Thats enough introduction - on with the plants!
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... out in the garden.
19th February 2012
Galanthus x allenii
Another mild week - we are all wondering if we will get through to March without any more freezing weather. It is quite a local thing. I bought a snowdrop
from a nursery in the south east last week and after travelling for 5 hours in a warm car it was still frozen in a block of ice. I took a trip to Dorset
on Friday to listen to a Hellebore grower tell me about the awful frost destroying the flower stems. Another mild week - at least it was here.
Galanthus x alleni is a bit of a puzzle. The original bulb was identified by James Allen in a collection of bulbs from the nurseryman Gusmus in Austria.
Gusmus got the bulbs from the Caucasus. The plant has never been discovered in the wild and it is assumed to be a hybrid. It probably occurred in cultivation, either with Gusmus
or in James Allen's garden. Aaron Davis has done some research and concluded that it is a hybrid between G.woronowii and either G.transcaucasicus,
G.alpinus or G.angustifolius ('The Genus Galanthus', Aaron P.Davis, Timber Press/Kew, 1999).
Whatever the parentage, it has been a good snowdrop here. I grow it in a pot and it has multiplied freely. I think it likes the extra warmth in the bulb house through the summer.
I will have to split it this year and then it will be tried outside.
19th February 2012
Narcissus asturiensis 'Van Tubergen Clone'
The earliest Narcissus have come and gone but there are a couple of fields of daffodils locally that are just starting to colour and 'February Gold'
was making a brave show along the verges in Dorset on Friday. I am fond of daffodils, but have always said that they have to be rather special to be worth garden space
when there are fields of them to enjoy along the roads out of the village. Despite my good intentions a few have crept into the herbaceous border and give some colour when
there is very little else.
Narcissus asturiensis will never make it to the herbaceous border but it is outstanding and understated, if that is possible. The fingernail belongs to the little finger of
a quite ordinary horticulturalist. It is not the freakishly large digit of a giant slumbering in the greenhouse. Tiny wee little thing that is making me happy
because last year I had one flower, and this year there are two.
The species grows at high altitudes in northern Spain and northern Portugal. I got it from Simon Bond at Thuya Alpines - he has an eye for a good plant. This form is said to
divide more freely than is typical for the species, which usually increases by seeding.
10th February 2012
In the middle of the snowdrop season, I have once again become transfixed by Hellebores. Commercially the market for Helleborus x hybridus has moved on but not to worry.
Hellebores are the Christmas pudding of horticulture. Love it or hate it, it will return.
Hybrids between the caulescent (stem forming) species and H.niger seem to be this years craze. The Christmas Rose is a lovely thing but it isn't happy in every garden,
and it probably isn't long lived in any. Hybrids with H.argutifolius and H.lividus perform much better. They are easy to micropropagate and they are sterile
so the market will never be flooded with inferior seedlings. There are currently about a dozen clones in production but I am sure there are more to come.
I grow a few of the species in the garden and I wish I had a few more. The plan was to have
two or three plants of each growing together so that I could get seed whenever I wanted it. Unfortunately H.dumetorum is loved but alone. I had a second plant
but it didn't prosper for long enough to produce seedlings.
19th February 2012
Every year I try to find something kind to say about 'Debbie' before I have to admit defeat and tell the truth. It really is an ugly plant, and when you look in the cupboard of redeeming features, it is bare.
Camellia are very useful shrubs in this garden. They provide shelter from the wind, they remain manageable, they have attractive evergreen foliage and some of them have value in flower. I plant
quite a lot of them. As the shelter belt around the garden is becoming old I plan to plant a lot more. I hope I can do better than 'Debbie'. Even the leaves are a disappointment.
They are matt and olive-green in a way that emphasises the unfortunate shade of pink in the flowers. Last year I dug a large one up from the side of the house. I would usually replant somewhere else in the garden
but 'Debbie' went straight on the bonfire. I didn't even feel guilty.
I seem to have spent the week visiting shows and gardens and events of one sort or another. Everything is happening this week. Perhaps people are celebrating the end of winter
(fingers still crossed on that one). It has added emphasis to the feeling that the new season is on the move. I have come out of it with some new plants, a determination to seek out more
Helleborus and Camellia species, and some new ideas for planting in the woodland.
And I have found something kind to say about 'Debbie' !
I was wandering around a nursery on Friday looking through the flowering Camellia and I stumbled across a congested blob of pink and red, like fresh roadkill on a Sunday morning.
It was a flower, stripped of all the usual attributes of the word. I looked for the name because it reminded me of a plant I have labelled "double pink", but they weren't the same. This one took the idea of ugly
to a whole new level. And now I can say of 'Debbie' that she is not as ugly as 'Volunteer'!
I am sure that part of the attraction of keeping snakes is the instinctive fear and revulsion that they inspire. So it is with 'Volunteer'. I want one. I wasn't prepared to pay £85 for six feet of shrub in a pot,
but I will look for a young one and be attracted and revolted by it.
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.
I have a lot of good intentions when it comes to updating this site, and I try to keep a note
about what is going on, if you are interested.
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