Six on Saturday – 21/5/2022

Saturday morning and this blog post only half done. I came in from the garden at 9pm yesterday, did a bit, then went out slug foraging around 10pm when it was dark. I have Dahlias in the ground, trying to grow, and slugs trying to stop them. With my help, I hope the Dahlias will win. Thursday I whizzed up some elephant garlic and watered it around the plants. Turns out our slugs like garlic with their Dahlias, there certainly weren’t less than usual, could even have been more. Yesterday I dug three plants up, put them in pots in my tunnel. They were just beginning to show so I’ll get them up a few inches more then plant them out again. It should get them through the critical stage in better shape.

This is the time of year when the garden is at its most natural and informal stage. Self sowers; Aquilegias, foxgloves, Geranium palmatum, poppies, forget-me-nots and a few others put on a prodigious spurt of growth then burst into flower. In a month it’s all over, they mostly get ripped out and the full on summer phase begins. I don’t find it an easy effect to photograph and they’re only just starting to open, so that’s one (or six) for later.

Another weekend has come around though, so it’s time to whittle May’s bounty down to half a dozen essentials, which are:

One.
Candelabra primulas. I have yellow, pale pink and pinky-mauve candelabra primulas flowering; prolifera, japonica ‘Apple Blossom’ and mmmmbleiana. Job lot, one item. They don’t last long so I collect and sow seed most years.

Two.
Melaleuca squarrosa. Scented Paperbark. This is one of the things I didn’t put in last week and am only putting in this week because it’s going over somewhat and won’t make it to next week. There’s a tendency in northern temperate climes to think all Australian plants want it as hot and dry as possible. When you go there and see Bottlebrushes growing in water you have to do a rethink. This is another that grows by watercourses and in wet scrubland. My plant, growing with its feet surrounded by a thuggish campanula, has probably been too dry this spring, at least up until about a week ago. And yes, it’s scented, smells of honey.

Three.
Hippeastrum cv. We don’t have a great record for keeping these things going after their first year, they’ve tended to stay indoors and get little or no water. This one was taken under my wing in the glasshouse and probably has the biggest flowers I’ve seen on one of these babies. There’s another flower spike coming up too. It’s amazing what a bit of water and feeding can achieve.

Four.
I needed some compost so had to make a trip to the garden centre. I managed to escape with only two small Caladiums on top of the compost but then, since it is close by and I don’t go that way very often, I popped in to Treseder’s nursery. (I lie, I was there a couple of weeks ago) Three ferns and a banana was the damage this time. He’d just had a delivery from Seiont nursery, a wholesale grower of young plants, and still on the trolley was a tray of Dryopteris kuratae. That I’d never heard of it only increased its allure. When I got back I thought it was time to update the lists under the tab saying “Plant Lists” at the top of this page. It’s a work in progress but at least the ferns are up to date. I seem to have fifty different ferns, which seems like quite a few. Then there was this interesting looking Polypodium…..

Five.
Polygonatum x hybridum is one of those very common, pretty much bomb proof plants that doesn’t really get due credit for its finer qualities as a garden plant. It’s resilient without being invasive, structurally interesting and reliably free flowering without being showy. If the sawfly that reduces it to a fine mesh of veins can be kept down, it stays looking good for a very long time. There’s an adult fly lurking in one of these pictures.

Six.
Sue being away was the cue for all her cacti to flower at once. Here are some pictures, neither words or names would add anything.

Right, must get on. The Propagator has posted, he’s off pounding the highways and byeways of the North Downs. There are parts of that area I know very well from my yoof. Probably wouldn’t recognize it now. They hadn’t even built the M25 back then. My to do list includes putting up bean sticks and sowing carrots, it doesn’t mention sitting in front of a computer. It’s not raining, my excuses are shot.

31 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 21/5/2022

  1. A time of great lush growth, Jim and your garden is looking so very well and with the new additions it will look even better. Solomon’s Seal is a great old plant and I have some big patches of it here. I dug up a lot of it earlier in the year and found it a curse to put through the shredder as it is so wet it clogs it up. I gave up and put the rhizomes onto the compost heap and found they simply baked there so there is no fear of them continuing to grow.

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  2. Oh I love the cacti flowers, and you have given me an idea to head to the garden centre, fatal, I know! But there’s always room for a few more plants – it’s not hoarding at all!

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    1. It’s a good thing the things we describe as fatal are not, literally, fatal. I’m not happy with the idea that I tempted you into something fatal. I hope you find what you’re looking for and not too much of what you didn’t know you wanted.

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  3. Is your Melaleuca the same as Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)? A friend grows one but it’s not ready yet is rooted enough to give me a cutting. I may have it at the end of the season. Fantastic collection of Sue’s cacti !

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    1. M. squarrosa is from further south, mainly Tasmania, so probably hardier than M. alternifolia which is from SE Queensland and Northern New South Wales. The other one I’d like to get hold of is M. squamea, also Tasmanian.

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  4. The cactus flowers are impressive. I love the delicate texture of the malaleuca. Solomon’s seal is lovely – we have a similar native here that I’ve been trying to get my hands on.

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    1. The candelabra primulas often grow in marshy ground or beside streams, I think getting too dry in summer is something they dislike. Even in my boggy bit they rarely last more than a couple of years.

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  5. Some of the Melaleuca are weird like that. I also think of them as chaparral or desert species, which is why they perform so well here. Some of them live in deserts that flood for part of the year though. Of course, some live in climates that are not particularly arid. Those are the sort that have naturalized in Florida! All of them seem to be adaptable to various climates. Those that like moisture do not seem to need it. Those that live in desert can tolerate moisture, which is more than the native desert plants can do. I suspect that the climates of Australia are more variable. For example, some desert there may not be dry every year.

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    1. I see on Wikipedia that it is M. quinquenervia that was planted in Florida and is now a menace. It grows in standing water in Australia but it’s such a climate of extremes that everything has to tolerate the opposite of what it normally at least on some occasions.

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  6. I’m distraught to hear that sawfly enjoy Solomon’s Seal. But I’ll probably try some varieties any way. I’m also fighting slugs on every front. They seem to be eating things they’d previously left untouched. Did that wet winter set them off in fine fettle? Thankfully there’s still much to enjoy in your garden. Hope some flowers on the cacti last for Sue’s return.

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    1. Disporum and Maianthemum, which are related to Solomon’s seal and have a similar character, are less affected by sawfly, and the common Solomon’s seal, the one in the blog, is more troubled by it than the other similar forms that I grow, which are ‘Betburg’, ‘Striatum’, ‘Purple Stem’ and falcatum ‘Variegatum’. Less closely related forms like P. mengzense tonkinensis don’t get it at all.

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      1. I have a visit to Beth Chattos’s garden planned for June and I guess I will buy whatever they have for sale there! I’ll have to take my chances. Thanks for the info.

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