Six on Saturday – 13/11/2021

I don’t seem to be spending much time in the garden at the moment, I’m very much in a phase of planning changes then making the excuse that I want to think about it before committing. I have pages of notes, a lot of them contradictory, where I’ve changed my mind, or duplicated, where I’ve noted the same thing down several times. My other favourite excuse is that I need to stay off the soil when it’s very wet. That one will get me through to at least March. Quite a lot of my time is spent on stuff related to Camellias. The last two flowering seasons have been massively Covid disrupted in terms of my work with the National Collection and I’m determined to get back on track this winter. I’ve included one here, from my garden.

One.
Fuchsia ‘Catherina’. No matter what we do with it, this is a variety that wants to start flowering in November. Fortunately it has dark, red infused foliage so gives good service as a foliage plant even if the frost cuts short its flowering ambitions. One of the good things about SoS is that I usually look up the things I include; to check I’ve got the right name and to see if there’s an interesting back story. In this case I found a given parentage of ‘Gartenmeister Bonstedt’ x F. procumbens, which for anybody who knows both is likely to cause raised eyebrows. There’s a lot more gartenmeister than procumbens, that’s for sure.

Two.
Camellia sasanqua ‘Cleopatra’. I moved this from my allotment about three years ago where it was flowering extremely freely for the benefit of no-one. It was pretty large so I cut it back by a third and it’s taken until now to start flowering again. I’ve planted it so we get a good view of it from indoors, that being where we’re mainly going to be looking from at this time of year. Until a few weeks ago I was calling it ‘Tanya’ but that has much smaller flowers and while I was fairly certain the name was wrong, I didn’t know what it really was. ‘Cleopatra’ seems to be a good fit. Because it came from the nursery where I worked I can trace its origins, which turn out to be a batch of young plants purchased from New Zealand in 2004. We never had ‘Cleopatra’ so it didn’t get confused at this end, letting me off the hook. Interestingly, both are varieties that originated in Japan and were imported to America in the 1920’s. ‘Cleopatra’ then travelled to New Zealand it seems, but perhaps under the pseudonym ‘Tanya’. One wrongly labelled plant supplied to a nursery can be the jump off point for hundreds or thousands of wrongly named plants.

Three.
Molinia caerulea subsp. ‘Transparent’. When I was at Rosemoor last week I was admiring what was labelled Molinia caerulea subsp. arundinacea, growing, if not bolt upright, certainly stiff and straight and at no more than a few degrees from vertical. Mine gets a bit of rain and arches over to touch its toes. Fortunately, when it dries off it straightens up somewhat; unfortunately, that hasn’t happened much lately. Do I have the wrong sort or have I got the right sort in the wrong place?

Four.
I’ve been reading Christopher Lloyd’s book on succession planting. It is pretty much both script and illustrations for the talk Fergus Garrett gave to Cornwall HPS last month. I recommend it highly and thank n20gardener for putting me onto it. One of the things he talks about is self sowers and he turns out to be quite fond of Welsh poppy if it’s kept under control. Even he warns that they are a menace when they seed into things weaker growing than themselves. Since that is most things, I’ve been pretty intolerant towards them for several years now. I’m pretty sure they’d still be coming up here in 50 years time even if they never dropped another seed.

Five.
One of my extravagances last year was to purchase several Amarine bulbs, having seen them doing astonishingly well in a friends garden. I figured if she could grow them, I shouldn’t have any trouble. My arrogance has been roundly punished, with hers putting mine to shame. I resolve to do better next year. Amarine ‘Emanuelle’, taller and probably longer lasting than Nerines, otherwise very similar. Not having them in full sun was just the first part of my failure.

Six.
I don’t have any of those Hydrangeas with flowers that turn a rich brick red in the autumn. The nearest I get is this one, H. macrophylla ‘Izu-no-hana’, a wild collected but double flowered form of the ordinary garden hydrangea. I’m very fond of it, it’s a bit less of a lump than your regular mopheads. It’s a lacecap but mine seems to carry more of the sterile ray florets than in most of the pictures of it online. Even the fertile florets are miniature doubles.

Dry and reasonably pleasant weather seems to be on offer here today so I feel I should make the best of it and get out to do something. Wouldn’t it be awful if you were cooped up inside decorating on a rare decent day in November? I wonder what The Propagator is doing today, apart from SoS MC duties that is. Anyway, must get on.

36 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 13/11/2021

  1. As usual a most interesting post Jim. The Picture of Transparent giving me an idea of what the plant I bought, still in its pot is likely to look like this time next year, and hence a tip on placement. As regards Christopher Lloyd’s book, a copy has been ordered from the library which will make for some good winter reading.

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    1. I rather enjoyed Lloyd’s book. I hardly ever read gardening books, just use them for reference. I should have another go at his “Well tempered Garden”; I must have bought it 40 years ago and have never read it.

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  2. The only poppy that self sows for us is the native California poppy, and even that gets crowded out easily. I have never seen Welsh poppy. It seems to be quite a tradition in some regions, and in some cultures, just not here. I sort of wonder if it just does not perform well here.

