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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.