19th April 2015
Magnolia ' Star Wars'
A very summery week, hot sunshine and dry soil. Even the chill in the evening seems to have reduced. Saturday was dominated by strong winds which lasted through the day
and made it exhausting to work in the garden. Fortunately I had put the day aside for some work on the greenhouse structure so I spent the afternoon standing on the roof fixing
down roofing sheets. In retrospect it was not the most sensible thing to do, but I kept thinking the wind would drop at any moment. If I had put the ladder away it would have done.
The garden is filled with wonderful fragile blooms perched atop soft springy stems but I have concentrated on things that don't blow about too much. That is to say, I have
four pictures I took yesterday that are in focus and in the centre of the frame. Result!
I have a secret and rather grandiose plan to replace the Ash trees at the top of the garden with large Magnolia. It is the sort of secret garden plan that I tell everybody
about at the slightest excuse. It is much easier to show off about something you haven't done yet, though I am making some progress. Magnolia 'Star Wars' went in about five
years ago and is flowering well. It has a long way to go before I can describe it as a tree but it is establishing, even if it is leaning a bit. Eventually it will be part of a row of eight
magnificent Magnolia trees that shine like a spring beacon from the top of the hill. Currently three small bushes and five sticks.
19th April 2015
The top of the garden is dominated by plantings that have to look after themselves. It is nice to walk up the hill in the evening and enjoy some late sunshine. It is less pleasant
to push a wheelbarrow up there and work. I rely on the trees to keep the weeds down and plant woodland bulbs to cheer the place up. I am slowly spreading the snowdrops out to form
large patches and I planted a sack of Erythronium 'Pagoda' up there to follow on. Anemone nemorosa worked well for a few years but it has stopped flowering. This year
I fed the ground well in March and that might help. I tried Lamprocapnos spectabilis hoping for tall scarlet wands among the bluebells in May but it hasn't been a success.
I put in ten and I still have three, looking rather foolish. Perhaps a wooded hilltop is not the best place for a "Lady in a Bath".
The Erythronium are increasing slowly. They would prefer a moister soil and I am taking out excess trees slowly, but I don't want to remove too much of the wind shelter at
one time. I had started replacing the trees with Magnolia campbellii seedlings. The first one went in during March last year and was mown off in August when I forgot it
A reminder to myself; small tree, big stake.
19th April 2015
Arisaema thunbergii ssp. urashima
The combination of bright sunlight and strong wind finally drove me under cover feeling dessicated. A fortnight ago I watered all the pots of dormant aroids. They wouldn't normally
see a drop of moisture until there were signs of growth but I was having one of those days. No time for namby-pamby lazy arums sleeping all through the spring. A good
drench in cold water's what they need to get them out of bed. Arisaema thunbergii ssp. urashima has responded with a flower. Repotted last year, it has increased
in a new pot with some space and feeding.
It has a long appendix at the end of the spadix that grows straight up from the flower for several inches (several x 2.5 cm approximately) and then dangles back to the ground. I
have not yet found a way to photograph the whole thing effectively. In a 'naturalistic' picture the thin spadix is lost in the background detail. Photographed against a pale background
the whole thing looks silly. This is feeble solution. I won't show the long tail to the spadix, but I will tell you it's there.
This subspecies comes from the woodlands of eastern Japan where there is some natural variation in flower colour. This greyish form increases well in cultivation and seems to be the
most common commercial clone.
19th April 2015
Pleione formosana Variegated
The Pleione were another of the cold water drench victims. Buds were swelling and the old pseudobulbs were starting to shrivel so they were watered. Spring comes and the urge to do something
adventurous with a hose is overwhelming. I don't think they have minded though the usual advice is to leave them dry until the flowers have opened.
Pleione formosana comes from Taiwan and propagates very easily from bulbils and offsets. As a result there are a small number of distinct clones circulating which are slowly being given names.
I got this one from Akerne Orchids (Belgium) at the RHS Orchid show in 2011. It has broad yellow stripes running through the leaves. Although it is attractive, I assumed it was a virus infection
and have been keeping an eye out in case it becomes worse or starts to spread. I have been surprised to see that is is reducing. The plant is vigorous and increasing well, but last year
I only had a few leaves, slightly marked with yellow. This year I can't see any markings.
At the Orchid show this year Akerne Orchids were once again showing their magnificent plant, bursting with pink flowers and yellow striped leaves. It has mystified me.
Without the variegations this is just an ordinary large pink woodland orchid that makes my heart sing with breathless wonder.