Monday, 24 June 2013

More Meconopsis and Primulas

After a period of warmer, more seasonal, weather we are back to a few days of colder conditions along with the destructive high winds that I hate.
At present the garden is overflowing with candelabra primulas whilst in the tunnel some  more unusual primulas are flowering. I am in the process of ripping out a slightly raised bed which is overgrown with old shrubs and ivy which I am now going to fill with compost, peat and grit as a place to plant out all my more unusual primulas although I will be retaining some stock plants of each species in the tunnel just in case!

Meconopsis baileyi 'Hensol Violet', a beautiful cultivar which comes true to seed and was raised in Scotland.


A rather nice plant of Meconopsis baileyi, growing in the shade of an acer, this seedling has really striking form and colour. 

 Monocarpic Meconopsis nepaulensis grows to between three and six feet. Generally a biennial, it has beautiful downy evergreen leaves which unfortunately leaves it vulnerable to winter damp in N.W. England.

Now here is a thing, this plant was from a batch of  Meconopsis x sarsonii which is a cross Meconopsis integrifolia and Meconopsis betonicifolia and was nearly thrown out as the runt of the litter, the plant is less than 20cms high but has produced flowers over 5cms across, very like Meconopsis integrifolia but carried more than one per stem. The leaves are more like a miniature Meconopsis betonicifolia. I am assuming it will be monocarpic but wait to see what happens.

After the meconopsis here are a few primulas, all grown from seed and therefore making positive identification difficult on occasions yet again! First the candelabras:

Primula bulleyana ssp. beesiana

Primula bulleyana ssp. bulleyana

Interesting Primula japonica seedling

Primula pulverulenta

Primula japonica

All the candelabra types enjoy wet conditions and are really at their best as pond side plants. 

In the tunnel there are a few primulas in flower:

Primula deflexa - Muscarioides Section
Primula bellidifolia - Muscarioides Section
The Muscarioides Section belong to the  Eastern Himalayas, Tibet  and Western China, the most popular and spectacular member being Primula vialii.

Primula kisoana Section Cortusoides Ssp. Geraniodes
 Seed described as Primula kisoana although this is doubtful, there are so many related species of these Japanese woodlanders, of which I have several, it is difficult to to tell. Nevertheless these are beautiful plants.
Primula tanneri ssp. nepalensis
 Although this is one of the less glamorous members of the Petiolares Section the scent is truly overpowering at close quarters reminding one of Lily-of-the-valley.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

More spring stuff.

Writing this to some old classics, House of the the Rising Sun by the Animals at the moment. Hottest day of the year so far, have actually comfortably sat out in the garden this evening for the first time. The bees are working hard and I have spotted a honey bee, prior to this I have only seen the bumble bee type. Earlier this year I dumped a one tonne plastic sack containing some pieces of plastic and cardboard on top of some debris that I was going to take down to the tip, when I came to shift it I discovered it was full of bumble bees and in respect to them I am going to leave it until they decide to clear off, plus I am a coward and wake up in a sweat believing I am going to be attacked if I don't leave them alone.

Lamium orvala

Lamium orvala  unlike most of the genus of Lamium, grows to around 2' and does not spread, it has buff flowers, also, unlike other dead nettles, the slugs seem to love it.

 Lamium maculatum 'White Nancy' 
More typically Lamium maculatum 'White Nancy' is a creeping perennial which is much loved by bees (even got one to pose). Used for winter baskets as it is a very resilient plant.

Lamium galeobdolon 'Hermann’s Pride' - Yellow flowers.
Lamium galeobdolon 'Hermann’s Pride' is more upright but still of a spreading habit.

Primula yuparensis
Farinosae primula, a sub-species of Primula modesta, very distinctive long calyx as of Primula modesta.

Primula modesta

Unknown aquilegia.
Slightly out of focus, but this is what gardening is all about when a plant like this appears as a seedling in a random container.

Signing off with the Roling Stones, which proves that you can love plants and rock music.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

The spring garden.

We have just experienced a typical week of summer weather, torrential rain and high winds so I am now growing virtually horizontal candelabra primulas and the petals on meconopsis have been stripped within a few days. It seems to have settled down a bit now so, fingers crossed, we may have enough of a respite for things to recover.

