Six on Saturday – 22/2/2020

Too many twos in the date if you ask me. Actually managed to get a bit of gardening done yesterday, mainly chopping down grasses and Epimediums before the new growth gets any higher and makes it impossible. It looks barer, I’m not sure it looks better. A few more weeks will change that though, there are things shooting all over the place. At least with a bit more happening finding half a dozen things is easy enough, to the point I have choices.

I’ve been playing with grafting camellias for a few years, with a modicum of success. This one is Camellia reticulata ‘Mouchang’. Most Camellias can be raised from cuttings but pure reticulatas are the exception. I grew seedlings of a wild type C. reticulata and grafted this onto one in August 2018. It’s only about a foot high and the flower is enormous. It’s in my tunnel of course, along with a few others.

I’ll sneak a couple of the others in, for the Camellia fans out there. These are the species Camellia yuhsienensis and a 1993 registered variety from Nuccio’s Nurseries in California called ‘Sunny Side’. They’ll have finished flowering by next week.

Rosa ‘Betty Sheriff’. There was a great back story to this rose but I’ve lost it. I seem to recall Ludlow and Sheriff collected seed of it in the wilds of somewhere while on an alpine collecting trip. It was distributed and forgotten about. Decades later, they happened upon someone who’d successfully raised it. I got it from the late Nigel Holman of Chyverton. It’s a beast. It’ll grow up tall trees and drag them down. The spines are merciless. Then it flowers and all is forgiven, big trusses of pink blushed white fragrant single flowers. I was visiting my old haunts and collected some cuttings, I have no idea what I’m going to do with them if they root.

Trachystemon orientalis. This is the toughest of plants; will grow in dry shade, wet shade, whatever. Semi-evergreen, with new fresh whopper dopper leaves coming up now accompanied by blue shooting star flowers. OK, it lacks refinement, but where that isn’t required it’s very useful.

Storm Ciara blew out a fence panel between us and next door, Dennis snapped a post and took down the trellis panel a bit further along. The post was concreted in. To get that out I need to remove the panels either side, dig a big hole and lift the concrete out. I decided to wait til the next post goes and I can replace a section of the fence. It only gets blown from one direction so I propped it. Could last years.

I had a tray of Cyclamen seedlings which by autumn last year had become very densely covered with moss. I thought I would see if Jeyes Fluid would kill the moss so I mixed a bit up at a dilution I failed to note and sprayed the tray. It worked a treat but the cyclamen were already leafing out below the surface and I waited anxiously for them to emerge. Nothing happened. I had another poke around and it looked like I’d probably killed the cyclamen as well as the moss. Turns out I hadn’t. In spite of the label saying C. hederifolium, they look to all be repandum, which doesn’t emerge until January. Looking good, there are even some flower buds coming up. Sown 6/9/2017.

I’m going to end with a garden Camellia too. C. x williamsii ‘Debbie’ is quite possibly the second most widely grown Camellia in the UK, after ‘Donation’. Raised in New Zealand by Les Jury from a C. saluenensis x C. ‘Debutante’ cross. Les’s younger brother Felix repeated the cross and raised the virtually identical but allegedly more compact ‘Debbie’s Carnation’. ‘Debbie’ flowers well for a long time and is comparatively weather resistant, a big bonus this year.

I was hopeful I might get a bit of gardening in today, on the forecast it looks like it may be mostly dry, though it’s horizontal drizzle at the moment. It’s my allotment that really needs attention, perhaps I’ll go and put in a few hours up there. It’s a very exposed site, not a good place to be when the wind is up. I might wuss out and read blogs all day. Now, where might I find some of those? I know, I’ll go here: The Propagator.

36 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 22/2/2020

  1. Glad you have managed to get out in the garden, looking OK for most of the day too, so I might join you. In my garden not yours obviously! Love the Camellia yuhsienensis and your description of the rose is brilliant, I was wondering right until the end quite why you want to grow it. Sounds wonderful. 🙂


  2. Well done with the graft, Try Budda next ? Like the rustic approach to fence support. The engineers solution (provided old post not set in concrete) might be 50 x 5 angle iron and long bolts. Neighbours roots raising my gravel boards, some gardening I do not like ! Happy Higo now glowing like a big red sun, Capt Rawes out soon. Debbie very good thing and propagates well.


    1. Hi Mike, I think I did a few Buddha a couple of years back with less success, Mouchang has been the most successful. The post was set in concrete (grrr!) “Happy Higo glowing like a big red sun” will have left most people reading it scratching their heads. I know just what you mean.


