Thats enough introduction - on with the plants!
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... out in the garden.
22nd February 2015
Camellia 'Glenn's Orbit'
Another week of smiling weather. The sun is wonderful when it shines and the grey days between sunny outbursts have kept the garden warm.
We have been offered the prospect of rain but at the last moment it passed us by.
On monday I paid a visit to a garden where a large Camellia 'Donation' was making a spectacular contribution to the seasonal pinkness.
It isn't one of my favourite plants but I am having to reconsider my opinion. When it is growing well it is spectacular. I grew up watching a
stunted specimen struggle to grow in a soil that was mostly ash from a solid fuel boiler. It was never very satisfactory. Growing vigorously
in the warm sunshine with a sky-blue sky behind it I saw it in a new light.
I should have known that it had potential when I discovered that 'Glenn's Orbit' was a seedling from it . I have grown the baby for many years
and I have become rather fond of it. Don't ask me why, it is the pinkest of pinks, a shade that speaks with a raucous accent from the depths of
a dense shrubbery. I have a pretentious need to dislike it and I can't bring myself to. The double flowers are flat and open, paler at the centre
with a suggestion of yellow. Sounds horrible doesn't it.
If I can borrow a phrase from the late Lou Reed, "... but I don't think so."
22nd February 2015
Snowdrops everywhere. I went up to London on Saturday for the latest "re-imagining" of the Early Spring Show. This year it has been styled as the
Spring Plant and Potato Fair. The exhibition of Botanical Art that has always accompanied the show has been moved to next week. I met a friend at
the show and asked what was in the Lindley Hall. "Potatoes !"
The snowdrop element of the show has been declining for a few years and I have always thought that an inconvenient central London location was an
unlikely meeting place for a throng of keen gardeners. Once again I am wrong. They can certainly shift potatoes. I can't remember when I last saw
such enthusiastic rummaging among knobbly tubers.
Returning home a couple of Galanthus plicatus caught my attention. I have a small population of plants that originated in Ellen Willmott's
former garden at Warley Place (now almost entirely lost in the undergrowth). In early 2011 I collected some seed from my plants and sowed it
in a large pot. Four years later I have the first flowers. The parent plants are the result of many decades of interbreeding between
G. p. plicatus and G. p. byzantinus (one green mark on the inner segment and two, respectively). The markings of the seedlings are confused
and perhaps there will be something good among them.
22nd February 2015
Back to the show for a moment and a spectacular display from Dibleys who specialise in Streptocarpus but keep a wide range of gesneriads.
In recent years they have been propagating Petrocosmea, including a number of new hybrids from the USA. Petrocosmea are always described
as hardy African Violets and it is a reasonable comparison. For several decades after the first Saintpaulia were introduced you could have
any colour you liked as long as it was purple (to misquote something that Henry Ford didn't actually say anyway). Petrocosmea are at that
stage of development. At any moment someone could raise a pure pink seedling or one with a double flower and the doors to insanity will be flung open.
'HT-2' is a wild collected plant (sorry, I have no other data) with affinities to P. sericea. I bought it last year and it started to flower in
October. It has continued through the winter and survived a couple of degrees of frost without damage under cover. As I acquire more I am watching
the lunacy develop dispassionately. 'Fluffernutter' is currently a favourite.
22nd February 2015
Good old daffodils. A sensible golden glow in the tentative months of spring. After several years of indecision I finally purchased some bulbs
of 'Crewena' last summer. It has pale tepals and a darker corona but most significantly it is said to flower at about the same time as
'Rijnveld's Early Sensation'. I don't think it is possible to have too many daffodils at the start of January.
Unfortunately this one has arrived six weeks late. I assume that the dry bulbs were slow to get started this year and that they will
be earlier in 2016, although a number of other cultivars are also late this year. 'February Gold' is going to be delayed
until March - the first year that I can remember when it hasn't opened for the last week in February. 'Tete a Tete' has buds that are only just starting
to colour at the tips but I have had it in January in some years.
The Lindley Hall has a rather elegant gallery with a kiosk serving coffee and brightly coloured cakes. Well heeled ladies sit watching the potato rummagers
beneath them and pretend the paper cups are bone china. Not a plate of chips in sight. The year has started strangely, but it has started.
To find particular groups of plants I grow, click on the genus name in the table above. Click on the "Index" box at the top of the page for the full list.
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