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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.