Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Glad All Over (well, soon, anyway)

Crivens (as no-one has said in Scotland since 1953, and that was in a cartoon strip where the punchline always involved a small pre-Bart Simpson sitting on an upturned bucket,his cunning plan to steal a deep-fried bottle of multivitamins having been foiled by a tramp with a magic bottle of Buckie, the only "tonic" wine that gives you a liver count so abnormal you need a wee sip just to stop the shakes and maybe hide the smell of urine from the hepatologist), it's been a while. What with having to largely abandon the garden due to new neighbours who are what my mother would have called "nasty pieces of work". A couple with a tub on their roof moaning slyly and being ignored by anyone in authority the three times I've watered the garden. And an even more evil couple who are the worst parents imaginable. So flip all done in the garden, I've had to keep it inside as they are just pointlessly homophobic and mendacious (it's ok, thet dont know what that means). I can't be bothered explaining why but I now have a rather lovely 2ft trellis fence on top of the 3ft wall round my roof terrace, which means the pupils of Columbia Primary School can no longer smash my windows and vandalise my plant collection. But it has given people with no knowledge of the situation a reason to moan. Early in the year, in a fit of optimism and before Mr and Mrs Evil appeared, I was able to ring the terrace with planters and window boxes.

I'm moving, to somewhere far more conducive to happiness. Just two of the many drawbacks of living next to infants, screeching being another. Harrrumph! The Rhodophiala (from seed) and Clematis (below) were unavailable for comment
Before I show you the year's early success, I' have much from late last summer to show you, at a time when saving my job was more important than pootling about pretending to be a part-time hack, when I'm actually a slightly mad real one. Gardening keeps me sane and that's why the current situation is so tragic. Anyway, some highlights since that now-dead Lilium poilanei. And I had two! It all seems so long ago now; having the freedom to use my own garden but that's ignorance for you. If people can't see that abusing you when you use your garden will make you infinitely less likely to embrace your hobby, one you share with 18m Brits, it's they who have a mess to look at and me who falls into a deep depression. Still, there are good people and there are twats.

Oh, do you like the new look by the way? I've been subsidising my seed sowing by producing iPad apps for the only respectable newspapers left in the UK. It's much easier than this. But I did manage to get a self-shot Lilium speciosum rubrum onto the totally ficticious, neutral, front page (Apple don't like to offend!) used for all the marketing. Anyway, this is a Digitalis obscura, halfway between a foxglove and Isoplexis.

Fuchsia procumbens (not hardy, sadly, as I found in last winter's one cold snap). Hopefully the cold dispatched whatever web-weaving mite …

Fuchsia 'Frans Hals' is an odd thing, neither upright nor trailing, it just spreads like a huge spider. ONly beautuful, not scary, and with very unusual flowers. Shit! I just lost it at one of the nosy neighbours who felt it necessary to go outside to report to her boyfriend that I had beenreplanting and replacing two window boxes. Any of their business? No. I'm afraid I lost it for the first time and gave her a blasting. She just chewed her gum, shrugged, and asked, blatantly: "Who are yah?". She should know, she's been making my life and horticultural well-being a living hell for four months. I want to install the drip watering system but how when that's the reaction I get to freshening up the roof with some living plants. Next time I might show you some of the stunners I've lost, many from seed, but in the meantime, let us continue ...
Bomarea hirtella, a herbaceous climber from the Andes, a superb source of all things new to the temperate gardener due to the climate, which, like many tropaeolae(?) grows little potato-like tubers deep in it's pot and mine, at least, made it through this ...
In fact, it kept on flowering, albeit with slightly less vigour!

My latest new toys are South African bulbs, many of which are a piece of piss from seed, such as Gladioli species, Moraea and Freesias. Albuca Shawii is blooming away in the bathroom at the moment as I want to get a good pic without being shot myself (it had been tried with and air gun). Here's the hugely variable Gladiolus dalenii, it ranges from buttery yellow (my self-raised seedlings) to red and everywhere between. The seeds of most species spring like grass, the trick is to find out whether your species is a winter or summer bloomer and sow accordingly. Here's a more mature dalenii I bought that shows more red, although it can get far redder still.

I have no idea why so many people see a Tricyrtis and, after we establish it's really not an orchid or a spider, admit to never having seen one before. Few herbaceous perennials suit the temperate climate; if you can give it a dampish crevice among ferns in a woodland setting then it's my football and I'm going home but they really have proved to be the only survivors in the nuclear wasteland. The amazing ohumiensis is a revelation: why don't we all have one? Mine is over so I'll have to borrow a pic but this compact triffid should be everywhere! It's so easy! Although I confess I find the white form of hirta quite impossible to  keep alive, I have no idea why, even the so-called "difficult ones" do it for me.

Tricyrtis 'White Towers'

T. ohumiensis and, below, macrantha, the two most readily found yellows, both with flower shapes that vary slightly and greatly from the type. I have to thank Kevock Garden Plants for the macrantha photo as mine is over. I almost definitely bought it from them anyway! This is not the usual back-scratching, they are top five in the UK, a source like few others.

Of course, most of us think of the toad bit, and why shouldn't old Bufo bufo get a look in? There are so many species, never mind varieties and hybrids, I'm not going into depth here, just want to show you a few of mine! Below is the stunning macropoda (I was expecting yellow but I'm pleased I got freaky purple spotty spidery thing instead (mainly as macrantha was there too!)

Monday, 15 August 2011

Just Lilium poilanei. That's all.

Here he is, the Lily I've been waiting all season to see, following the single flower bud from infancy, through adolescence, to at 6am this morning, adulthood. The  pictures have been taken inside purely for wind reasons, Lilium poilanei is not a houseplant: although you might succeed if you have no heating and a north-facing windowsill. But I wouldn't recommend it. It will do best in dappled, shade growing in an open but moisture retentive soil, perhaps with a few Mecanopsis and Primulas among some of the smaller Rhododendrons.  It will only cost you a tenner or so.

On the same subject, I've been breaking every rule in the book by checking the pots of those bulbs that made no growth this year (all of them new and just settling in). All except one, either majoense of farrerii were in rude health, and ciliatum was the size of a cricket ball. With the slightly unhappy one I took of all trace of foul smelling rot, rolled the whole think in sulphur and replanted it in a much more open compost, placing the bulb itself on a pile of grit to keep the base dry.

Anyway, the moment I've all been waiting for (apologies if you're not a lily fan ... )

6am today: definitely flaring...
And recurving (sorry about the  blinds, it was windy)

Erm, much the same but an upright
And this evening, perfection! (If a little harshly lit)

So let's overcompensate by making it invisible
Getting a bit repetitive now ...
Bring it inside and lie on my back, that might work!
The leaves are falling off every time I move it, it's taken so long to reward my credit card
Think I might be on my back again. It's a bit like shagging, this photography lark
A better version of the previous one. Last one coming up ...

This is quite a good one to finish on. So there you are, Lilium Poilanei. I've finally flowered  a Chinese green and brown job. And it's already had four babies!
Well, I have many more shots of new blooms: Tricyrtis, Alstroemeria, Tropaeolum speciosum and, amazingly, from seed to flowering in 6 weeks, Corydalis sempervirens. Oh, and Bomareas and Ipomoeas. But for another day. 

Good night, school and anxiety back soon but day at a time. The Plantboy x

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Rooftop botany in the City - My World of Plants: Luscious Lily exposed, sexy seedlings and other se...

Rooftop botany in the City - My World of Plants: Luscious Lily exposed, sexy seedlings and other se...: "Here's an idea: take something beautiful and, phenotypically, half a country mile away from an Iris, and call it something mysterious and ex..."