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Gentiana sino-ornata

9th October 2014

Gentians exert a fascination over me that I don't think belongs. All blue flowers are interesting, the purity of the colour laughs in the face of "blue" asters and such like. Gentians add to this elusive pigment and enthusiasm for dropping dead that makes the Dodo look like an evolutionary success story. That is where the fascination arises. I grew up in a world of alpine gardeners (not literally, but whose books I read) who valued gentians as much as badges of their talent as posies of pigment. I have inherited the awe but not the talent.
I can understand the European mountain species objecting to my dank lowland conditions but there is a group of Asiatic species (and their subsequent hybrids and cultivars) that are more dankly mountainous in spirit.
So they are a 'perhaps' for me, and I will overlook the broad swathes growing in beds in light woodland at Sheffield Park in Sussex, neither dank nor mountainous.
I kill them from time to time, whenever I get another bright idea about growing conditions. This one died from my temporary conviction that they might grow around the tops of the Sarracenia pots in the light, acid, moist compost. I still think there might be some merit in the attempt but in this case the execution became an execution. Lasted about as long as they would have as cut flowers.
Fortunately there are plenty of talented northerners keeping the genus sparkling with attraction while I attempt to beat my incompetence to death with their straggling stems.