Six on Saturday – 11/4/2020

And so it goes on. Applause broke out at 8pm on Thursday so I opened the window and joined it, then someone went for a bottle of wine and before long there were all our neighbours out with chairs and bottles, all keeping a sensible distance from each other but socialising in a totally unprecedented fashion because of social distancing. I half expected the police to turn up to break up the “street party”. We’re talking seven households here, before you get the wrong idea.

Other than that, life carries out on the trajectory of the new normal. For me, the new normal is much like the old normal, out in the garden or on the allotment from morning till night. Sowing seeds, pricking off, potting up, potting on, planting out, weeding, watering. And taking pictures.

The weather is like high summer, things are mostly growing like mad, except where they’re already getting too dry. I’m third way through my stored water already. It’s brought out the flowers to a degree I’ve not seen before at this time of year. Later may be trickier as there’s no recourse to the garden centre for bedding and such like. For now though, no such problems.

One.
Asarum proboscideum. Mouse plant. I did a set of photos on the blog a few days ago and this was amongst them. I doubt I’ve put it in a six before, I tend to overlook it. You walk right past it beside the path and are oblivious to what is going on under the leaf canopy. It’s fighting it out with a Chaenomeles, which is also flowering and grabs the attention, but peer beneath the leaves and all is weirdness and wonderfulness.

Two.
Magnolia ‘Ann’. This has come out in the last week and I suppose if the weather keeps up is going to have a much shorter flowering season than normal. Better make the best of it while it’s there. One of my books says it’s an upright grower, but evidently Ann can’t or won’t read, she only wants to grow sideways and has had some fairly harsh pruning to keep her within bounds.
SOS1467

Three.
Camellia japonica ‘Eximea’. There are either several virtually indistinguishable varieties that look like this or just one going under several different names. I have a strong suspicion this is C. japonica ‘Imbricata’. “A rose by any other name” I hear you say, and you may be right. This flower form is known as formal double.

Four.
Acer palmatum atropurpureum. Our poor old maple didn’t like the hot summer two years ago, leafed out meagrely last year and this year looks like it’s not going to bother at all on at least one main branch. A fairly severe pruning may be coming up once the sap stops running too much. We don’t want to lose it, it’s the only plant in the garden that’s been here as long as we have.

Five.
Seed sowing. Earlier in the week I sowed most of the outstanding seeds in my seed box. Mostly it was my home collected stuff, some was the remainder of my Alpine Garden Society seeds that hadn’t needed chilling. A few veg too. I keep a record of seeds sown, the tally stands at 109 different items this year. I shan’t get seedlings from all 109, mercifully, but it’s still pushing the limits of what is regarded as normal behaviour. If you think all this lot is all of them, it’s not.

Six.
Last year it was mentioned in these pages that there wasn’t much to choose between Daphne ‘Eternal Fragrance’ and Daphne ‘Pink Fragrance’. That might have been true last year but it isn’t this year. D. ‘Eternal Fragrance’ is the same nearly white as before but D. ‘Pink Fragrance’ can only really be described as pink. I have both tucked in between the two glasshouse near the house and the scent is superb, even for me with my diminished olfactory capabilities. They are outgrowing their allocated space and I doubt they’ll respond at all well to pruning. I’d like to get some young plants going to replace them eventually but I haven’t had much success so far.

 

I was wandering round the garden as the sun went down yesterday and took this picture of Begonia luxurians silhouetted in my tunnel. It makes as much sense as anything else at the moment. Completely un-retouched, as they say.
SOS1479

Weekends seem the right time for doing allotments so I will largely steer clear because everyone else will think the same. Thin the bamboo possibly, that’s one I’ve been putting off. I’ll be checking on the socially distanced SoS contributors of course, links in the usual place. Stay sane people, this can’t last forever.

30 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 11/4/2020

    1. I think the Acer will pull through but whether it will be the sort of shape I want to have remains to be seen. We struggled on with Acer hersii after it got hammered by drought but it never recovered properly. Dug it out after nearly ten years and battled honey fungus for years after that.

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  1. The drive…each one keeping to their own, party does lift the spirits. We have one without ‘spirits’ but with coffee last weekend. I almost feel overwhelmed by your seed sowing…no chance of your having booked and having to have cancelled a holiday with that lot to look after! Love the evening shadow image.

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    1. The relatives in Australia were booked to come here in July, last chance before youngster in school with her long annual holiday in the middle of our winter. I was racking up my strawberry production to industrial levels in readiness.

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  2. Should I ask what happens to all your seedlings once they need to be planted out? Perhaps not. I won’t even mention mine. That camellia is a lovely colour and “design “. Lovely Six-on-Saturday again.

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    1. A lot of seedlings will get grown on in 9cm pots and planted out as robust young plants. Most years it’s a battle with slugs so bigger plants and later planting helps.

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  3. I have already heard of the mouse plants, I didn’t know that the flowers were as hidden as that. They are very original, though.
    I found that I had a lot of seedlings this year, but seeing your photos, you win!
    When you say that the Daphne have reached the allocated space, how tall are they? Is one of the two species growing faster than the other? I have a mid-shadow space of 1m wide by 2m high free: maybe that would do the trick?
    Original shadows of the begonia!