This picture sort of sums up what I am all about, a few candelabra primulas at the front, probably Primula japonica and Primula bulleyana ssp. bulleyana behind which there are some meconopsis cultivars, in fact two distinct types, which are from home collected seed, so they could be anything, although probably all are forms of Meconopsis baileyi. These are surrounding Cardiocrinum giganteum which is heading for the skies. The background is Azalea 'Persil' AGM , the feathery foliage that can be glimpsed is Ligularia przewalskii and the roundish leaves at bottom right are those of Caltha palustris alba, all of which are growing in the shade of an ancient horse-chestnut tree.

 The first picture is taken from the mid right of this one, hostas, more meconopsis, polygonatums, lilies, ferns, aquilegias etc. can be seen. The primulas at the front, which are now pretty well horizontal, are Primula pulverulenta and the acer is Acer palmatum 'Trompenburg'.

  In a slightly more open part of the garden, Viburnum plicatum 'Mariesii' - My super shrub, the only thing against it is that it is not evergreen, but with increasing problems with viburnum beetle, although I have never known it to be affected, it is probably not too bad a thing. Until I recently retired I have had to uproot several specimens of Viburnum tinus which had been devastated. The tiered branches of deeply veined leaves are covered in white flowers which slowly turn pink. A few weeks later you start to notice the bright red berries which last until the winter. What more can you ask of a plant? The tall plant in the foreground is Meconopsis napaulensis, the shrub next to the viburnum is Berberis thunbergii 'Atropurpurea' which thankfully has just finished flowering as it does have a terrible scent. Unfortunately I have had to cut a way in to the barely visible shed doorway which rather spoils the tiered effect of the viburnum on one side.
Blooms -close up
Blooms - fading

Autumn foliage (slightly fuzzy picture)

 Monty Don referred to 'bark-based compost' last week instead of the usual 'peat-free'. Are we making progress?

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

More spring gems. Big blues.

Spring, however late, is the time for the garden to go mad, so I am going to do a few more posts than normal to cover what is happening. After cheating a bit with my tulips post................ you buy the bulbs, you stick them in, they grow, you take pictures! Here are few more of the plants, which I typically grow, that are in flower now.

Meconopsis grandis
Meconopsis 'Kingsbarns'
Meconopsis 'Lingholm'
The meconopsis, in particular Meconopsis betonicifolia, is the iconic Himalayan flower used as a symbol by many nurseries and institutions, the blue colour is matched by very few in the plant kingdom. Many meconopsis are notoriously difficult and do better in the North and Scotland in the cooler conditions. They like rich, moist but well drained soil, and as  many of them have hairy leaves which hold moisture, they often succumb to our wet dreary winters which is a problem common to many alpines. On another point the nomenclature is driving me round the bend. All these plants, with the exception of 'Lingholm', are grown from seed cold-sown in the autumn or spring, so there is never absolute certainty that they are what it says on the packet and although I am reasonably sure these are correct, I am not a botanist. Some of the perennial clump formers like 'Lingholm' can be divided after flowering although I have never tried this.

Aquilegia alpina
Another of my loves, aquilegias, which I will devote a full post to shortly but couldn't resist showing this lovely diminutive form. Grown from seed that has produced about twenty different plants, I think this is the closest to type.

Anemone baldensis

Another diminutive plant, this is the sole result of a sowing, it don't look much but ain't it pretty! Petals go from a pale buttery yellow to white when fully open.

Chaerophyllum hirsutum roseum
A classic border perennial which adds colour to the early spring (or not-so-early this year) herbaceous border which makes it invaluable. Grown from seed, cold sown early spring. An outstanding and easy to grow umbellifer. 

A brace of trilliums:

Trillium grandiflorum
I bought this plant as another species but I am pretty sure that this identification is correct. Imagine whole areas of woodland just carpeted with this in its native USA, it must be a sight to behold.

Trillium erecta
Rescued from a too dry spot in my "woodland" area and grown on in the mini tunnel last year, the colour is stunning. I do have two lots of trillium seedlings currently growing on in the tunnel...................patience required.

Monty Don referred to his peat-free compost again on Friday .......Aaaaaaagh!