Very busy in the garden right now so not much writing but lots of pictures.
There is a Japanese edition coming up soon - no, not about Japanese gardens but written in Japanese so when things calm down look out for that.
Ribes x gordonianum
New plants are coming into flower thick and fast at the moment and this is one of my all time favourites. It is Ribes x gordonianum , a cross between Ribes sanguineum , the reliable Flowering Currant and the scented yellow flowered Ribes odoratum. The shading of colours through the flowers is subtle and delightful. They have lost some of the brashness of the Flowering Currant but gained more oomph than the plain yellow R. odoratum. It is easy to grow in any ordinary soil in sun or light shade. My specimen is about a metre and a half high and very tolerant of pruning which I would do right after flowering.
It was raised by Donald Beaton in 1837 and I am surprised it is not seen more often.
Orange, Orange, Orange, yellow yellow yellow,- lovely!
When I accept border design work I ask clients if they have any colour preferences and it is surprising how many time they say 'Oh, I don't mind as long as there are no yellows or oranges', so as a reaction to that attitude I have started planting the path-side border up to my front door in yellows and oranges . They are such vibrant and warm colours. Why would you want to be without them. Here are some of the flowers looking good at the moment.
This is a more compact version of the straight Doronicum orientale. It is a straight forward, easy to grow, non pretentious, early season, yellow daisy. It fits right in with the brashness of spring.
Berberis x lologensis Mystery Fire - I know it will be too big for the space I have given it but I will do my best to keep it small and hope it still flowers. Stunning colour at this time of the year - late April - and tiny holly like evergreen leaves in the winter - very yummy. It must have a lot of evergreen B. darwinii in its blood. If you only think of Berberis as a municipal plant for car parks and burglar proofing, think again.
Don't know what Daffodil this is but it fits right in with my yellow/ orange scheme
This red really has a bit too much blue in it for the orange / yellow border but hey, its my garden and I like it and it adds some zest. Tulip 'Gavota'
Muscari, woh ho, Muscari wohohoho.
Muscari are the Grape Hyacinths that are flowering their little blue heads off at the moment but there is one Muscari that ain't blue and one that ain't gonna take over you garden either but it is going to wow you.
This plant has stood in a pot in my unheated greenhouse for three years at least and despite not being watered for months on end each year it sends up leaves which eventually wither because I forget t to water it. This year s soon as the leaves appeared in early February I decided to water it, albeit rather spasmodically and it rewarded me with two flowers. Having since seen pictures of the flowers on-line I realise how feeble mine are but that's not the point. This is the point. Take a sniif at this quite small and in many ways insignificant flower and you will be bowled over by the sweetness and power of its scent. It is very much like a souped up Hyacinth and described by Brian Mathew as having 'a very strong fruity aroma'. Musscari macrocarpum ( macrocarpum = big fruit) is not tough enough to thrive outdoors in the English Midlands though it is far from being out and out tender.
If your garden has been overwhelmed by the common Muscari negeletcum and you have been put off them then check out M. comosum and M.latifolium. There is a M. latifolium hiding in the background of the Narcissus above. It is a very classy plant with one very broad leaf and flowers that grade from paler blue sterile flowers at the top of the head to dark violet almost black blue at the base.
If this doesn't make you smile then I would go and get yourself checked out. Four little aliens taking a look around. Alpine Saxifraga federici-augusti ssp grisebachii in tiny tin pots.
Anna Purna, prompted by the recent piece on Kabschia Saxifrages has written to me. She says , 'All the books tell me to grow my alpines in gritty compost but when I get them from the shop they are always grown in ordinary compost. Why do the suppliers grow them in what looks like multi-purpose compost when I am told they need gritty compost?'
I know just what you mean Anna. I have bought cacti where the advice is just the same but they are grown in either peat based compost or something very similar with not a chip of grit or grain of sand in sight.
I think the reason may be this. The vast majority of mass produced alpines are not among the trickiest plants to grow and the grower will want the cheapest way of growing them which will mean be using the most readily available and lowest cost compost which will almost certainly be a compost that contains no soil/or grit. The lower weight of this this type of compost will also help keep transport costs down. The commercial grower will most probably be growing these plants undercover so he has direct control of how much water the plants are given so the reason for using gritty compost i.e. good drainage to prevent root and crown rot doesn't apply. The same method will also be used for succulents.
The specialist grower who may be supplying plants that are more difficult to grow and particularly need sharp drainage will look more closely at the compost and you may well find that plants from such sources are grown in a gritty compost.
It is the same with orchids. Some are supplied in a very open bark compost, some in a much closer mossy style of compost and then you buy a bag of orchid compost and it is nothing like either of the composts used by the commercial growers. What is a man to do?
That's all for now see you soon. PW