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      1. The coastal side of the Santa Cruz Mountains is surprisingly damp, particularly relative to the chaparral climate of the Santa Clara Valley on the other side. Plants that like cool and damp situation are not happy, even with irrigation, in the Santa Clara Valley. However, with irrigation, some are not so out of place in the redwood forests on the coast. Since it has not yet become popular, I suspect that Welsh poppy may not perform well here, perhaps because it prefers the weather to be damp all the time, which it is not here.

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      2. That makes sense. It’s not always at all obvious why a plant thrives in one place and not another. Here, welsh poppy seems to be a weed in many gardens while other people simply can’t get it to grow. I’m in the first group but have applied for the second.

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      3. Peonies! Oh my! My former neighbors in town grew exquisite peonies. I could not figure out how. I could not get them to grow just a few blocks away! I know that our climates here are very diverse, but that was just too weird.

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  3. The Amarines have tempted me also but I’ve allowed the temptation to pass for the moment. They are beautiful plants but I have big patches of Nerines already so, kind of, enough of the pink!

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    1. Camellias are very long lived and their ancestry probably better documented than most plant groups. Every now and then I get messages to my Camellia blog from people whose grandmother had a camellia named after them in the 1940’s, wanting to get hold of a plant. There’s so much more to plants than a pretty flower. A lot of Fuchsia species need a long growing season to flower in the UK having been cut down the previous winter. If they’re kept growing through the winter they start flowering early and keep going. I’ll bring that one in to the glasshouse, trim it very lightly and see if it will start flowering earlier next year.

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  4. Another week, another lovely Fuchsia!

    I’m not sure about the Welsh poppies. They do look nice, but I’m afraid they’re too much of a nuisance for me to appreciate them in the garden. That said, I have a few clients who won’t let me dig them up!

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      1. If they grow well then the potential for them becoming a problem is very much there. If they grow well I would advise deadheading them assiduously, perhaps keeping a bit of seed to sow where you want it.

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    1. My nerines were a total failure this year. They needed to be at the front of a south facing bed, so not shaded at all, but they seem to have hated being moved to get there. Amarines do seem a bit more robust.

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  5. Will have to check out Lloyd’s book. Welsh poppies are quite charming. I admit that – as a gardener of indifferent skill – I have a special affection for any plant that appears eager to grow and spread itself around. Judging from the picture you posted, it’s hard to regard your efforts with Amarine as a complete failure.

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    1. I’m with you on ‘eager to grow’ but the ‘spread itself around’ bit makes me nervous, it encompasses too many possibilities. The giveaway in the Amarine picture was it growing horizontally when it should have been vertical. The other bloom, of two from 3 bulbs, was resting on the ground below the pot. It is so beautiful too, I feel a little ashamed of myself for not looking after it better.

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      1. Yes, I was wondering about the horizontal flower, but didn’t want to ask a tactless question. Perhaps self-spreading seems a valuable trait to me at this point because I am still in the early stages of establishing a new garden. As space becomes harder to come by, such initiative may prove less welcome.

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  6. I let Welsh Poppies into the garden many years ago and regretted it about 12 months later, especially the orange ones. They still appear occasionally. ‘Catherina’ looks a much better colour than ‘G. B.’

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    1. I occasionally see seed offered of orange, double or red welsh poppies and am momentarily tempted. Then I get a grip. Catharina is a strong colour but the flowers are slender and don’t have many to a truss so the impact is not what it might be.

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    1. There was a kiwi lady we bought Camellias from who acted as a rep for a few NZ nurseries and brought tube stock over, saw it through customs then delivered it to various nurseries around the UK. I’m looking at the list of what we ordered in 2004 and 2005 and it’s deeply impressive, so many top drawer varieties. I still have eight in my own garden and some of the others ended up in the National Collection. NZ was at the forefront of widening the range of species used in breeding new varieties.

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  7. Goodness: making notes about garden changes. That sounds so much more sensible than my modus operandi which is often to buy something at a nursery, bring it home and then wonder where I’m going to put it. I enjoyed reading about the camellias and their history.

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    1. When I agreed to opening our garden earlier this year it was firmly on the condition that I would carry on as I always had and visitors could take it or leave it. It doesn’t work like that; for better or worse, I am MUCH more conscious of its shortcomings than I ever was before and that increased awareness would make me want to change things even if we weren’t going to open again. It’s probably a good thing, we probably all try a little harder when someone’s watching, and welcome someone watching because we know we’ll do it better.

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  8. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my comment will get through this week, for some reason, WordPress doesn’t like me communicating with you! The pink camellia is lovely, not too many blooms in amongst plenty of greenery. Is your Welsh poppy flowering now? Anyway, interesting Six-on-Saturday again.

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    1. Strictly speaking, the welsh poppy is not flowering now, though it was on Friday when I took the picture and it was on saturday (thereby qualifying for inclusion) when I pulled it up and put it through the shredder. The Camellia has more blooms open now. It’s very odd how the number of blooms on a plant, bloom density as it were, is a lot of what makes a plant demure (not many) or vulgar (too many). I had a white begonia with a pink picotee edge last year; with one or two blooms open it was lovely, when it was covered I wanted to throw it out.

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