23rd April 2017
Another sunny week. I have been rushing through spring tasks in the hope of getting time to plant things in the garden. As the ground
gets drier the thought of planting recedes.
Finally yesterday evening I grasped the nettle, took a few of the largest shrubs from the
greenhouse and planted them outside.
I know it is the right thing to do, and I was encouraged that the soil is still slightly moist
below the surface, but it still feels wrong. Now everything has been watered in I
can stand back and hope for rain. After a very wet
winter we were due a dry spell, and perhaps after a dry spell it isn't unreasonable to hope for some rain.
Planting things out is
the right thing to do. These Pieris formosa were planted too closely when they first went in, and I spent several years thinking
to leave them as they were. Eventually I was forced to reduce their canopies substantially (with a bow saw) and move the
remaining stumps. It has taken them a few years
to recover from the shock and I wish I had acted earlier. Perhaps if I had moved them
when they were managable I would have found the labels as well. As it is
I am enjoying them again, even though they are nameless. I am
sure this one is P. formosa, and if I was going to make a guess, it is P. formosa forrestii .
Perhaps it doesn't
matter, it is red which is what I want from a Pieris at this time of the year.
23rd April 2017
Magnolia 'Star Wars'
During the winter the garden opens up. Without the summer leaves it is a brighter, airier place with long views and bare spaces.
I enjoy the minimalism. It makes me concentrate
on the tiny details. I like the mosses and the crusty lichens and the clear air
and the lack of clutter. If winter lasted a week longer I would go mad because the last weeks are filed with a
yearning for something
lush and fat and frivolous bursting through the ground. I yearn for the herbaceous foolishness that spring brings and as the weather
I revel in the excess.
This has been a shrub week. Not because the foolishness has ended for the year, but because it has
overwhelmed me. The garden is a mass of detail flowing and burgeoning, here and then gone.
The black shoots of Disporum megalanthum
were amazing at the start of the week and now those same shoots are fluffy with cream petals, opening faster than the shoot can
and free them. I am frightened to look, it is all too much.
Don't look down then. I have been looking up, and the last
hybrid magnolias are performing. 'Star Wars' is about 3m tall now and it has passed into the beauty of youth. No longer a few
on a stick. As it becomes a tree it will give up something of this simple beauty in return for the majesty of maturity.
By then I will be taking it for granted. Something of the sparkling
wonder of the moment comes from knowing that.
23rd April 2017
Magnolia laevifolia is still in the greenhouse, waiting to be set free. I worry that it is in flower, I worry that it has
rooted through, I worry that it is tall and gangling.
On the other hand the earlier I move it the better. There is nothing to be
gained by putting it off so it is coming to the top of the list of things to plant. I have a sheltered corner behind
that should suit it.
The furry ginger buds are delightful from the moment they start to swell in February until the bud scales
fall off and the first flowers open. I have to stoop to get under the trailing branches
as I walk up the greenhouse path and I
always feel as though the gingery fluff will drift down onto me like itching powder. It doesn't, it just looks as though it should.
It's one more reason why I will be happier to see it planted outside. Not a rational reason, but one of those foolish ideas that no
amount of evidence will shift.
23rd April 2017
Camellias are unquestionably satisfying right up until the first buds open. From then on, it is more open to debate. It all
boils down to the Begonia trilemma.
There are those who like species begonias. They like them simple and unadulterated,
and they aren't best pleased if someone points out the complex parentage of "Begonia rex"
which they love and take as their own.
Then there is B. semperflorens the harlot of pink bedding. Despised by the species fanatics, as are those who grow them.
Finally the gigantic frilly flowers of the tuberous begonias have a dedicated following. Three groups who gaze at eachothers gardens
in incredulous incomprehension.
Like opening a can and finding it really is full of worms.
Thus it is with Camellias. Small, subtle and wild; sturdy and practical; pink and ridiculous.
'Winton' comes into the subtle/wild group. Raised by Hilliers it is a comparable seedling to 'Cornish Snow'. Pinker, later and easier
to grow. I planted it on a bank years ago and
I thought it had died under a blanket of brambles. In autumn I cleared the undergrowth
which had long since become overgrowth and discovered some struggling branchlets.
Some light and air and I have two flowers. It has
become a favourite of mine.
I like all the begonias but I'm a bit more partisan about camellias.