Six on Saturday – 1/5/2021

Weird it is. For a good part of yesterday the sky to the south of us was black with rain coming down in sheets. There were several claps of thunder though I didn’t notice any lightning flashes. We had about five drops of rain, the rest missed us. Normally that would have been a good thing but I’m actually a little envious of the people who must have had a soggy day. Today has dawned clear, sunny and cold yet again, though I think without frost.
Having completed Sue’s greenhouse I’ve been doing some planting, but mostly there’s very little above ground to see, so I’ll save it for later, and I’ll wait until Sue has the greenhouse sorted out before I start taking pictures. However, things proceed in the wider garden, a bit slower than some years which is mainly a positive, when it’s warm spring flowers can be very fleeting.

One.
My family apple tree. Five years ago on SoS post one I reported on the success of a couple of scions of Plympton Pippin added to this tree a few months earlier. I have two scions of another, unknown variety growing away from grafts done in January this year. The Plympton Pippin shoots have a bit of blossom on them but most of the tree is Holstein, a German raised Cox hybrid which we find to be excellent. I spur prune the tree, a technique usually applied to espaliers, cordons or whatever. It works just as well on whatever, decent crops but the tree doesn’t get much bigger.

Two.
Disporum sessile macrophyllum and white flowered Dicentra formosa, ‘Langtrees’ possibly. These two seem happy to grow together without one dominating the other, which is fairly unusual in my experience. I find the effect very pleasing.

Three.
My woodland garden consists of the shade of one shared tree on our garden boundary. There are so many gorgeous shade loving plants I’d want to grow if I only had more room. Polygonatum x hybridum ‘Betburg’ I’d want in drifts yards across. This plant is steadily increasing, helped by being less popular with Solomon’s seal sawfly than the common variety. I still have to wash and squatch.

Four.
Polystichum munitum is a fern I have spotted growing abundantly in the background of some American posts where it is presumably too common to be worth a mention. We don’t have anything quite like it so are free to see it as being a bit exotic. Just now I’m thinking Hydra.

Five.
I only have two Rhododendrons in the garden and one of them is fighting some malaise that kills a few shoots each year. The other one, this one, is ‘Ramapo’, which I won in a raffle. The RCM group do a classy raffle and at least I haven’t killed it. It’s one of those lilac-blue colours that never looks quite right in a photograph, I’m thinking it should be a bit more blue but it was taken in warm toned early morning light so it is an accurate reflection of how it looked at the time.

Six.
A few years ago I collected seed from a drift of Honesty that was growing beside the road where it crosses a railway line near here. I’ve not seen it there since but there’s now a good drift near to the next railway bridge up the line. I seem to have two plants in the garden which I may have planted or they may be self sown. It’s a great plant for those odd little rubbishy spots where nothing much else will grow.

So there you have it. Today involves a bit more planting, a bit more tidying, a lot more watering and no more shopping. There’s a little rain for this afternoon in the BBC forecast and lots of heavy rain in the Met Office forecast. Que sera sera. The Propagator had rain, lucky man.

50 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 1/5/2021

  1. Honesty … Precisely I photographed it yesterday in bloom, in a border among bearded irises. It’s a very useful plant as you say ; both during flowering and thanks to its seeds.
    Nice shot of Polygonatum !

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  2. An odd thing with two polygonatums here – one of them ‘Betberg’ – is that they have simply lain there in the ground without any top growth. The root, after lifting one last year, was in perfect health, sound and without rot or any other sign of disease, but it had put on no top growth. A plant of ‘Betberg’ in another part of the garden is growing away fine. It has excellent foliage colour though it does fade to being greenish as the summer goes on. Any suggestions re the dormant polygonatums?

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  3. A beautiful combination in number two. And a lovely honest comment about honesty! The apple tree is looking very good, I’m happy with the ones here – a good year I hope. Like The Prop we had some rain but not enough so I share your envy for those who had sheets of it. Have a good weekend.

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    1. It took me a long time to realise that you often have to tweak book based pruning methods to take account of local conditions and then a few more years to get the tweaks right. You also need to know that it takes two or three seasons to build up a fruitful spur system and in the meantime you mustn’t panic and revert to a different method.

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  4. The combination of foliage colors you’ve got with the Disporum and Dicentra is incredibly beautiful. The Solomon’s Seal is very elegant. I have been seeing a good deal of the native False Solomon’s Seal on recent hikes, and your post firms my resolve to add some to our bit of riparian woodland, at the earliest opportunity.

