All week the forecast has been for overnight frost or pretty close and so far it hasn’t materialised. I want to start moving things out from the greenhouse to make room for veg being grown for the allotment. It looks like this weekend sees the back of it for a while. It being pretty cold, the garden has slowed down again and most of what is happening this week was already happening last week. Still, it’s six happening things are called for, not six excuses, so here goes.
The Camellia season has peaked but there are a couple yet to come. This one is C. japonica ‘Bob Hope’, a mighty fine rich red.
Crinum powellii. This has been in the garden for quite a few years and every year gets hammered relentlessly by slugs. I have considered digging and potting it several times and finally the job is done. It had the root system of a small tree and the first spade I used broke. It is up, potted into a large pot. The bluebells that surrounded it, all hybrids, are gone too, not potted. They were what provided the slugs with cover. Heleniums and Rudbeckia have gone in as replacements, a colour switch from pink to yellow/orange.
The first of two disasters.I’ve always known this as Sequoia sempervirens ‘Adpressa Nana’. However, that name is not in the Spicer/Auders Encyclopaedia of Conifers and none of the 49 varieties listed seems to describe it either. It is similar to S. sempervirens ‘Adpressa’ but I’ve grown the two side by side and am in no doubt it is different. It grows quite quickly, a foot a year is not unknown, but unlike most conifers can be cut back hard and will shoot out again, so it has been kept to around three feet. It’s not happy. There’s a Rhododendron ‘Merganser’ alongside it that has been suffering dieback for a few years, probably Phytophthora or Armillaria. Looks like it’s spread.
The second disaster is similar in that it involves dieback but the purple Japanese maple concerned is a lot bigger than the conifer. It clearly has some infection gnawing away at it and in the autumn I wondered how much would come into leaf this spring. It’s the only plant in the garden that predates Sue and me, so around 35 years old. It looks to me like about half of it will come into leaf and I suspect some of it will be only just. There are some sprouts lower down to which it perhaps could be cut back but I fear it will only postpone the inevitable. It has a tree privet just behind it, with the evergreen leaves at the top. You can make out some new purple shoots but some branches have none. The real problem is that it’s been too dry at the roots, especially in spring when it has been trying to make new growth.
It may be that the Maple’s problems are not helped by the carpet of Epimedium growing beneath it. Epimedium pinnatum subsp. colchicum is a very effective ground cover that will tolerate dry shade. It doesn’t flower a lot but it has glossy green leaves which look pretty good all year. It must suck up a lot of moisture though, from a tree that doesn’t have a lot to start with and doesn’t tolerate dryness very well. I should have sheared it down before the flowers started coming up; too late now.
Earlier this week I came across an old picture of the garden, from about 25 years ago. I took another shot from the same viewpoint and compared them closely. I could find only two plants that are still here now. Both pictures are just frozen moments in time though; five years before the earlier picture it was very different, five years on from now it will be different again. A garden is a process not a fixture. I thought I’d hit on something and wrote a blog about it, then decided it wasn’t very profound at all so it’s still in draft awaiting deletion. Here are the two pictures though. I see an uncomfortable number of things that could hardly be described as improvements, though the time of year doesn’t help.
Now I need to get my skates on, get up the allotment and sow peas, parsnips and carrots. Water the tunnel. Links to other sixes are in the usual place, over at The Propagators, who is planning a busy gardening weekend as befits someone who has an actual job. Oddly, I still find it easier to get gardening done at a weekend, the habits of a lifetime are hard to break.