Nearly the end of May and we’ve yet to have a spell of really good growing weather this year. The forecasts have often suggested that things might be getting better only for it not to materialise, so I’m trying to attenuate my hopes for the coming week. Gales are particularly unwelcome and all you can do is batten down the hatches and hope for minimal damage. We desperately need a growth spurt, we have a garden club visiting on June 9th. At least there should be some understanding and sympathy from them if they’re gardeners themselves.
Still, I braved the wind and rain yesterday to get some pictures of what’s going on out there. Six things, the main requirement being that they stay still long enough to photograph. Apologies for any blurred pictures. I suspect there will be quite a few when you follow the Piper, aka the Propagator, down his garden path.
Maianthemum racemosum subsp. amplexicaule ‘Emily Moody’. Last week one of my six was Maianthemum racemosum. It should have been Maianthemum racemosum subsp. amplexicaule. There are two subspecies of M. racemosum recognized; M. racemosum subsp. racemosum, which grows in the eastern United States and M. racemosum subsp. amplexicaule, which grows in the west. Both of the forms I have appear to belong to the western form, which because it is generally bigger and more ornamental, is the form usually encountered in cultivation. ‘Emily Moody’ appears to be a selection of the western form but I can find no information about its origins. Crûg Farm Nursery list a form that was selected by Dan Hinckley and has the collection number BSWJ1358 (odd that Hinckley doesn’t feature in the collection number) and it looks very similar.
My plant of ‘Emily Moody’ is just short of 3 feet tall, against 2 feet for the other form, and has bigger, broader leaves. The flower panicles are larger and strongly scented like lily of the valley. To my nose it is a stronger and sweeter scent than the other form. It is just as undemanding as the shorter form but has spread much more slowly. I think it’s a fabulous plant and would definitely say it’s worth trying to get hold of in preference to the more widely available shorter form. The RHS online plantfinder lists 7 suppliers for ‘Emily Moody’, 59 for M. racemosum and 3 for M. racemosum subsp. amplexicaule. M. racemosum subsp. racemosum has no suppliers listed. Make of that what you will.
It produces fruits which are greenish brown and eventually are said to turn red, which I am not sure I’ve seen. Even so, I have collected, sown and germinated seeds from it. Seeds sown in late September 2019 have germinated well this spring, with just a few germinating last year which I left untouched.
Polygonatum mengzense tonkinensis HWJ573. This was a Barracott Plants purchase though its collection number shows it was a Dan Hinckley/Blethyn Wynn-Jones (Crûg) collection. Their description says it was collected on Vietnam’s highest mountain, Fan Si Pan, in 1999. In my garden it is evergreen, the new shoots emerging in April-May, the leaves a rich purplish brown colour and the stems striated the same against a green ground. The flowers open as the stems grow up, small, green and inconspicuous but followed by berries which finally turn red as the following year’s flowers open. The stems are 2 feet long but arching out in all directions meaning it hasn’t made a dense clump though the stems are close at ground level. I have raised several seedlings which have been very slow and none have had such strong colouring.
Polystichum setiferum ‘Ray Smith’. Like a lot of P. setiferum forms this produces tiny plantlets on its fronds, from which it can be propagated. Looking at the beautiful unfurling fronds yesterday it occurred to me that (a) it is one of my favourite ferns and (b) if I lose it I will probably struggle to find another and therefore should plant another somewhere. All of its progeny have been sold or given away, which is a form of insurance only of you know where they’ve gone. Its fronds get to nearly three feet in length but no more than 3 inches wide.
A week or two ago we went to Plants Galore in Plymouth where I fell for the lurid pot, big picture label and Proven Winners branding on Deutzia ‘Yuki Cherry Blossom’. I’m not falling for the official name of Deutzia x rosea Yuki Cherry Blossom = ‘Ncdx2’. I had just the spot for it so I hope it lives up to the hype. I’ve always liked Deutzias, they’re generally quite refined but floriferous and robust. Most are quite big though and big shrubs with short flowering seasons are not what you want in a small garden unless they something else going for them like berries or autumn colour. This Deutzia is claimed to have good autumn colour but we don’t often get the conditions to produce it in Cornwall.
Acer palmatum ‘Atropurpureum’. On April 15th I wrote a post about how I was going to get rid of this Acer, which has suffered quite a lot of dieback in the last few years. Something stayed my hand and I instead gave it a generous feed of Yara Mila Complex and a thorough watering. By the 25th it was leafing out vigorously and looking like a plant that was determined to live. I took off a couple of big dead branches and allowed myself to believe it could survive after all. The cut ends have various brown stains which I was reading like tea leaves, which may have meant more. Since then we’ve had three serious gales and the poor tree looks wretched. It’s like one of those death row situations where some poor sod keeps appealing against their fate and it drags on year after year. The tree has lost its latest appeal, the execution is on for some indeterminate date, will it come back at me with yet another appeal or is this the end of the road for the third or forth time?
Azalea japonica ‘Madame Knutz’. The RHS website says this was last listed in the RHS Plantfinder in 2007. I feel obliged to try to keep it going because it is irreplaceable, but I don’t really like it very much. It would likely be happier and perform better in partial shade, perhaps I should move it. This might be the best it’s ever looked, it’s never had a really good year. A good azalea should be solid flower, not a leaf showing.
Oh dear, I’ve been particularly verbose this week. That’s what comes of being pinned down by the weather. It’s still raining too, with more forecast for tomorrow, along with strong winds. Hey ho. Soon be midsummer. Have a good week.