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Primula allionii 'Aries Violet'

Primula allionii 'Eveline Burrow'

Primula allionii 'Malcolm'

Primula allionii 'Neon'

Primula allionii 'Tranquility'

7th March 2021

A week of pure springtime in all its unadulterated unpredictability. I have been waiting for the right day to get on with a series of jobs in the garden. I know that it is a mistake. By the time it feels like the right day, the moment has actually passed. Spring is hovering over the stationary garden. I took the opportunity to cut back branches that have been growing over the paths. It felt too cold to be out there doing it but the ground is dry and the branches bare. The next warm day could see the buds swelling and the ground softened by spring rain. It will feel like a spring day in the garden and the moment for clearing up will have passed.
Cold winds have seen me running, at least in spirit, to the greenhouse. Primula allionii shelters in there, away from extreme weather. I'm not worried about its hardiness but rain, wind and atmospheric misery can all conspire to spoil the flowers. Without flowers, Primula allionii is just a small green thing like a tuft of moss or a sleeping frog.
I have a number of named selections and they have done well this year. Last spring I finally moved the last of them into limestone chippings and they have responded well. There isn't any compost in the pot, it is all limestone chippings. The vine weevil hate it. I lost one small plant in the middle of summer last year but as far as I can tell that was due to heat exhaustion, I didn't see any sign of the beastly weevil. I was all set to buy some more cultivars this spring, and I may still, but I found myself asking how many different shades of pink Primula I really needed? Perhaps I will just try and grow some more from seed.

7th March 2021

Pleione (Glacier Peak x humilis) .
The greenhouse has been filled with signs of growth. The Pleione collection meets my need for obsessive behaviour in a greenhouse. They will flower until the first of the Disa appear. That isn't to say that the Disa are without interest at this season - I have been peering intently into pots of seedlings for weeks now. It is a difficult thing to share with anyone else, microscopic green seedlings do not easily engage the attention.
I bought this Pleione last spring from Jacques Amand at an AGS show. As it has flowered this year it is clear that there are (at least) two clones in the pot. I have split them up for the sake of clarity, grateful that they have flowered before the root growth commenced. This is the paler of the two, the second has dark pink backs to the sepals. This year it has been the first Pleione to flower. Eiger offered a droopy bloom, like a half-folded umbrella, a day later.
This isn't a named grex but one of the seedlings from Anthura in Belgium, who are raising plants in large numbers for the garden centres. Seedlings have the advantage of being free of virus diseases which are starting to take their toll on many of the established cultivars.

7th March 2021

Dendrobium Starsheen 'Botanic Fireworks' .
As the cold weather closed in at the start of January, I moved a few of the Dendrobium into the house. I had promised myself that I wasn't going to do it but I had started to see signs of cold damage on the more sensitive things and I took pity on them. In the event I was too slow to help D. (petiolatum x victoria-reginae). I brought it in as soon as the first leaf fell but I couldn't stop the process. All of the leaves have now fallen and the canes are soft and unhealthy. It is a jolly learning process after all, one or two casualties are inevitable. So far this year it has only been one or two so I'm not disheartened.
D. Starsheen 'Botanic Fireworks' came in because it had flower spikes on the point of opening. It is unfortunate that it chooses to flower in the coldest days of winter, not an ideal plant for someone who pushes the limits of cold tolerance as far as possible, but I took pity on it at the last minute and brought it in. It went out again a fortnight ago and the flower has just opened. I think it appreciates the light in the greenhouse and the spring sunshine warms the place up in a very satisfctory way.
The Australians have been raising hybrids of their native Dendrobium for decades but they are only just starting to reach the rest of the world. This one has shown itself to be a remarkable thing and starts the season off with great style.

7th March 2021

Pieris japonica 'Dorothy Wyckoff' .
Outside in the garden the scene has been remarkable and ordinary. Things seem to be stationary but flowers are building up like the pressure behind a dam. Suddenly it will burst and the frantic flow of spring will rip through the garden. There is a sense of anxious anticipation. Peony shoots are pushing up, flowers can't be far off. I looked for shoots on the dahlias and I couldn't see any. They will appear in a rush and suddeny it will be summer. It reminds me that I haven't been through the herbaceous border this winter. I need to simplify, space things out and remove the occasional bramble while it is still easy and clear.
As I walked past the border I looked up and Pieris japonica 'Dorothy Wyckoff' was in full bloom. At least I think it is 'Dorothy Wyckoff', the large Pieris in the garden have all been moved around several times, the labels tend to get lost in the process. 'Dorothy Wycoff' was the only one I grew with red pedicels and pink tinged buds as far as I can remember. I bought another one a couple of years ago and the two plants don't quite match but they are growing in different positions. I choose to overlook the discrepancy.
I had a glimpse of colour from the first Magnolia bud and the Forsythia is in flower. It didn't happen this week, but perhaps next week the floodgates of spring will open. I must get on with the herbacous border while I can.