Throughout the winter I have struggled to find six things going on in the garden and have toyed with different angles, six gardening books, six tools, six views from a window, six types of rain. Now that the days are lengthening and things are waking up and starting to do their thing, I’m thinking of the sixes I might have done. This set falls into that category. There are crocuses flowering, shoots on the clematis, tulips coming up; they’ll keep. Seeds is this weeks theme. Seeing seeds come up is a source of wonder, as much now as it ever was. As time goes on and I learn more of what is really going on in plants at the cellular, molecular, even quantum level, it becomes ever more of a wonder.
Camellia parvilimba. This came from the Rhododendron, Camellia and Magnolia Group seed distribution and I cannot remember who the donor was. Having ordered it online, I have no copy of the list and I didn’t make a note of it at the time. It won’t have been wild collected but will have come from a garden or nursery. I have four seedlings, three with green leaves and this one. I only just got around to looking up what it does. It makes a shrub to one metre, very small for a camellia, and has white flowers opening from red flushed buds. The leaves are very small. It is supposedly hardy and tolerant of wet soil; it will need to be both to thrive here. As a forest understory plant it will want a degree of shade.
Cyclamen hederifolium. This self sows quite well for me but the seedlings all seem to come up on and around the parent plant. The seeds are supposed to be dispersed by ants but that doesn’t seem to be happening. Collecting and sowing seed is easy, the pods ripen and open around July-August and sown straight away germinate freely. Collecting seed also means you can select seed from the best forms to bulk up. That means the best for flower colour and foliage patterning, or both. Noelle very kindly sent me seed from some of her silver leaved forms last year. They were sown 16/7/2020 and when they go dormant I shall space them in trays and grow them on for another year before planting them out. I space sowed two seed trays of my own seed in 2019 and will plant them in the ground in summer, before they start into growth again. I’d be happy to have the whole garden covered with them, between everything else.
From a little further afield, Fred in France sent me seed of Hesperaloe parviflora. I’m not sure I’d ever heard of it before he offered me seed but I was easily persuaded to give it a try. They germinated readily enough and I have seven young plants. I don’t know how long it will be before they are big enough to flower but it looks like it will be worth the wait. I will keep a couple in pots and plant the others out if I can find a small patch of Texas in Cornwall.
Much further afield in California Amaryllis belladonna sounds to be almost a weed, self sowing with gay abandon. I don’t know if ever sets seed in this country, the two forms I have are probably single clones and they flower at different times, so it may be lack of pollination, or it may be lack of heat, but I’ve never had a seed. Tony sent me enough to set up a cut flower farm. I sowed zillions as soon as I got them, then gave a pile away. I was still left with around 50 in a zippy bag on my desk where they started to grow, completely without water, for exactly two months, when I relented and potted them (they were now small plants) into yet another pot. I then shoved them out into my barely frost free glasshouse where they have continued to grow quite happily. I’m sure I read somewhere that they were a bit tricky. The bulbs in the garden are currently sporting lush clumps of leaves but whether that will translate into a good flower display later is anybody’s guess.
Some seeds need stratifying before they will germinate. In simple terms, they don’t want to grow before winter so have a requirement for a certain amount of cold before they will germinate. All the seeds which had such a requirement got put outside under a plastic propagator which keeps them from drowning or being eaten by mice. I have a seedling germinating in a pot labelled Tulipa sprengeri, but it doesn’t look like a tulip and will probably turn out to be a weed. I also have one seedling of Asphodelus albus coming up. It’s a start.
I feel I should include a picture of something in flower somehow, however tenuous the link. I have a pot of what I bought as Habranthus brachyandrus; I think it’s possibly H. robustus, which sets lots of seeds, is easy to grow from those seeds, and is beautiful. Give me a seedlist including similar species, like Zephyranthes macrosiphon Hidalgo form (I think Habranthus robustus is now Zephyranthes robustus, they’re closely related) and there’s little chance of me resisting. The seed was from the Hardy Plant Society list in 2019. Looking back at what I got from them, 20 packets of seed, 8 never grew, 2 grew and were subsequently dumped, the rest are still with me in one way or another. 50% success on a minimal outlay is fine by me.
Today dawned bright and frosty, though it doesn’t look to be a hard one. Much worse to come before it warms up again mid week. Fortunately it’s still too early for much risk of damage, says he, with fingers firmly crossed. It’s not conducive to getting much done though.
Links to other sixes are as ever, on Jon’s six. Lots of optimistic signs of spring hopefully, with a few summer heights from the Antipodes, just the ticket on a cold winter’s day.