Six on Saturday – 14/3/2020

There’s definitely a sense that things are starting to green up in the garden, though only just managing to outpace the slugs. I went out with a torch one evening in the week, it’s a bit dispiriting to see so many. Chionodoxa have lost almost every bud before they opened and Polygonatum were getting mauled.

One.
Chionodoxa forbesii, I think. I am easily confused by the names of this tribe. Usually I get a dazzling display, improving every year as they seed around. This year I didn’t move quick enough when the slugs moved in. The pink ones I planted this year haven’t been hit quite so hard, less cover for the beasties.

Two.
I’m going to do two Camellias, starting with ‘Debbie’, which is a very common variety and none the worse for that. I think I also included it quite recently, so I’m repeating myself. It has a tendency to outgrow its own root system and get unstable, which this did; so I cut it down by two thirds about three years ago and have kept it down ever since. I’m going to let it go back up so it screens us from our neighbours better, then cut away the lower branches so I can grow stuff under it.

Three.
As with many groups of plants Camellias attract more than a little snobbery, with some people regarding certain types, usually big, blousy and above all, common; as being beneath their rarefied tastes. That’s OK, it takes all sorts. I doubt very much that you’re reading this, but if you are, this one’s for you. Camellia trichocarpa. Another one I’ve been nurturing for years in hopes it will get big enough and strong enough to risk in the great outdoors.

Four.
Epimedium pinnatum colchicum. I chopped all of last year’s leaves off this a week or two back. It needs to be done before the flowers and new leaves get in the way. It doesn’t usually flower very freely but the foliage is a cheerful glossy green and it does well in the dry ground under my big Acer.
SOS1429

Five.
Glasshouse cleaning. Sue’s cactus and succulent glasshouse has been getting more and more moss along the glazing bars and I’ve been putting off tackling it. Yesterday I took out one row of glass, cleaned it and the bars and put it back. I decided that was not the way to do it and got my pressure washer out of the shed. It looks a lot better from the outside and is much lighter on the inside.

Six.
Seed sowing. Just after I posted last week’s six, a packet came through the door with my seeds from the Rhododendron, Camellia and Magnolia group seed distribution. Three Rhododendron species, four Camellia species, one Magnolia species and Fatsia polycarpa. By lunchtime they were all sown; nothing’s up yet.
Back in the autumn I got seed from the Alpine Garden Society seed distribution. Expecting a slow and erratic germination from many of them, I folded several sorts into filter paper sachets and put them into small ziplock bags. I wrote a blog about it at the time. They had a few weeks warm, then several weeks in the fridge and are now back out in the light and warmth to germinate. I’m very pleased to have had 6 sorts germinate so far. I’ve not been vigilant enough, so the roots on a couple had grown rather long, making dealing with them tricky, but I think they’ll be alright. They’ve been pricked off into cell trays.


Today I’m off to the RHS Early Camellia Competition at Rosemoor, part of their Spring Flower Festival that’s on all weekend. I think it should be a very good competition this year, the weather hasn’t been too bad for camellias for the last week, unless you have a very exposed garden. I’ll be back to check out all the posts from The Propagators bunker.

23 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 14/3/2020

  1. Your Chionodoxa look like mine. I still have some flowers but it’s soon over here too. My camellias will soon start flowering.
    PS: Did you receive / read my email about Chaste tree?

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  2. That first camellia was well worth getting a repeat showing. I didn’t realise plants could outgrow their roots, but of course, never really gave it much thought. So will the cutting off of lower limbs do the trick? You’ve cured me of any greenhouse envy I might have been nurturing, altho Mr P makes the pressure washer look lots of fun. Hopefully Sue’s cacti appreciate your efforts! Loved the left hand photo in #6. So glad you caught them in time, too.

