8th August 2021
Cyclamen hederifolium .
July flirted with summer but without conviction. When it was dry, it was cloudy and when it was sunny it was cold. At the end of the month signs of autumn began to appear in the garden. I went looking for the first
cyclamen at the beginning of the week but found nothing. Heavy rain on a couple of nights has been enough to encourage the first flower. I closed the back door yesterday evening because there was a chill in the house
and noted that it was already dark outside. Wisps of winter floating in the imagination.
At the same time the first flowers of Dahlia merckii opened. It is late this year, I think it was slow to emerge in the cold spring, but with its arrival the party of high summer has started.
I planted the Cyclamen under a pair of old Sycamore trees growing on the western boundary of the garden and left an entire bed free for them to naturalise. In the event that was excessively
optimistic. If I want a long bed of Cyclamen I am going to have to plant them myself. I do get seedlings appearing but they show up yards away out of the shade and usually in the middle of the path.
I have tried translocating them, but I'm not very good at it. Cyclamen seedlings hide their tubers away to the side of their emergence above ground. I have lost count of the number I have sliced in two with a trowel
as I lifted them "carefully". I should collect the seed really, sow it in pots and plant out the tubers the following year.
I remember that I should do it every year as the first flowers open, about a month after the last seed was shed.
8th August 2021
Dendrobium officinale .
Summer has been a longer and more reliable phenomenon in the greenhouse. The first warm day down there arrived in February and they should continue until December. I grow a number of Dendrobium
and the number has been increasing over the last couple of years. I have long avoided Dendrobium because they aren't hardy and I'm not prepared to try and heat the greenhouse - it's too big and too leaky.
I grew a few D. kingianum just as an amusement, picking up plants for a pound or two here and there, expecting them to die in the winter. Most did, but a few survived. A few survived for a decade or
more though some really harsh winters. Still, they aren't hardy enough for a cold greenhouse, just look at the ones that died. It took me the same decade or more to realise that it was my cultivation killing them,
not winter cold.
Since that moment of enlightenment I have been improving my technique and trying other species that if not entirely hardy are at least cold tolerant. Dendrobium is a big genus there are species in Japan and
in the mountains of China that will regularly experience frost as long as they have long warm summers to grow. Suddenly my greenhouse looked more hopeful. Dendrobium officinale was an early candidate.
In the wild it grows in the mountains of southern China at altitudes up to 1600m. My young plant has shrugged off three or four degrees of frost in the greenhouse and seems to be growing away strongly.
These flowers are from an old cane produced before the plant arrived here but there is plenty of new growth and I have high hopes for its future performance.
8th August 2021
Calanthe reflexa .
For me, orchid growing starts with optimism, passes through confusion and finally enters a period of confidence. I haven't got there yet with Calanthe. I have had the optimism,
a number of species did well for me fifteen years ago and I am left wondering where they have all gone? I think I was too cautious, frightened to split and repot them when they needed it.
I think my old plants simply faded away from nervous neglect.
I have started again, recharged with optimism. I have learned some lessons, split some plants, improved my compost. I have reached the stage of confusion. Some plants have prospered, others less so.
I am reflecting on the outcomes. I grow them in a greenhouse with free air flow and I think they want warmer conditions when they are growing in the summer. My plan is to move them in with the
Bletilla and see what happens next year. That may see the arrival of confidence. In the meantime the flowers of Calanthe reflexa are a welcome sign that I haven't got things entirely wrong.
The leaves are looking good, the growth is strong, I think it has moved forward this year rather than slipped back.
8th August 2021
Anemone x hybrida 'Andrea Atkinson' .
I have spent the evenings this week sorting through the herbaceous border. I have been promising myself that I will find time to do it since last autumn. It is a job that keeps being put off until a suitable season.
In the end I did it at the worst possible time , just as it starts to get into its stride. Still, it had to be done, brambles and weeds had to be removed. There were several plants in
there that were struggling and some that were simply dead. The border is moist and shaded after about mid-day. Some plants just don't like that sort of thing.
The result is that there is now more space and it is much clearer which plants are prospering. During the winter I will go through the border gain and consolidate the success. Like all gardens, it is a work in progress.
In this case he border is barely twenty years old, almost a baby!
Anemone x hybrida has been enthusiastic, as it is almost anywhere it is planted. The first flowers on 'Andrea Atkinson' appeared as a wave of orange Crocosmia swept over the border.
It isn't a classic colour combination but I was very struck by its boldness. It's entirely accidental and I'm not sure that a pink anemone would have been as good but after twenty years I will
gladly take any high points that arrive.