Six on Saturday – 3/4/2021

This has to be my favourite season, so much is happening or starting to happen. You get to see what has survived the winter, whether the apple grafts done in January have taken, which seeds have finally germinated. On the down side battle is joined again with the hordes of slugs and every dip in the temperature is cause for panic, will the plum blossom survive, will the new Acer shoots get toasted?. Six things becomes a filtering of numerous choices; what hasn’t featured before, what is looking really special? What will people be most interested in?

One.
Pachyphragma macrophyllum. Underneath my tree shaped Camellia ‘Charles Colbert’ is this patch of Pachyphragma. I feel a little sorry for it on account of its ugly name and the best I’ve seen for a common name is large leaved Pachyphragma, which is no improvement and stating the bleedin’ obvious. It’s not a plant of any great refinement but in the dry shade of the Camellia I’m grateful for anything that will grow. The ground is carpeted by the petals of the Camellia, a background against which some things, like the Erythroniums by the path, are lost. Also coming up amongst the petals is a variegated lily of the valley which seems to have had a productive winter, spreading underground.

Two.
Erythronium ‘White Beauty’. Two years ago I planted some of these and they struggled to get going. I concluded I’d allowed the bulbs to shrivel a bit waiting for clear ground to plant them in. Last year I planted them as soon as they arrived. They don’t seem to have fared any better. Still, they’ve survived and the earlier lot seem to have settled in and maybe increased a little. I was getting excited about Erythronium dens-canis a few weeks back, they seemed to be doing really well, but the combination of removing a low shading branch from the Magnolia they were hiding under, plus strong sunshine, has not been kind to their flowers.


Three.
Anemone lipsiensis ‘Pallida’. This was planted out years ago from a typical garden centre alpine bench 7cm pot and with the benefit of hindsight I’d have bought three or even five. It’s spread to a clump a foot wide but has taken a decade to do so. This is why these creeping anemones are indicator species for ancient woodland; if I could come back in a thousand years it would cover the whole garden.

Four.
Muscari by contrast are less well behaved, but this one, Muscari ‘Valerie Finnis’, has mostly stayed in a clump with just a couple of new colonies starting up from seedlings; so far at least. I like its powder blue colour and its foliage is tidier than the original species. It helps greatly just at the moment to look from the right angle, a classic example of how the camera can lie. The blue wood anemone is possibly ‘Buckland Blue’, a fabulous colour but outwith this weeks six so forget I mentioned it.

Five.
Magnolia ‘Ann’. Another two for the price of one picture; it’s hard not to get a background of gatecrashers. It seems to me that the Magnolia is earlier than usual but I don’t keep a record so that’s probably wrong. The Skimmia has been buzzing with bees, bumbles and honey bees, and a couple of days back I saw a humming bird hawk moth visiting it, which was quite a surprise. It’s also perfuming the entire garden. Maybe I should have focussed on the Skimmia and branded the Magnolia a gatecrasher.

Six.
Camellia ‘Fairy Wand’. Consistent with my changing taste in Camellias, I planted this about a year ago to replace a large flowered red japonica called ‘Eximea’. It was a fine plant, just getting into its stride, so I dug it up and I don’t even remember what I did with it, and replaced it with this, which I’ve had in a pot in the tunnel for years. It’s not the hardiest so the fact it’s made it through its first winter outdoors and even produced a few flowers, is enough to make me think it worth a mention. This has very small, very vivid flowers, in clusters at the nodes, at least it will do when it gets going. Actually, looking at its parentage, I’m not sure why I thought it wouldn’t be hardy. It was raised by Os Blumhardt, which for those in the loop is a case of ’nuff said. (Magnolia ‘Star Wars’, Camellia ‘Nightrider etc.)


I’ve been busy this week constructing foundations for the extension to Sue’s glasshouse. I’m seriously out of condition , it has become all too apparent. It’s been a struggle, but progress has been made. All around there are the sounds of an English Easter, angle grinders, power saws, hammers, barrows being upended into skips. The epitome of bucolic rural Cornwall.

This morning I nipped up to my allotment and did enough spraying to keep things get completely out of hand due to neglect while I’m busy elsewhere. Nippy it was, down to 2°C and frost on the roof of the car. Beautiful day though, there will be gardening done, lots of it. A bit of sunshine makes all the difference. I’ve not even looked at The Propagators post yet, he’s probably out running somewhere. It’s where the links is.

28 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 3/4/2021

    1. Both celandine and anemone are in Ranunculaceae and A. x lipsiensis is a hybrid between the white wood anemone and A. ranunculoides, which has buttercup yellow flowers, the same as celandine. So a bit of breeding and you get something lovely. The less said about celandine the better.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Wow, your garden is looking amazing! I LOVE Erythronium – it’s a native spring ephemeral here – I have a huge colony running under an old deciduous treeline beside the driveway, stretching about 400 feet long by 10 or 15 feet wide. Good luck with yours!

    Like

      1. It’s a challenging shot since the tree leaves are starting to emerge, casting shade, and the temperature has to be warm enough to open the blooms but not too hot to wilt everything. But I’m up for the challenge and will do my best this year!

        Like

  2. The Anenome lipsiensis is a rather nice thing. Shame it’s such a slow coach!

    Talking of camera angles, I’ve had to replace a couple of fence panels (I briefly mention it my post). It adds a rather glaring orange-ish background to photos. Very annoying!

    Like

    1. I was persuaded by Sue to paint one section of fence a muted turquoise colour; what a difference. The Anemone has now reached the size where being slow is an advantage, which probably means it’ll now take off in a bid to rule the world.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a lovely glimpse of spring flowering plants. If you grew even more Anemone lipsiensis ‘Pallida’, where would all your other special plants go?

