Saturday, 19 December 2015

"A" miscellany.

The weather is mild, the garden is absolutely sodden every time it rains I have surface water and I am desperate for some frost, as demonstrated in my last post the weather is causing problems with cold sown seed germinating now, plus it would help with the germination in the spring, also it would be nice to get back to normal.

Continuing the A to Z theme, trying to get away from the winter blues, and looking forward to next spring I have listed a few plants whose name begins with "A", that I grow currently or have grown in the past and which I haven't already covered in an dedicated generic post.
Abutilon Large Flowered Hybrids
 Half - hardy shrubby perennial grown in pots or in a sunny border, the flowers can be obscured as they tend to face downward. Easy from seed, sow in early spring in gentle heat, will flower in the first year but keep taking the tops out to encourage bushiness as they tend to have a very leggy habit. Feed a general liquid feed during the growing season, protect from frost in winter. Can be used as an annual bedding plant from very early sowings. Until I started this post I hadn't realised how much I miss these, they come in a range of colours including reds and apricots depending on which seed company's strain you buy. I could well get a few plugs when available next year and overwinter as cuttings.

Acanthus mollis (Bear's britches)
  A striking hardy/half hardy perennial  with large green leaves which will die back in a heavy frost but in mild winters have survived here. The green/purple/white flower spikes are quite unusual. Flowers late spring until the frosts. The garden here is very much in the shade and I find that they need to be in a sunny spot to encourage flowering. Although they grow 4'-6' I have found that they also flower better on soil which is not too rich. Can be easily propagated from the thick fleshy roots, which can be a nuisance should you decide to move the plant as they will persist, even used glyphosate on mine.

Adenophora liliifolia - Neat little shade plant.

Adenophora tashiroi - I have grown this from seed and I am not sure if this is true to type, however it is still an easy to grow subject flowering in August/September.
Adenopheras are versatile and easy to grow herbaceous perennial members of the Campanula family, which are found in Europe, E. Asia, China and Japan. Plant in ordinary soil in a sunny or semi-shady spot. Like campanulas they tend to be useful for late summer colour.
Alchemilla mollis
The dew or rain collects on the leaves which led to it being named after the alchemist or healer to whom the collected morning dew would be a constituent part of a remedy.
Frothy greenish yellow flowers late summer. The seed heads can be removed to deter its rampant nature.
  Surprisingly a member of the Rosaceae the most popular Alchemilla (Arabic: alkemelych - pertaining to alchemy) is the low growing, somewhat ubiquitous, cottage garden plant Alchemilla mollis which seeds itself all over the place and can become a weed. Easy to grow almost anywhere but tends to prefer partial shade and will tolerate dry conditions which can be a big plus. This plant seems to polarise opinion amongst gardeners more than any other I know, most of my acquaintances hate it, yet it has a fan base including Graham Stuart Thomas and Anne Wareham.

Allium crystalis

Allium neapolitanum from seed.

Allium 'Globemaster'

Allium 'Purple Splendour'

Tiny Allium sphaerocephalon from seed

  Was a member of the Alliaceae (Latin for garlic), now Allioideae (May 2011) these plants became very trendy a few years ago (who would have thought onions could be so popular!) and there has been a lot of work done recently in raising new forms. I have grown a few of the older cultivars some of which are pictured. They are an excellent plant giving foliage early in the year, in fact I am half expecting them to pop through quite soon with the mild weather, and do well inter-planted with loose growing herbaceous perennials and/or shrubs. From the large cultivars to the tiny specie types there is a place in any garden for these reliable very hardy plants.

Amelanchier lamarckii
  June Berry or Snowy Mespilus
Another member of the Rosaceae, Amelanchiers (French: amelancier - the old name for the Snowy Mespilus)  are hardy spring flowering deciduous trees and shrubs from North America and Canada. Trouble free and therefore a mainstay in the commercial landscaper's repertoire. Normally does not need pruning but any unwanted branches can be removed by winter pruning. Bearing in mind that removing too much will reduce the shrub's flowering capacity in the spring, any drastic pruning should be done immediately after flowering.

