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19th June 2016

Roscoea cautleyoides White Form .
The wet weather of summer has started. In parts of the country that foster thunderstorms it has started with a crash. I went to the Malvern International Orchid Show yesterday and rain arrived for them on Thursday. Water was running in a torrent through the marquee. By the time I got there it was well mulched with straw and smelt rather strongly of the Alpaca exhibited in the next tent.
In Cornwall the low cloud came in and water vapour condensed on every exposed surface. There was a break on Thursday and I dug a hole in the garden to demonstrate that it hadn't penetrated the ground at all. There is a thin crust of dampness and then the soil crumbles like dry sand.
The summer garden is taking it all in its stride. Roscoea are flowering where the old leaves of the snowdrops have shrivelled. In the warm weather the old flowers were falling away cleanly but a drop of moisture means they hang on in the flower heads until they are removed. Roscoea cautleyoides comes in yellow and mauve varieties and far too many have been named. I remember having great hopes for 'Vanilla' until the custard-yellow flowers opened. By some strange chance this white selection is one of the most distinctive and has not been named. Flowered early and continued into August last year.

19th June 2016

Roscoea humeana 'Inkling' .
Nearby I have my stock of R. humeana 'Inkling'. I want it to be the real thing, and it came from a good source, but I am not entirely convinced. I have seen pictures from the shows of a plant with dark purple flowers, almost looking black. However, light conditions at shows are not always good for colour rendition so they may be overly optimistic.
I was happy with my plant when it arrived, but over the years I have started to question it. I wondered if the original had been taken over by seedlings but I have looked through the old pictures and it was always like this. The flowers open deep purple and then fade to a much paler lavender-parchment.
It has been much more floriferous this year than usual, so something peculiar about the last year has suited it - or driven it to the edge of despair. It is not always easy to tell with plants if a spectacular burst of flowers is a celebration of joy or the futility of the doomed flinging genetic matter willy-nilly into the void.
Bright and cheerful, lets go with joy then.

190th June 2016

Pelargonium sidoides .
Up in the Agave house a mild winter has let to some vigorous growth which has led to some reconsideration. Puya berteroana had to go (and has). It was a lovely baby, all rounded and prickly but it had spread out and was becoming hazardous. It was planted outside and will be appreciating the moist weather.
I have two forms of Pelargonium sidoides, this black one, and an attractive one. Almost inevitably it is the black one I most cherish, and the one I thought I had lost. In this case the culprit was Gymnostemma pentaphyllum, a hardy cucumber whose only significant attribute is being hardy. It has never been a problem before. The trailing stems die back to the base and it starts again in the spring. Last winter it didn't die back, it just kept going. It had covered about ten square metres when I pulled it out. I had meant to trim it back, but once I started pulling it out I just kept going. When I bought it I was warned that it would never produce fruits and it might be short lived. Well, one out of two!
Underneath it I discovered that the Pelargonium had survived and if I switch off the auto-focus, it is even possible to get a picture.
The area around it always smells of something slightly exotic, but I can never tell if it is the Pelargonium or just the sun heating the earth.

19th June 2016

Disa Trata .
Space is always short in the greenhouse and I seem to have the ability to acquire plants without any idea where they are going to go. Gripped by the frustration of it all I looked at one bench in the week and wondered if I would miss anything if I tipped it all on the compost heap. The answer is yes, but it took a while to say it with conviction. From time to time I see something in a garden I have lost and it fills me with impossible nostalgia, like the memory of a teenage love, rosy and impractical. Usually I turn away. Can you imagine meeting those people again, sagging and sand-blasted by time?
Briefly, I grew a lot of Disa Trata and now I can't throw them away. I selected a few and gave them numbers (this is "3"). When I got to 25 I realised it wasn't making things any easier. I wanted to keep the yellowest of them, and decided that it was "3". All the others will have to go. I have moved them to another bench to prepare myself. I haven't actually thrown them out, just prepared myself. Soon perhaps. It doesn't help that the picture hardy shows the yellow tinge at all.
Rain outside has suited the Disa. Their water tanks were looking rather empty, the thin coating of duckweed had run aground. It hasn't penetrated the soil, but it has filled the greenhouse.