Monday, 29 April 2013

.......No it isn't.....

At least we have a bit of rainfall but are still suffering from cold winds and temperatures dropping to around freezing virtually every night with no let up in sight. The garden is beginning to green up slowly but in four weeks we should be looking at the optimum time for putting out bedding plants in this area; at least the general public will not be tempted into putting them out too early if this weather continues. I have three real gems in flower at the moment:

 Primula maximowiczii
Primula maximowiczii, a Nivales Section primula which I believe comes from China. These young plants, in a cold mini-tunnel, are from seed that was cold sown in spring last year although they will flower in the same year from an early sowing. They like cool moist acid conditions and being strong growers do better with regular division. 

Meconopsis integrifolia

 Currently my pride and joy. Meconopsis integrifolia (Farrer's Lampshade Poppy) from China and Tibet. This specimen has survived flooding and generally very damp conditions and even attempted to flower at the end of last year. The buds eventually started to rot and I removed them to prevent further decay. Surprisingly seems to be as tough as old boots, for a plant that comes from well drained mountain sides, in the wet!

Anemonella thalictroides 'Cameo'
  Although probably four years old now and know to be slow to establish, my only plant of Anemonella thalictroides 'Cameo' is in decline.......... it has been better. I have probably not got the conditions quite right, in fact too dry, and am now considering moving it into a pot as a temporary measure or re-planting it to what, hopefully, may be a better spot. A monotypic member of the Ranunculaceae, Anemonella thalictroides is a beautiful woodlander from North America.

Peat-based composts were actually discussed in the RHS magazine this month, there must still be hope!


Sunday, 21 April 2013

.............or is it?

We have had a few sunny days and and a little rain but still have a cold wind. The soil has not warmed up much although it is now at least dry enough to work. The first containerised tulips are forming flowers so here is the last couple of pictures of my spring flowers.
Fritillaria meleagris. - Companion to the likes of celandine and early daffodils. The Snake's-head Fritillary is best naturalised in damp grassland, water meadows being the preferred site where it will reward the grower with blankets of colour in spring. The same applies to the Crown Fritillary, Fritillaria imperialis. A member of the lily family
 (Liliaceae) this is where the first dreaded lily beetle of the season are to be found and crushed. Beware the bulbs are toxic.

Chionodoxa luciliae -  Lucile's Glory-of-the-Snow.
Chionodoxa is a member of the Asparagaceae - sub-family Scilloideae, named from the Greek: chion - snow and doxa - glory. They are early flowering bulbous perennials from the alpine regions of the Eastern Mediterranean generally known as 'Glory-of-the-Snow' which are very closely related to the genus Scilla.

Monty Don was at it again on last week's Gardener's World. When planting alpines he said that although he was using his 'homemade' compost "any peat-free compost will do." No Monty, any general purpose compost will do, I used to grow many alpines and know that some from the limestone areas don't appreciate an acid compost but that isn't the point. We know he is the President of the Soil Association but this blind following of the current trendy doctrine is beneath him. If you don't believe me and want the true facts please go to the Glendoick Garden site for the most reasonably presented argument I have read. This should be mandatory reading for all those of the 'conservationist' persuasion.

Friday, 19 April 2013

"Spring" is here.

An upward move of temperature and the garden has kicked into gear. Tulips which were mere stubs have suddenly shot up by over three times in height in as many days. Herbaceous perennials in the borders have started to show more strongly and the earliest of the prunus are now showing flower, a bit of sunshine and the world takes on a whole different outlook. The only drawback now is lack of rain, from one extreme to another. I treated the grass (don't have lawns) with some "weed and feed" because I was assured that rain was on the way and have now resorted to watering it in. The only blot on this otherwise bright horizon are the continuous high winds we are experiencing which add to the drying effect and contribute to the extensive leaf burn caused by frost this year. I am very glad that these winds are early in the season, before there is any substantial growth, as they would wreak havoc later on.  

 Still not much colour showing in the garden so here are a couple of polyanthus. Interestingly the polyanthus is not a true species and has probably been developed from crosses between Primula veris (cowslip) and Primula vulgaris (primrose) although I don't know if any DNA research has been done on this question. The primrose (Primula vulgaris) is a true species although many of the cultivars are probably from crosses made with Primula juliae, in fact these cultivars are generally covered by Primula x pruhociniana when Primula juliae has been crossed with any member of the Vernales Section. Confused?

Primrose cultivar.
 If it seems I have only blue primrose cultivars in the garden this is unfortunately true as for some inexplicable reason all my yellow primroses have died out since last spring.
 Ranunculus ficaria syn. Ficaria grandiflora (Lesser Celandine)
  When is a weed not a weed? - when it is a Celandine! I don't care how invasive it is, I rip out handfuls every year, and I know it can be a real pest in some areas. This British native rates as a true harbinger of spring, its yellow flowers light up even the gloomiest of days in the early part of the year.

  I went to a talk by Tom Hart Dyke at the weekend "Tales of a Modern Plant Hunter" which, although  sometimes becoming more of a travelogue, was still very entertaining. More after I have read his book.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

..........the end in sight?

It could be that tonight will be the first time for a few weeks that the temperature may not sink below zero, although we are still expecting those penetrating east winds. Many plants, especially in pots, are showing signs of dehydration and the cold winds are probably doing more harm than the low temperatures. 
One bulb (corm) can still be relied upon to cheer us up though, and that is the crocus, many cultivars are still in full bloom and brighten up the days. Here is a selection of unidentified varieties.

  That make me feel better already!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

.......and on.......

Caltha palustris

Another two or three days of this weather to go and we should be back to more normal temperatures, still waking up to severe frosts and a biting east wind every morning. One of the harbingers of spring which is forcing its way out is Caltha palustris, the native Marsh Marigold and its white form Caltha palustris alba.
Caltha palustris alba just emerging now.
A member of the Ranunculaceae, Caltha comes from the Greek kalathos meaning goblet which aptly describes the flower shape and particularly with the yellow flower a 'golden goblet'. Indispensable perennial for waterside planting, but can be invasive. They can be propagated by sowing the seed, as soon as it is ripe, on permanently damp compost in shade or, alternatively, plants can be divided, after flowering, in late spring.

Caltha palustris alba with foliage.