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12th July 2020

Cornus 'Norman Haddon' .
The week has ended on a summery note with me scrabbling around in the back of a cupboard to find my "other" pair of shorts - the wash-dry cycle has caught me on a hot day with nothing but winter trousers to wear. Yesterday the long grass was wet with the mists of the week and long trousers were necessary but the grass has dried and temperatures have shot up.
Mist during the week has kept the garden moist but we were promised fog that didn't appear. It's a pity because I like fog; it changes understanding. Fog emphasises the limited reach of understanding, things that were taken for granted slip into the unknown. Fog slips into the garden like the arrival of sleep with the suggestion that just out of reach there could be a party or a tiger.
In the end it was Cornus 'Norman Haddon' still performing rather self-consciously in the garden after spring has left. As the last of the azaleas fade in the heat it makes a cool mound of lime green bracts that blush over a couple of weeks. Eventually it turns the Majorca-pink of peeling sunburn and the wilted bracts tumble, shrivelling as they fall so that they are brown before they hit the ground. This year the mist has hydrated them and they are glowing pink in the sunshine.

12th July 2020

Impatiens gomphophylla .
It is perhaps best to overlook the fact that gardens reflect their gardeners with ruthless accuracy. There is no malice involved, the facts are simply laid out with uncompromising simplicity. I have occasional moments of painful, penetrating clarity as I walk around the garden and see my own actions laid out before me. I tend to garden like a clucking mother-hen, gathering all the precious chickens under my wings where they will be safe. For wings read greenhouse.
Like a clucking hen, the greenhouse seems to fluff-up to accommodate all the precious things and I like to have them safe inside, however like the parties and tigers of the fog, it is an illusion. Precious things are much better planted out and that has been the theme of gardening through this spring. Empty the greenhouse, plant it in the garden.
Impatiens gomphophylla was an preliminary beneficiary of the new determination. I planted it out last spring after several years in a pot where it was declining slowly, the fleshy roots managed to produce new stems every year but they were getting smaller and smaller. It went in to the ground at the side of the house where it may well be too hot and dry but it is stronger this year than it ever was in a pot. The little chickens are tougher than I tend to think, except for Laurelia novae-zelandiae which dropped dead.

12th July 2020

Acanthus sennii .
The summer solstice has passed and the long evenings are starting to shorten. Cornus 'Norman Haddon' may be hanging on to the idea of spring but those days have gone. The world seems to be full of Dahlia at present and I have probably missed my chance to take cuttings of D. merckii again. They would root without trouble but I'm not sure they would have enough time to produce tubers. I should stop being so timid, they would either overwinter or not there's nothing to lose in trying.
The walk up into the garden passes through the space where Cyclamen hederifolium will shortly appear. No sign of flowers yet but I expect I could find the buds if I looked. I'm not going to look, autumn will arrive fast enough without seeking it out.
In the Agave house a single flash of scarlet showed that there has been enough time and warmth for Acanthus sennii to flower. Two years ago it was pushing at the roof so I cut it to the ground. The subsequent regrowth was thin and feeble and I had started to think it would never flower again. It should flower until the cold nights of winter turn the pale petals to mildewed mush. It might do better outside and eventually I will have the courage to try.

12th July 2020.
Disa (Kewensis x uniflora).

One good reason for planting things out is to make more space for orchids!
The Disa season has hit a peak and I did a final round of pollinations at the start of the week. It has to be the final round for the year, I already have too many pods swelling from this years hybrids. If they all produce viable seed I am going to have problems. When I pricked out the last batch of seedlings I restricted myself to 30 of each hybrid. I wasn't happy about it, but there wasn't room for any more.
This group of Disa Watsonii seedlings flowered for the first time last year but this year I have to select the best and part with the rest. They were raised using the yellow orange form of D. Kewensis crossed with D. uniflora clone.7 and I was pleased to see the yellow-orange colour showing in the blooms. The flowering season is the best part of the Disa year but it also throws up the hardest decisions. I think that the second plant in this sequence is good beyond question, the others are more doubtful and choices have to be made before the flowers fade and the plants slip back into the fog of uncertainty.