5th July 2015
Acis autumnalis .
A hot week as the garden parched slowly in the sun. I have been watering the greenhouse in every spare moment which is a very satisfactory way of being idle and occupied at the same time. The time flies
by, and that has been the feeling of the week. The Hemerocallis are flowering which always signifies the peak of summer for me. Suddenly this morning the weather changed. We had a thunder
(just the one) and the rain fell with cool enthusiasm for half an hour. Time for a change, so I went to Devon. It was still hot there so I looked at a few gardens and came home.
Through the week a thin flower scape has been emerging and now the flowers have opened. It is welcome, though it is the first sign of the changing season. Acis autumnalis.
It has a wide distribution around the western Mediterranean where if flowers after the first autumn rains. This one anticipated this morning's rain but was probably triggered into growth
when I started watering the pots last week. It is a pity that this pretty little flower comes tinged with a slight sadness at the thought of autumn and a less poetic frustration that it isn't the
Acis valentina I paid for.
5th July 2015
Carmichaelia odorata .
New Zealand is home to a number of 'leafless' brooms which are all included in the genus Carmichaelia from time to time. When I first moved to Cornwall I grew a few, and found them
rather unsatisfactory in moist soil and strong winds. Years later I have an Agave house that solves little problems like that, and I decided to try again and see if the thin twiggery
would create a suitable light shade for the young Agave.
A couple of years on and my young plant has grown enough to flower and spread out enough for me to check its ultimate size. I should probably have done that before I planted it. In New Zealand it reaches 8m
tall at its best, and I imagine the protection of the Agave house will encourage it to try to reach at least that height. It will try, but at 2m it will be restricted - hopefully by me with a pair of secateurs
- but if not by the roof.
The flowers are slightly scented in the warmth. Not delicious and not unpleasant, simply scented. Odorous.
5th July 2015
Typhonium horsfieldii .
The first of the new seasons bulb catalogues landed on the doormat this week, filled with the promise of next years flowers. The term 'bulb' is used in a rather general way to include corms, tubers, rhizomes
and the occasional knobbly bits of plant that resist simple definition (Polianthes springs to mind). Plant morphologists have long since produced simple descriptions of the various swollen organs
they have been presented with and we are all very happy for them. Each category has its distinctive attributes but here I am concerned with tubers such as those produced by Typhonium horsfieldii. They lack
the intricate structure and organised behaviour of the bulbs (Acis), the compact efficiency of the corms (Watsonia). What tubers have, that makes them both interesting and frustrating, is
bloody-mindedness. You can plant them. They might do something. They might do it now, or they might wait until later. Whatever they do, you can be sure they won't all do it together. In general terms,
the distinctive thing about tubers is that they will please themselves.
And pleasing itself is what this little aroid has done. I started with a single tuber, now I have a tubfull. It has also started to appear in some of the Nerine pots and I have no idea how it managed that.
I am rather fond of the red tinged leaves, sheltering the short inflorescences but a decade after its arrival I am starting to wonder if it can be stopped. All the really frightening weeds
have this sort of charm.
While I have been writing that (well, it seems like it) the genus has jumped to Sauromatum but it has been a tiring day, I'm not for jumping just now.
5th July 2015
Watsonia 'Dart Sea Trout' .
Watsonia have a great many attributes among which the production of corms is rather trivial. I think it may be part of the reason they are not more popular. Plants that produce corms
a much loved by bulb merchants who can dry them out and store them, post them to customers and juggle them with their feet (if they have an inkling and flexible toes). Unfortunately Watsonia
do not appreciate that sort of treatment (with the possible exception of the juggling bit, which I think we would all enjoy). They hardly have a dormant season and never dry out completely.
The result is that dried corms are disappointing. Live plants are more satisfactory, and much hardier than generally assumed.
'Dart Sea Trout' has started the season here. It is a strangely coloured seedling from 'Tresco Dwarf Pink' raised by Julian and Sarah Sutton at Desirable Plants. The sort of colour that seems to work with
everything. I have some chrome yellow Hemerocallis beside it that seem to rest quietly, though they have been strident everywhere else.
Thunder storms and autumn bulbs signal a change in the weather. Less idle occupation with the watering. The long hot week of summer has probably passed.