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    1. I cut two thirds off the top around three years ago and have kept the regrowth on a tight leash It’s now standing up on its own which it wasn’t before. Cutting off the lower branches will hopefully let in light to grow stuff below, though being a dense evergreen, it casts a deep shade. The pressure washer is a great tool but the mess goes everywhere. It’s much lighter in the greenhouse, it made a far greater difference than I’d expected.

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  3. Thank goodness for your kind and reassuring words: “it doesn’t flower very freely”. I was begining to think I was doing something wrong. But it did flower freely in Kenilworth, maybe it needs a winter kick to blossom well, and it is too mild here?

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    1. I don’t know why that Epimedium is a shy flowerer, all the others flower much more. Perhaps I should put a few bits elsewhere, in different conditions, see if it prefers something else. It’s a fairly formidable ground cover.

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  4. My poor white camellia has horrid brown edges now 😦 Do you think it could live permanently in my (cold) conservatory?
    Your Epimedium is lovely. I didn’t get a chance to cut back the old leaves on mine and noticed this afternoon that one has pretty orange flowers, it grows under the willow tree so difficult to get to. Hope you had a lovely time at Rosemooor. Did you enter any flowers yourself? Or are you a judge?

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    1. That’s the worst of white camellias, they don’t go over well. They are great in conservatories, it would only really need protection in flower then could go back out. I was judging Camellias at Rosemoor. Lovely show but no-one really expects the later ones to still be on, so bit of a gloomy mood prevailing.

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    1. A good bit of kit is a pressure washer. I just looked up Tregrehan and they’re open from tomorrow. He has some fabulous species camellias, and magnolias and a squillion other things.

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    1. I have a pot of ‘Minnow’ in the glasshouse and one or two blooms were leaning against the glass. Slugs made a beeline for them. I need to clean up the stems and thin out the rest of the bamboo clump, it’s a real all year round plant though.

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  5. So glad I read this Jim, not just for the beautiful flowers and camellias but as I’ve now discovered your AGS seed methodology. Mine are just in seed trays outside and I have been fretting that we haven’t had enough cold weather for them. I think I only have germination in 3 trays so far…

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    1. I have a long history of having loads of pots of sown seeds getting under my feet for months, even years on end without germinating. The baggie method is a big improvement, or will be when I’ve really mastered it.

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  6. I love both your camellias – both common and rarefied. The blooms of the second one remind me of the tree poppy. Thanks for the info on the warm/cold/warm seed sowing. I’ve never known how to best go about it.

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    1. It’s always a bit of a mystery to me how some people can loathe certain plants or types of plant, or colour of flowers, with real passion. I like most most plants, love some and am left cold by some others. I sowed 40 sorts of seeds today, it never loses its appeal.

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  7. You have me wondering, after your comment about your camellia outgrowing its own root system, if that could be what’s happening to mine. I noticed last year that it was starting to lean forward, and I’m certain that it’s leaning a bit more now. I’d be happy to have either of your camellias in my garden.
    You’ll love the difference in your nice clean greenhouse. Mine has been cleaned inside, but not outside – hoping husband will bring the hose or pressure washer round and do it for me!
    Ah, that little Epimedium is such a beautiful colour!

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    1. I did the dirt where the glass overlaps and the moss under the glass beading with the pressure washer from the inside of the glasshouse. That way both the dirt and most of the water ended up on the outside. A pressure washer in such a confined and overcrowded space is a bit of a handful I admit.

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  8. When I grew camellias, the market for the big and billow Camellia reticulata was so minimal that we discontinued them. That was fine with me. They were not as easy to grow as the others. I though that they would be more popular than they were though, either among those who wanted the big garish blooms, or with those who wanted something that is locally rare. When we ordered stock plants, I requested one ‘Purity’ (Camellia japonica) for the arboretum just because it happens to be my favorite. We instead got ten (!) stock plants, and started growing them. They were surprisingly popular! It is such a cheap and common camellia, which does not appeal to camellia snobs. Nor is it garish enough to appeal to those who want something flashy. I can not explain it.

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