19th February 2017
Camellia 'Blissful Dawn'
There hasn't been much rain this week, but the ground has remained wet underfoot. I have a great list of jobs I haven't done because I don't want to walk on the grass. Early
on Thursday I was carrying a pot of snowdrops back to the greenhouse when I slipped on the path and ended up flat on my back. A reminder not to rush and not to wear silly shoes
into the garden (no grip on the soles). For moment I lay on the wet path acting as a snowdrop mattress and wondering what the universe was all about. For example, if the surface water
trickling down the middle of the path flowed into my collar and down my neck, would it run along my back, down my legs and out of the bottom of my trousers? There is a moment
of delighful stillness after a sudden shock, crisp as a frosted carrot, and then the world returns, all noise and frustration and wet clothing.
I was grumpy with Camellia 'Blissful Dawn'. The first bud had opened and it felt like it was laughing at me. I had become the gardener who was mocked by his
flowers. My appreciation was limited.
By the next morning I was laughing as well, and went back to appreciate it properly. Who could have imagined that 'Drama Girl' would look ordinary by comparison? This is a giant frilly bowl of nonsense
raised in New Zealand and one of the many offspring of 'Donation' that rises above its parent's sugary pinkness. In this case the tumbling petals are cut through with a dry wit.
19th February 2017
Epimedium leptorhizum 'Mariko'
The Epimedium have had a couple of years of neglect. They were evicted from the greenhouse a few years ago and I built a garden specially for them. The success was partial. I planted
them out in no particular order, assuming that a bit of weeding here and there would keep them in decent condition. I was wrong, the brambles invaded with the enthusiasm of a horse in a
collection of Tricyrtis, but that's another story. It became clear that I should have separated the evergreen and deciduous forms. I could spray over the deciduous ones in winter
with a herbicide, and the evergreen would work as ground cover. Apart they are manageable, together they were less than manageable. Lets not call it a catastrophe, lets call it a partial success.
I learned something obvious but important.
The process of sorting it all out has been going slowly, so last weekend I went in with a pair of shears and cut everything off at ground level before the flower spikes appear. Then I sprayed the whole bed
with a herbicide and hopefully that will keep things in order for another year. Delighted at having got something done just before the time ran out, I was chastened to find that E. 'Mariko'
was in full flower further down in the garden. I didn't see any signs of new growth in the Epimedium border, but it's too late to worry.
19th February 2017
Galanthus 'Ecusson d'Or'
The snowdrops are easier to manage. I spray the beds in August or September, and I don't plant anything with them that will have leaves at that time of the year. Pulmonaria and
primroses would both be lovely but I haven't got the time or the enthusiasm to crawl through the woods on my hands and knees through the summer evenings. Last year I spent an hour spraying
and then had a cappuccino on the beach at Falmouth. It's one of the finer things, which is why I have chosen 'Ecusson d'Or' as the snowdrop of the week.
Discovered in France by Mark Brown, it was the first yellow snowdrop to have markings on the outer segments as well as the inner. If they were green, it would be a well marked clone, but the yellow doesn't show well.
It is a snowdrop for appreciating on the hands and knees, both of which will be moistened in the wet leaf litter. It is very definitely a 'change of trousers' snowdrop.
When I bought it I thought it was going to struggle for the next decade, producing an occasional unsatisfactory flower and a few feeble leaves, but it has been strong. This is only
its second year and already I have a nice little clump that will produce half a dozen flowers. While I was wet, I took the opportunity to crawl among the clumps of 'Lady Elphinstone'.
I only found one yellow flower among all the green ones, she is a damp squib in comparison. I suppose I should change my perspective and see her as a splendid and regular double snowdrop that
occasionally blots her copybook with yellow ink.
19th February 2017
Narcissus asturiensis 'Van Tubergen Clone'
Scale matters in gardens, and if I just showed a golden daffodil you might be fooled into thinking it was ordinary, but this is Narcissus asturiensis, a tiny and delightful wonder.
I grow it among the snowdrops, and I would use it to raise a minute and monsterous horde of its tiny descendants. The thumb serves to demonstrate the scale and (if we overlook the Aspidistra picture)
is the only time I have appeared on film without clothes. This is narcissistic porn.
This is loosely termed the Van Tubergen Clone and I have adopted it as a cultivar name because it needs one and I doubt anyone will get around to naming it properly. Last week I showed
'Navarre', another clone of the species and at the time I wasn't sure if 'Van Tubergen Clone' had anything special to add. Although this is my favourite clone, the reasons are historical not morphological.
I once grew a large pot of it like a gigantic leek pie with a golden pastry piecrust. It was perhaps the beginning of my fascination for growing tiny things in giant pots.
There are probably smaller forms to be seen on the mountains of Northern Portugal and Spain though so far the other named selections have been larger. When it flowered I was reminded that this one is the smallest
and the most enchanting. I have cross pollinated it, and if I remember to write a label later I might have a pot of tiny seedlings next spring.