23rd May 2021
Arisaema ringens .
The garden has been coming to terms with winter. As I walk around there are shoots showing on plants that have survived. I haven't found and sign of my
Smilax yet but perhaps it will still appear. After a long wait there are now shoots on Semele androgyna. It isn't going to be vigorous, but it has survived.
The garden has experienced a moderate winter but has now put it aside and started to grow away. Down in the greenhouse I have been looking for shoots on some potted dahlias.
There was nothing to be seen, so I knocked them out to see a mass of plump tubers. Closer investigation showed the slug trimmed stumps of growth. The slugs found
the spring greens before I did. June is looming into view, the dahlias will be given a few days to recover from their trimming and then be planted out.
Showers all week have been divided by sunny spells, the ground is moist and warm so I have returned to planting in the garden. Most of the Arisaema went out a month ago.
They hadn't responded well to growing in pots in the Nerine house where the 'autumn-watering, spring-drought' was the exact opposite of their requirements. Only
Arisaema ringens remained under cover. I wanted to put it outside, but it has done so well indoors that I was reluctant to disturb it. However it has been
in the same pot for several years, it certainly needed repotting. In the process it fell into two halves - problem solved. Half has now been planted outside to enjoy the garden
and the other half has been potted to assuage my anxiety.
23rd May 2021
Bletilla striata .
The Bletilla had also been in the same pots for too long. I took the opportunity to repot them all during the spring as the new shoots started to grow.
I would prefer to have done it during the winter but no suitable opportunity arose. They have followed the reverse path to the Arisaema. I have given up
trying to grow them outside, this garden is too dry and too cool in summer. They would prefer a sub-tropical monsoon. In the greenhouse I can meet their requirements by
keeping the ventilators closed in spring and watering regularly. The plants have responded by flowering abundantly.
Bletilla are one of the few orchids that are said to grow from seed without sterile culture. These things become part of horticultural mythology,
everybody repeats them but nobody seems to produce trays of healthy seedlings to show off to all and sundry. For a couple of years I have been testing the myth.
In the first year, seed sown in damp compost in the greenhouse produced nothing. I had hoped that if I sowed enough seed I might get a few that germinated but there was nothing.
Last year I repeated the attempt using a range of composts and techniques. Some seed germinated but they were difficult to grow on to any size. I have a single pot
containing transplanted seedlings that may represent a partial success. They are still too small for me to see without glasses but they are real. I am already plotting modifications to
my technique for the coming year.
23rd May 2021
Rhododendron 'Loderi King George' .
The first time that I smelt the perfume of Rhododendron 'Loderi king George' in flower I was enchanted. I planted one in the garden immediately. It has grown large and flowered
abundantly close to the house but it is now overshadowed by some large conifers, some large Eucalyptus and an oak tree. It has already outlived the poplars
that provided shelter from the wind in its early years. It is the next section of the garden in need of thinning and rationalising. When I bought the Rhododendron
I could have had five other R. "Loderi" cultivars. I bought the one that I had been impressed with but the following year I returned to buy all the others. Too late,
they had sold, production had ceased. The nursery had decided it only needed to produce one and that it was going to be R. 'Loderi King George'. I was frustrated
and not knowing what to do with the feeling, I bought another three plants as compensation. I planted the new ones on the windy side of the garden so that the perfume would
flow through the whole site. I have no doubt that it is a thundering success but the scent races through the garden at a great pace and low concentration. I
have yet to detect it.
Eventually I will plant more. A great bank of them running through the garden has its attractions and would certainly simplify things.
23rd May 2021
Roscoea cautleyoides 'Pennine Purple' .
If I do plant more rhododendrons they will go into a strip of land currently devoted to Roscoea. I am always short of space in the greenhouse.
When the opportunity came to plant out all of the Roscoea I took it. The result was never quite satisfactory. They are planted among the snowdrops
and they do a good job of adding interest to the bed after the snowdrops have finished. Unfortunately the Roscoea remain in leaf long after the
snowdrops have finished. The late flowering forms are coming up in July and August when I would like to be cleaning up the beds for the early flowering
Galanthus. Slowly the Roscoea that are most precious to me have been moved back to the greenhouse. Those that I am least interested in have
been planted in the herbaceous border. The snowdrop border remains cluttered with a moderately interesting residue, too good to be left to take their chances,
not interesting enough to use up space in the greenhouse. A dense overplanting of rhododendrons might be a practical solution.
In the greenhouse the first of the R. cautleyoides forms has flowered. I haven't been growing 'Pennine Purple' for long but it seems to be a good thing,
earlier than my 'Early Yellow' and a better colour than 'Mauve Form'. It has taken well to pot culture and as shoots break through the surface
along the length of the Roscoea bench it seems to mark the start of summer.