Six on Saturday – 11/11/2017

At this time of year you can be sure that all the better gardening magazines will have an article urging you not to cut down your grasses and herbaceous perennials but to leave them to enjoy their structure and shape when white with rime on those cold frosty but sunny winter mornings that we get so many of. In Cornwall you might be lucky enough to get one or two such mornings in a winter, but the grasses and herbaceous perennials will by then be lying in a soggy and bedraggled mess on the ground. I’ve just spent a couple of hours cutting down and shredding before this weekend’s gales really kick in. Right, enough whingeing, here are my six offerings for this week:

One of the compensations for not being able to enjoy frosty mornings, and to be honest, you can keep them, is being able to grow things that would not survive up country. Like Fuchsia excorticata. There are a few Cornish gardens where this gets to something like the tree proportions it attains in its native New Zealand and when it does, its peeling bark is right up there with Stewartia sinensis and such like. Ours was planted on the bank between us and a neighbour and he has hacked it down in years past. This year he seems to have overlooked it and it is producing a few flowers.

I make no apology for giving my two sasanqua camellias a second outing in a six. This is their second winter in their current quarters but last year they were still recovering from being hungry pot plants for a few years. They are now fully recovered and performing magnificently. They are very happy in poor stony soil and full sun at the front of the house, both flowering and growing really well. ‘Navajo’ and ‘Paradise Little Liane’ are their names.

John’s piece last week reminded me that I did in fact have a garden ornament somewhere. This turtle sat looking out over our pond for years, then we filled in the pond. He stayed put, disappearing under lush vegetation and pretty much forgotten. I have now rescued him, given him a clean up and plonked him down to take his photo.  The location lacks an air of permanence. And he(/she?) needs a name.

Coprosma. We haven’t had a name attached to this plant for years but Coprosma repens ‘Pink Splendour’ comes to mind. One of our local garden centres had five or six varieties of Coprosma in stock last week. A few years ago they were firmly border line hardy, even here, but they are very tolerant of low nutrient levels (aka neglect) which hardens them up effectively. This one has been in the garden for three or four years and is about 4 feet tall. Before that it was in a pot, outdoors, for several years. They look a bit like they might be made of plastic; glossy and oddly coloured. Bit of colour in the winter though.
The green leaved species grows on the western facing edges of the Scillies, completely impervious to what the sea throws at it. Like the Hottentot fig it shares the niche with, it’s an invasive alien, from New Zealand in this case.

Autumn colour, or Acer palmatum ‘Atropurpureum’. 99% of the leaves on this tree were ripped off by Ophelia and Brian while still dark purple. The remaining 1% have turned red and look very nice with the sun shining through. A little imagination and I can imagine myself at Westonbirt.

Miscanthus nepalensis. A couple of years ago I bought the grass Phaenosperma globosa at one of the Plant Heritage sales in Tavistock. It hasn’t been a success, a fact that gave me pause when I saw this on a recent visit. I went ahead and bought it anyway and have not been given cause to regret the decision so far. (My usual cause for regret in these situations is ear-ache)

There will no doubt be lots more sixes to enjoy, accessible from ThePropagator’s own weekly set. Hope you enjoyed mine, see you next week.

21 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 11/11/2017

  1. I always enjoy seeing miscanthus against the light but have not been tempted to make a purchase – just can’t seem to see it in my garden. For now it remains on the ‘thinking about it’ list.


  2. Your sasanqua camellias deserved a 2nd outing. I particularly like the Navajo. I’m intrigued by the fuschia as well, & wonder if it’d grow here. May investigate it. The acer’s gorgeous, more so because of the fewer leaves & the grass . . . if I didn’t have a predisposition against ornamental grasses, I’d buy that one, based on your photo. Great collection this week!


    1. I was trying to sing the praises of your feathery acer but couldn’t get the comment to go. It’s lovely. Fuchsia excorticata as you see it in west Cornwall gardens is tree-like with quite large leaves and is not very hardy at all. The form we have is possibly a hybrid with perscandens, which would actually make it F. x colensoi. It is bushier and I suspect hardier, than the proper tree form. There’s a F. excorticata x F. magellanica cross called ‘Lechlade Magicien’ which I believe has the potential to grow small tree sized, has magellanica type flowers with blue pollen, as the NZ species do, and should be reasonably hardy.


