30th May 2021
Camellia 'Annette Gehry'.
Spring, with its effervescent enthusiasm, has left the garden. Summer has settled like a warm eiderdown and I have spent the week feeling sleepy. It is probably just the
warm sunshine but every shady nook in the garden looks like a nice place for a little snooze. It isn't true, the years when I could lie comfortably on the ground have long passed.
Every little lump and bump leaves me aching.
After a month of rain I finally cut the grass again, the trimmings falling in a thick band behind the mower. By the following day they were hay. Dense, warm, comfortable hay. I knelt down in it
and met the cut stumps of dock leaves spearing unforgivingly upwards. The shady nooks may look appealing but they are no place for a snooze.
The last of the Camellia are hanging on but the party is over. They are sitting around, barely chatting, unable to sleep but unable to leave. 'Annette Gehry' was at her best a couple of weeks ago
but the summer heat is taking its toll on the white flowers. She escapes the frost damage on earlier cultivars by flowering very late but now the blooms are spotted with brown and they wilt in the sunshine.
Large white camellias aren't very satisfactory.
30th May 2021
Iris innominata 'Spinners' .
As the temperature in the garden has gone up the Pacific Coast Iris have started to flower. For a couple of years I have been raising seedlings, filled with the excitement of
novelty. I have had a few good things so far this year. They help to fill the gap between the Pleione ending and the Disa starting, a short hiatus at the start of summer
when the excitement of spring has ended but the thrill of summer is still only a promise.
After a cold May, the gap has failed to appear. The Pleione are still hanging on and the Disa have already started, the Pacific Coast Iris have been struggling to
find a space to call their own. I should have been out there pollinating yesterday but the time evaporated. I'm hoping that the latest flush of flowers will still be in good condition
when I get out to them later. If not, there is always next year.
I have a lovely small form of Iris innominata that I would love to use as a parent of small growing, large flowered hybrids. By the side of it I grow 'Spinners' selected by Peter Chappell
in the New Forest. I would be happy to raise something of similar quality from my seedlings.
30th May 2021
Paeonia peregrina .
In the Agave house I am slowly being skewered by my own success. The Agave have adapted to the conditions well, a number of them have grown into magnificent architectural specimens,
the sort of stand-out succulents that leave you drooling dreamily in Mediterranean gardens. Therein lies the problem. My little patch of Mediterranean flora does not bask under the warm sun,
it huddles in a rather congested way under a plastic roof. It as been successful, and I regularly get skewered.
I knew when I planted it that things would have to be sacrificed as they grew larger, I just hadn't anticipated it happening so rapidly. This spring I bit the bullet and removed all
of the plants that might stand a chance of being hardy in the garden. I will almost certainly lose the majority in the first winter but I can convince myself it was
worth trying, and the space was sorely needed under cover.
Between the Agave I planted a few peonies and they have been a great joy, flowering with a lush enthusiasm that I have not seen on plants outside. P. peregrina
has been particularly good, the stems and leaves come up like muscular rhubarb and support the most amazing flowers that glow with intense colour. It may be time to reduce the
Agave collection to a couple of impressive specimens and plant more peonies instead. Things change.
30th May 2021
Roscoea cautleyoides 'Early Yellow' .
That has certainly been the process with Roscoea. The collection had become unwieldy in the greenhouse, a jumbled chaos of plants with different growing seasons.
In the end I got fed up with the whole performance and planted them all outside. Slowly but surely over the last decade the late summer flowing forms have crept back into the greenhouse.
The spring flowering forms are being moved into the new herbaceous border as they appear above ground (and can be found). There is plenty of space for them
and I am sure I will be able to identify them in future years!
And on that basis, this is Roscoea cautleyoides 'Early Yellow' doing well in the herbaceous border. It doesn't have the wide, spreading flower of 'Kew Beauty', which I am hoping
to see in a week or two (no sign of it yet, but I am filled with confidence).
In the greenhouse, the late Roscoea have expanded to fill all of the space available. I can feel another mass planting coming on and with it the greenhouse is at last fulfilling its objective.
I always intended it as space that produced plants to feed into the garden.
Somewhere along the way I got distracted. It's easily done.