Six on Saturday – 24/4/2021

The greenhouse extension is done, all that remains is to sort out shelving and staging. It won’t last but at the moment it actually feels spacious. Building has meant that apart from watering, all other gardening has been neglected, so I’m keen to wrap it up and get back to weeding, planting, pricking off, potting and so on. Going round looking for six things to showcase here is the first time I’ve had a proper look all week. There’s quite a lot going on.

Let’s get the greenhouse out of the way first. Here is a kind of before and after for the whole top corner of the garden. One image was taken just after I took the poly tunnel down in late September. The other was taken quite late on thursday evening. It’s changed more than a little and I will write it up in more detail in another post. The glasshouse is now 18 ft by 10 ft 6 ins. I imagine the re-organised interior will feature here in the near future.

I may have been mildly disparaging about tulips last week. Just before Christmas I ordered some reduced bulbs from Peter Nyssen, they seemed a bit of a bargain at half price. I was expecting them to be a little taller but they’re doing their thing out there in the front garden, in 20L pots plunged where Alstroemeria ‘Indian Summer’ was last summer and will be again as soon as the tulips are finished. ‘Synaeda King’, somewhat obscured by Allium ‘Ambassador’, the foliage of which is already looking ropey.

Camassia leichtlinii. I moved these bulbs up onto the bank at the back of the garden last year or the year before. They’re doing what I wanted them to do, providing colour at height and when the foliage goes over it can hang down over the sleeper wall where it will do no harm and will look no worse than the sleepers. What I then need is something very drought tolerant to do the summer shift.

Dryopteris wallichiana ‘Jurassic Gold’. Gold foliage is not well represented among ferns, verdant greenness is more their thing. This one, one of my more recent fern purchases, is looking to be a good’n though. I shall have to keep a close eye on it for a time of day when the light catches it to advantage. Even if it fades to green later in the season it’s great at this time of year, though neither fence nor wall provides much contrast.

Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ is a very good plant if growing well and I have it in a couple of places. It also seeds about a little. This plant is one such seedling and what it has lost in silvered leaves it is more than making up for in robustness and flowering.

Camellia ‘Nightrider’. This is a fabulous plant, really dark red flowers and dark red glossy new leaves. I was singing the praises of Os Blumhardt just three weeks ago for Camellia ‘Fairy Wand’ and this is another of his. It’s got rather a lot of sooty mould on its foliage from scale insect attack last year or the year before, I may try to spray it this year, see if that helps.

In all probability the cuttings for my plant of Camellia ‘Nightrider’ came from Tregrehan Garden, where there is a bush that is very probably among the earliest of its kind in this country. Tregrehan had a business selling Camellia cuttings, still do but on a small scale these days. They sold them by the hundred, not ones and twos. I went down there yesterday to see Tom, the owner, to try to resolve the identity of a wrongly labelled Camellia in the Mt Edgcumbe national collection. It was what I thought it was, ‘Olga Carlyon’, who was mother of Gillian Carlyon, who bred it and who was Tom’s predecessor at Tregrehan.
I mention this because it is not unlikely that many people will take a holiday in Cornwall this year, travel further afield being tricky, and Tregrehan, though less well known than some of the other Cornish gardens, is one of the very best and my favourite by a big margin. We had a rather truncated sojourn round the garden and I took a few pictures. The place is just amazing. Every other tree seems to have a Champion tree label, all things I’ve never heard of. His Agathis australis is starting to produce cones, there’s Fuchsia colensoi with trunks six inches thick and don’t even get me started on tree ferns or Schefflera. So apologies for exceeding my six but here are a handful of the things I saw. If you get the chance, go there.

Which just leaves one thing to say, Jon and his tulips, you’ll be wanting to check what the main man and the rest of his acolytes are up to.

33 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 24/4/2021

  1. Nice job Jim! The extension of this greenhouse will be great for your plants but also for you two, who will be able to put even more plants there!
    The camassias already in bloom … yours are well ahead of mine ,still in bud.

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  2. I don’t know what WordPress is up to but it wouldn’t let me post my original comment. Anyway, very impressive greenhouse and a lovely variety of colours this week. Tregrehan House. looks well worth a visit when we go down to Carlyon Bay later this year.


