnos spectabilis was planted as a trial. A dozen plants went in two years ago and they are still there. They haven't died but neither have they prospered. It is possible that they just need longer to establish in the dry ground beneath mature trees. If they made a thick cover it would be wonderful for a month or so, but occasional fragile stems standing up require a fortuitous ray of sunlight to achieve significance.

27th April 2014

Erythronium revolutum
Lamprocapnos spectabilis was an experiment that I had high hopes for that have yet to be fulfilled. Erythronium revolutum was an experiment that I felt I had to try without any real expectation of success. I have seen it growing magnificently in a couple of gardens. In the first I has assumed that the owner had spent years growing seedlings and then planting them out in a contrived imitation of nature. In the second the owner is rich enough to plant by the thousand, and I assumed they had.
I have little money and less patience so I thought my single bulb was destined to remain single for many years. I have been pleasantly surprised. Last years seed was scattered on the ground around the parent and now I have a dozen or more seedlings popping up.
Erythronium revolutum is native to the north west coast of North America, growing in moist woodland. It is not the only pink species, but it is the parent that has contributed pinkness to most of the modern hybrids being produced. There are a couple of named forms in cultivation that vary in colour, but I was looking at a large seedling population a few weeks ago which was a thing of wonder (and apologies for assuming in my ignorance that the owner simply had deep pockets). Plants varied in colour from almost white to almost pleione. Given the freedom with which they seed, it is difficult to imagine that the selection of particular shades is significant (but that didn't stop me buying 'Knightshayes Pink') !

27th April 2014

Sanguinaria canadensis 'Plena'
Bloodroot is another North Amereican plant, though in this case growing in the woodlands along the east coast. The same spell of evening sunlight that captured the Lamprocapnos also illuminated it. This is the double flowered form. The extra petals give the flower some substance and add to its durability. This one has remained in good condition for several days now and given me repeated opportunities for photography. The single form grows a few meters away and has produced several flowers that I haven't seen. Fat buds one day are just a scatter of fallen petals the next.
From time to time I manage to pick fresh raspberries in the garden. It is a pleasure made special by the short window of opportunity. This is the first time in several years that I have been able to get photographs of the Sanguinaria.
It will eventually spread into a small patch but it is not fast. It would appreciate a little more moisture in the soil but it is tougher than the Dicksonia sporeling that was providing some light shade which has been removed to 'intensive care' for a while to recover.
The glaucous leaves are expanding to cover the old flower stalks and are almost as beautiful. Easily damaged, when they exude orange-red poisonous sap. They will be tatty by mid-summer and gone by the end of July.

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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