14th May 2023
Pleione Berapi 'Purple Sandpiper' .
The mist and rain of previous weeks lasted until Wednesday and then vanished overnight. I had just planted out a Camellia and hoped the rain would water it in for me, but it didn't happen.
Yesterday I admitted defeat and carried a can of water up the garden to refresh it. The sun emerged from the cloud with the full heat of early summer. Overnight the moderation of spring vanished
beneath hints of the heat of summer. I got my hat out and put my shorts on.
The Pleione have given a good show this year, but their season is coming to an end. Among the last flowers, Pleione Berapi 'Purple Sandpiper' has hit a late peak. It is
one of the most vibrant purple flowered cultivars that I grow. The colour is strong enough to take on the bright sunshine and triumph.
Beneath the flowers, the leaves are developing. It is always good to see them grow, they are the promise of flowers for next spring. I am doing some trials keeping the plants much wetter in their pots and
fertilising more heavily than I have previously. In the middle of summer last year I was given a tray of surplus plants that seemed to be struggling. They went into the new system immediately
and it is heartening to see them developing good leaves. It is too early to form any conclusions, but if they have larger pseudobulbs in the autumn then I will be pleased.
14th May 2023
Scilla verna .
The snowdrops have finished, the daffodils have almost all died away for the year and even the Erythronium are looking tired. Trees, shrubs and the interplay of light and shade
is taking over the garden. As the trees have filled with foliage it is clear where I have failed to prune things back far enough. I could do with a spare week to wander around the garden with a saw,
dealing with the various issues that remain. It is unlikely that the time will arrive.
Scilla verna is almost the last thing to appear in the snowdrop beds. It has done well this year; I think it appreciated the heat and drought of last summer. Perhaps there will be time
this week to wander along the north cliffs and look for it growing in habitat. My plant came from a garden in Gloucestershire. I have no idea where it was collected originally but it is taller and fatter
than its brothers and sisters on the Cornish cliffs. Perhaps it is just better protected in the garden from the sea breezes that batter its wild bretheren.
This (almost) final burst of flowers in the border has started me searching for the flowers of Tulipa sprengeri. I have a single bulb growing in a tub that acts as an indicator. I haven't seen a bud yet.
The first bud will be the stimulus to search carefully under the trees. I hope they are out there, naturalising gently. Nothing is certain. Anticipation hovers between the trees like a heat haze.
14th May 2023
Hyacinthoides non-scripta .
The evergreen azaleas are making the brightest show in the garden at the moment. I am fond of them, but I haven't added any new plants since the 1980's. At that time a couple of dozen plants
were put into the garden, and apart from the occasional move, they are still there. After the passage of decades, they are like the play-pals of childhood. They are all very familiar,
they are all loved, but I can't remember all their names any more. Graham something had an Action Man with no genitals (yes, we looked). The memory is familiar but I wouldn't recognise him if I met him today,
the rest of the name has gone, carried away by his life story.
The same has happened with the azaleas. They went in, were ignored for a decade while my own life wandered along, and when I came back to the garden they were nameless familiar old friends.
A handful have been reunited with their names, thanks to my minor obsession with record keeping. A couple still had legible labels tied to them (big cheer for Macpenny labels).
A few are delightful, familiar strangers. Bright shining children of the past become older much loved strangers, encrusted with grey lichens.
They are the brightest images in the garden, but every shadow shimmers and rings with bluebells. I adore the bluebells, which is fortunate. I think they intend fill the May garden, with or without my support.
14th May 2023
Bletilla striata 'Kuchibeni' .
There has been a change in the greenhouse, an increase in heat that is measured in a few degrees at most. The difference has been more significant than the thermometer indicates.
The air is warm, the greenhouse isn't standing in the sun, it is basking. It is lying back and absorbing the sunshine like a smiling alligator in Florida, reading about a missing tourist.
The Dendrobium have thrown off the horror of winter. Whatever damage was done, the process of repair has started. Some will make it, some probably won't, but the focus has shifted to the coming season
of growth. I fed them all yesterday to get them into the mood.
The first flush of Bletilla flowers are looking perfect. 'Kuchibeni' is a common and familiar plant, but every time I buy it, I end up with something else (usually the peloric 'Shi Ran').
Finally I got stock of the real thing with pale flowers, the lip tipped in dark pink. They should all have been repotted during the winter, but there wasn't time. I am hoping that if I feed them well
they will endure until the autumn.
The Bletilla prefer the heat of the greenhouse. Out in the garden they are just appearing through the soil. If they flower outside they will appear as the shrivelled remnants of spring litter the ground.
Time to think of the summer. Just before lunch I planted two Dahlia and felt very smug that I remembered to put some slug bait around them while they get established.