Six on Saturday – 30 April 2022

Yesterday I noticed my second Dahlia emerging, and I’m talking of plants that were left in the ground for the winter. I’m not even freaking out about slugs as it’s been so dry there are very few about. I’ll still be doing night time forays to check but they’ll be targeted five minute forays rather than half hour expeditionary forays. The dryness has its down side of course, with loads of time spent watering and concerns about serious drought as plants get leafier, days get longer, temperatures get higher and the weather forecast shows little or no rain for the next couple of weeks.

Six things is now a limitation, not a challenge; every day something new grabs my attention for one reason or another. I find myself hoping things will hold for another week, which they usually do, but then find themselves elbowed aside by something else. It’s not easy, bein’ green.

One.
Holboellia brachyandra. This is draped along at least 25 feet of one of our fences and is covered in flower from one end to the other. It can be a beast to keep contained, I have spent hours unwinding it from around other plants when I turned my back for a week or two, but I cannot conceive of getting rid of it. It has separate male and female flowers, you can pick out the larger and paler females in the pictures. There seem to be mostly males where it is in shade, many more females in the sun.

Two.
Some of Sue’s Aeoniums have grown very large. Three feet high and very top heavy even in large terracotta pots sort of large. Then this spring a couple of them really went berserk and decided to flower. One of them could just about be accommodated but not two; cutting a thing like that off at the pot with a pruning saw is not the nicest thing I’ve ever had to do, but all the non-flowering shoots were rooted as cuttings. The other one is about six feet tall and flowering. I should have taken the picture earlier, it’s at the end of the greenhouse so there was only one angle available and the setting sun was almost directly behind it. It’s not ‘Schwartzkopf’, but ‘Pomegranate’.

Three.
I have dead headed bluebells meticulously for years but if it’s slowed their spread I don’t like to think what it would be like if I hadn’t. I tried to dig out a couple today, just got 9 inches of underground leaf and the bulb stayed where it was, deeper still. They’re a right old mix, from English looking through to obviously Spanish. Pulling the leaves off as soon as they’d finished flowering last year doesn’t seem to have slowed their growth or diminished their flowering.

Four.
Acer palmatum ‘Atropurpureum’. This continues to battle with honey fungus and there are a few dead bits that need removing. However, it has come into leaf and nowhere is it wilting and looking to be dying back still further. Another year, another stay of execution. I even went so far as to sprinkle a little fertiliser and give it a good drink last week. The best thing is that we’ve not had the usual punishing northerly wind to blast the new growth to shreds, so it’s getting a chance to make vigorous growth.

Five.
I have two seedling deciduous azaleas from seed I collected from a species I have growing elsewhere. They are nothing like the parent and quite different from each other; both good, both beautifully scented. One is also being set off by Lunaria ‘Corfu Blue’ behind it.

Six.
Which brings me to number six, which was a complete surprise spotted just a couple of days ago. At least the flowers were, the leaves had been noticed and disregarded a bit earlier, such as there is of them. It is coming up from the middle of a clump of Agapanthus inapertus ‘Icicle’ and I can only assume that it was a passenger when I bought it, which is several years ago, and that it has only just reached flowering size, having been unnoticed until this year. It took a bit of hunting to put a name to it, which is Gladiolus tristis. I haven’t started looking for sources of supply but Google images throws up some very tasty forms and I see Silverhill’s name amongst them.

I went out this morning to see if I could get a better Aeonium shot; ended up with reflected morning light instead of direct evening light spoiling the party. Hey ho. The Propagator is wearing out his running shoes some more but has of course posted his six, where you will find the links. Me, I’m off to Trago.

29 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 30 April 2022

  1. Jim Stephens, your garden is full of the most amazing plants, many of which I’ve never heard of, let alone seen. Beautiful outdoor flowers, and I love all the cactus in your greenhouse. The last shot is perfect!

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  2. Whoa! That aeonium is magnificent. Does Sue put them outdoors during the summer, or do all her succulents remain in her greenhouse? I lost several cuttings this winter due to blasted vine weevils in the pots.

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    1. Most of the succulents stay in, though she usually makes up some big pots of Echeverias which go out. We have a running battle with weevils too, I look for them on my night-time slug patrols, there are never many adults but each lays up to a thousand eggs so each one I find feels worth 20 slugs.

