Six on Saturday – 26/5/2018

I popped up the allotment first thing, earthed up spuds and planted more seedling dahlias. Rain is forecast and the clouds are gathering. A good downpour would be ideal this weekend, just before things start to get seriously stressed. What with newly planted stuff on the allotment and all the pot stuff back here, I’m spending a lot of time watering. At least the slugs have been slowed down a bit.

From the shady section of the garden, and very definitely one of my favourites. Polygonatum mengzense f. tonkinensis HWJ573 has only put up one stem this year, but we’re talking quality, not quantity. It’s 20 inches tall and has clusters of flower buds emerging at each leaf axil. They will be no bigger or showier when they’re out but they are followed by berries which turn scarlet. There are still one or two on one of last year’s shoots in the picture. I also have a bunch of seedlings. And it seems pretty much slug proof.

On Tuesday I called in to one of the garden centres on the fringes of Plymouth, just for a few bedding plants and a mooch around. I didn’t expect to find a bench full of Bletilla striata. Four different named forms, well filled 2 litre pots, at £7.99, which I thought reasonable. Seizing the moment, or succumbing to temptation, I bought three, ‘Kuchibeni’, ‘Blue Dragon’ and ‘Shi-ran’. I blame the SOS’er from last week who put up pictures of hers. Then I had to find somewhere to plant them.

Melittis melisophyllum ‘Royal Velvet Distinction’ was also mentioned last week, by sedumsdahliasandhayfever. I’ve had this for a couple of years and it’s having a good one this year. There is a lane near here where the wild form grows in the hedgerow. The grandiose ‘Royal Velvet Distinction’ leads you to expect a massive improvement on the wildling, but it’s not so very different.

Tulips are gone, all over, died down and forgotten. Pots of all shapes and sizes are accumulating at the front of the house to take their place and then some. Violas are providing colour for now.

Back to the shade for another woodlander. This is Disporum viridescens, which is happily spreading and has these small white flowers in spring. It has an understated, refined quality that would work better if it was able to colonize a sizable area.

This was a complete surprise that I only noticed yesterday. It’s come up from a carpet of Cardamine trifolia and I couldn’t find the beginning, let alone a label. It’s pushed up about six feet through Fuchsia and Holboellia to reach the light.

I’ve earthed up my potatoes, now the weather can do what it likes. I can go in and out between showers at home, it’s trickier on the allotment. It’ll give me a chance to check on the Saturday sixes as they come in. Links as ever in the comments to The Propagators piece.

23 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 26/5/2018

  1. Bletilla striata..I missed that last week, but I can see why you were tempted. Violas: I have seedlings popping up everywhere! Funny how the seasons overlap.

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  2. It’s funny to see you talking about Bletilla, I just bought 2 last Sunday just after reading someone’s post… I found Bletilla striata alba but it was not cheap compared to your price … 5€ for 2 bulbs. .. Already in the ground with new shoots, they will be shown in a next SoS.


  3. I like all the interesting plants you share – I learn something every week that I haven’t met before. Does the first one have purple flowers? It looks like something I grew in Oz but the leaves had a green tinge when young.


    1. It was a Wynn-Jones/Dan Hinkley collection from Vietnam in 1999. They seem to have collected several forms, Crug list 6 with HWJ numbers, and they collected seed, so there will have been some variation to start with. Whether they subsequently propagated by seed or division I don’t know, but seed seems more likely. My HWJ573 has greenish flowers, small and hardly opening. The picture on Crug’s website has dark purple flowers. The leaves start dark purple and gradually turn green.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Melittis melissophyllum is Bastard Balm. It’s very localised in a few southern counties from Cornwall to Sussex and in South Wales. It grows in a lane nearby, I must go and see how it’s doing.

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      1. I wonder if your local wildlife trust keeps records of sightings. I think they should actively try to increase populations of rare natives, rather than just conserve what’s there. Perhaps they do.

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  4. A fantastic collection of plants, all of which are new to me – well not the violas! I have a shady border to tackle sometime soonish so I must take notes. Thanks for sharing and I can see the collector’s gene that you have. 🙂


    1. I’m a firm believer in using all the little areas with distinct microclimates to the full, to get maximum variety in a small space. If the collecting thing is genetic, I don’t know which parent I should blame; a little from both perhaps.

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  5. Some really nice plants this week. I especially like the Polygonatum and Disporum.

    Your Melittis is growing much better than mine. I’m glad to hear that “Royal Velvet Distinction” isn’t that different from the wildlings. As that is the only clone I could obtain over here, it’s nice to know that it resembles something that might be found in the wild. I love growing plants from places I have visited, so it’s fun to see that there are records from near Looe (childhood holiday spot) on The Cornish Biodiversity Network.


    1. Just been looking up that record, it’s a different lot from the site I know, which doesn’t seem to have been recorded. I went to have a look this afternoon, there’s much more of it than I realised, and quite a range of colour. On an east-west lane it was mainly growing on the south facing bank, though there was some on the other side too. This is about seven miles directly north of Looe.

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    1. My tulips have been relegated to an out of the way corner pending a decision on what to do with them. Keep for next year, plant in garden, chuck and buy new, it’s a dilemma.


  6. Having a bit of a thing for dark leaves I love the Polygonatum. Sadly, I’ve never been able to grow Solomon’s Seal. Although the books don’t say that it likes an acid soil I wonder if, being a woodland plant, it prefers something less alkaline than I have in my garden. And then there was the matter of the sawfly!


    1. As you say, there is no reference anywhere to them wanting acid soil. They do like a humus rich soil and they don’t like being too dry in summer. My ordinary Solomon’s Seal was about holding its own while getting ravaged by sawfly, then I had one year where I meticulously checked it every couple of days, picked them off and squashed them. The clump about doubled in size that year. They haven’t touched P. mengzense tonkinensis. P. verticillatum is the worst, though they have to make do with what the slugs have left. Polygonatum x hybridum ‘Betburg’ is purple when it first leafs out, very nice.


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