12th August 2018
Agapanthus 'Indigo Dreams' .
I had great plans for the weekend. Spring cleaning has finally started in the garden, I'm throwing all the casualties of winter away (there aren't many). The mower is back from
the repairers and it's time to cut the meadow. I had to abandon all my plans, the rain came down yesterday and it didn't stop. It was wonderful.
I did get some potting done, but it was a distraction. When spring cleaning my mind wanders and thinks of all the other things I could be doing instead. If I get the meadow mown I can fell
a couple more of the overgrown Leylands. I put it off last year, lost my nerve at the last moment. Perhaps if I just fell them I can worry about tidying up afterwards. I enjoy the result of
cleaning out the greenhouse but I don't really enjoy the process, it's easier to think up wonderful things to do elsewhere.
As the rain fell in the morning I caught up with some paperwork and listened to the space outside the back door becoming danker. There was even a chill. I celebrated by going out for lunch,
without doubt the most overcooked baked potato I have ever seen, slumped on a plate with exhaustion as the drizzle dripped past the window. It was a perfect scene. Something between Sartre
and a Beryl Cook painting, a small boy bangs his head on a table. Cook would have had a big white bandage in a roll, Sartre the faded misery of an ambulance dripping into the distance.
It didn't happen, but I waited for a while just in case.
Meanwhile the Agapanthus continued through the rain much as they had through the sun, without incident (Sartre again).
'Indigo Dreams' captured the moment perfectly, they haven't all survived the winter. Some of those that have are flowering.
12th August 2018
Allium cyaneum .
It's official, all of the onions are really amaryllis. The Alliaceae has been merged with the Amaryllidaceae (and the Amaryllidaceae won). As a result I can grow the lovely Allium cyaneum
without feeling that it is an adventure into a new family, it is more of a startling revelation about the old one.
It has a tuftiness that is delightful. It has none of the tangled obstinacy of a tuft of grass growing in a pot, it is ordered and precise. If I knocked it out the root ball would divide easily
into tuffets and if I wanted to repeat the process I could have tuffetlets. If I wanted I could break it down into individual shoots, and every one of them would grow. I'm not going to,
nobody could possibly need that much Allium cyaneum, I'm just saying that I could. It is a very co-operative plant. It has certainly put up with some difficult times through the summer.
It has been impossible to keep up with watering everything. In the end I have been standing things in trays and saucers to make sure they get a good soak. The Allium immediately turned
from brown to green and started to produce flower spikes. Co-operative. It never fails to cheer me up.
It flowers just as the first of the Nerine spikes has appeared. It is a shoot on N. masoniorum and 'spike' isn't really an appropriate word for the lax green stem that has emerged,
but it is good to see. I thought the first flower might have opened this morning but the cool weather has held it up, this time the onions have come out on top.
12th August 2018
Hydrangea macrophylla 'Frau Taiko' .
The Hedychium house needs clearing out. I have been planting as fast as I can and trying to ignore the weather. If I plant them, it will rain. It hasn't been possible to water them so I have been
relying on it. Fortunately Hedychium are astonishingly tolerant of drought. I have some bananas to go out as well. They have been occupying more and more space in the greenhouse
as the summer has gone on. They will prosper if I can just get them out. Now we have had some rain, it is a job for this afternoon.
Hydrangea have been good this year. I have an internal conflict in my response to them and I think the result has been that I buy them and then don't plant them out. They have blocked
the path through the greenhouse. During the week I stumbled as I tried to find a way round them and snapped off a large branch. I have more Hydrangea than you can shake a stick at.
I tried it.
'Frau Taiko' has done very well under a row of Field Maples. I want to thin the trees, but it will have to wait. More importantly, I need to plant out Hydrangea. I put three in a month ago
and the weather hasn't killed them. They probably look better than they would if they had stayed in pots. The time has come to deal with the rest of them so once I have planted bananas
(felled Leylands, mown meadow, planted Hedychium and Uncle Tom Cobbley and all) I will look for suitable places20:07 12/08/2018 and they will be wonderful.
A couple of weeks ago I drove past a holiday park with a perfect row of pastel pink mop-heads in full flower. We're back to Beryl Cook and the thought is quite frightening. Old ladies in floral
rubber swimming hats sitting at the poolside with their ankles in the water, no intention of going any further. I'm not going to think about it. If I get the bananas planted, that will be progress.
12th August 2018
Billardiera heterophylla .
The Bluebell Creeper. It's a delightful name, a delightful plant (it was Sollya previously). It has made a small tangled mound in the greenhouse which flowers throughout the summer.
I love it so much it is difficult to plant it out.
It isn't quite hardy. I should root cuttings, I just haven't got around to it yet. For a few years I grew the pink flowered form as well, but it is a dull thing by comparison.
It comes originally from a small area of Western Australia but it has discovered that it likes the interventions of man in the Australian landscape and it is now a serious weed in parts of
Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. The native Flora and Fauna of Australia have been so fundamentally altered by introductions of alien species, particularly those from Europe,
that it is wryly satisfying to see a native species has run riot. The form in cultivation in the UK has probably been selected for hardiness inadvertently over many decades
but I don't think there is any danger of it running riot here. I'm considering planting it over the trunks of my dead tree ferns in a strange geographical tantrum. Stamp my little foot
in the damp soil and plant it in the indent.
During the last fortnight the Atlantic has become huffier and puffier. It is to be hoped that the resulting unpredictible weather will continue. I can't object to the long dry spell and
I had grown accustomed to the idea that I could sit outside comfortably in the evening. I was strangely shocked to be stopped by the weather yesterday.
The cyclamen continue to announce the arrival of autumn. Acis autumnalis is in flower. I have a friend with a young Liquidambar sapling that colours very early in the season.
On Friday I went to see it celebrating the arrival of autumn's fiery excess. It had snapped off at the base in a squally gust, the bushy top still rolling around
on the wet grass.