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  3. It is such a pleasure to read notes from a person who knows what he is talking about. I do admire your knowledge and your wonderful ability to write about all kinds of things.

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    1. “A circulating library in a town is as an ever-green tree of diabolical knowledge! It blossoms through the year!” R. B. Sheridan.
      “Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.” Tennyson.
      “If it rained knowledge, I’d hold out my hand; but I would not give myself the trouble to go in quest of it.” Dr Samuel Johnson.
      “Knowledge is intrinsically worth more than belief, at least on those occasions when we believe we know the difference” Me.

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  4. I’m going to have Kermit’s ‘It’s not easy bein’ green’ in my head all evening now. Funnily enough I’ve just been attempting to remove some Spanish/English Bluebell hybrids in an attempt to control them a bit, but the bulbs seems to have an emergency foliage release mechanism. I’m glad the Acer is doing okay.

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    1. Van Morrison did a version, I think his daughter was a Muppets fan. I’ve never heard the Muppet version and it doesn’t seem like the earworm I want. I see so many Spanish bluebells in garden round here it seems pointless me worrying about mine, so I don’t any more.

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    1. Aeoniums are the least frost hardy of the succulents we grow, though I think there may be some slightly hardier forms that we don’t have. Echeverias are much less trouble.

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  5. Is Gladiolus tristis available from nurseries, or does it just grow wild there? It is naturalized to a minor degree in Monterey County, south of here, as well as in Ventura County, farther south. I sort of want to grow it, but not if it will be a weed. I did not need to worry about that in town, since there was nowhere for potentially invasive plants to escape to. Here though, invasive plants can migrate directly into the forest.

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    1. I can honestly say that until yesterday I was unaware of the existence of Gladiolus tristis. As far as I know it doesn’t naturalise here, but time may prove differently. The first thing will be to see if a plant on its own sets seed, I’m guessing it will. G. illyricus and G. communis are the only two in my wildflower book and it seems only the latter is a garden escapee.

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      1. I was unfamiliar with it also, until I investigated reliably perennial Gladiolus, after Tangly Cottage Gardening sent me some Gladiolus papilio.

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      2. I was slightly surprised not to find G. papilio listed in the wildflower book as a naturalised garden escape. It can take over a garden well enough and I see no reason it would stop at the fence.

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      3. Oh, goodness; I should have known about this before I put mine into their landscape. Well, I enjoy them anyway. I suppose that awareness of their vigorousness would not have stopped me from planting them anyway.

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    1. It seems to me the thing that Acers hate the most is being too dry when they come to make their one big annual growth flush in April and May. I’m sure it’s what set ours on a downward spiral.

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  6. Your wifes Aeonium is amazing, puts mine to shame! Your seedling azalea is beautiful, I’ve never thought of trying to grow one from my own seed, how long do they take to get to flowering size, might not have enough time as I’m 80 next year!

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    1. I don’t remember how long the Azaleas took to flower, and they were in pots in a tunnel for years, which might have made it sooner or later than in the ground. The parent plant was in a tunnel several hundred yards from any other rhododendrons so I’ve always wondered what the pollen parent was. They’re easy enough to germinate, not quite so easy to keep going, in my experience. There was a lady in the Camborne & Redruth Fuchsia Society several years ago who took up growing Bonsai Fuchsias at the age of 100. You’re only a youngster. I love that it was bonsai she took on, not something quick like growing annuals.

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    1. I was out at about 9:30 yesterday evening on slug patrol and the gladiolus was knocking it out the park scent wise. By day it’s the two Azaleas, but at night they seem to have less scent, or it’s overwhelmed by the Honesty, which isn’t entirely pleasant, at least to my nose.

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  7. I thought my Aeonium was doing well until I saw Sue’s! I’m going to have to give it a talking to. I’ve not long planted a Holboellia to cover an arch and am now wondering whether to worry. Between that and the Woodwardia in my six I won’t need much else in the garden.

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    1. Having seen Aeoniums on Tresco many times, where they have banks of them growing outdoors all year and flowering their heads off, we perhaps didn’t realise that getting it flowering was such an event. Holboellia can be a monster and the common species sold (latifolia and coriacea) are not usually as free flowering as H. brachyandra, which I seem to be able to hack back with abandon and it just grows back and flowers now on all of last years growth.

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