26th July 2015
Rosa 'Toby Tristram'
We have had a week of hot weather, pretending to be overcast. The odd drop of rain has hardly penetrated the surface of the soil.
Things progress slowly when it is hot and humid. That's my excuse anyway. Last week I demolished the lawnmower shed and stacked the
shattered remains in a pile. There they have remained.
Generally when things grind to a halt I find it best to do something easy. The rain soaked shed-pile had sagged under the weight of its own
crushing lack of structure but I pushed some newspaper under it and set light to the whole steaming mess. It was a hopeful gesture.
It steamed and wheezed a bit as the feeble flame guttered so I walked away in a huff. Twenty minutes later the whole pile was gone
leaving nothing but a shadowy black footprint. We haven't had much rain after all.
'Toby Tristram' has been another victim of the weather. The first flowers opened a week ago and already they are looking tired and worried.
They are growing on another ancient crumbling shed. You never know what might happen now I am in the mood!
26th July 2015
Cornus 'Norman Haddon'
It isn't just the roses that have blushed pink in the hot weather. Cornus 'Norman Haddon' has rushed into his rosy old age without
lingering in the cool lime green of youth. He grows at the back of my tiny meadow and the flowers are my cue to get the mower out and give it
the yearly trim. Meadows are dreamy places. As I thundered across it on the turbocharged bucket of rust that is my mower my mind was wandering
as erratically as the stream of chopped grass it fires from the chute at the side. Wandering as far as the realisation that life without the
mower shed would be simpler and more attractive, and then it remained there, fixated. Dreamy meadows are dangerous places.
'Norman Haddon' has had a range of companions over the years intended to enhance the effect somehow. Slowly they have been removed.
I planted a purple Clematis up him once. Big mistake. It looked like a cat that
had walked through some cobwebs. He is one of those shrubs that really doesn't need anybody else.
26th July 2015
Acer palmatum 'Asahi Zura'
We all get into habits and habits become dogma. Before we know it we are all talking hogwash. When I see it in others I hold my tongue,
safe in the certainty that they have been returning the favour. We all know that Acer palmatum likes a cool deep root run and protection
from wind and sun. Everybody knows those fragile spring leaves burn at the slightest stress. You may hear a strange gurgling in the background,
sound of a tongue being held.
I have a number of Acer palmatum cultivars, bought on a whim when I had spent a morning strolling in the spring sun and had enough money
in my pocket for a good lunch and a tank of petrol. I did without the lunch.
I potted them up, but they grow with reckless haste and eventually they were all planted at the top of the garden in full sun where the wind
blows the plants flat and then picks them up and blows them flat the other way. We would all describe the conditions as unsuitable as we stuffed our
Acers in tiny pots and stood them on our patios. We might eventually accept that the new growth of Acer palmatum is not as delicate
as it appears. We might accept it, but it won't stop us talking hogwash.
26th July 2015
Nelumbo nucifera 'One'
Thailand has a rich tradition of horticulture. I am unlikely to visit the country and that strikes me as a sad deficiency in my education as a gardener.
I find it strange that the current craze for Thai plants has concentrated on "discovering" things growing wild when it would be so much easier
to look around the nurseries and gardens. Buying something in a street market isn't as good in the telling as climbing a remote mountain I suppose.
Last year I grew a tank load of lotus from seed (Thailand, e-bay). It's very easy. They did well through the summer but not a single one survived winter.
Perhaps that doesn't seem surprising but a friend grows them in his poly-tunnel. They are tougher than they seem. The current theory is that they didn't grow
large enough in the first year to make decent tubers. I might try again starting earlier under lights.
In the meantime he gave me divisions of his plants and this flower represents (like a lotus from the mud) success from failure. It is a named cultivar
from a nursery in Germany, though originally from Thailand. Unfortunately the name and the plant have become uncoupled so this is 'One' for now.
It may be possible to improve on that with some study.
I have a little corner of the greenhouse put aside to grow them, sealed to keep the heat in.
And I thought it had been hot and humid outside!