  3. Your Camellias are a sight for sore eyes. My only one is white and I noticed one flower has opened, I hope it stops raining as the wet makes the petals turn brown, not a pretty sight. I used to bring it inside the conservatory at this time of year, but the pot is too heavy for me to move now so it will have to take its chances. Maybe I should buy Debbie!


  4. Camelia ENVY…..sorry ADMIRATION. Maybe Jeyes fluid can induce a new type of cyclamen! Sorry I am on a high having just returned from the Bishop’s Palace with a few treats. Fences always a worry!


  5. You’re going to be very popular if you get all those roses to root! My sweetheart had a friend who rubbed off all the first set of shoots that appeared from his rose cuttings as it helped them establish roots without having too much growth to support. It’s just hearsay as I have never tried it, but looking at yours made me think they would make a great testing ground for that theory.


    1. I’ve enough to get experimental with them. The plan was to get them in the ground on my allotment when I get a dry day. I thought when you lost a bud on a rose they were reluctant to shoot again from the same node? Shorten them to stumps maybe.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. My husband has propped our fence up too, mostly on the field side and they’ve held for a good number of years. Hope you have the same experience.

    It will be interesting if you get the roses to root – it’s hard to imagine a rose so strong it could destroy a tree! I’ve googled it and the flowers look so lovely.

    Thanks for letting us all have a glimpse of your lovely Camellias too!


  7. Sunny side is looks like she could be sculpted from very fine porcelain. Perfectly formed yet so delicate. I wanted to do some rose cuttings but worried that it was the wrong time of year. Are those ones that you have just done? If so I’m going to have a go.


    1. The rose cuttings would have been better done in October but I think they will go from the January ones I took. It’s getting late now but if you take steps to ensure they don’t lose too much water as they make new growth, until there’s enough root, they may succeed. Shade, humidity; that sort of thing. They’re easy enough from thin softwood cuttings under mist.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Mr. Nuccio used to drive all the way up from Altadena to deliver our Camellia stock plants, and also purchase some of our rhododendrons. We grew many Camellia japonica, a few Camellia sasanqua and even fewer Camellia reticulata. However, we did not grow any of our own Camellia reticulata, but instead purchased them, grew them up into #5 and #15, and sold them. We tried grafting them, but were not very successful with it.


    1. I surprised myself with a success rate of over 50% on the first small (ten) retics I grafted. The reticulata hybrids all go from cuttings, it’s only the pure retics that won’t. I haven’t done so well at growing them on, for one reason or another.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That is impressive. We tried grafting Camellia reticulata, and wanted to believe that it was as easy as it looked, but only a few were successful. We did them in small groups of about thirty before committing to larger groups, but got less than five out of each of a few batches before realizing that we did not want to waste our effort any more. If I remember correctly, we did a group every few days through the season, which seemed to last a month or so. We would have done larger groups the following year, but only tried a few more small groups instead. Realistically, we did not sell enough to justify what we grew. Like yours, the hybrids were as easy as Camellia japonica, although they needed more pruning and staking once canned. They were discontinued because we did not sell enough. I was not too keen on the hybrids because the bloom is so fragile. It falls apart so soon after opening.


      2. It’s a funny business, I know of a couple of gardens where self sown seedlings of first generation x williamsii’s are given fairly free rein, even though they are fairly mediocre. C. reticulata crosses like ‘Royalty’ and ‘Lasca Beauty’ set seed readily and they grow easily and strongly and would probably mostly be good, but you don’t see them around, only named forms. The argument that seedlings are unlikely to be as good as the parent seems to carry more weight with the sort of people who grow reticulatas than the people who grow St Ewe or Mary Christian.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh wow, those camellias are stunning! I bet all those rose cuttings take, leaving you with a dilemma. I found a photo online of Betty Sheriff climbing up a large tree – she sure is exuberant.


  10. That rose looks vicious! I have lost a load of healthy 4 month old lupin seedlings and some clematis cuttings, probably to botrytis or similar. Annoying. Greenhouse probably needs a good clean.


  11. That’s a lot of wicked rose cuttings. Let us know how they go. The camellias are all gorgeous, of course. I remember your first sharing of your camellia polytunnel all those long SoS years ago, how jaw dropping the idea. Still can’t imagine what it must be like to have a hand in all that beauty. Even your fence repair looks like a work of art w/those red buds to the side. Such are gardens, that they amaze.


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