    1. Tregrehan is like visiting a foreign country, so much of the plantlife is unfamiliar. I get there every year or two and there always seems to be a lot of new stuff, though it’s often quite big so must just be things I didn’t notice earlier.


  3. Brilliant job on the glasshouse, Jim and you’ll enjoy the space so very much.

    The camassias are growing very well for you. Here, we planted them many years ago and the combination of rich soil, moisture and, after those years, dappled shade, means they grow very tall, lax and collapse. They really are plants of the open spaces, full sun etc. I saw them planted into an area of grass some years back and they looked very nice. I have used C. cusickii in that situation here – it is a smaller species and suits our high grass patch.


  4. That glass house is the real McCoy, I even looked over all that ventilation and you have a glasshouse to be really proud of there Jim. Nice use of the Camassia.


  5. Jurassic Gold is lovely – like a moment of perfect lighting on new, bronzey foliage captured for continuous enjoyment. Congratulations on the outcome of all your hard work on the greenhouse, though I do understand the eagerness to get back to duties neglected in favor of the “big project.”


    1. The flowers are quite small, about 2 inches across. The cross was ‘Ruby Bells’ x ‘Kuro-tsubaki’, the same as for ‘Black Opal’, which I’ve never seen. ‘Ruby Bells’ was another of his, saluenensis x ‘Kon-wabisuke’. ‘Kon-wabisuke’ is considered to be a wild form of C. japonica, with small, very dark red flowers. The red pigment in Night Rider is right through the wood and root system.

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  6. Well done on finishing the greenhouse – it looks great.

    ‘Nightrider’ has a very nice flower colour, a lovely striking shade of red. Thanks for the recommendation of Tregrehan gardens. Unfortunately, our plans this summer will be taking us in the wrong direction!


  7. Now that’s the way to plant tulips! How many in a pot then Jim? And well done on finishing the greenhouse extension. That corner does look very different now. And thanks for the extras – I saw that same Grevillea today in Glendurgan Gardens. Thought it was a Grevillea, but so very different – in habit and leaves – that I thought maybe I was mistaken as I had not heard of a prostrate kind! Grevillea x gaudichaudii apparently.


    1. I split 120 tulips between three 20L pots. I should have looked at the label on the Grevillea; it was spreading but not prostrate. We saw quite a few prostrate forms in Australia but how many would survive here, if anyone ever brought them over, is another matter. ‘Ivory Whip’ was one we say in Brisbane Botanic garden and lusted over mightily.


  8. Tregrehan looks like a very interesting garden. I love the Dacrydium with its drooping branches.
    The greenhouse construction is very impressive. I’m wondering whether it is possible to have a greenhouse that is too big or do we always fill the space available.


    1. Sue got used to having a couple of large commercial glasshouses when she was working, 150 x 21 feet sort of size. All domestic glasshouse seem tiny to her. For me it was 150 x 65 foot polytunnels, a different world.


  9. It feels a little dull amongst all those fabulous shots to concentrate on the camassias and tulips, but wow! Like Fred my camassias are still in bud – weeks off flowering I think – and those tulips look fabulous, even the allium leaves seem to look just right! And great work on that amazing greenhouse, gleaming in the sun.


    1. I’m very ambivalent about tulips, I like the brash, cheerful colours and at the other extreme, the subtlety of the species, but pastels and darker colours and all the frilly things, I really rather dislike. And if I’m going to grow annuals I want them to flower for more than a fortnight. The alliums looked fabulous in the catalogue, I hope they aren’t a disappointment.

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  10. I need a ‘Jurassic Gold’ for my Fern wall. What a beautiful colour on the new fronds. I’m trying to grow D. erythrosoria but it struggled last year and is looking very weak again. I could definitely do with a greenhouse extension at the moment but I’m sure I’d fill it up quite quickly and be in the same position again in a couple of years time


    1. I’m surprised you’ve found D. erythrosora to be a weak grower, my experience is the complete opposite. It overwinters in very good condition and I have to harden my heart and cut the old leaves off before the new fronds push up and make it difficult. I have D. erythrosora ‘Brilliant’ somewhere, I may have moved it because it was left in full sun by my tree felling, I’d better look for it tomorrow.


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