24th November 2019
Galanthus 'Three Ships' .
As the first drops of rain started to fall. It's a phrase that has characterised the week. It is a frustrating time of the year. I start on a job,
get half of it done and the rain comes down. That will have to be re-scheduled for another day. As a result, at the end of every busy day the
list of things that need doing has grown longer and the time available to do them in has reduced. It makes me focus too much on the weather forecast.
Will there be a dry gap or not? Nobody knows. The forecast seems to offer a chance and than snatches it away again at the last minute.
It would have been better not to know, just open the door and go out or not.
In the gloomy winter light there are fresh flashes of white in the snowdrop beds. I caught sight of one out of the corner of my eye, went closer to enjoy it. Cursed when
I realised I wasn't wearing my spectacles. The flash of white had been left by a seagull.
However there are snowdrops as well. 'Three Ships' is in flower early, coaxed on by the warm rainy weather I imagine. The television weather
forecast is suggesting that next week will be colder and drier. I gave the presenter a scornfull look and wondered if they have a symbol for flying pigs.
They don't use it often enough.
24th November 2019
Eucomis 'Freckles' .
Low light levels make the greenhouse seem gloomy. We have had high winds through the week so any ventilators that could be closed have been. The
atmosphere is clammy, like walking through a transparent fog. At any moment it might all condense from the air and fall like a wet blanket. It hasn't happened yet
but the idea is unsettling.
Eucomis 'Freckles' wouldn't care. The pot has been too dry through the summer and it has delayed the flower. I don't know why it has dried out faster
than the other pots in the row. Once the leaves have died down I will knock it out and see what is going on.
'Freckles' was raised at TerraNova Nurseries in Oregon and is said to be larger than either E. vandermerwei or 'Octopus'. When introduced in 2012
it was described as a breakthrough in Eucomis breeding. It has since been dropped from production. It's a hard life.
In the greenhouse, surrounded by bright Nerine, it has quiet presence. Most of the Eucomis were left to take their chances outside a few years ago.
They have been fine. E. vandermerwei hybrids are a little more tender, so I kept this one and 'Octopus' inside. It was a good decision, I am enjoying it.
24th November 2019
Impatiens gomphophylla .
Plants growing outside have had a difficult week of it. High winds last weekend and heavy rainfall have battered things. The suggestion of summer is being ground
out of the borders relentlessly. The last dahlias are hanging on but the flowers are tatty. Beneath the damaged skirt of foliage there is an army of slugs sheltering.
One of the flatter pieces of mown grass is covered with worm casts. The worms have come to the surface to escape drowning, fixed on detatchable legs and made a run for it.
I filled the border along the south side of the house with Protea relatives two years ago. The beast from the east killed them all. I have replaced a couple
but I also put in a couple of Salvia to add a touch of colour. They were meant to be temporary, but they have been the best things in the border this summer.
The last drooping heads have droplets of water constantly dragging them down. It would be kinder to cut them off and let the plants start again from the base
but I can't quite bring myself to do it.
Impatiens gomphophylla went into the same border. It has hated life in a pot in the greenhouse and I know it is hardy but somehow the time, the place and the motivation
have failed to coincide. This summer it went out, slipped into the gap between a dead Protea and a dead Banksia. It has prospered, I should have put it out years ago.
24th November 2019
Nerine 'Elegance Red' .
Strong colours in the garden have had to come from the Nerine. In a quite moment during the week I snapped the last flowering stems from N. sarniensis.
They have all finished flowering. Those that still had some florets in good condition were surrounded by the pulp and decay of collapsed blooms. It was time for them to go.
As a consequence the greenhouse looks refreshed. The flower spikes of the hybrids have started to open.
Most of them are hybrids between N. sarniensis and N. undulata. I have a couple of dozen and I have been considering moving them into a greenhouse of their own
where the late season flowers could give a concentrated effect. I'm still thinking about it, unwilling to make things any more complicated.
'Elegance Red' comes from a different breeding line, part of recent Dutch breeding work to transfer the colours of N. sarniensis into the hardy form of N. bowdenii.
The details of its parentage are not available but my guess is that this is a first generation hybrid. It doesn't quite have the colour of N. sarniensis and it doesn't
quite have the hardiness of N. bowdenii however it is vigorous and has large flower heads. I like it.
Between showers I have been planting out Hedychium in the new garden. Having moved them out of the greenhouse I was determined to get them into the ground before the first frosts
came. A spooch of sunshine (it was no more than a spooch) dragged me out there this afternoon and the last five were finally installed, hopefully below frost level.
It was a cause for celebration.
As the first drops of rain started to fall.