    Like

    1. You make a good point. I reckon my garden is of a size where I can afford, and probably need to have, a few things that cover a decent area. The tricky bit is deciding which plants merit the largesse.

      Like

  4. You must still be out working in your garden as I see no comments yet 😊 I was seduced into buying Erythronium a few years ago. In fact after not having a garden for 10 years I was seduced into buying a lot of unsuitable plants! The Erythronium popped their heads up once, didn’t flower and have never been seen since. A bit like the lily of the valley. I think I have learned a lot since then, but I still can’t resist impulse buys!

    Like

    1. What vexes me is that things fail when you have every reason to think they will succeed, they grow in nearby gardens or very similar things do well for example. Daffodils are my nemesis, which as far as I can see, defies all logic. The only way to check their suitability is to try them.

      Like

  5. The Erythronium is well photographed. You chose just the right angle to capture a glimpse of the delicate pattern within. I enjoy seeing plant combinations more than isolated flowers. The skimmia’s fullness is a lovely backdrop to the drama of a single magnolia flower. The color combination is striking – the magenta of the magnolia seems to bring out a halo of magenta around each tiny skimmia flower.

    Like

    1. Happy accidents all. The Erythronium was too low to get myself down to so I did it via the live view screen on the camera and my entire focus was on holding the camera steady-ish and getting a reasonable background. At least with a digital camera you can take half a dozen shots, check them and repeat if necessary. I must go and look at the Skimmia/magnolia combination in the flesh. Usually I look quite closely at my plant pictures and frequently spot things I hadn’t seen when I took the picture (distractions mostly) but it’s rather nice to have the things you miss picked up on. You can be happy with how something looks but not consider the reasons why, which you need to get in order to replicate the effect elsewhere.

      Like

  6. I fell in love with the pachyphragma in the garden last year, such an obliging plant in a difficult position, almost full shade and very dry. I pulled a good number of the lowest shoot from the plant and simply planted them in similar positions along a border, right in under trees and shrubs and they have all come into flower this year. Great plant!

    I moved a lot of erythroniums to a slightly raised bed which had had plenty of compost and leaf mould added and they have done far better for me – some spectacularly better.

    Like

    1. I have Cardamine trifolia too, which has the same bright white flowers of the Pachphragma but rather better foliage and is not so invasive. Trouble is that while it tolerates the same difficult conditions it doesn’t flower much without better light. Erythroniums seem to be fairly exacting in their requirements, get it right and they’re easy, get it even a little wrong and they’re miserable. Difficult when the conditions keep changing as things around grow or get removed.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Cardamine trifolia loves the moist areas of our garden and tends to become a little rampant. I have used it to cover a stretch of the roadside ditch outside our garden and it has done very well.

        Like

  7. The Pachyphragma looks lovely under the Camelia tree. What a mouthful it’s name is! The yellow anemone is really lovely too. I read up on Skimmia, and that sounds like a good plant to have in shady conditions! I might keep it in mind for future plantings when my trees grow bigger.

    Like

  8. Except for the floral color, Muscari ‘Valerie Finnis’ resembles the common grape hyacinth. Is it true to type? Have you grown the ‘Album’ cultivar, and do you know if it is just a white version of the common grape hyacinth?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ‘Valerie Finnis’ is a variety of the common grape hyacinth and comes true to type from seed. Which assumes that what we regard as common grape hyacinth is the same one you do. M. armeniacum in any event. I don’t have a white one but you have reminded me that I should have a pink one and a pale blue, fading to white at the top, called ‘Peppermint’, as well as a couple more blue ones. I don’t think I’ve noticed flowers on any of them this year, I will look for them tomorrow.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That’s pretty awesome that it is true to type. I will not be growing any of it any time soon, but it is a delightful color. (For now, establishing the common one that I remember from a long time ago is the priority.) If I add any, I will start with ‘Album’ regardless of how it seed . . . or doesn’t seed. I would prefer it to not seed, and just multiply by division.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. M. ‘Valerie Finnis’ is blooming in my garden now, too. I bought another lot of them last fall to use in several plantings at the botanical garden where i volunteer. It is such a soft blue, and lovely in combination with miniature daffodils. I had to laugh at your second photo of it growing as socks for your bags of sand. Too funny, and yes, the camera can be made to lie quiet easily. Very nice to have the name of your Magnolia ‘Ann,’ as we have several of them and I hadn’t sussed out the cultivar name. Here is a snap of one of ours (photo taken on Saturday): https://illuminationeachday.wordpress.com/2021/04/04/april-4-2021/
    You garden is looking very lovely. Have a good week, and good luck with progress on the glasshouse. Cheers!

    Like

    1. I wouldn’t jump to quick conclusions on the Magnolia name. There were a set of eight raised by Kosar and deVos at the US National Arboretum in 1955/6, known as the “Eight Little Girls” and they are mainly rather similar. So yours may be ‘Ann’ but it could be ‘Judy’, ‘Randy’, ‘Ricky’, ‘Betty’, ‘Jane’, ‘Pinkie’ or ‘Susan’. ‘Pinkie’ is paler, so probably not that. Over here ‘Susan’ was the one that all the growers went with so the others are relatively rare.

      Like

      1. Very good information. Thank you! I just looked up info on the ‘Eight Little Girls’ and see how similar the flowers appear. I am familiar with M. ‘Jane,’ which is the most common here, but I know mine isn’t a match for that one. I’ve had many friends over the years named ‘Ann,’ so it would be nice if that were the cultivar growing here 😉

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s