Thats enough introduction - on with the plants!
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... out in the garden.
17th June 2012
Another week of rain and mid-summer is starting to look like mid-atlantic. I had a short trip to the gardens of North Wales last week. It was raining there as well.
While I was away the garden did its very best to behave as though summer was sizzling. The last of the Azalea's have faded, the last Camellia flowers are lying around on the floor,
but I have one Rhododendron hanging on. I don't really have the Rhododendron bug, but from time to time I acquire one and they seem to persist. I came back from my trip with two forms of
R. nakaharae, a late flowering Azalea that will be blooming in July and August. I have planted a couple of other Azaleas this year, so perhaps my indifference is crumbling.
This Rhododendron is in the garden because of its persistence. I have no idea what the cultivar is, it may even be the rootstock from a grafted plant, but I know it is tough.
When my mother made her most recent garden she planted a small collection of Rhododendron as a low evergreen hedge. Some of them were red flowered, and some of them were certainly grafted
but I'm not very interested in them and I wasn't paying much attention at the time. She gardens on a thick yellow clay, and although they were planted on a low slope for drainage they hated it.
They barely grew, rarely flowered and confirmed my view that they were rather pointless shrubs.
Mother has just moved, and there are one or two lovely things I have taken from the garden. I also lifted this Rhododendron in February and planted in my own moist woodland loam
where it is already happier than I have ever seen it. It has survived since she planted it in 1967, I thought it deserved another chance.
17th June 2012
Iris 'Broadleigh Rose'
From 1908 to 1913 the Great Northern Railway had a poster advertising rail trips to Skegness. It featured the Jolly Fisherman skipping along a beach with the slogan 'Skegness is SO bracing'.
It cheers me up whenever I think about it. It has never tempted me to visit Skegness, but it has cheered me repeatedly. It has a careless levity about it that is entirely missing
among Iris. They are very serious and considered as plants go. Their triangular tufts of petals have the sincere appeal of the smile of a fat oligarch. It's difficult to know if it is a smile or just trapped wind.
That is the background to my dealings with Iris over the years.
I have welcomed some exceptions. The sibirica's are emotionally retarded, but well intentioned in a starchy 'daddy knows best' sort of way. The germanica's are like visiting dignitaries at a school sports day.
They appear, everybody applauds, they go away again. I love the ensata's as they sit naked in the mud writing floral poetry but the Pacific Coast hybrids passed my by. One of the things like bungee jumping that
I mean to try, but don't mean to try just yet.
I can only accidentally overlook a thing for so long. A couple of months ago this was thrust into my hands at a plant sale with the phase 'you look like a man who supports plant conservation, that will be £2.00'.
How can you refuse a charm offensive that matches the genus so completely? I didn't. Here it is. It lasted in flower for three days and was lovely. I publicly retract my reservations about Pacific Coast Iris.
This is one of a series of seedlings raised by Broadleigh Gardens. They have championed them for decades and I can see why.
I'm not yet smitten, but I am certainly decongested.
17th June 2012
Arisaema are the dwarves and trolls of the plant kingdom. Everything significant goes on underground. Every now and then the knobbly tubers slough off some leaves and a flower or two but the real gold
is the starchy underground hoard. I mean to plant them all outside, but I never seem to get there. Fortunately they will tolerate pots for many years. If the wet weather continues there is still time to plant them out this year.
Arisaema costatum comes from China and Nepal but it adapts well to gardens and clumps up reasonably rapidly (those dwarves keep busy down there).
The flower has striking white stripes on a brown spathe and the tip of the spadix is ridiculously elongated and dangles from the front of the flower like a long leather bootlace. Somewhere underneath it there is an angry dwarf
hopping around on one foot and swearing, unable to do up his other boot.
This is one of a small group of species that would be worth growing for the leaves even if they didn't produce the flowers.
17th June 2012
Wet weather is good for the garden. It makes it lush and vigorous. The weeds grow at an astonishing rate which makes them easier to grip and pull out of the friable soil. Every cloud has a muddy lining. The wet weather draws
a strong earthy smell out of the garden. It has the same effect on the gardener.
The Disa enjoy rainy weather, it keeps them saturated in the greenhouse while they are in full growth. A few years ago I started hybridising them, and the first batch are now flowering. Along the way
some of the labels have been lost but I am fairly confident of the parentage of this one. It has a full tuft of thin leaves and the short flower spike is producing small pale flowers. One of the hybrids was
D.tripetaloides x D.aurata. The two parents are very similar. D.aurata is sometimes treated as a subspecies of D.tripetaloides so it is no surpise that the seedlings grew well, and they seem to
be intermediate between the supposed parents. They have pale yellow tinted flowers, not the bright yellow of D.aurata but definitely yellow rather than the pink tinged white of D.tripetaloides.
Trata is not a particularly elegant name for this group of hybrids (I am just repeating a hybrid that has been done many times before) but it combines the parents names and serves a purpose. I'm hoping for something
sensational among them - isn't that always the way.
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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