Sunday, 12 May 2013

Wallpaper, Nitty Gritty Compost, Ribes x gordonianum, Muscari, Orange, Orange, Orange, Yellow, Yellow, Yellow, - Lovely!

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.

I am not normally a fan  of double flowers and particularly ones that mix yellow with pink  but this works. It is a very cheery mass of flowers  right now. I don't know the variety of this  Primula but it suffers full sun and a  dryish soil in summer and still manages to get itself together to give a very bight display in spring.

 Doronicum orientale  'Little Leo'  which must be a reference to its common name of Leopard's Bane and indeed it must be the bane of Leopards because I have to say  there has never been a leopard any where near my garden , Ha Ha Ha.
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.


Nitty Gritty

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

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