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

1st June 2014

Rebutia albiflora
A week of overcast weather that hasn't delivered much rain. Last week I sowed some poppy seed in a large container and left it for the rain to water in. This week it is still waiting. I should probably get the watering can out but I get a strange pleasure from those jobs that do themselves if you leave them alone. In this case it hasn't happened, but the forecast is looking hopeful for monday.
I grew up with a small plastic bowl (which was stylish at the time) of cacti and succulents growing on my bedroom window. I planted it when I was six or seven and it seemed to be there forever. There are a few species of cacti and succulents that will always be 'mine' as a consequence. Whenever I see them at shows or in nurseries I am a child again looking for a comforting hand to hold. I remember wishing every spring for flowers that never arrived.
I think that is why I am attracted to Rebutia. They flower with enthusiasm every year without regard to the mistreatment they receive. I wish someone had told me that when I was a child. Instead I am left to pop them into spare spaces in the Agave house to make up for the years of childhood flowers I feel cheated of. I don't just feel cheated now, I feel foolish as well.
Rebutia albiflora has been doing this for several years now and I find it very satisfying. I crouch down to see them and then look for a comforting hand to hold. Unfortunately nowadays it is because I need help standing up again. Crouching isn't the casual activity it once was.

1st June 2014

Roscoea humeana 'Inkling'
The gingers have sprung their annual surprise on the garden, remaining below ground until the very last moment. Suddenly it is June, the Hedychium have fat red shoots, the Cautleya are snaking up and the Roscoea have started to flower.
Roscoea humeana is one of the nicest species. The large flowers have good substance and come right at the start of the season. Traditionally it is known for the rather washed out purple-mauve flowers of the form sent back from Yunnan in 1916 by George Forrest. In recent years an assortment of other colours have been introduced. White and pale lemon attract great attention, but there are also some excellent purples and 'Inkling' which is even darker. Sometimes.
When I first flowered it the blooms were dark purple. Then I had a couple of years of a colour I will politely refer to as mauve. This year I have mid purple. I am perplexed. I would put it down to a scatter of seedlings growing around the original plant but there aren't any. Every year I get a single shoot and I can't predict the colour of the flower.
The original plant was raised and named by Kath Dryden but plants distributed were seedlings and probably a little variable (though Roscoea are usually quite reliable freom seed). Mine has never been as dark as I would like, and if I found another for sale, I would get it.

1st June 2014

Bletilla striata
Hardy orchids are a distraction. They never seem to be quite as hardy as they promise. Bletilla striata is often sold as a garden plant but it is rarely successful. Those who do grow it outside talk about the protection of a warm wall, perhaps a dry sunny place to get it to flower. It should serve as a warning that a moisture loving orchid (not quite a bog plant but not far short) needs a warm sunny spot to flower. I have tried it outside here but it is never happy. A big tub by the path to the greenhouse has still not produced new shoots - they won't appear for a few weeks yet, it still isn't warm enough.
Inside the greenhouse it is vigorous and flowers freely so that is where it will be staying.
The species comes from Korea, Japan and southern China so it is adapted to cold winters but hot summers. Not something I can rely on here.

1st June 2014

Magnolia tripetala
The biggest excitement of the week has come from a Magnolia. This isn't the most spectacular Magnolia flower in the garden, but it is the most unexpected. I few years ago I bought it from a local nursery - they had raised a single seedling, nurtured it for a few (I didn't ask how many) years and were prepared to entrust it to me. I was pleased. I like the big tree magnolias, even the less spectacular ones.
I planted it at the top of the garden where it had a little moisture, some morning sun and the shelter of an established wind-break. In its first winter, the wind-break blew down and it was left exposed. In the following summer it grew two feet taller and seemed happy, so I left it where it was. It manages to produce a decent head of large leaves and survive the winter gales. I am amazed. I have become so used to seeing it prosper that I had taken it for granted. I wasn't expecting flowers for another decade or so and I barely glance at it as I pass. Fortunately it was enough of a glance for the flowers to stop me in my tracks. They aren't beautiful, they are cherished.
The flower should open more widely than this, but I have been waiting for a week and I am too excited to wait any more!

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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