Friday, 31 May 2013

Tulip time.

Here are a few of my favorite tulips from the ones I tried for the fist time this year, most weren't planted until the end of December which meant, coupled with the cold spring, there was only a matter of about two weeks between earlies and lates coming into flower. The earlies are now coming to an end but the rest are still putting on a good show.

Tulipa 'Antraciet'
(double late)

Tulipa 'Carnaval de Rio'
(triumph tulip)
I love 'Carnaval de Rio', the massive blooms are larger than the size of my cupped hand, look tremendous en masse. 

Tulipa 'Crème Upstar'
(double late)
 Superb colour and form.

Tulipa 'Don Quichotte'
(triumph tulip)

Tulipa 'Jan Reus'
(triumph tulip)

Tulipa 'Orange Princess'
(double late)
'Orange Princess' is another exceptional flower, the colour is both unusual and outstanding. 

Tulipa 'Angélique'
(double late)
I have grown 'Angélique' before but include it as one of my all-time favourites.

Tulipa 'Pirvilla Lady'
(fringed tulip)
  I must admit that I treat tulips as bedding plants and discard them after flowering. They need a good feeding and baking to perform a second year, and they stand absolutely no chance of getting sufficient sun in this garden. They are almost my only indulgence in that I no longer grow bedding plants, my one truly successful one being impatiens which is now off limits, nearly everything I grow is from seed and I only buy a few plants each year so I feel I can splash out a few quid on my tulip bulbs and enjoy them for all they are worth.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Still running late!

After a few more sunny days we are back to overcast skies, a little rain, and worst of all a cold north westerly wind. Here a few pictures of what is flowering in the cold mini-tunnel and the garden. 
Erythronium 'Harvington Snowgoose' an E.californicum form.

Erythronium 'Pagoda'

Erythronium 'Pagoda'. A more heavily marked form.

 Erythroniums are another genus which fit in well with my semi-woodland area, they are beautiful bulbs but do have the annoying habit of hiding their beauty by keeping their heads down. Like all true woodlanders they are fleetingly transient, soon disappearing below ground after a brief flowering  period. Yet another member of the Liliaceae, they are best propagated by seed, cold sown as soon as ripe, or by removing offsets in late summer. 

Primula  ellisiae

A beautiful primula from Section Parryi which is now listed as Primula rusbyi subsp. ellisiae hails from North America and is tolerant of high summer temperatures as long as it is not allowed to dry out. The buds open a dark pink and gradually fade. Lightly scented.
Primula handeliana

 A Crystallophlomis Section primula from sub-section Maximowiczii, like Primula maximowiczii this Asiatic is a strong grower, it has large strap-like leaves and delicate yellow flowers carried on strong stems.

Primula scotica
A tiny gem from the Farinosae Section, which is, in fact, a British native hailing from the pasture land adjacent to the sea (
machair) in the extreme north of Scotland and the Orkneys. I grow this in pots of a soil-less compost, peat and grit mixture which I use for most primulas. There is variation to the height of the flower stem but the shorter ones make the more balanced plants. A typical member of the section, it sets abundant seed which is useful as it is reported to be short lived. A little treasure! 
Primula frondosa (frondosa means leafy)
 Primula frondosa is another primula of the Farinosae Section, these are plants from a cold sowing most of which flowered in the cold tunnel last season, although some of the weaker plants had their flower stems removed to try and encourage growth rather than allowing them to deplete their resources through flowering. They were planted outside in the autumn of last year. Very highly recommended as it is relatively easy to grow as long as it is not allowed to dry out in summer. Found in Bulgaria it is a close relative of Primula farinosa.

I usually give some of the herbaceous perennials the "Chelsea Chop", having a garden surrounded by trees tends to draw plants upwards although this year we are in for a short growing season so this may not be too big a problem. It's Chelsea Week and my eupatorium or Joe Pye Weed which is always given the "chop" is barely three inches high!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Spring at last in the woodland.

Spring is sprung, the grass is ris.
I wonders where the birdies is.
They say the birds is on the wing.
Ain't that absurd?
I always thought the wing was on the bird. 

 We have had over a week of dry sunny weather which has been ideal for getting things sorted out in the garden. This has included extending an existing island border and planting up some newly reclaimed areas. After a couple of days of overdue rain the forecast is for more mixed weather, the main feature is a noticeable drop in temperature accompanied by a cold wind just in time to blow the cherry blossom of the trees. 

A member of the Berberidaceae, Epimedium (Barrenwort) is my favourite genus for ground cover in woodland shade and dry conditions. 

Epimedium grandiflorum 'Queen Esta'
Epimedium grandiflorum 'Queen Esta' is a deciduous cultivar with large flowers, a real favourite of mine.

They are generally divided into two groups: those from Asia prefer the damper conditions in shade or semi-shade whilst the rest, mainly from around the Mediterranean will tolerate much drier conditions once established. They also have truly deciduous and semi-evergreen species although the leaves, which can display seasonal colour variations, generally deteriorate and are best cut back in early spring which also helps to display the emerging flowers. They form a very woody base made up of rhizomes which can be chopped up to provide new plants usually in late summer. The small flowers, sometimes very tiny, are exquisite, resembling miniature orchids. 

Epimedium x warleyense 'Orangekonigin'

Introduced by Ernst Pagels this is a beautiful cross between Epimedium alpinum and Epimedium pinnatum subsp. colchicum.*

Epimedium x rubrum
 Cross between Epimedium alpinum and Epimedium grandiflorum* has good foliage colour. 

Epimedium davidii

  Very long flowering season and the flowers are born high above the foliage which is a big plus. An Asiatic species which can be a bit invasive but worth it. "Yellow Spiders"!

Epimedium x versicolor 'Sulphureum'
 This picture was taken at the Manchester Botanical Gardens at Fletcher Moss a few years ago. A cross between Epimedium grandiflorum and Epimedium pinnatum* this plant has the beauty of the flowers combined with strong foliage colour.  

Epimedium x perralchicum 'Frohnleiten'

 Originally a cross between Epimedium perralderianum and Epimedium pinnatum subsp. colchicum, 'Frohnleiten' is a German cultivar by Heinz Klose*. Like the epimedium above the foliage bronzes quite nicely.
Epimedium grandiflorum 'Lilafee'

E.grandiflorum 'Lilafee' has really dark purple young foliage. Yet another cultivar from Ernst Pagels. 

 Out of interest I include the two pictures below, both are members of the Berberidaceae and show the typical basic flower formation without the "wings" of some of the Epimediums.

Berberis linearifolia 'Orange King'

Mahonia aquifolium
 Epimediums are another invaluable genus which are now beginning to gain popularity mainly through hybridisation although they have been around in the U.K. for nearly 200 years. It was interesting that one of the plants that featured on Gardener's World this week, that had been bought at the Malvern Show, was an epimedium. 

There are so many beautiful hardy plants I do think the horticultural industry does itself a massive dis-service by taking the short-term view by pushing the exotics. Anyone who is tempted to buy beautiful looking exotic plants from the garden center, usually at an exorbitant price, promptly loose interest in gardening when they inevitably die.

* Ref: H.P.S. Epimediums and other Herbaceous Berberidaceae by David G. Barker