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    1. I grow a couple of forms of your western form of False Solomon’s seal, one a named selection called ‘Emily Moody’ which is quite tall and beautifully scented. We have a few garden worthy native woodlanders but nothing like the variety you have. It intrigues me that nature will populate a piece of ground with lots of species, growing and flowering at different times for sure but also several things at the same time. It doesn’t often work in a garden, almost always one thing will dominate and eventually displace all others.

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  5. It was worth collecting that honesty seed, as the plant looks great in that spot Jim. That pesky sawfly creates havock with Solomon’s seal, which I agree with you is a lovely plant. It grows wild in oak woods near my son, and I taught my grand daughter very young to spot it. At infants school the teacher was amazed she knew names of wild flowers; that’s my girl I thought!

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    1. I’m not surprised the teacher was impressed with your granddaughter’s knowledge, most adults in this country would probably struggle to name ten native trees. I’ve seen the native Solomon’s Seal naturalised in an estate near here, I have no idea if it was wild or had been planted. I suggested to the owners that they defer mowing it until it had finished flowering. I’ve never seen it anywhere else. The first year I meticulously picked off the sawflies every few days I was astonished at how much more growth it made as a result.

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  6. The honesty which self sowed in our garden last year doesn’t seem to have come up again. Your unusual Solomon’s Seal looks great – always good to have shade recommendations. Is spur pruning fairly easy?

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    1. Honesty seems to play by its own arcane rules. I will never be rid of Corfu Blue but the one in todays post is fickle. Spur pruning is simple in principle, cut all laterals to one leaf above the basal cluster in the third week in august. If I do it then I invariably get new growth, which you don’t want. I prune to a couple of buds further up in August then a few weeks later cut them back to where they should be. That way any new growth gets removed too late to start growing again. In the first year all you’ll get is strong vegetative regrowth but in subsequent years fruiting spurs form on the stubs of shoots that you’ve left. I have blogged about it, such as here: https://wp.me/p6bCCa-1D1

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  7. Honesty is a lovely plant and that is a particularly floriferous specimen.

    The Dicentra – Disporum combination is very nice indeed. I bought ‘Langtrees’ earlier this year to compare it to ‘Aurora’. I’ll let you know my discoveries, if there are any, because they look suspiciously similar to me. I think ‘Langtrees’ has been around for longer – whether that’s at all relevant, I’m not really sure!

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    1. It was only when I sought to get a definitive ID on ‘Langtrees’, and looked up the National collection holder, that I realised that it was Roger Brooke, who had been a college lecturer of mine donkeys years ago. He said they’re a mess, not least because they self seed and the seedlings get passed off as the real thing. I stopped fretting about it. Grown in a pot in a tunnel the Disporum was two or three times the height; it gets shorter every year and is now hardly any taller than the Dicentra. I suspect watering when it does its growth spurt would help greatly.

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  8. Your fern immediately reminded me of octopus tentacles…sorry if that sounds rude! I think the honesty is extremely handsome and would love to have one like that in my garden. I have been unsuccessful in growing it here so far.

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  9. Sword fern is native and common here.It clings to damp hillsides above the roadways. It is not my favorite in the landscapes because it is tedious to groom. In my own garden, I would just cut it to the ground and let it regenerate. There are a few that we relocated into the landscapes from the forest just because we did not want to plant anything important. Of course it does well in the shade of redwoods.
    False Solomon’s seal, which we know simply as Solomon’s seal, is also native, and the main reason reason that we do not bother with the real Solomon’s seal. If I have encountered it before, I was not aware of it. I should add it to the landscapes if I ever get the opportunity.

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    1. The sword fern has a fairly distinctive appearance in that it’s singly pinnate rather than double pinnate like most of the other shuttlecock habit ferns. I have seedlings of my Emily Moody Solomon’s Seal, just a few but a good germination rate from a small number of seeds. They have just one leaf and I’m inclined to leave them and pot them up next year.

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      1. Are you familiar with the false Solomon’s seal, and if so, do you know if it is easy to relocate? After it dies back for the year the stolons are not easy to find. As I dig to where they are, I chop the rhizomes to bits. I am determined to dig some out intact. That part should not be as difficult as it has been. I am just do not know what to expect from them when relocated. Many of the plants that are native here take quite a bit of time to recover from transplant.