Asarina procumbens
 Lovely creeping 'snapdragon' ideal for on a rockery, wall or tubs where it can trail over an edge. Soft velvety foliage whitish/yellow snapdragon flowers. Generally perennial but will perish in a very hard winter.

Asarina scandens.
   Climbing snapdragon, very useful for hanging baskets or tubs.  Colours vary through pink, blue and white.

Easily grown from seed sown in very early spring and treated as a half-hardy annual or better still can be grown as a hardy/ half-hardy perennial if over-wintered inside producing bigger plants.

Anemonella thalictroides 'Cameo'
Anemonella thalictroides 'Cameo'
 This beautiful plant grows to only about 6" high and likes dappled shade in a well drained but moist spot.
A jewel of a woodland plant, both delicate yet striking, can be raised from very fresh seed (even "green") or by very careful division in spring.

Anemonopsis macrophylla
Beautiful Japanese woodlander. Unfortunately the flowers are reluctant to show themselves as they hang downward.
Anemonopsis macrophylla
This is one of my all time favourites and is in fact my favicon. Quite rare found in the wild in a very limited area of Japan. Needs moisture but in a well drained position in partial shade to give of its best. Not easy from seed no matter how fresh. Monotypic.

Merry Christmas and All the best for the New Year.


  1. Merry Christmas Rick. The Anemonopsis is gorgeous, sounds a bit of a challenge though! Amelanchier is on my list, I've loved it everywhere I've seen it this year.

    1. Merry Christmas to you rd, from what I know of your garden the Anemonopsis could do well in a dampish spot at the edge of your woodland.

  2. My Abutiolon megapotanicum is flowering now in a tub outside our conservatory window.
    I agree about Acanthus, its as bad as any weed to get rid of, but vert handsome

    1. My A.megapotanicum has one flower left although there is one a short distance away in a sheltered spot which I notice is still doing well. I have grown Acanthus mollis for years and have more recently tried Acanthus spinosus, which many people prefer, but for some reason it doesn't do well with me.

  3. Amelanchiers and Alliums - two favorites. I think my new favorite Allium is 'Summer Beauty'.

    1. Hi Jason, I have checked out 'Summer Beauty', definitely one for my wish list. I particularly like the idea that it is clump forming.

  4. I am trying to get rid of 4 Acanthus’ here in my new garden, I suspect there originally was only one and that they have self-seeded to the other places. My goodness how much I removed the first time, I think it was 12 bags of leaves and old stalks!! They are coming back of course as I haven’t dug up anything yet, but for now I keep them in check by just pulling the leaves when they get too big. I will attempt to dig them up – eventually. I managed to get rid of a big Acanthus spinosus in my previous garden but it took almost 3 years. It was lovely in flower, but I just got bored of it and wanted all that space for something else. Finally it vanished. Persistence and patience…

    Hope you have a lovely Christmas, all the best for the New Year!

  5. I had the worst of both worlds with the Acanthus Helene, it persisted whilst refusing to flower as its position had become more shaded and then fought back when I tried to remove it:-)

    Hope you had a good Christmas and the New Year works out better for you.

  6. Hi Rick,
    How long does Amelanchier lamarckii stays in bloom? We have native Amelanchier on the property. They are the only thing in bloom when they are in bloom, which is nice, but their blooming time is disappointingly short - some years a couple of days.
    That Abutilon of yours is gorgeous. They seem to survive the winter in Italy. I have seen one about 10 feet tall.

  7. Hi Alain,

    I share your disappointment with Amelanchier, they only bloom for a short time but you can get berries later on which I suppose is some sort of compensation.

  8. Hi Rick
    The Acanthus survived for many years in our Aberdeen garden, so I guess its pretty tough. When I came to remove it I never did reach the bottom of the roots. Alchemilla Mollis! I am a fan.
    Happy New year and all the best for the gardening season ahead.

    1. A Happy New Year to you also Alistair, I am looking forward to seeing pictures of your display for 2016.