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

18th March 2012

Epimedium x versicolor 'Cupreum'
The winter this year had a lot of characteristics. It was a thing to be concerned about, a thing to prepare for, a thing that didn't happen and now it is a thing to clear away. There is a lot of new growth appearing in the herbaceous border. The buds on Tulipa sylvestris are growing through the dead stems of last years Dahlias and it's time to restore the illusion of control.
I finished weeding the shade border in time for the first Epimedium flowers last week and I was expecting a short gap before the next appeared. Ten days ago I was weeding and there were no other flower spikes showing but today there is growth in most of the bare places where there should be Epimedium. The collection had become very starved and senile in pots in the greenhouse, and last year I made the decision to plant them all out. One or two of them were probably dead before they were planted out and it's no surprise that they have remained dead, but most of them are growing. A decent feed is probably the next priority. When they first went out I had a lot of trouble with rabbits eating the top growth but a new rabbit fence around the shade border seems to have stopped them.
During the 19th century Epimedium from the Far East started to be grown in gardens along with plants from Europe and the Caucasus. Almost immediately hybrids started to appear. E.pinnatum colchicum from north east Turkey and west Georgia makes good evergreen ground cover with yellow flowers. E.grandiflorum comes from Japan and is usually deciduous with white, pink, red or occasionally purple flowers. The hybrid usually seen is the yellow 'Sulphureum' but this pink and yellow cultivar has been around almost as long. The original description was published by C.Morren in 1854. There are a couple of newer colour forms available but modern breeders are mostly wrapped up in the wondrous new species still being described from China.

18th March 2012

Ranunculus fivaria 'Limelight'
Along with the Epimedium, the Celandines went out last year. They has also been in the pots too long and I had the option of splitting them and using twice as much space, or planting them out. I was worried at the time because I couldn't find tubers in many of the pots but I planted the compost out anyway and most of them have appeared. They are all growing much more vigorously outside than they ever did in the greenhouse so it has been a good move. I have had them in pots for so long I was scared to change anything in case they all died. It was an irrational sentiment, but powerful (and not the only one of those I have ever had).
'Limelight' is a curious plant. At first sight it looks like an ordinary yellow flower but if it is placed next to a typical flower the greenish hue is very clear. It was found by R.Hoskins near Gulworthy in Devon in 1991. Now they are all planted out I must remember to remove the seed heads or I will lose them in a tide of self sown seedlings.
The latest batch of my own hand pollinated seedlings have started to flower, and revealed nothing of any great interest. A couple with white flowers demonstrate that it wasn't a complete waste of energy but this years crop haven't written a heroic chapter in the history of cheerful native weeds. Last year I was pleased to raise a couple with orange flowers. Not the orange double flowers I was trying for but it was a start. This year I have found a much better orange seedling growing without my help under one of the Magnolia so perhaps I should take it a bit easier, and let the garden grow itself.

18th March 2012

Anemone nemorosa 'Royal Blue'
This is the first of the Anemone nemorosa forms to open. Most of the collection is still in pots, and getting them out into the ground is this seasons project. As they start to emerge and I can see what's what they will go into the shade border. Those that have already been planted in the woods are growing well and starting to get out of control. I need to lift some chunks of the named ones to plant in the garden while I can still connect the name and the plant. They are growing into eachother and there are a mixture of seedling popping up among them so if I don't act soon I will lose track of the original cultivars.
The same problem is starting to develop among the snowdrops. The established varieties in the woods are spreading and I must get a few bulbs of each cultivar growing in the garden while I can still tell them apart. If they become confused I will not be far behind.
'Royal Blue' is also called 'Farrer's Blue', and Reginald Farrer talks in his books of collecting blue anemones in the woods around Truro. There is no way of connecting this plant with his collections, but I like the idea that this is a local plant returning home.

18th March 2012

Corydalis solida 'George Baker'
The woods are an ongoing springtime experiment. I keep looking for things that will add to the floral effect in winter and early spring. I need things that die away below ground once the trees have leaves so that I can get in there and clear away weeds. Brambles and Stinging Nettles were in complete control for the first decade after the wood was planted and they would return if I turned my back for a moment. A combination of weedkiller and mowing at the end of summer allow me a few months of precious treasure in spring. The Hellebores had to be moved out. They were a nice idea, but the evergreen foliage forced me to work carefully around them and turned a simple job into a nightmare. In a moment of frustration I threw half a kilo of bluebell seed around, and I may yet regret it, but I do get a carpet of blue once evrything else has finished.
The Corydalis were a whim, based on the spectacle of Corydalis cava growing in the woods at Warley Place. I convinced myself that it was worth trying the precious red forms of C.solida instead. I planted three, and within days the rabbits had eaten them off. I shrugged my shoulders and accepted failure, but last year one of them re-emerged. I planted a second group of purple flowered seedlings last year and two of those have also survived. I have built a little barricade of twigs around 'George Baker' in an attempt to protect him and I may try a few others in the garden where I can look after them while they bulk up a bit. A carmine carpet to replace the snowdrops would be quite striking. I doubt it will work out like that but it isn't simply a futile struggle towards an impossible goal. I prefer to think of it as scarlet hope.

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

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