  3. That fuchsia is phenomenal! The colours on those flowers are something else. Ear-ache is a familiar form of regret round my way. Should be a recognised horticultural effect. Pain of ear ache given by formula P = x2 + y3 + z2 where x is number of plant bought, y is lack of space and z is lack of money.


  4. Fuchsia excorticata looks amazing! Even though it hails from “across the ditch”, I’ve never seen it in Australia.


    1. Ah, an Aussie respondent. Might you consider coming aboard the Six on Saturday bus? Mr P was wanting an antipodean perspective. Re the fuchsia, far be it from me, a pom, to pontificate on how a New Zealand plant would grow in Australia, but our experience here is that it is quite sensitive to high temperatures, with 25C or higher, especially at the roots, potentially fatal. So the higher altitude, cooler bits of Australia might suit it, but not the rest.


  5. Hi there, six on a Saturday sounds intriguing. Could definitely give it a go! Alas I think the 25 degree limit probably makes all of Australia a no-go area for this plant.


      1. Hi, I’m in Mudgee, central west New South Wales. I lived most of my life on the coast but as a gardener, I love it out here. We are much hotter, much colder and much drier than the coast and have very distinct seasons. Cool climate plants and roses also love it here. Several of my blog posts give a more detailed picture of this part of the world.


      2. The link to your blog is missing from the comments page so I haven’t been able to access it. As near as we’ve been to you is Mt Tomah botanic garden at the bottom of Wollemi National Park. We also came down to Glen Innes and maybe Armidale. Interesting flora, fauna, architecture, landscape, everything.


      3. Hi, I haven’t been to Mt Tomah but have done lots of bushwalking in the Wollemi. Mudgee is quite close to the northwestern extent of the NP. Spectacular scenery there and great walking. Glad you’ve found lots to enjoy in our part of the world.


  6. That Miscanthus is on next year’s get list; your photo of it is the best I’ve seen and has moved it to the early season of gets. Brian and Ophelia between them totally denuded my Acer and I’m missing that finale of red; your photo reminds me of what might have been. And methinks a Camellia will sneak into the middle season of gets. The difficulty will be choosing which one as there seems to be a wide range of sasanquas, Find a child to name your turtle but expect something like “Donatello”; an older person may go for “Touche”!


    1. I’ve been up in a Devon garden today photographing sasanquas. I got 18, there were actually a couple more. ‘Christmas Rose’ and ‘Yume’ stood out for me. I reckon the two I put in Saturday’s six, ‘Navajo’ and ‘Paradise Little Liane’, are really good. Then I’d add ‘Gay Sue’, ‘Bonanza’ and ‘Show Girl’. You only want one. . Ridiculous!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Beautiful 6 Jim, miscanthus is one of my favourite grasses and love the camellia sasanquas hoping to go to Hilliers next weekend and photograph a few more great plants indeed! Funny enough down your way in a few weeks time, any places worth popping in for an hour or so? Going to burncoose to pick some things up;)


      2. Winter Plants and Hardy Geraniums. Sadly I’m unable to get to either. The Plantsman’s garden of choice is Tregrehan but it’s at St Austell and closed for the season, though I’m sure Tom wouldn’t mind you calling in. Glendurgan and Trebah always have things to see.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thank you Jim sad I shall miss you, yes maybe st Austell will be a bit far on this trip love those other two so may try and pop into one of them for a couple of hours, not been there for years


      4. I didn’t say I want only one! It’s just that I may not be able to provide the best conditions for more than one. Numbers 2 et seq. (that’s more Latin 😉 ) will have to be in an open area exposed to frequently strong westerly winds and with no shelter from the northerly cold. There are no south or west-facing anythings to grow them against unless I keep them at no more than a metre tall and 50cm wide..


      5. They’re pretty tough, at least once they’ve developed a decent root system. They just need a long enough growing season to make growth and develop buds before autumn.


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