27th May 2018
Aquilegia vulgaris .
Chelsea show has been and gone again (Boo-hoo/Hurrah according to taste). Once again there has been a large serving of rust on display. Somewhere along the way a designer installed
an iron sculpture in a garden without protecting the surface adequately and had to come up with a line about the aestetic appeal of rust (or pay to have the sculpture polished and protected).
As a result, rust is the fashion of the day.
I started the mower yesterday, an event that always fills me with foreboding. Will it, won't it, will the effort finally be too much for it? Started like a dream first time. It's the small
things that really make a difference to a day. An elegant hat or a well cut suit, a working mower at the height of fashion perhaps. I didn't mow the Aquilegia although I probably should.
They grow in the path than runs through the hellebore border and I like them. I have tried several times to get them to establish in the border but the competition is too luxuriant,
they prefer the grass. Every year I leave them, they seed and increase. Eventually I will start mowing the hellebores and just enjoy the Aquilegia instead. I'm not sure that I can live without the
rush of excitement in December when the first hellebores flower but among the Aquilegia I can consider it.
27th May 2018
Clivia miniata .
I live sufficiently far to the west in Cornwall to see most the of the population of the UK silhouetted against the morning sun. When the forecasters started to talk about the Beast from the East
I was momentarily perplexed. They could have meant anyone. I only spent a moment wondering who the description best fitted and honestly, there was very little unkindness meant.
The cold weather did some horrible things, a few days of cold, dessicating winds defoliated the tree ferns and I think some of them are dead. It was all about timing, the ferns hadn't started to grow
but I think they had started to draw up moisture to the new fronds. The growing points were soft and juicy when the freeze came and it has done some serious damage. Last autumn I cut down some trees
to give them more space and light and I picked the wrong year.
The Clivia suffered in the same way. They weren't dessicated in the greenhouse and they have been colder without damage, but not in the middle of March. Flower buds were coming up and they
had started into growth. A sharp freeze turned many to mush, some will regrow very slowly others will not. It will probably take a year or more to know the difference. Fortunately one or two of
the seedlings were made of sterner stuff and shrugged off the chill so I still have a few to enjoy.
27th May 2018
Cornus florida ssp. urbiniana .
When I started this garden I obtained a group of Cornus florida seedlings, determined to have a grove of them somewhere. Unfortunately at the time the garden was made almost entirely
of cow-pats and high wind. The field had previously been used by a dairy farm and the evidence was abundantly distributed. I should perhapds add that the high wind was a meterological consequence
of a hillside location not a side effect of milk production.
It took the best part of a decade to establish enough protection to consider planting any Cornus and by that time there was only a single survivor, rather stunted in a pot. I planted it out with delight,
mostly at the thought that I would never have to water the damn thing again. Gardening is a great relief. In design terms it was planted to make the best use of the available space. Oh look a space,
best put it there!
It has remained rather stunted but a decade of growth lead it to flower and confirm that it was the Magic Dogwood, C. florida urbiniana. Miraculous would be a better description of its survival.
It comes from mountains of eastern Mexico and the inflorescence bracts curl up around the flower head like a lantern. It has been more floriferous with me than the type subspecies which would prefer a
longer, hotter summer than I can expect.
27th May 2018
Paeonia wittmanniana .
Changes have been afoot among the peonies in recent years and the old confusion has been replaced by an entirely new confusion. It is as well that peonies have flowers that temporarily dispel thought.
It isn't their only appeal but it is certainly one of them. I have been watching the buds for months, perched atop the stems. The stems are very strong, lithe rather sinuous and shiny. The buds balanced
right at the top. It puts me in mind of a sealion balancing a ball. The flowers have opened, they could (or even should) have been creamy white but instead they are a little pinkish. I don't mind,
it is an amazing plant. It has grown about 1m tall with rugged green leaves, shiny but with a texture like beaten copper. The whole thing is a joy.
In 2002 it was lumped into P. daurica as P. daurica ssp. wittmanniana which has simplified the confusion of peony species I suppose. P. mlokosewitschii followed an equivalent path
(P. daurica ssp. mlokosewitschii) and although both subspecies are thought of as whitish or yellow, they can both wander into pinkish on occasion. When P. d. mlokosewitschii does it
peoples faces turn to thunder with annoyance.
Which didn't happen last night. We were promised thunder storms but every time I checked the forecast they had drifted an hour further away. Heavy rain overnight was the situation when I went to bed.
It didn't happen. On the plus side, the mower won't be any rustier either.