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    1. ‘Eternal Fragrance’ is slightly larger, but is in a better position, in the same conditions I think they’d be the same size. It’s 80cm tall and 120cm wide and was planted in 2013. Talking of seedlings, I have five Hesperaloe up now, looking good.

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    1. As I said to someone earlier, worst case scenario with the Acer is it surviving but being miserable. I don’t like droughts, they do damage when plants aren’t designed for it.

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  4. The seed sowing is impressive. I remember your comment about going to panic buy compost before lock down. Just as well you did because you must get through plenty of it. The Camellia flower form is lovely. I’m not sure what to make of your first featured plant. Are they flowers lurking in the undergrowth?

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    1. The nursery in Bodmin is keeping going by doing deliveries so I’ve manged to get a good stock of compost, in case they are forced to stop. They are flowers, typical aroid spaths basically. I think of it as a poor man’s Arisaema. I’ve killed a few of them in my time but Asarum is indestructible.

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  5. That’s an impressive amount of seed sowing that you’ve carried out. I now realise that my humble efforts this year are humble indeed! I have no idea how you manage to keep track of them. Growing them on must be a marathon challenge too.

    Sorry to hear about your beautiful Acer. I’ve just had to watch my son-in-law (via FaceTime) chop back the most beautiful (and mature) Acer dissectum this evening because it was slightly overlapping their drive. It’s in full leaf, and I hope it survives the attack.

    The Camellia is quite stunning. I love the colour and the formation of the petals.

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    1. I have to admit to doing a lot of pruning to control the size of things, it’s what you have to do in a small garden, or dig them out altogether, which I also do. The art is to leave it looking like it hasn’t been touched.

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  6. Always an original, The mouse plant looks delightful. I’m also racing through the stored water – determined to give my onions more love this year. I have daphne ‘Eternal Fragrance’ in a pot and in it’s second year it still seems to be ok. I doubt I’ll find the space for it in the border now. The magnolia looks fab.

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  7. ‘Ann’! Even before we grew magnolias in the 1990s, that was the first cultivar that I worked with. It was a tired old stock tree that was never used for cuttings. (I believe that they were ungrafted.) After it recovered and needed a home, it went to live with my colleague, near the coast in Southern California. I know I should have known better. It was surprisingly happy there anyway. Apparently, it does not need much of a chill. There is no frost date in the neighborhood, just because the frost is so mild and minimal. (I know they ‘can’ get frost, because those who live there brag about it when it happens.) Since then, I have noticed a few other deciduous magnolias about town.
    I have likely mentioned that I am none too keen on Japanese maples. However, ‘Atropurpureum’ happens to be one of the two best for semi-arid climates. It may even be better than the straight species. It is reasonably happy in San Jose, and can even be grown in partly shaded spots in Los Angeles. Besides, it really is pretty and grows into such a delightful small tree.

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    1. I think what is getting to be very damaging here is the lack of consistency to rainfall. In February it never seemed to stop raining, then it stopped and we’ve had none since. Plants are adapted to expect plenty of moisture to be available so they can do most of their growth for the year in a couple of months and when it’s not there they are very unhappy indeed. No doubt any die back above ground with the Acer will be matched by dead roots below, vulnerable to disease which then compounds the problem. It doesn’t help that my Acer shares its rootrun with a couple of fair sized evergreens which might reduce waterlogging in winter but if it goes dry before the deciduous Acer is in leaf, they will take what there is before the maple gets a look in.
      Magnolia ‘Ann’ never enjoyed the popularity of ‘Susan’ here. Of that series Susan must have accounted for > 75%.

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      1. We grew ‘Susan’ too, but weirdly, there was not much of a demand for them. I think that by that time, everyone who wanted it was already growing it. Also, some of the ‘factory growers’ were producing it, and selling it for less than we were.

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      2. The factory growers wouldn’t want more than one of that group of Magnolias, ‘Susan’ was the chosen one over here. Like ‘Leonard Messel’ and ‘Merrill’ are practically the only x loebneri varieties available and ‘Heaven Scent’ was the choice of Todd Gresham’s varieties. They get churned out by the hundreds of thousands so they’re the ones people see and remember the names of. Then they get into the gardening magazines and books and the others don’t stand a much chance, even if they’re significantly better.

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      3. Oh, I know how that goes! We had about four hundred rhododendrons to choose from in the arboretum, but only produced less than half, and less than half of those were popular. We could have grown about fifty cultivars if we wanted to. I do not mind growing fewer rather than more. It made our work simpler. Most of the most popular really were worthy of their popularity. However, there were some that were not so great, and there were many that should have been more popular than they were. When we grew ‘Leonard Messel’ magnolia, I really though it was overrated. There was certainly nothing wrong with it, and it was easy for us to propagate, but it was no better than so many other magnolias.

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  8. Morning Jim really informative blog as always. I am new to Camelia growing. Do the leaves go lighter in spring and summer? That’s what’s happening with mine at the moment. I didn’t get any flowers this year but hopefully it will start to flower soon.

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    1. The new leaves generally come out a bit lighter but if it’s the older leaves going lighter it suggests the plant isn’t altogether happy. Some of mine are in full sun and would prefer part shade, especially in the middle of the day. They are going a bit yellow as a result. It could also be chlorosis because of alkaline soil, nitrate deficiency, too dry or several other things. If it comes into growth normally and puts on a few inches on most shoots it’s probably nothing serious.

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