24th October 2021
Acer palmatum 'Mai Mori' .
A storm blew into the garden this week, rattling the trees and bringing down some dead wood. It was followed by a blast of cold air from the north. I dug out my woolly hat
from summer storage and prepared for the season to come. Driving down the by-pass on Thursday I noticed that some stands of Sycamore were leafless already while others
were still fully furnished. I puzzled on it for a moment before I realised that the exposed trees had been stripped bare in the storm. That is generally the fate of autumn colour
here, thin streaks in the sky as the leaves whizz past.
Surprisingly at the top of the garden, where Acer palmatum grows exposed to the elements, there are some early flashes of colour. A single branch of 'Mai Mori' has turned scarlet.
It isn't on the sunny side of the bush and the rest of the plant is still green. I have seen the same thing happen on A. rubrum. Perhaps this is just where the party's at.
More probably there is a vascular constriction in the branch. I have seen the same thing in Liquidambar styraciflua. Two years ago a young Liquidambar sapling turned vivid crimson
weeks before its neighbours. I was very impressed until I realised the trunk had grown through the chicken wire guard around it and was being strangled. I cut the wire to free it
but the constricted stem snapped off in the next strong wind.
I checked the Acer but it was fine. If there is a vascular constriction then it's physiological.
24th October 2021
Hedychium tengchongense .
Down in the greenhouse the remaining Hedychium have been suffering. About half of the collection were planted in the garden and then I ran out of space. There was an
overwhelming sense of relief and satisfaction at getting plants into the ground. It was so satisfying that I overlooked the remainder. I have nowhere to put them, I'm not sure what to do.
As a result they haven't been fed this year and I have been careless about watering them. I need to find spaces in the garden, I need a plan.
Hedychium tengchongense is flowering in the greenhouse to remind me that it has been forgotten. I have had a year off, time to buckle down and find some spaces.
I got the plant originally from David Constantine. He had been given it as "H. coccineum yellow" and it took some time to identify it properly. Since then Crug Farm Plants have introduced
the species a couple of times from Vietnam. Their selections look smaller than this one, but I haven't flowered them yet so it is difficult to be sure.
This one is precious to me, it has to be squeezed in somewhere. Perhaps if I can solve the problems one plant at a time I will eventually get them all out. For now I am walking around the garden
and every time I see a little gap I wonder "could it go in there"? I haven't seen the right space yet.
24th October 2021
Nerine 'Alabaster' .
The Nerine sarniensis cultivars have reached a peak of flowering. They will still be good for weeks to come but now they are in the first mighty flush of colour.
As I took photographs this week I was snapping off the stems that had already finished. Tidying the collection meant just a little light dead-heading. Next week the job
will be more onerous, it will feel like there are as many dead stems as there are flowers still to come. For weeks after it will feel as though the best, freshest moment has passed.
So this is the perfect time to show N. 'Alabaster'. For some years I have been fighting off the urge to "organise" the Nerine. I like the jumbled mix of colours,
I like the sense of natural chaos tumbling over me like a fallen surfer on a chromatic wave. On the other hand I am also a megalomaniac. I like imposing order. Last year I grouped
all of the purple cultivars at one end of the greenhouse and then stood all the white ones together. I liked it. More importantly it allowed me to make direct comparisons.
N. 'Blanchefleur' has been the best parent for me, producing seedlings in almost every cross I have tried. Unfortunately it has heavy heads and weak stems that flop.
'Alabaster' has been the best white with large flowers in dense heads held up by strong stems. I am trying a few hybrids this year, time will tell if they can match its quality.
24th October 2021
Narcissus 'Viridi no.5' .
Either time flies or I have become dithery. More likely a bit of both. Last week I went looking for signs of life among the Narcissus. N. 'Cedric Morris' could appear
at any time. There were some leaves on the N. bulbocodium cultivars. I was really checking to see if I could mow the meadow one last time before 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation'
started to shoot. I left it a bit late last year, the tips of the leaves had been nipped off by the mower. I hadn't hit the buds but it was a close shave.
No sign of growth, I think it will be safe to mow next week, weather and petrol supply permitting.
This week Narcissus 'Viridi no.5' is in flower, a delight and a surprise. Previously is has waited until the first week in January. It is one of group of hybrids with
N. viridiflorus in their parentage, raised in The Netherlands. I had been convinced that they would need warm dry autumn conditions so I was keeping them in the greenhouse
where they were clearly unhappy. Last year I put them all outside and autumn flowers on 'Viridi no.5' suggest that they have preferred it. It is too early to tell. It may be that all
my other N. viridiflorus hybrids are dead however I have one, it is green and it is flowering in autumn. That is all I really need. Everything else that appears is a bonus
(and I will be so sulky if they are all dead)!
Spring is coming and I don't have much patience. Being a bit dithery will help.