15th August 2021
Anigozanthus flavidus .
The heavy weather systems of summer are prowling around the distant boundaries like hungry wolves circling. Last night I settled down to a relaxing evening labelling and filing pictures,
content with the chattering television in the background. Something in the atmosphere was disturbing the signal and "Pirates of the Caribbean" crackled on and off the screen like digital thunder
and lightning. I have no idea what happened but the but the flashes of drama were spectacular. Long periods of blackness with the legend "No Signal" just highlighted the wonder. I spent the evening
in startled relaxation and went to bed exhausted. It was amazing.
In a similar way, the garden has been flickering with significance. Last week it seemed as though there was drama in every corner, this week has felt like the signal has failed. It isn't entirely true
but the action has moved to the greenhouse.
I was given a seedling of Anigozanthus flavidus a long time ago and planted it in the Agave house with little expectation. As a young thing it struggled with drought and molluscs.
I thought the first winter had brought it to the end of the road but I was wrong. A fresh leaf in spring marked the start of a steady resurgence and it has grown, matured and flowered.
I have been taking pictures for a few weeks now but they have all been rather bland, lacking the distinctive presence of the plant itself. This week I think I captured something of it
and it has more drama and impact than the Agave that share the space. More drama, more impact, less spike - it's a good thing.
15th August 2021
Nerine masoniorum .
I don't really watch motor sports, it reminds me of a Sunday afternoon trip through the countryside, driving without ever arriving. However I can understand the spectators at a Grand Prix.
Long periods of silence staring at the sleepy tarmac and the sudden cacophony of action. It reminds me, as it would any sensible person, of the Nerine house.
If I want relaxation, the Nerine house is the place to go. For most of the year it is dormant but packed with intangible promise. Lingering among the pots of sleeping bulbs is engaging
and requires nothing of me. Nothing to change, nothing to do, nothing required. I have a seat down there that is a great pleasure when the greenhouse is full of flowers but it is even nicer when it isn't.
A rest among the resting. You can keep scented candles there is nothing as relaxing as a pot of dormant Nerine.
Mid summer arrives and with it a distant hum on the tarmac. I get the urge to clear weeds from the pots and prepare for the flowers to come. Nerine masoniorum is a small thing
like the first gasp of distant spectators. Something has been seen. The first flower spikes have emerged on N. 'Catherine', something is on its way, it is going to be loud
and it isn't far away. Expectation is heavy in the air of the Nerine house.
I have never been to a Grand Prix, it would be a waste. I would spend my time peering at the silent track and dreaming of flowers.
15th August 2021
Haemanthus humilis .
I have three pots of Haemanthus humilis that shelter with the Nerine because I can't think of anywhere else to put them. They are summer-dormant and that fits reasonably well with the
Nerine growth cycle. A fortnight ago I drenched all of the pots to prepare for a new flowering season. The Nerine bulbs absorbed water and prepared, the Haemanthus
burst into immediate growth. Two of them have produced a flower, the third has grown a short leaf like a green tongue blowing a silent raspberry at the world. Haemanthus have
I don't grow them very well. Perhaps if I thought about it I would water them sooner or withhold water earlier, feed them more. I'm sure that I could do it better and maybe they would look less grumpy.
However I like their truculence. There is a long-suffering resignation about the appearance of their flowers. There is a stampede of Nerine heading straight for them and they just don't care.
I expect I could grow them better somewhere else, but I'm not going to. It would spoil something that I can't even put a name to.
15th August 2021
Gentiana liguistica .
Spring seems like an age ago. The garden has become slow and ponderous, branches are bowed down with the weight of leaves and the sudden slump of autumn is still only a distant possibility.
I have a large clump of Persicaria amplexicaulis in the herbaceous border that glows with colour in August. This year it is struggling. An Acer rubrum overhead has thickened
and filled, dominating the space beneath. I could thin the canopy but it is easier to move the Persicaria and go with the flow.
I'm not sure why Gentiana ligustica has chosen this week to flower. The dry spell in late spring or the cold spell in summer might have confused it. Whatever the reason, another flower is very welcome.
It doesn't seem to have the depth of colour that the spring blooms have but that may just be the intensity of light at this season. I am astonished that it grows for me at all,
I had given up on gentians when I got this one as a seedling. A single sky-blue flower in the spring is more than I expected, a second in summer seems frighteningly enthusiastic.
The whole situation highlights a developing problem. It is growing in the greenhouse and getting larger. Eventually it will need to be re-potted and I don't think it will be happy about it.
I don't know what I got right about conditions in the first place, I have no idea how to replicate them.
Like the flickering TV signal, this poor gentian may suffer from interference.