24th June 2018
Philadelphus x lemoinei .
The sun has poured down like sand from a tipping truck, flattening everything in its way. The early mornings have the warm glow of a cup of tea that has been standing just long enough,
an all enveloping delight. By mid-morning it is too much, it has become tortoise weather. Everything is ponderously slow, the accessible world defined by the pools of shade beneath trees.
The evenings are a little easier, though it is quite late by the time it cools enough to enjoy the garden. Philadelphus x lemoinei has suddenly burst into bloom. Perhaps it is the
distorted memory of old age, but it seems like only yesterday that I was expecting the first blooms from this young shrub. Now is is bouncing with enthusiasm, the fragrance spreading out
like a pool of bird lime, snaring the unwary.
This is one of Victor Lemoine's earliest hybrids, probably dating from 1884. It may be a propagation from the original seedling between P. microphyllus and P. coronarius,
they seem to persist very well in gardens. Alternatively it could be a subsequent seedling. I was building a shrub border afew years ago and I didn't have a Philadelphus
so this one arrived. If I had been feeling choosy I would have planted 'Belle Etoile' but sometimes it is quite nice to let go of intention and allow the forces of chance to run riot.
This is the satisfactory consequence.
24th June 2018
Aechmea recurvata var. benrathii .
When I looked back through my pictures I found that the Philadelphus had first flowered in 2012 so the years have been condensed in my mind. The same has happened with
Aechmea recurvata var. benrathii. I was given it as a seedling "a little while ago" and that turns out to mean 2011 so the path to maturity has been slow.
I'm sure it would have been faster if I had given it more care, but I planted it in the Agave house among the prickly Mexican monsters, and it has had to fend for itself.
There are numerous subordinate taxa within the species. I have perhaps half a dozen scattered around the place. From time to time I get the urge to gather them together
and look after them properly but there never seems to be enough time or space. As a result it is difficult to say with confidence that my plant has the blackish leaf bases and pink/purple
flush to the leaves that characterise the variety. It looks more terracotta to me but conditions in the various greenhouse corners vary so widely that it is difficult
to pretend any comparison is objective. In the Agave house it grows on a steep bank and is never watered so it is a very resilient species. I was also surprised that it wasn't touched
by the freezing weather in March which damaged some of the Hechtia and has probably killed my Deuterocohnia longipetala. I will keep looking for the green shoots of recovery
until the fermenting mush sinks back into the soil around it but it is more from hope than expectation.
24th June 2018
Clematis 'Rouge Cardinal' .
With the sun beating down and the daytime vanishing behind the groans and wheezing, it is easy to wish for the season to move on. It will be cooler, there will be time to get all the jobs done.
Somehow things will be better when it is different. It is easy to put things off for another day but it is time to grasp the nettle. Quite literally. The herbaceous border
has been running wild, Red Campion and Stinging Nettles have invaded. It would only take a few evenings to clear it but somehow watering and complaining always seem to get in the way.
In the last few years I have learned one small thing and perhaps given a bit more time I will start to apply the knowledge. The herbaceous border is easy to clear when the evenings are long and dry.
It is no trouble at all to grub around on my hands and knees and pull out all the weeds. The moment the weather breaks and the undergrowth is wet, it becomes a nightmare.
The time is now, tonight is the night (provisionally).
I have some watering to do this afternoon, and then I want to go out to photograph some orchids. I might take the opportunity to buy a new bucket. There is nothing like a new bucket
to add cheer to the weeding. Then Clematis 'Rouge Cardinal' will quake with fear - this may be the best it looks all year. Clematis have thin brittle stems that seem to wander around
at ground level before they finally grow upwards. It is ridiculously easy to yank them out when weeding and clearing ground is more addictive than chocolate biscuits. The open space is mesmerising,
there is something very satisfying about the yanking process. It will all end in tears, at least for the Clematis. I won't mind, I will be in a frenzy for days.
24th June 2018
Clivia caulescens .
The Disa have started, and there are new seedlings flowering for the first time. Each day has a moment of trembling anticipation as I apporoach the door of the greenhouse. Has anything happened, is it any good?
Of course they are all good, like hellebores there is no such thing as an ugly Disa, but as I skip along the benches of delight some moments are more about delight and others have a focus on skipping along.
The greenhouse is a cheering place at present though it doesn't do to spend too long in it during the daytime. Ventilation and shading help, but it still gets too warm for comfort. I am not going to object to the warmth.
After the March freeze I needed a good hot summer to improve the chances of survival. The Clivia took a bad hit. They don't like being frozen, but being frozen as the flower buds were developing
was too much. There are a number of cherished plants that will probably not recover. I keep the pots, hoping for an offshoot from below the ground, but the chances aren't good. Fortunately there have been survivors
and this old plant of C. caulescens is among them. Before the freeze it was a magnificent gnarly old thing with long fat stems sprouting ragged tufts of leaves. A lot of the top growth was killed back
but a few stems have survived, I have no idea why some parts live and some parts die but it has happened throughout the collection. This stem has retained enough life to flower and it is having a joyful moment.
Next winter I will be a little more careful, the fleece will come out earlier and stay on longer but there isn't a lot more that I can to. This plant is growing in a 25 litre tub, I can't fit many of those indoors,
even if I had the energy to carry them there.
A couple of years and the distorted memory of age will wash away the trauma, things will be fine and on that note - weeding!