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      2. I moved a big clump from one side of the garden to the other last year and it seems barely to have noticed, in fact is already doing better for being in shade than where it was, almost in full sun. Dan Hinkley says ‘division in early spring is easily accomplished’, so maybe get it when it’s just starting to come up? He also comments that ‘it is stunning in combination with western sword fern’.

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      3. Yes, that is what I am told about moving it, but I am still hesitant. It just seems proper to move it while dormant. Regardless, it is very deep because it gets no supplemental irrigation. If I dig it while foliated, I will need to bury it just as deep, which is no problem. I suppose it does not matter now, since it is too late to get it while it is just starting to come up.
        ‘Stunning’ seems to be a bit of an exaggeration for how it grows in its natural environment. I like it because it does not look so synthetic. I mean, it looks natural and rustic. So does the sword fern.

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      4. There’s no separating how plants strike us visually from what we have become used to. I wouldn’t regard very many of our native plants as being really garden worthy and the ones with architectural quality, like big ferns, are rather common and all green. I should have thought Hinckley would be a hard man to stun with any plant combination. I used to write descriptions for plant labels, “stunning” is a hard word not to overuse.

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      5. There are certain words that I refuse to use in my gardening column. “Stunning” is one of them, . . . although I might on a dare. I have used “festive”, which now really makes me cringe. “Breathtaking” sounds hazardous. “Riot of color” sounds dangerous. (We joked about that one in 1985, and it is still in use!)

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      6. Better to write simply about interesting things than floridly about very little, for sure. When I took on doing plant labels around half the previous descriptions involved “nice”. From what I’ve seen of other peoples efforts, it’s not a highly developed artform.

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      7. As a columnist who became a columnist to provide ‘accurate’ information for our formerly horticulturally oriented region, I still get offended by what ‘sells’. It has gotten worse instead of better. You may notice that there are not many pictures of me out and about. That is partly because I do not conform to what a horticulturist ‘should’ look like.

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      8. It can get tricky if you’re a grower/retailer. People have a set of expectations of what a sales person should look like and a very different set about growers. When the shop staff called me in to give advice on something they didn’t know much about I was often regarded with some suspicion and scepticism which slowly lifted when they realised that I did know a bit, even though I was in scruffy attire and covered in muck. We all do it to some degree at least.

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      9. Oh yes! I know that one too. Also, because I work with so many different horticultural professionals, I hear what they all say about each other. I really dislike so-called ‘landscape designers’, although Brent happens to be one. Nurserymen here do not even know what an arborist is, but my most respected nurseryman colleague really detests them, even though I happen to be one. It is like Star Trek – Deep Space Nine, with all those different species living together.

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      10. I feel like the bloke who checked out something on Wikipedia just to be able to hold up my end of the conversation only to discover I’m having the conversation with the person who wrote the Wikipedia entry. I watched DS9 when it was first broadcast and haven’t seen it since. Too long ago.

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      11. Well, you are pretty accurate about the Klingons, and almost accurate about the Ferengi. I am not very familiar with them either, but when I see the various species, I can identify with them.

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  10. I do love ferns. Many years ago I was given the one you mention above and it is so rampant bursts out of the pot and sends runners out of the drainage holes which then take root in the gravel. I have donated lots of thesw plants to friends and our local gardening group. I have found they grow well in sun or shade.

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  11. The Disporum/Dicentra combination is a very good one. I like it a lot. The honesty is looking good and healthy and reminds me to get out and sprinkle the packet of seed I’ve had waiting for be sown for a couple of years.

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    1. There’s no escaping the fact that unsown seeds don’t grow, I have quite a lot like that. The Dicentra/Disporum combo was accidental, they both invaded the other’s territory. None of my planned cohabitations have been as successful, which won’t stop me trying.

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  12. D. ‘Langtrees’ is in my Six this week sharing it’s space with an Epimedium. I like yours with the Disporum – not a plant I’ve tried. I am wondering why not. I hadn’t thought of P. munitum as a hydra but when I went to look at mine I had to agree.

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    1. I don’t know how widely available the Disporum is, mine was a Crug purchase years ago. I have a couple of Epimediums that would certainly overwhelm Langtrees and a couple where Langtrees would win hands down, none that would coexist amicably, your warleyense is probably more on a par. It was your Muscari ‘Grape Ice’ that went into the notebook for future purchase.

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  13. The honesty is a very fine plant. The apple trees up here seem well behind yours. I love the tapestry effect of the Disporum and Dicentra too and agree it is not often you see plants playing so nicely together.

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