11th November 2018
Calycanthus floridus var. glaucus .
All around me the autumn colour is swirling like an impressionist painting. Heavy rain on Friday almost turned it into a 'Water Lilies' detail but
closer inspection revealed that it was real water sparkling through a grassy path not a moment of Monet magic. I hid from it. There is gardening and there
is lunacy. Sometimes the line between them is indistinct but there is always salvation in the pyromaniacs test. Would I rather light the bonfire or light
a fire in the hearth? No question of Friday, the former would have been impossible without the assistance of a serious accelerant. Sanity stepped in looking
just like a chair by the fireside.
Around the lanes I have been struck by the oaks. I love the slow understatement of oaks. When I am tired of my own floral excess I go and sit under a sycamore.
It isn't an oak but it reminds me of one. In the lanes they have coloured. Usually the leaves die, turn crispy brown and then fall. This year they have developed
subtle bronze hues as they age, The wood along the valley like a field of gilded cauliflowers. Beech trees are almost too gaudy as their branches sweep over the roads.
And Calycanthus floridus var. glaucus is just bonkers. I had got used to a pattern. The big green leaves drop off one day and lie in a spinachy mush on the ground.
A ridiculous rainbow with a pot of gold at its base, a year to cherish.
11th November 2018
Correa glabra var. turnbullii .
It has been a memorable year. Correa glabra var. turnbullii was planted out last year. I have a few Correa in the greenhouse where
they have grown too big and tangled to serve any real purpose. I love them but I am frightened to plant them out. 1988 killed them all, 2010 killed them all, planting
out seemed pointless but eventually it is inevitable. Might as well happen now, so out it went. I had my fingers crossed for a decent winter, give it a chance to establish
before doom descended. Everything looked good until February when the Beast from the East arrived. I was sure the Correa was dead, the tangled matrix of branches
browned in sections over the next few weeks. One tiny piece survived, the westernmost branch, surely an accident. It can't possibly have been protected
by the straggling body to the east? The surviving speck appreciated the warm summer and has regrown strongly. I have a flower and the possibility of a few
more if the weather permits. It won't survive a harsh winter, I'm not even sure it will survive a mild winter but I have enjoyed it for a while. The others will be going out
when spring arrives.
11th November 2018
Pelargonium quinquelobatum .
The Pelargonium paradox continues to attract me. There are tender Pelargonium that are like pelargoniums
and there are hardy Pelargonium that aren't. I though I had found a crossover in P. fulgidum, a scarlet flowered species that has survived a number of
cold winters in the Agave house but this autumn it gave up at the first frost. P. sidoides is the closest I have found, with purple flowers in the brightest
versions of the species. It makes a little bun of leaves, more like a Geranium than a Pelargonium but it has been hardy outside.
P. quinquelobatum was an adventure in seed raising. I got the seed when I was "making up the numbers" on a seed order. Usually I would pick an unknown Gladiolus
species but I felt like a change. It provided a years amusement and then produced a head of strange greeny-brown flowers. I have never managd to capture the colour in a picture.
They always come out looking white, but they aren't. It was fascinating. Winter killed them all, except one small seedling. It might even have been self-sown it was so tiny when I found it.
It has grown, the first seed head is forming. It might survive another winter and I might collect the seed just in case. Or I might accept that a strange un-Pelargonium
with un-green flowers can stand aside and make way for other irrational fixations.
11th November 2018
Dendrobium Candy 'Mornington' .
Because I have a few. From time to time I sit back and think I am happy with the snowdrops, and the Erythronium. The Pleione, Sarracenia, Disa, Hedychium, Nerine.
I am content to let the seasons march around from passion to passion until I am exhausted. Then I can retire to the garden and sit in the shade of a pretend oak. I don't need anything else.
There is always temptation. Quite by accident the various forms of Dendrobium kingianum were accumulating. It wasn't meaningful, I was just amused by the thought of a hardy Dendrobium.
I get the same kick from the hardy Begonia or the Aeschynanthus. Not so much the hardy Ficus or Schefflera but there is still an attraction in them.
They unseat my expectations.
Those naughty Australians. Not content with selecting endless named Correa that aren't really hardy here, they have grown a galaxy of hybrids from their native Dendrobium.
They are just starting to reach the market and I have been acquiring one or two. The plan is that I will bring them into the house this year rather than take the risk in the greenhouse.
When I got them I felt ruthless, but I have softened. I will test their hardiness more gently, take each year as it comes.
Dendrobium Candy is about 25% D. kingianum and about 25% D. speciosum. Both have been hardy here in a cold greenhouse so I might get away with it. It all depends what the future brings.
If I could have seen into the future when I was young I might not have grown any of this. I might have become an accountant, though I don't mean to be rude to accountants.
Who am I kidding? Yes I do.