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

16th June 2013

Puya spathacea
The garden here operates in a state of perpetual chaos. It happens because I like to try new things, and that involves change. On an optimistic day I would say that the garden is in a state of constant change but that implies a degree of organisation and control that is entirely illusory. Years ago I kept a few chickens running about the place. They were a little untidy but they made a cheerful noise and encouraged wildlife into the garden in the shape of a handsome and hungry fox who imposed an order of his own. I was reminded of those days by a telephone call to my sister that made me feel old. We spent the entire call clucking about the world like old hens. The year's half over you know, where does it go, would you believe it. Time flies.
People assume that gardeners are patient people. We put things in and wait years for them to perform. I don't know about other people, but it certainly isn't true of me. I'm not patient, I just have a very short attention span. I put things in and then get distracted for a while. It might be years, it might be decades. Suddenly one day I get a surprise when something I had more or less forgotten suddenly reappears.
That is the real story behind Puya spathacea. Bought from Bob Brown in 2008, grown from seed he collected himself under the number RCB RA-S-2 at an altitude of 2250m in the Central Sierras, Argentina. I put it in a big pot, sat it in the greenhouse and went off to do something else. Suddenly here it is in flower. Searching online shows that it can have larger, brighter bracts and the flower spike would have been two inches taller if I hadn't knocked the top off while moving it but all things considered this is a very satisfactory reward for five years of forgetfulness.

16th June 2013

Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus
In recent years I have hosted a small barbecue for the Carnivorous Plant Society. We sit around in the evening, look at the Sarracenia and create the same appearance of comfortable complacency that led to the French Revolution. I have spent the week removing all the dead leaves from the plants, which should have been done in January. Unfortunately January is cold and damp, there are snowdrops to look at and I can think of much better things to do than splash around in the Sarracenia pulling off dead leaves. I like to have something new to look forward to for every season and sometimes that clashes with the jobs I should really be doing.
Long introduction; the herbaceous border. Should have been weeded by now but hasn't been so it is alive with the vibrant flowers of pink campion. It doesn't take long to do so I might get there in one of the long evenings this week. Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus has started and if I clean it up I will be reminded of all the things I planned to do in the winter and didn't get to. It is a Chinese species that has been in cultivation in Europe for centuries. Records of it growing 'wild' in north east Italy probably refer to garden escapes. It is usually the first species to flower and was much used by early breeders. It produces small flowered early yellow trumpet hybrids that are still grown occasionally under the banner of "historical interest".

16th June 2013

Disa Unilangley
The Disa give me a magnificent season of interest in June and July when the garden has grown out of the enthusiasm of spring and is settling into green shade. There are a few weeks when I have to choose between mowing, tree management and playing with the Disa. I sowed eighteen pots of new hybrid seed last year and still haven't cleared up some branches I cut down last August. Silly thing to do anyway, cut down branches when the Hedychium and Nerine are about to start!
Modern Disa hybrids lean very heavily on D.uniflora. It has large scarlet flowers and grows at relatively high altitudes in the southwestern Cape of South Africa. It is fairly hardy but as the name suggests, it often has only a single flower on the scape and can be (in cultivation at least) quite short. Much modern Disa hybridising aims to produce plants for cut flowers, and so breeders have used other species to introduce desirable characteristics. D.tripetaloides is a tiny little thing with large numbers of flowers and D.racemosa has tall flower scapes. The hybrid between them is called D. Langleyensis and has tall spikes with multiple flowers but they are rather slender and tend to lean - an unwanted consequence if introducing D.tripetaloides to the mix.
When Disa breeders run into prolems like that the standard solution seems to be to cross it with D.uniflora and hope for the best - D. Unilangley is born!
I only have a single clone which is tall, pink, multiflowered and rather wobbly but I am sure there is potential and I have some seedlings coming on. If I could get hold of D.racemosa I would remake the hybrid but unfortunately I haven't managed to germinate seed to date.

16th June 2013

Rebutia christinae
My random collection of cacti and succulents have spent many years in a corner of a greenhouse that is mostly devoted to bulbs. It isn't a very good arrangement, I spend too much time trying to remember what should be watered and when and in the end everything gets soaked just in case. I have finally managed to build a little greenhouse just for the succulents and any moment now the cacti will be moved into it. With a little care I will avoid the slight damage done to Puya spathacea when it made the journey last week, though in the case of the Puya the slight damage was mutual.
There aren't many true cacti here. I don't provide any winter heat so they have to be very hardy. A big pile of old labels attests to the fact that there are a lot of Mammillaria, Gymnocalycium Opuntia and the rest that aren't tough enough. Some of the Rebutia seem to be good, and I will have another try with Echinocereus now there is some space.
R.christinae (R.steinmannii var christinae or probably just a synonym for R.steinmannii) has come through the last few winters without damage. It needs a bigger pot now and this is the time to do it, so that it has time to produce new roots and settle in before - no, it isn't even the longest day, I'm not going to write the 'w' word yet.
I may be an ageing, clucking, chaotic megalomaniac, but I think it is perfectly acceptable to disregard the 'w' word in the middle of summer. Next week we will have passed the longest day and be on the downhill slope, and all bets are off. Don't the policemen look young these days.

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.
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