10th April 2016
Camellia 'Jury's Yellow'
The wind is pouring and the rain howling, or the rain is pouring and the wind howling. It is one or the other. There is wind and rain, pouring and howling. I'm not going out there to
check the details, I'm not stupid. We have had plenty of sunny weather as well, so this is just spring being erratic, but I think I might light a fire and warm the house a little.
Over the last few weeks I have been considering the sense, or otherwise, of building a rock garden. I have the garden and, if I delve a foot or two into the ground, I have the rock.
It seems like destiny. It is a thing to consider from all angles before making a decision, and coming at it from an unaccustomed angle, I ran into Camellia 'Jury's Yellow'.
Not forgotten but not visited in the usual tour around the garden. One good reason for building a rock garden would be to change the flow of the tour. Introduce a little weir
to make the the garden tinkle merrily as it runs down the hill. It is the thought of a merry tinkling JCB that puts me off with its hydraulic determination.
However, the thought has been a good one, thrusting me into the path of 'Jury's Yellow' at its peak. It has fragile flowers and it is rare to find one undamaged by the weather. It is a
congested and twiggy shrub with poor leaves, but it is yellow in a pink world and that has to be worth something.
10th April 2016
Anemone apennina double form
Gardens are a constant source of surprise. Not the sort of surprise that bursts out of a birthday cake wearing enough clothes to be modest and too many to be interesting. The sort of surprise
that leaves you perplexed. Why were those shoes comfortable yesterday but not today ? Why do I land on the ground so easily when I'm distracted but can hardly reach down to it when I try ?
Camellia and Anemone for example. I might expect the Camellia to thrive without attention, and the Anemone to fade away, but it isn't always so.
The double form of Anemone apennina is prospering delightfully with little care. It was planted ten years ago and has been getting better ever since, growing into a tidy clump
with satisfyingly plump flowers on long and wayward stems. E. A. Bowles ("My Garden in Spring") said it was "interesting in spite of rather washy colour" but I like it. It produces
rows of green petals from time to time for no good reason.
I call it "double form" because that is what the label said when I got it from Blackthorn Nursery, but Paul Christian has traced the clone back as far as he could through the paths of great gardens
until he arrived at Canon Ellacombe, and that is the name he uses. He published it, so he is probably right.
Bowles (who was more or less contemporary with Canon Ellacombe and exchanged plants) says that his plant came from Van Tubergen, and they called it 'Plena'.
10th April 2016
Daffodils surprise me.
We all have this "host, of golden daffodils" idea blowing through our minds all "fluttering and dancing in the breeze". I went to the
Daffodil Society show at Trelissick yesterday and had a word with an exhibitor who pointed out that rather than fluttering and dancing, they were lying on their backs in the beds, f***ed.
Daffodils enchant me, in all their many guises, and it has taken me a while to appreciate that. The modern taste is expressed by wizened old crones who hiss their appreciation for the
pale cyclamineus hybrids through parched throats lubricated only by the bile they spit at everything else, be it fat, pink or double.
I was watching the children. Mostly because they are noisy, tiresome and they get in the way, but I couldn't help noticing the way their eyes filled with delight when they saw the best
of the pink split corona doubles, most heinous of the daffodil breeders crimes.
It could be that children are inherently evil, but I think the fault really lies with the old, shrivelled and tasteful. Daffodils are a surprise, and we shouldn't be afraid of it.
N. 'Eystettensis' is the prettiest thing. I have two flowers this year, as I have had every year since I rediscovered it behind the greenhouse. Every year I seem to yank it out of the
ground and move it in full growth. Every year it seems to recover. Last year it went into a final position where it will be safe and undisturbed. I have two flowers, but perhaps
next year there will be more. It is double, it is wonderfully double, and if a pink one comes along as well, that will be a great joy.
I was tempted by 'Trigonometry' and 'Alex Jones' at the show. If I build a rock garden, I may plant a perverse homage to Wordsworth.
10th April 2016
Ficaria verna 'Green Eyed Flore Pleno'
When it comes to the Lesser Celandine gardeners are divided. I sometimes think that on one side there are gardeners who detest their weedy invasive cheerfulness and on the other side there is
- me. I know it isn't true. There have been National Collections in the past, and wildlings are found and named with a frequency that defies understanding. Still, if I talk about Lesser Celandines
to gardeners I can see them clutch at their mental border forks for support. "Dig, kill, maim and destroy" seems to be the garden mantra.
I do accept that they seed rather freely. This year I have dug up portions of my collection and potted them, now I am throwing out those that have been over-run by their inferior progeny.
I was inclined to see that as a disadvantage until I found a golden orange seedling with a scarlet reverse like a flaming garnet goblet. I wrote a label for it. 'Orange Seedling'.
A few weeks ago I implied that I was working on a double orange, but that isn't strictly true. The celandines are doing all the work. I will simply take the credit.
The doubles are all delightful, often sterile and quite distinctive. I found 'Double Mud' where I planted it an age ago, and along the path and through the border, quietly spreading through
the years like a waistline.
'Green Eyed Flore Pleno' came to me as 'Flore Pleno', but I already have one of those without a green eye so it was renamed. I was very pleased to see that I still had it. It's a small detail but life
would be poorer without it.