Six on Saturday – 3/2/2018


My seven weeks in Oz is now, sadly, a fast receding memory. On my last day I did a bit of gardening. The Strelitzia nicolae was getting very tall and leaning against the neighbour’s fence. It suckers freely so it’s a case of taking out one or two of the tallest stems each year. Sadly a bloom had just opened on the tallest stem. A few seeds came home with me; it’d probably be for the best if they failed to grow.

My first impression on Tuesday, when I took a first spin round the garden here, was how little had changed while I’d been away. A Pittosporum is listing badly and some bamboo stems have come down: it’s been windy. Fuchsia microphylla is still in leaf and flowering: it hasn’t been particularly cold. The lid had blown off the dustbin, which was nearly full of water: it’s been very wet.

Six things from my own garden this week then, for my contribution to The Propagator’s six on Saturday thing. It’s great to see new people joining in.

One.
How the weeds have grown! Pathetic that the most obvious difference after two months away is the weeds. Speedwell and bittercress mostly, both of which are flowering and will seed everywhere unless removed expeditiously. I’m not keen to get out there, it feels bloody cold. Contrast: Chopping Strelitzia at 35°C against weeding on hands and knees at 6°C.
SOS262

Two.
Hakonechloa macra ‘Mediovariegata’. I think I may have mentioned before that I am a Hakonechloa enthusiast. This one seems to be the most resilient in winter conditions and while it’s now getting a bit scruffy, it’s still the brightest patch of colour in the garden except for one early camellia. It will get cut to the ground in a week or two. H. macra ‘Albostriata’ is probably the same thing and may well be the correct name.

Three.
The aforementioned Camellia is this one. I grew it from seed of Camellia reticulata ‘Mary Williams’, a single pink that is basically the wild form of the species. It’s a free flowering semi-double in a vivid shade of pink and I hope it will produce even larger blooms once it’s properly established.

Four.
Camellia ‘Minato-no-akebono’. That translates as ‘Harbour at Dawn’. This is a Japanese raised hybrid between C. japonica ‘Kantô-tsukimiguruma’ and C. lutchuensis that was released in 1981. For me it starts flowering very early, in December or January, and carries on until March. The flowers are sweetly scented, very different from the autumn flowering sasanquas, and drop before they fade. The new growth also starts very early and is reddish.

Five.
Cyclamen coum. I’ve planted several of these in different places over the last couple of years. Some have failed, some have lived and flowered and this one has produced a rash of seedlings. I wish I knew what the secret of success was, they’re all in similar conditions.

Six.
Polygonatum mengzense F. tonkinensis HWJ567. The number at the end tells a story. H is Dan Hinkley, plant hunter, writer and nurseryman; WJ is Bleddyn Wynn-Jones of Crûg Farm Plants. Crûg had a stand at the rare plant fair held at Tregrehan last year. I bought it because I already had a different form, HWJ573, which I bought from Barracott Plants a couple of years earlier and which I like very much. Both were collected as seed from the highest mountain in Vietnam, in 1999.
HWJ573 had loads of berries last year which ripened bright red and stayed for months. I collected some and sowed the seeds, which germinated very well. This year it has far fewer berries and they’re still green, whereas those on HW567 are bright red. I’ll collect some and sow the seed, but later.
The berries are only part of the appeal; this is a plant that I will be featuring again. One thing you will notice though, is that unlike most Polygonatums, it is evergreen.


On the whole it’s good to be back. I enjoy visiting Australia but I wouldn’t really want to live there. I’ve been gardening here too long, I’d have to learn it all over again out there. And there’s a lot to be said for our comparatively benign climate.

14 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 3/2/2018

  1. Oh my where to start ummm that polyigium (spelling!!) is just well stunning such beautiful forms! Funny enough Dan is in Southampton in July and looking forward to go to the talk, his book was one of the best Plant books I have ever read
    Than there’s the camellias 😍😍
    Great six as ever Jim and enjoy the weeding!

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  2. I’m so sorry for you … you come back and you have lots of weeds to remove … Even though we had a similar spring these days, you just came back for this cold week coming: strong frosts forecasted… In your Six, I really enjoyed your camellia flowers because mine are not here yet.

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    1. At least I’m here to put the heaters on and cover things up if necessary. I wouldn’t have wanted to see hard frost forecast for here while I was away and unable to do anything. I quite like weeding, I’m less keen on freezing to do it.

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  3. I’ll swap weeding in your balmy 6C for digging out an 8″ diameter tree root. It’s currently 2C here with a dose of that mizzly drizzle that finds ways through my waterproofs. I’m bravely waiting for it to warm up a bit, I have some distant Aussie relatives who keep offering to sponsor me for a retirement down under but I prefer it here too. I’ve often wondered why Bleddyn and Sue always appear at Rare Plant Fairs far afield but are never to be found at the local one.

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  4. That first camellia is stunning. How old is it? And oh how different our approach to those particular weeds. I let both bloom before ripping them up, always leaving a few behind. The speedwell, especially, I so truly love. Put it down to me being a blow-in & considering them exotic, plus the story behind the name tickles me pink. Anyway, glad not too much bad happened in your absence. Welcome home!

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    1. I don’t have a record of when I sowed the camellia seed, I would guess at around 10 years. Amazingly, several seedlings flowered when less than two years old, albeit in small pots under cover.

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  5. A hearty welcome back to Blighty Jim! I noticed today a coating of teeny weed seedlings on all the manure mulch I out sown. It was a bit wet to hoe today but I really should get on and do that while they are easy to deal with…

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  6. Such a contrast in the posts and lovely to see the camelia in flower. When I had my allotment plot we had regular deliveries of council compost. There’s the odd Lego brick, teaspoon or scrabble tile but everything else was good. The high temperatures really do seem to kill off the weeds.

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