When I was writing this yesterday evening it was very obvious that another bout of rain was not far off. Increasingly heavy cloud was streaming in from the west, the Met Office radar showed it to be approaching fast and the forecast was for rain most of the night. Showers are forecast for the rest of the weekend. Right now the sun is shining but ten minutes ago it was sluicing it down. I’ve been getting stuff planted both in the garden and on the allotment and apart from having to be careful to avoid compaction, it’s pretty good weather for it. Slugs have reappeared since the dryness of April, but not in sufficient numbers to cause big problems. My night-time forays and our resident hedgehog are keeping on top of things.
It’s still fairly cool and there has been no explosion of growth, but every week it all looks a bit greener than the week before. I just caught the weather forecast on the telly and much of Europe has below normal temperatures for the time of year. Spring is when many woodland floor plants perform, grabbing the improving light before the tree canopy gets really dense and while there’s still moisture available in the soil. Some, like wood anemones and Erythroniums, are quick to die down, others, such as Polygonatum and Disporum, get their growing and flowering in early then sit there getting slowly nibbled away, until the autumn. Most of my six this week are from my one tree woodland and, as is so often the case with woodlanders, their charms are subtle, understated, subdued.
Convallaria majalis ‘Hofheim’. I bought this from Barracott Plants a few years back and it has done very well, spreading to create a decent sized if somewhat open patch. It has a somewhat inconspicuous narrow cream margin to the leaves; just enough to make it distinctive without being at all vulgar.
Polygonatum odoratum ‘Purple Stem’. This species has an enormous range from England into Asia and there are quite a few forms available, of which this is arguably one of the less remarkable. This also came from Barracott but while the RHS lists a P. odoratum ‘Red Stem’, they don’t have ‘Purple Stem’, so it may be something diiferent or I may have the wrong name for it. It’s about 2 feet tall and spreading slowly in rather deep shade under a Camellia.
Maianthemum racemosum. I moved this during the winter, it having been marooned in a sunny spot by my felling of a big conifer. It is very obviously much happier where it is now. The only downside of its new location is that it is just a few feet away from a selected form called ‘Emily Moody’ which is simply bigger and better in all departments except for its rate of spread. Like last week’s Disporum, it’s going to be fighting it out with the white Dicentra; for the moment it is in a clear space left by my removing Camellia ‘Nuccio’s Pearl’.
Uvularia perfoliata. This has stuck around for quite a number of years without increasing in size significantly. One day I will obtain its bigger and bolder cousin, U. grandiflora but apart from size they are all but indistinguishable. Get closer to this one and it’s just as good.
Oops. It is generally my practice to look up the things I post on here to make sure they are correctly named. I have this labelled as Polygonatum falcatum ‘Variegatum’ but Mr Hinkley says that while that is what it is frequently and incorrectly sold as, it is in fact Polygonatum odoratum var. pluriflorum ‘Variegatum’. He drives home the point with a picture of what is clearly the same plant I am growing. I like it very much, it is light and airy in its demeanour, spreading steadily rather than threateningly, with the variegation making it ornamental even out of flower.
Astelia chathamica. I don’t have this growing in shade but it is one of the very few silvery leaved plants that will do so and in colder areas it would provide a degree of frost protection. This plant has only suffered significantly from winter cold once in the many years it has been where it is; much of the top was killed but it grew again from the roots. For my money it is a much better plant than Phormium in that it doesn’t get much taller than 3 feet, spreading slowly, and it doesn’t get duller as it gets bigger, as do many Phormium varieties. You pays your money….. Actually, the reason I included it this week is because it is at the height of its flower display. Yep, that’s it.
Something of a study in shades of green, are woodland plants. White flowers have green tips, yellows are greenish yellows; presumably there is no advantage in expending energy on bright colours that are barely discernible. It makes for a pleasing contrast with the ambience of the sunnier, more open parts of the garden and variety, as they say, is the spice of life.
Lots of showers expected today, so I don’t know how much gardening will get done. I still have quite a bit of planting to do so I’ll probably be in and out all day, so plenty of time to check out links to other sixes, courtesy of Jon the Propagator.