19th May 2019
Crinodendron hookerianum 'Ada Hoffman'.
May seems to be setting us up for the shock of flaming June. The weather has been cool with occasional showers, not enough to wet the ground thoroughly but enough to make shrubs clammy
for hours. Strong winds dominated the middle of the week. Where the wind comes from, where the wind goes (etc. etc.). What the wind does in the meantime is much clearer, dessicating new growth.
I drove through Wiltshire at the end of the week and the Beech Trees have crispy brown hearts. It doesn't seem to have affected the outer growth but a few leaves down from the tips
the growth looks completely browned. Field Maples had a very tired look to them and they are both suffering at a season when they should look at their freshest. Hopefully the damage is only cosmetic,
I didn't stop to look more closely.
Crinodendron hookerianum seems well able to tolerate the wind, the buds are forming well and don't seem to have been affected. 'Ada Hoffman' may be another matter. I have not managed to
establish it outside but in the protection of the greenhouse it has romped away. It is a little unfortunate that as a large shrub it is still growing in a large pot. It rooted through years ago
and then romped away. The plan had been to grow it on for a while and plant it out when it was larger. A clever plan; a flaw has emerged.
I may just cut it back savagely, dig it up and move it (at the appropriate season). Perhaps it isn't a fickle thing, I have just been repeatedly unlucky. It can't stay where it is. Testing times ahead.
19th May 2019
I don't have the scarlet lanterns of Crinodendron hookerianum to enjoy in the garden yet. That remarkable pleasure is to come. To be honest I prefer the scarlet ones to the pale pink 'Ada Hoffman'
but if I say that within earshot she will crash to the ground with a thud like a dropped ballerina.
Fortunately there is a scarlet peony to make up the deficiency and it is difficult to see how a peony could be any more scarlet.
The species grows in south-eastern Europe and into Turkey with a small population in southern Italy. The bright scarlet flowers make it a very effective attractor of pollinators, which is a way of saying that
it won't be in flower for very long. After a couple of days the insects will have done their job and the petals will fall. The colour is remarkable, even among peonies. The large, globe shaped flowers
catch the light from every angle. I imagine the inside warms up in the sunshine as well, no wonder the insects love it. I can't see why they would bother to leave, I certainly wouldn't if I was small enough
to curl up around the comforting carpels. Can you tell I have had a sleepy morning?
Fortunately for cross-pollination, the petals fall off. Pulling the walls down is a curious way to evict someone
but it seems to be effective. Insects leave with a yearning for scarlet bowers that I can understand. I'm not sure that I am even going to make it to the end of the paragraph ... zzz
19th May 2019
Bletilla Laneside Thea.
In the days when I kept chickens I had a small black bantam rooster as showy as a peony. He had a beetle green sheen on his plumage but he walked around most of the time with a droopy disposition.
Then, from time to time, he would rise on his tip-toes, look up to the sky, raise his tail and pause. That essential pause to ensure that the world is paying full attention, and then crow
with a perfect, fluting voice. It was impossible not to admire him and now you know why I grow Bletilla.
The pleated green leaves are good. Not Veratrum-good, but still very satisfactory. They march around their territory with slow but determined reproduction. In their day to day life they
are perfectly satisfactory, and then the spring comes. The flower spikes stretch up to the sky, the buds fill and they pause. Have you noticed, yes of course you have noticed. Look up and, 2, 3, 4, flower.
I was very happy to see Bletilla Laneside Thea romp up out of its pot this spring. I bought it back in the years when I was still killing Bletilla as though it were a sport for marauding Mongols.
I have learnt, perhaps I have learnt better. I don't know what to make of the name. Is it a grex name for a group of seedlings, or is it a selected cultivar? I bought one in 2016, I haven't seen it offered since,
it isn't registered and I like it. Next time I see Laneside Hardy Orchids at a show, I will ask them.
19th May 2019
Tropaeolum tricolor .
I don't understand any of it, of course. That is what keeps me sane. Tropaeolum tricolor was a magnificent thug in the greenhouse. I had to try it outside, if only to clear some space.
Outside it has been tiny, a whiff of delicate trailing stem and the perfume of despair. I was convinced that it was dead and paid it no further thought. A pretty little thing
but not worth a lot of effort if it is going to get all huffy in the ground.
It is endemic to Chile where it grows in seasonally moist mountain forest. It grows from a deep tuber and is well suited to survive drought and cold. I thought it would be perfectly happy in the garden.
I had come to the conclusion that I was wrong.
Suddenly this year it has at the very least changed its mind. At a more extreme level, it may actually have come back to life, I was sure it was dead. Whatever the unlikely truth, this year it
has grown to about a metre tall and flowered with some conviction. Perhaps the mild winted encouraged it or perhaps the tuber has finally reached a protected depth. Whatever the reason, I would be happy
to have more of it around the garden, there are plenty of low shrubs that it could decorate.
I imagine it is pollinated by hummingbirds. I can hope.