30th August 2015
The week seems to have passed with the relentless rush of the seasons. Summer seems to be slipping from the garden, and it isn't the only one. Walking back down the hill
on Wednesday over the moss covered ground beneath the trees when my feet disappeared from under me and I went down with the sort of shriek I usually save for halloween.
Always nice to get a chance to enjoy the tracery of old branches outlined against the sky. Nobody saw me, and I don't think anybody heard me. If they did, they are keeping
it to themselves.
The Nerine have started to stir. N. bowdenii forms in the greenhouse still have their old leaves and so far there is no sign of flower spikes. I hope they produce some,
I can't see any , I wonder what I have done wrong and all the other insecurities of the not-yet-flowering season. Everything will be fine. The first of the N. sarniensis forms
are producing spikes and I am looking forward to a bumper year. I am hoping to see the benefit of the "great repot" eighteen months ago although they are ponderously slow and the full benefit
won't show until next autumn.
In between worrying about things being too early or too late, N. masoniorum has flowered at exactly the right time. The small flower spikes are a bit lost in the gigantic pot but I
have a theory that with more stable conditions it will rapidly fill the space. Time will tell.
30th August 2015
Cyrtanthus elatus x montanus
I have admired Cyrtanthus for many years even though I know the ones I grow are not the most spectacular members of the genus. Unfortunately the larger the flowers the less
hardy they seem to be. C. sanguineus grew well for many years but was reduced to a few surviving scraps by the recent run of harsh winters. Quite by chance
I bought a small bulb of this hybrid just after the last of the harsh winters and it has grown large enough to produce a flower. It will look better next week
when the rest of the flowers have opened, but I am too excited to wait.
Cyrtanthus elatus took a dislike to me as soon as its name was changed. I had grown it for years as Vallota speciosa but almost as soon as I changed the label
it died. I'm hoping it was just coincidence and will look out for some more bulbs.
C. montanus is a rare species from South Africa that has only recently been described. The hybrid between the two species may not be any hardier than the parents
but it seems to have hybrid vigour and a few online reports talk about it growing well under Nerine conditions so there is hope even if the winters turn cold again.
Originally raised by Mr H. van Zijl but others have repeated the hybrid since and there are a number of clones about.
30th August 2015
Bletilla Penway Sunset
It had felt like an ordinary week at the end of summer. Everything that was going to flower had done so and the autumn rush had not started. Before I got the camera out
I was convinced that nothing much new had happened. A quick ten minutes round the garden, some pictures of Hedychium and I would be done. Two hours later I was still finding new things.
It is the time of year when I start to photograph leafy things that haven't flowered, just for the sake of recording them, but there hasn't been time.
Bletilla have been an interest lately. The interest waned a little when B. ochracea was destroyed by winter, but waxed a little as I got better at growing them (they like warmth and water).
The next problem has been establishment. Bletilla have a strange growth cycle. All the roots for the coming season are produced in August and September, and then the plants become dormant.
If they are lifted and dried out during winter they have no roots for the following spring. They may still flower but they don't really establish. Last year I finally listened to the advice I was being given
and kept new rhizomes in a very well drained mix through the first year which results in stunted growth but keeps them from rotting. Once they have some new root growth they can be carefully
potted into something richer.
As a result I have a few new ones coming along, and Penway Sunset has rewarded me with a late flower which is entirely wonderful.
30th August 2015
Agapanthus inapertus ssp. pendulus 'Black Magic'
Agapanthus are one of the joys of the summer holidays. They start just as the schools break up and end just as they start again in September. As a result pictures taken in Cornwall by holidaymakers
always seem to feature their large blue heads. I have seen people lose their minds over Agapanthus, they are very collectable and very easy to raise from seed. I have seen the lunacy take hold of people
and it isn't as pretty as it sounds. I have warned myself, No!
But the garden would be a feeble place in August without a few. I just have to be disciplined and reject anything that is ordinary and although I have acquired a few rather feeble things along the way
there have also been some moments of astonishment. The first flowering of 'Black Magic' was one. There are plenty of cultivars that claim dark flowers with optimistic names and good publicity
but in my experience most of them are blue. That is a fine thing, but not what I want.
Agapanthus inapertus produces some fine dark cultivars, but 'Black Magic' is the darkest. In bright sunlight there is a slighty silky purple sparkle to the petals but even with the sun shining through them
they are as close to black as any flower I know.
It has made the season strangely exciting.