16th February 2020
Camellia 'Winton' .
Storms last weeked blustered through the garden. I had a bit of dead wood on the ground that had fallen out of the trees but I wasn't around as it fell which is all that matters.
This weekend the blustery weather has returned in the shape of storm Dennis. Once it has blown through I will go and see if it has done any damage on the way through, but it isn't expected
to subside until monday. Until then I will sit in front of the fire and listen to a metal dustbin being blown down the street.
The week was mostly overcast. I have been hoping for a sunny day to open the flowers on a tub of Crocus, but it didn't happen. On the other hand the overcast light
provided perfect conditions for photogaphing Camellia 'Winton'.
'Winton' is a pretty hybrid raised by J. C. Williams at Caerhays Castle, between C. cuspidata and C. saluenensis. Three three seedlings were named from the hybrid.
I started with 'Cornish Snow' but found it a bit temperamental in my garden. Once it had died I discovered that it was notoriously finicky about conditions, though once suited it seems to thrive.
I softened my frustration by planting the sister seedling 'Winton', with larger, pink blushed flowers. It has grown well, but in most years flowers quite late when delicate
looking wintery blossom has fallen out of favour. I have never grown the third seedling, 'Michael' but I should look out for it. I might even have another go at 'Cornish Snow',
the garden has changed since the days when I planted it on a bare, windy hillside.
16th February 2020
Freesia viridis .
Spring is no longer a surprise in the garden. Spring storms (which I think are just autumn storms kept in detention after school) are littering the ground with fallen Camellia blooms
and I have been looking out of the window at the greenhouse. I think it is secure but I also know how easily a loose pane can break free and after that anything could hapen. When it was erected
I took a lot of trouble to fix it securely to the ground. That was a long time ago, there is a part of me that wonders how robust the fixings are after thirty years. On a blustery night
I sometimes wonder if it might just roll over. It's surrounded by trees, I don't think it would go far. Still, I find myself lying in bed listening to the wind howl and crossing my fingers.
It keeps me from worrying about the roof of the house I suppose.
The Nerine grow in a section of greenhouse lower down the hill. With them I grow a few other bulbs, not really out of choice, but because I couldn't find anywhere else to put them.
I keep promising myself space to grow the odds and ends but I don't seem to find it. A few weedy things that seed about have been allowed to colonise Nerine pots. They provide
some interest when the Nerine leaves set a low standard for excitement. Acis autumnalis is the key player. I am considering spreading all my plants out among the Nerine
and leaving it at that. Freesia viridis is another possibility. Every year I worry that it is dying out and every year it appears in more and more pots. Perhaps I should just
let it get on with it. The green flowers are a delightful curiosity in the first weeks of the new year.
16th February 2020
Helleborus 'COSEH 4100' ICE N ROSES RED.
I think there must be an inbuilt urge to spring-clean. I don't really get gripped by it in the house, though I did sweep the floor this morning (and felt quite heroic as a result),
but I have been clearing out the greenhouse. There are lots of things that would grow better in the garden, and lots of things that just need throwing out. The compost heap has been
growing. I have a handful of hellebores in the greenhouse and the time has come to face facts. I am unlikely to want to hybridise a great many more in the next few years, I
have plenty. I have an entire border devoted to them. It is about time they were all planted in it. If I had made a New Years resolution, that would have been it. To plant all
the hellebores out.
I have a few, like ICE N ROSES RED, that I have been saving for a special location, but I think they will just have to go in with the H. x hybridus forms and take their chances.
Spring cleaning and hellebore brutality. I feel unusually decisive about it.
That ****** wind can **** *** as well!
The ICE N ROSES series were raised by Josef Heuger in Germany, there are a number of colours (WHITE, ROSE, RED etc). They all have alphanumeric cultivar names but I'm not going to
moan on about that, the lawyers like them for patent applications. As a cultivar, this is 'COSEH 4100' and it is a much more splendid thing than the dull name implies. For years people had tried to cross
H. niger with H. x hybridus with very limited success. However if you cross H. niger with the caulescent (shrubby) hellebores then the hybrid
seedlings seem to cross with H. x hybridus more freely. In this case the parents were H. x ericsmithii and H. x hybridus. The resultant seedlings have large flowers on
stemless plants with well marked leaves.
Every autumn I mow my hellebore bed. Time will tell if they will put up with that.
16th February 2020
Pieris 'Firecrest' .
Tiny details matter during the winter. There isn't much going on, so I walk around the garden looking for signs that spring is on its way. One of the things I look at are the flowers on the Pieris.
They form at the end of summer in the tips of the new growth as it hardens. Little arching strigs with tiny hard little buds strung along them. They form very rapidly but then stop developing completely
through the winter. At the end of January there had still been no movement. Sudedenly, like popcorn, the hard little buds swell up and open. It is a sign that the heat of spring has been turned up.
'Firecrest' is a strange, small growing form. It never looks entirely happy, the foliage is always a bit yellowed. I wouldn't bother with it except that when it is good, it is outstanding, even though it looks sickly.
The new growth, which will start to show in a few weeks, is bright scarlet and will cover the bush before it fades. The flowers are pure white and sparkle on the bushes like the spume on a breaking wave.
In the last week they have expanded. The azaleas won't be far behind. Before long the Camellia will be looking like the fat dinosaurs of winter as the early sunlight sparkes through the garden.
I saw one Pieris in a local garden and went to check mine. The first flowers are open, the rest will follow as soon as the sun hits the bush.
I think the restful pause of winter might be over. If the hellebores are going out, I had better get on with it. Any moment now the herbaceous border will start to sprout, the birds will be nesting
and all of the winter jobs will be put aside again for another year. We just need to get that storm out of the way.