Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Pelargonium Smellargonium

I promised you the rest of my pix from Kew so here they are, starting with the pelargoniums. Looking at the incredible variety of shape and form, particularly in the leaves, it's easy to see why the hybridisers have been fiddling with their cotton buds in the greenhouse for so long and why the modern varieties have so much ... variety. The genes for Ivy leaves, crinkly leaves, huge leaves and zoned leaves are all there in nature so it's no wonder we have such a dazzling array these days, from the subtle, scented-leafed jewels, through the zonal, ivy-leaved, uprights and trailers to the near perfect F1 staples of window boxes and bedding everywhere.

Simple but effective: Pelargonium fragrans (it has the scent of nutmeg apparently but there was so much to assault the senses I didn't notice. Stretch your imagination and you can see where today's "Geraniums" , such as the F2 hybrids from Suttons Seeds below, come from. Seeds are relatively pricey by the way because each flower produces just one seed, making production of F1 hybrids very expensive and F2s almost as bad.

A beautiful Pelargonium with tiny flowers (these are bigger than life-size) and rounded foliage more like cyclamen coum than a modern Pelargonium. Unfortunately with the plants so rampant and the labels so well hidden I have this down as "old spice' but I am wrong: that is white. Whateveer it's called, you can see this being a very useful variety for the breeders.

Another nameless wonder, I'm afraid, but one that introduces red into the breeders' pallette

The exquisite veining of Pelargonium rubicinctum ssp. cordifolium. That's what the label said, I assure you, but try  Googling it and you get nowhere!

Pelargonium crithmifolium. The flowers may look more like the parks' departments job lot but the stem is a bizarre thing  that looks a bit like a Boabab!

This isn't one of mine so thanks and apologies to the copyright holder but I just had to show you the stems!

The aptly named P. grandiflorum. Google it and you will find several hundred images of Pelargonium grandiflorum that bear only a passing resemblance to the above, suggesting it is an important parent plant of hybrids. Or simply wrongly labelled.

P. acetosum,  a bushy, well-branched small shrub with these gorgeous salmon-pink/coral flowers

That's it for the Pelargomiums (there were more but diminishing returns and all that). So here's a picture of a random orchid instead. They made it really hard to get anywhere near the plants (understandably) with little fences and "Do not look at the orchids!" signs everywhere. This was taken from about eight feet away with a zoom lens. I'm afraid my myopia, even with my specs on, means I cannot name this but it looks like a Paphyopedallum (or Paphiopedilum). Please correct me.

It's a Knifophia (Red Hot Poker), right? Wrong. It's actually Aloe ciliaris, the climbing Aloe. To be honest the plant itself is a bit ugly but the flowers stopped me in my tracks as I hurried out of the glasshouse, sweat dripping all over my notebook.

Back outside, a few more lovelies.

Gunnera manicata (I know I showed it a few days back but there's something so... prehistoric about it I can't resist it and its spiny everythings). Here it is in context (it's nice to know the world's leading botanists struggle with mildew too:

Seed heads of the very rare Paeonia obovata, a very variable woodland species from Japan with flowers from white, through to cream and almost yellow (we'll save true yellow for mlokosewtschii) to pink and magenta. The red seeds have to be collected now and either sown or refrigerated in moist peat or a simlar medium. Or they will die.

Back to the rockery for my last few treats, like this Nerine undulata from South Africa. I've only ever grown bowdenii, which I assume is the common one in British nurseries, and have a pan of them which I've ignored for the past few years because my mum gave them to me and I hadn't been able to take an interest in them, or horticulture in general, until this year because it was "our thing". I can't think of anyone else I could phone and say: "Oh my God, the Clematis integrifolias have germinated!" and get a response that didn't involve men in white coats! But the bowdeniis flowered out of the blue last autumn, having been utterly neglected for three years. So this year I took them out of the old compost, cleaned them of any dead bits and repotted them and heaps of little bulbils in a good 75% compost 25% vermiculite mix with slow release fertiliser granules. It was too much upheaval for them to flower this year but I expect renewed vigour next year or I'll want to know why!

Plenty of signage but none of it shows the correct information; those are definitely not Rhodohypoxis, a prety little bulb with pink, star-shaped flowers. It is, in fact, Oxalis massouiana, another South African growing happily outdoors like the Nerine,

If you associate Mimulus only with river banks and water, think again. This species, Mimulus naiandinus, is also known as the Chilean Monkey Flower, making sure South Africa doesn't have a monopoly on November flora. It's usually found at up to 2000m but looks happy enough here at about three metres above sea level.

And this little vetch doesn't deserve a name like Hippocrepis balearica but that's what they've called it and it has given a sizeable corner of west London that Balearic vibe!

And here's my last one cos it ten past two and I'm meant to be designing page three...

Tritonia laxifolia. Yep,  it's from South Africa too.

1 comment:

  1. Come back with a big list of "I want"s have you???!!!