12th April 2015
Erythronium ' White Beauty'
A warm spring week with cold nights. My determination not to light the fire in the evenings was tested to the limit. Occasional cloudy skies have not produced
anything significant in the way of rain so I was being a little reckless when I planted out a young Magnolia. I will probably remember to water it from time to time
but a downpour in the night would be very welcome.
It has been a week of Magnolias. A quick visit to Wisley found them looking at their best. I got back home to find white petals scattering in the light breeze.
I also arrived back with a sniffle that makes me sneeze when I look at Magnolia flowers. I thought it was just the white petals or the bright sky behind them but I think
I am sneezing at the flowers themselves. I was looking through a catalogue to check some details and it is remarkably difficult to clean a sneeze from glossy paper.
This Erythronium will have to stand in their place. I planted 100 'White Beauty' two years ago to form an elegant pool of colour under the Camellias. Last year they
were a bit feeble while they established, this year they are suffering from the bumper Camellia year. The ground under the bushes is thickly coated with big pink
flowers that have fallen and started to putrify. It is striking but not really elegant.
Fortunately this is only the first flower, the situation may look a little better in a week or two.
12th April 2015
Pericallis Senetti Deep Blue
When they were first introduced the modern Pericallis Senetti were one of the wonders of the spring bedding season. They make a ridiculous splash of colour at the start
of the year when the hellebores have satisfied every possible yearning for good taste and I am hungry for excitement. I assumed they were annuals and they certainly behave that
way in the garden but then I was introduced to Pericallis appendiculata from Teneriffe. In the Agave house it has grown uncomfortably large and become almost embarrasingly
Naturally the next step was to plant Senetti up there, and this is the result. The deep blue selection is a trial but it is good enough to add the screaming pink forms as well.
Some re-arrangement will be necessary to fit them in. It hasn't been a cold winter so there aren't many spaces. I keep looking at some of the more boring Aloe and hoping
they will get the hint, but they are hanging on. Eventually I think the hint will be handed to them on a plate.
12th April 2015
Serapias lingua 'Mars'
This weeks trip to the north was inspired by the RHS Orchid show and conference. Orchid nurseries from around the world showed up and I have come away with Cymbidium
from Taiwan, Disa from South Africa and Bletilla from Preston. When I got back I had flowers on Serapias 'Mars' (A. J. Mars nursery in Haselmere, Surrey
not the planet or the confectionary).
The Tongue Orchid is a mediterranean species from damp meadows in full sun. Experience has shown that it also prefers a heavy soil, unlike many mediterranean orchid species
which seem to appreciate sharp drainage. I first started growing it in a peat based compost. It thrives during the growing season but suffers during dormancy. I wasn't able
to keep it moist but not saturated through the summer. When I got 'Mars' I decided to change tack and grow it in a loam based compost. Watered freely when in growth
and occasionally during dormancy, it is increasing slowly but steadily. There are a few other species and a number of hybrids that look interesting if this success continues.
None of them prosper outside so I have started to eye up the bulb house with a view to making some space.
12th April 2015
Some genera have repeatedly defeated me. Primula is an example. I have hundreds of primroses under the trees and I have grown large numbers of doubles and other selections
from seed but eventually vine weevil find the pots and it is all over. There are compost additives available to kill vine weevil but I like potting with bare hands and it isn't advisable.
The bog species seem to be short lived unless you have a bog, and the alpine species are fiddly and prone to dropping dead.
This moderate performance by Primula marginata feels like unqualified success as a result. A few years ago I switched to growing it hydroponically in baked clay granules. Let's
see a vine weevil try to make a cosy home among those! I have had a problem with blackbirds pulling the young plants out (ironically, they are looking for vine weevil grubs) but it's
my own fault, I meant to put a net over them and forgot.
This is the plants third year and although it isn't quite 'show standard' yet, it is getting steadily stronger. It opens a door of possibility into a genus that I had almost written off.
When this sneeze clears up I might try the same trick with some of the snottier saxifrages.