Six on Saturday – 7/5/2022

Five years and one day ago, I responded to a suggestion by someone blogging under the tag ‘The Propagator’, to post about six things happening there and then in my garden. I went and had a look; sure enough, there were things happening, I took pictures of six of them and put my foot on the first rung of the ladder, or took my first step down the rabbit hole. This for me, is SoS post 259.

Of the six things I included, four are still here. They are Camellia ‘Night Rider’, Camellia ‘Annette Carol’, Maianthemum racemosum ‘Emily Moody’ and Apple ‘Plympton Pippin’. Schefflera taiwaniana succumbed to honey fungus and Libertia x butleri passed its sell by date and was dug out. ‘Night Rider’ is bigger, encroaching on the path, still a great plant. ‘Annette Carol’ had finished flowering and I included it because I’d just taken four feet off the top of it. That has now grown back but I’ve not pruned it very much since then, just removed a few of the lower branches.

‘Emily Moody’ is a bigger clump, still in the same place and not quite fully open, exactly as it was then. ‘Plympton Pippin’ was a scion I’d just grafted onto my ‘Elstar’ apple tree, the grafting tie hadn’t been removed but it was shooting and even had flowers on it. I wish I could report that it is now yielding respectable crops but it isn’t, two apples last year if memory serves.

As a sample of the changes that have taken place over the five years it’s a pretty fair set. Things get bigger and may or may not get reduced in size by the gardener. Things die or deteriorate and are removed. Is an attrition rate of one third representative? I’m not sure but it’s probably not far off.

The passage of time having been put front and centre, I looked out some pictures of the whole garden from five years ago. I had been subscribing to a meme called ‘End of Month View’, much like The Propagator’s Border Patrol thing, and had been taking monthly shots from the same points in the garden for quite some time. At the time we had scaffolding up at the back of the house and I got a very high elevation from it that I have tried to emulate with monopod, cable release and a dodgy lean out of the window.

Then, being five years ago, and now, as in last Sunday, when it was a very dull day. The two pictures are not close enough to use image compare, so here they are as a slideshow. I was going round trying to find a set of viewpoints from which to start again to do a monthly record, partly motivated by the nagging doubt that garden openers have about all the action happening before or after the dates when the punters are allowed in.

Peloria. I’ve been here before, was it foxgloves last time? There’s a word for everything. A flower may be actinomorphic, basically star shaped so that it can be divided into three or more identical sectors; or zygomorphic, where the flower can only be divided down the centre into two mirror image halves. If it all goes pear shaped, figuratively, not literally, you can get actinomorphic flowers on plants that are normally zygomorphic. It is a condition known as peloria. One of my seedlings of Melittis melissophyllum ‘Royal Velvet Distinction’ has gone peloric on me.

Left: normal, right: not normal.

Presumably I should be calling this Rhododendron japonicum ‘Madame Knutz’, as distinct from Azalea j. M. K. It’s having what is probably its best ever flowering. It is planted next to Stipa gigantea, which is very happy where it is, sunny and dry; not ideal conditions for azaleas.

We went out of county to Plymouth on Thursday and it seemed only sensible since we were there to visit a nursery or three. We’d been told about this little place that grew a lot of succulents so shot off up a narrow lane to try to find it. Succulents, tender perennials and bedding mostly, with a few other bits and pieces like this double flowered Erodium which was in with a batch of single flowered but otherwise very similar plants. Labels were conspicuous by their absence on almost everything but it was apparent that most of it was being grown from plugs supplied by the wholesale producer Kernock Park Plants, who are nearby, so looking in their catalogue I found the name Erodium x variabile ‘Flore Pleno’. We might have come away with several succulents and some bedding plants too, there was a bit of space left in the car so it seemed rude not to support a local grower.

The ferns are pushing out new fronds all around the garden and I love them all at this time of year. None more so than Athyrium nipponicum ‘Burgundy Glow’, which has proved the most vigorous of the forms of painted fern that I’ve grown. It’s escaped any frost damage this year, so is looking especially good.

We added a couple of Geums on our shopping trip, ‘Mrs Bradshaw’ and ‘Flames of Passion’. They join ‘Totally Tangerine’ and a couple of unnamed ones we already had.

