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Thats enough introduction - on with the plants!
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... out in the garden.

22nd January 2012

Camellia japonica 'Tricolor'
A windy week which has felt cold as a consequence, but temperatures have actually remained high. I am assuming that we will have some wintery weather during February but we haven't had it yet. After a string of record breaking cold winters we could do with a mild one. The whole country has been mild which negates one benefit of a Cornish climate (the opportunity to laugh at everyone else's expense) but it's a self-indulgent pleasure I will survive without.
In statistical terms, the coldest day follows about a month behind the shortest day, so temperatures should be going up from here (tempting fate, I know). The increase in daylength is certainly noticeable. I spend quite a lot of time trying to get a camera to focus reliably, so the increase in light intensity is very welcome as well.
Camellias are coming out like debutantes at a ball. 'Debbie' herself has arrived but you get the feeling she will be going home alone. Eligible young men may be inexperienced but they are rarely indiscriminate.
'Tricolor' is a curious plant. Introduced from Japan by von Siebold in 1829 where it is called 'Edo-nishiki'. The Japanese cultivar name is becoming more established in the West in recent decades. There are a number of slightly different clones in cultivation. Mine usually has a pink ground to the flower but there is also one with white flowers marked with pink stripes. All of them are rather unstable and produce sports when the mood takes them.
In the garden it skulked for a long time under some Alders, but they have now been removed (they had started communicating too freely with an overhead power supply) and it is growing away well.

22nd January 2012

Tecophilea cyanocrocus 'Leichtlinii'
The 'Blue Crocus' from Chile is a surprise for the week. I was overjoyed to see the leaves emerging at the end of last year (= three weeks ago). I wasn't expecting the bud to develop so fast. The plant is growing in a pot in the greenhouse, so it benefits from any sunshine that appears, and the limited wind protection helps. The species was believed to be extinct in the wild as a consequence of overcollecting, overgrazing and water abstraction. In the spring of 2001 a new population was discovered in the Andes near Santaigo between 2000 and 3000 m. There are very limited records of the original population, but it was assumed that they were pure blue with an occasional colour variation. The new population is mostly blue and white like the cultivar we call 'Leichtlinii' and it has now been speculated that this was always the typical colour, the pure blue being unusual.
It doesn't matter much to growers, both colours come reasonably true from seed (they come true, they don't come easily) but it matters to ecologists. There were plans to reintroduce the species from cultivation but the discovery of a new wild population raises the question of whether it is still worthwhile, and which colour forms to introduce.

22nd January 2012

Helleborus 'Walberton's Rosemary'
This is a rather unexpected Hellebore hybrid raised by David Tristram. It was the only seedling from a cross between H.niger and a red Helleborus x hybridus. I bought it two years ago because I wanted a simple early Hellebore to grow under a magnolia by the side of the path to the greenhouse. I have always had problems finding a location to suit Helleborus niger. It grows in the first year and then is never seen again.
It has performed as well as I had hoped, growing larger each year. It flowers very freely and continues for as long time because it is sterile and sets no seed. The buds form like H.niger, building in the crown below ground during late winter and then all rushing up at once. At the same time as I planted it, I planted two more H.niger. The first grows beside the hybrid, and the second in the herbaceous border. Both seem to have prospered this time so perhaps I have overcome the longstanding problems I have with the species. The flowers are developing, but the hybrid has opened before them so it is worth having.
The hybrid didn't manage to win the race to be the first Hellebore in flower but it is very distinctive.

22nd January 2012

Galanthus nivalis 'Flore Pleno'
The snowdrop season is really getting underway and there are plenty of good things in flower now, but this familiar double is currently making me happy. I have been planting odd groups of double snowdrops in the Hellebore border for several years, hoping that they would spread into a carpet. I thought it would be quite nice to have the Hellebores emerging from a sea of white flowers. It was a rather grand idea and even when I started I knew the reality would fall a little short of the image. The plants were growing well but spreading rather slowly. I did a quick estimate on the back of an envelope over a cup of tea and realised that I had another 198 years to wait.
Now I am a fairly patient person but there comes a point when it is just stupid to wait. Last year I spent 70 on a box of double snowdrops in the green from a bulb farm in Lincolnshire. I spent a day planting them out individually a few inches apart across the whole border. It was an agreeable day in March. I got slightly sunburnt and when I finished I couldn't stand up, and had to crawl on my hands and knees halfway back to the house before I loosened up enough to stand up. Money, dreams, labour, backache and sunburn - I have quite a lot invested in these snowdrops. I have been watching for their appearance with something that comes close to desperate anxiety. Now I have a scattering of individual flowers through the entire border showing that they have survived, and that the larger bulbs are strong enough to flower.
It is a familiar double and it is currently making me happy.

Acorus Alocasia Anemone Arisaema Arum Asarum Aspidistra Begonia Bromeliads Camellia
Carnivorous Cautleya Chirita Chlorophytum Clivia Colocasia Crocosmia Dionaea Drosera Epimedium
Eucomis Fuchsia Galanthus Hedychium Helleborus Hemerocallis Hepatica Hosta Impatiens Iris
Liriope Ophiopogon Pinguicula Polygonatum Ranunculus ficaria Rhodohypoxis Rohdea Roscoea Sansevieria Sarracenia
Scilla Sempervivum Tricyrtis Tulbaghia Utricularia Viola odorata Watsonia

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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