12th May 2019
Coelogyne cristata 'Alba'.
Enough rain during the week to keep things from suffering, enough sunshine to put a smile on the face. I have been felling trees and the weather has helped, cool enough
to be comfortable and warm enough to keep the aches and pains at bay. The time has come to stop lookng at grand projects in the garden and settle down to the routine of watering. I have been letting the
grass grow under my feet. Time to check the mower still works.
It seems like an odd time. The Pleione have finished, the Disa haven't started yet. Instead, I have Coelogyne cristata 'Alba' filling a gap I hadn't previously been aware of.
I have grown a number of orchids that would traditionally be thought of as warmth loving. It comes as no surprise, at least to me, that I have killed most of them. What does surprise me is that
I haven't killed all of them. Every now and then I end up growing an orchid that is unexpectedly tough.
I had been told that Coelogyne cristata was as cold tolerant as Cymbidium so I tried it. The first plant I was offered, in 2012, was C. cristata 'Alba' and seven years later
it has not only grown substantially, but flowers every spring. Most of the time I keep it free of frost because that is the best I can manage, and still it prospers. I'm not sure how many of the genus
are that tolerant but I think I might try one or two more, it seems that is the only way to find out.
12th May 2019
Camellia 'Night Rider'
It may be the case that all orchids are strange in their own way, the remarkable thing about Camellia seems to be their uniformity. Sturdy evergreen shrubs that ooze spring flowers from their leaf axils.
It is only at the very edges of the genus that the flippant pink frilliness gives way to anything unexpected. I bought 'Night Rider' on sight, the red flowers and purple tinted foliage
were unlike anything I had seen. It is late to flower, the buds don't start to swell until most of the genus had ended, the colour is remarkable, the flower shape is distinctive
and it is a pig to grow. All things considered it is a very odd Camellia.
I like it, I haven't killed it yet and I have no idea where it got it's strange characters. More research required.
12th May 2019
Roscoea humeana 'Snowy Owl'.
Roscoea take the story back in the direction of orchids, not because they are related but because they are all odd. R. humeana has flowers that are purple or yellow,
and then there is this one, which is white. I have known about it for a long time, whispers and rumours of people that are growing it. The closest I got was a seedling
from it (I was told) that inherited all of its characteristics except for the white flowers (naturally). Finally last year I got a rhizome of the real thing, not because I am skilled at hunting
down these things like a pig chasing truffles but because there are skilled growers out there managing to bulk it up. My only significant contribution to the process
was an upwelling of gratitude that was effusive, genuine and probably a bit creepy. I apologise.
A man with a saw is never short of work and I had allowed tree felling to distract me. The greenhouse should have been thoroughly soaked weeks ago. I have been putting off watering the Roscoea
under cover because I want to split and repot them. Too late, it will have to wait. The first shoots appeared and I had to get the hose out to give them a chance. A day or two later
and the first flowers are open. I was delighted to finish felling trees, the Roscoea were delighted I had finished felling trees, everything is right with the world.
12th May 2019
Hyacinthoides non-scripta .
The grass has grown. The more trees I take down the more light I let in and the faster the grass grows. There is a balance to be struck. Up in the woods the seasonal spectacle is shuddering to a crescendo.
It starts with the snowdrops and hellebores, develops through the Anemone and Erythronium, each wave of interest passing faster and faster as the temperature goes up. I barely saw the
Erythronium this year, a combination of hot weather and strong winds dessicated the flowers after little more than a week. Just as the ground starts to fill with stinging nettles
(my clever trick for removing them last year was less than 100% effective) the bluebells start.
The bluebells are a lot more relaxing. I didn't have to do very much to establish them. I collected a few handfulls of seed and scattered it under the trees,
confident that a weedy species like this would take over. It has. They won't last for long, in a week or two the flowers will drop and the stinging nettles will be triumphant. For now,
the bluebells are as good as anything in the garden. The balance is just right.