The weather has been dull all week but today looks set for wall to wall sunshine. I’ve moved quite a few things out of greenhouses to harden off before planting and some of them will be vulnerable to scorch in bright sun so need to be moved. Is it too early to paint shading onto the glasshouse? I may do a thin layer. Lots of similar little jobs beckon, looking in on SoS posts from the world among them. Links in the usual place.

23 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 7/5/2022

  1. I too lost a libertia …regarding the schefflera, are you talking about the honey fungus? How does it manifest? It worries me because I planted 2 other varieties in the garden not long ago (S.rhododendrifolia and glabrescens)…


    1. The Schefflera died, slowly over two seasons. The only evidence of honey fungus was mycelium under the bark near the ground. Everywhere I dig in the garden I find rhizomorphs of honey fungus; it’s a wonder there’s anything left alive.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes that fern is a wonderful specimen. I tried to do a ‘spot’ the difference game on your slide show, but each time the wow factor got in the way. This SOS club has been a great way of learning about new plants but also keeping a record of one’s own garden. Thanks for all the help, advice and encouragement you give Jim.


    1. Call me nerdy but I keep a note of what I put in my sixes, with the link to the post, in a Word document. It gives me a record of what happened when and I can search the document then click the link to go to the post.

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  3. I love seeing before and after shots of gardens, and it was interesting to see the changes in five years! The double flower Erodium was a lucky find indeed. Lovely to hear that the days are warming up for your garden!


  4. I like seeing views of people’s gardens, helps to visualise the various aspects and plant locations. Yours seems much more open now. Moving the polytunnel and that very big pine (?) has helped. I need to visit a nursery for some bits and bobs, but I know I’ll come away with a plant or two. I am trying to avoid online nurseries this year, with the exception of bulbs (and some pre-ordered annuals that were mostly bought due to a refund.) A year for consolidating what I have and removing things that have outlasted their time. And getting shot of too many pots.


    1. The conifer was the woefully named Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Little Spire’. I have tried over many years to keep the balance between open and shaded area about the same but inevitably it looks most open just after something big has been removed, then gradually closes in again until something else gets axed. I’m wondering how too many pots for you compares with too many pots for us. I must count them up, or do a blog on them.

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    1. Constant change is a strong theme in this garden, helped along by a climate in which things grow fast but for one reason or another often are often not long lived.


    1. I’m still a bit puzzled by the double Erodium being the only one in a batch of singles. The plug supplier does both in trays of 100. The fern used to be shaded by the conifer in the five years ago picture and is now gets sun most of the day. It wont be looking so good after a few days like today.


  5. Geum did not come back for us this year. I do not know what cultivar it was, or where it came from, but it was fun while it lasted. I still do not see it in nurseries yet. I have seen it in the past, but only on rare occasion. It seems to be popular elsewhere.


    1. They seem pretty popular here at the moment, though it could be a short lived thing. We have two native species, one a worthless tough weed that grows anywhere, wet or dry, sun or shade. The other is Geum rivale which I’ve only seen growing by a stream halfway up a mountain on the Isle of Skye, just below the 58th parallel. It likes cool and wet and I suspect it is in the parentage of several of the popular forms in the garden centres.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Not only do I see plants I haven’t seen before, but many words I haven’t read before in your weekly post! Your description of your 2nd photo contains several. As always, interesting and fascinating, Jim. Congratulations on the anniversary of your involvement with this Six-on-Saturday, are you the only one of the original contributors still contributing? Lovely colours again.


    1. I don’t have a botanical dictionary by my bed, honest. I often wonder what happened to some of the early contributors, there’s been a sense of community from very early on and especially over the last couple of years you get to worrying that something might have gone badly wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I do like the erodium – always something interesting in your posts. Which leads me to your second post and the explanation of peloria, a very pretty variation. It’s also a great view from on high. That’s a good record to have access to and shows so much colour variation in the garden.


    1. I love getting a new angle on the garden, I’m out in it every day and it is so familiar that it can get difficult to see it with anything like the eye of someone seeing it for for the first time. A high angle both gives me that and a clearer view of how it all fits together.

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