Thursday, 24 October 2013

What's left

 After another mild and mainly dry spell we are now experiencing a deluge although it remains fairly warm. The picture below was taken from the back door during a torrential downpour in the early evening which was lit by the sun.

Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood'
Acer palmatum 'Trompenburg'
Staple tree of early spring and autumn when the foliage is at its best. The only draw backs are that they are slow growing, making it expensive to buy sizeable specimens, and that they can be damaged by frosts which can blacken the young shoots, otherwise magnificent for variation in colour and form. Most varieties are grafted although some interesting plants can be obtained from an autumn sowing with a bit of patience. After receiving a present of money, I went all sentimental and spent £70.00 on a specimen of Acer palmatum 'Beni Schichihenge' which died within 18 months, not something I will repeat!
Cotoneaster 'Chinese Hybrid'


Graceful arching branches up to 20' tall covered in clusters of red berries after insignificant white flowers. Propagation by cold sown seed or by layering in spring, cuttings in autumn. In the 1960's and 70's there was a popular shrub known as Cotoneaster 'Chinese Hybrid' which was used for landscaping mainly because of its fast growth rate although the arching form of the shrub plus its abundant berries made it very attractive, well I still have one. Seeds itself all over the place and responds well to pollarding every few years which keeps it in check.
Sorbus 'Joseph Rock'
Hardy deciduous ornamental trees which are a members of the (Rosaceae) the most popular being the Mountain Ash or Rowan. These trees are steeped in legend and folklore. The leaves have yet to turn a deep red, increasing the contrast as the colour of the berries deepens further. Propagation is by  fresh sown seed, germination is both slow and erratic. 
Kirengeshoma palmata

A member of the Saxifragaceae yet another woodlander which has become more popular in recent years . Groups of yellow flowers held above palmate foliage (3'-4') late in the year which can lighten up a dark corner. Although this plant holds an AGM, I find that it is not over endowed with flowers and one year was absolutely devastated by insect attack. Sow seed as soon as ripe, tip cuttings in spring or division in summer. It is not unusual for flowering to be cut short by the weather as it flowers so late, although this year this would not appear to be a problem.
Tricyrtis formosana 'Dark Beauty'
 Tricyrtis formosana the 'toad lily' likes a damp but well drained spot in partial shade. Mine have grown well over the last couple of years, flowering in early autumn. The new growth can be devastated by slugs. Propagation is by seed sown fresh or in spring, or by division late summer/autumn.
Hydrangea paniculata 'Vanille Fraise'
  There was an RHS trial recently with
Hydrangea paniculata grandiflora which relates the depth of colouration to the severity of pruning. The harder the pruning, the deeper the colour. 

Schizostylis coccinea var.
  A member of the Iridaceae, I do not understand the nomenclature of this genus, Schizostylis coccinea sometimes appears as a monotypic plant but is then listed as synonymous with Hesperanthus coccinea which is in a genus with several species listed. This member of the Iris Family has many cultivars and is commonly known as the Kaffir Lily. It hails from S.Africa but appears to be hardy in the UK where it adds some very late colour to the garden. The specie has red flowers but some cultivars are pink. Can be invasive.
Just another comment about what the numpties are trying to do with our peat. A friend clipped me an article by a proper gardener, Peter Seabrook. It appears that this year has been good for sphagnum moss to the extent that many of the peat based compost suppliers are able to up their content even to the maximum. Given the terrible performances by peat substitutes please someone wake up and realise that horticulture is not properly sustainable without this resource, pragmatism and common sense seem to have deserted recent generations. If you want to learn more of the true story, go to Peat at Glendoick.


  1. Hi Rick, still having deluges here in London, there seems to be no end to them! Loved your photos, I have many of the plants or similar varieties, Vanille Fraise is on my wish list, just need to find a place to squeeze it in! I am particularly fond of acers, just lack of space prevents me from having many more, even though they grow very slowly they do get bigger eventually….my 9 year old Acer palmatum ‘Garnet’ is a good size now despite having had more than half of it hacked off by the ambulance crew that got me out of the garden last August. It has recovered remarkably well – better than me :-) Hope you get a good week, more rain for us but not too bad.

  2. The Vanille Fraise did poorly this year, I think it was overshadowed by a more vigorous neighbour which I allowed to encroach so the picture is not particularly representative, it has actually coloured up a lot better in the last few weeks. I intend to move the offending plant during the winter so hopefully it will be better next year. I read about your traumatic incident last year, you have had a rough old time of it and I hope things get better for you. Still pouring down here, standing water in the garden, but a better day forecast for tomorrow.