12th June 2016
Rodgersia 'Chocolate Wing' .
Summer has landed with a crash, which might have been thunder but wasn't. The weather forecast has been promising rain all week, and as the days have past the promise has receded. I thought
it was all nonsense until I spoke to a friend who was soaked in a deluge yesterday just a couple of miles away. I got some heavy mist that strained and forced out a single spot of rain, or
possibly two. It landed right in front of me, and I looked at it as it lay in the dust. It was not impressive.
So the garden is dry. At the top a Spiraea is looking tired. Down by the house Gunnera magellanica has gone grey and crispy. If it rains it will regrow, it it doesn't I may have to
rescue a piece. I'm not really sure why I grow it. Is it enough that it has impressive relatives?
The herbaceous border runs along the lowest border and is always slightly damp. Drainage from the fields above flows through on its way to the sea (eventually). I always intend to spend more
time maintaining it than I manage and this year I have settled back to enjoy the Red Campion, which should have been weeded out sometime in March. Rodgersia 'Chocolate Wing' does something
to the colour that I can't work out, but I am enjoying it. Does it clash or does it harmonise. I wouldn't have mixed the colours but I'm quite pleased they mixed themselves.
12th June 2016
Rosa 'Celeste' .
Further up the slope Rosa 'Celeste' has been fighting the same colour battle but not faring so well. The nodding flowers are doing a good job, perfuming the heavy air
around them but the pink is too sharp to be romantic and too soft to be victorious. The Campion wins out, at least for now.
There aren't many roses in the garden. The ground is too wet and the shade too heavy. The few I grow have to tolerate complete neglect and survive black spot. 'Celeste' seems to do both
and flowers reliably so it the welcome presence of a genus that I have almost completely neglected.
During the last week I have been making an effort to get all the paths mown and back under control. It means I have spent more time wandering about in the evenings enjoying
the different perspectives when I should have been weeding. 'Celeste' has been one of the little pleasures, and I think that is how I like it best.
12th June 2016
Paeonia 'Julia Rose' .
A week of unlikely combinations has culminated in an Intersectional Peony. The first of these hybrids between herbaceous and tree peonies were raised in Japan by Toichi Itoh and the
whole group are often referred to as Itoh Peonies. 'Julia Rose' is a later hybrid, raised by Roger F. Anderson
from Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. I have been told that as the flower ages it will fade from red through to pink and yellow shades. I am looking forward to seeing it tomorrow.
I planted it last year when a friend told me he had seen some intersectionals for sale in a local nursery (need I mention they were cheap). Peonies inspire irrational behaviour so I went to have a look and came back
with the last, 'Julia Rose'. It was a splendid foliage plant throughout the summer, produced some very satisfying red shoot in spring, and just as the bud was forming the same friend
told me another nursery locally had some 'Callies Memory', another intersectional (yes, the key point is they were cheap again).
Well, if it's worth doing once why not give it another go. I came back with the last two plants. One that had lost it's label, but I hope will be 'Callies Memory' and a small plant of the golden 'Bartzella'.
Joy sufficiently unbounded for me to plant them out immediately, which is the only sensible thing I have done all day.
Quite by chance, all three were raised by Roger F. Anderson so it is nice to have a little group of them.
12th June 2016
Calycanthus chinensis .
If you have a garden, friends are a source of great delight. Sometimes they give you things filled with wonder. I had long admired Calycanthus chinensis. I saw it first in flower at a nursery
but didn't buy it. I was suffering from a sort of shock-paralysis of the wallet at the time. I knew I wanted it but still walked away without it. By the time I went back it had gone.
Then I was given a seedling. Wonderful little scrap with great fat leaves and a tendency to gangle. I have had it in a large pot in the greenhouse for several years where it is slowly
enveloping some small camellias. I was looking for camellia flowers when I first noticed the bud forming on the end of a shoot like a little round marble. It feels like I have been watching it for an
age but it finally opened in the week and I have again been transfixed. I'm not sure what to say about it because I fear that if I let some of the happiness out it won't sizzle like air through a valve,
it will burst out with a pop.
It has a restricted distribution in Zhejiang Province, China and was first introduced to the west in the 1980's. I am on the lookout for a sheltered spot in the garden where it can extend its
magnificence beyond the confines of a pot. This seedling has a pink blush to the flower that I was not expecting. Previously I have only seen it in pure white, but apparently this is not unusual.
(Distant popping sound).