20th September 2020
Amaryllis belladonna 'Johannesburg' .
I suppose this is our Indian Summer. We haven't had any significant rain for three weeks and for the most part the sun has shone pleasantly. I have been enjoying sitting in the garden
with a cup of juice/coffee/tea and the weather has been equally mellow morning noon and evening. Sometimes it has only been the contents of the cup that have betrayed the time of day.
We have had two days of mist in the middle of the week. It was a joy to sit out in. Not enough moisture to dampen anything just cool wafts through the gentle warmth.
Two days of easterly winds buffetted the garden at the end of the week. When it was over I noticed that another large branch had fallen out of the Liquidambar, to be dealt with
when the leaves have fallen. It was a warm wind, sitting out in it was comfortable and exhilarating at the same time.
I am sure that throughout the county there are gardens where Amaryllis belladonna has burst with naked surprise from the ground, but not here. I haven't managed to find a place
where it is happy in the garden. I have half a dozen plants in tubs growing in the Nerine house but only 'Johannesburg' flowers. After several years I am afraid to move it in case it never flowers again.
The flowers are deeper pink than the typical form with a well defined white throat but the most significant difference is that it has a perky flower. The trumpet opens wide, the flower points upwards
slightly. Typically the species droops more and has a disconsolate air in flower as though preparing to be battered by wind and rain. Another good reason for leaving them in the Nerine house.
20th September 2020
Colchicum 'Lilac Wonder' .
With such mild autumnal weather it is hardly surprising that flowers choose to emerge naked from the ground. Most of the Colchicum grow inder the trees at the top of the garden.
I am not expecting to see them in flower until October which gives me a week or so to finish clearing the ground up there. It might not happen this year, I might be delayed. They will finish flowering
in November, so there are a few weeks at the end of the year when I can remove the last of the summer undergrowth before the snowdrops appear.
A few Colchicum have been planted in other places around the garden, usually because I have an odd bulb or two to hand and can't think what to do with them.
'Lilac Wonder' was popped into a sunny corner among spring bulbs - it probably seemed like a good idea at the time, I don't remember doing it. However, it is labelled it was
obviously deliberate. A single lilac flower suggests that it is tolerating the conditions rather than delighting in the situation but it has been my experience that they take several years
to really settle into a new home. Further up in the garden I had a big clump of 'Lilac Wonder' planted thirty years earlier. Four years ago I lifted the clump and split it into half a dozen pieces.
The corms have continued to increase but the flowering performance is still quite modest. Every year I am hoping for lilac wonder but have to settle for just lilac.
20th September 2020
Lapageria rosea .
In the way that I expect more from the Colchicum every year, I expect less from the Lapageria. Years (decades, seems like a lifetime away) ago I had a small collection in a warmed greenhouse
where they grew into a dense tangle congested with flower through the autumn and winter. Nowadays I don't indulge in the luxury of heated greenhouses so the Lapageria have to make do.
It shouldn't be a problem, they are certainly cold hardy here, the difficulty is finding a suitably moist, lightly shaded position for them to be planted outside. I have one little corner that might suit
but inevitably it is crammed with all the other things that prefer moist shade. The Lapageria have ended up in pots in the greenhouse where they get too hot and dry in the summer.
The foliage looks awful, the stems die back from time to time and the prospects don't look good. I have been aware of the problems for some time, I just haven't come up with a solution.
This year I have dumped them into the water beds where they will sit in a couple of inches of water. They have been cooler and a lot moister. It may not be an answer for the long term
but it has helped them survive for another year. I only have three plants but they have all responded by producing buds, there is even a suggestion of some new growth.
Perhaps next year I will get the last of the Hedychium planted out. Perhaps that will give me space to plant the Lapageria in the Hedychium house, perhaps they will prefer conditions in there
where it is cooler and they can be planted in the ground. In the meantime the display is a delight that my treatment of the plants does not merit.
20th September 2020
Nerine 'Salmon Supreme' .
We live in an excercise culture. There is an entire industry built around selling us the opportunity to excercise rather than sit around in supportive office chairs all day as our bodies slowly become bucket shaped.
I have a friend who bought an inversion bench, a delightful device where you strapped your boots to a bar and then it rotated so that you hung upside-down. It was supposed to be good for the spine and
the circulation. At any hour of the day or night he could be found dangling from his feet in the sitting room watching television.
The Nerine house has hit that moment of inversion. A sudden rush of blood to the head, reckless chromatic exhilaration.
'Salmon Supreme' sums it up for me. It isn't a favourite colour or a particularly special plant but it comes into flower and it is overwhelming. It was probably the first Nerine sarniensis cultivar that I grew.
It was available from the general bulb catalogues. This isn't the original plant but it came from the same source, packed in wood shavings among the summer bulbs in a garden centre. I bought
'Rose Princess' at exactly the same time and it is - exactly the same thing. Misnaming is one of the delightful little wrinkles of the bulk bulb trade!
So, despite the colour and some doubt over the identity, 'Salmon Supreme' will always feel like the source from which Nerine sarniensis erupts. Without it the collection would be missing a heart.
So I don't have a problem with the bulk bulb trade. They manage to open a door to the spectacular Nerine season that might otherwise remain closed.
In the process they may tip proper naming on its head, but it seems to be good for circulation.