Monday, 25 April 2011

Beauty and the near East

The original first paragraph read: "I like to think that when Russell Tovey has nothing better to do of an evening (West End ovation, playing various Dr Who characters all done for the night, he enjoys nothing more than logging into a computer  just to check out what I've been photographing, just to make sure he's still the most beautiful thing in the world, despite the self-cool ears." And then I met a very drunken him. So even Ragwort is winning.

Here he is:
A jug-eared load-mouth
Now, the Aril I showed you last time was either Heindahl or Jehosephat's Revenge. This is the one that the other one isn't.
Well, I know which I'd rather have by the bed( It fits in a vase

You've got a real fight on your hands, mate!

See, It isn't just the other one with some heavy duty photoshopping!

I am still a bit shocked that I have managed this, in my first year too. Even if stolonifera and did "Dardanus" don't bloom, they not only survived but grew in the right way at the right time. So three junos and two arilbreds. I'd have taken that at Christmas! Oh, Russell, your next BBC3 series had better have you playing an invisible alien (it probably does) as that's the only hope  in hell you have of winning this beauty contest.

If only, what I really mean is here are a load of pics that didn't fit into any particular article and it would be a shame to waste them. Or me have to write much since I do it for a sodding living too.

But first, news: two of the mystery Lilies from Szechuan (no more info provided by Chinese vendor on eBay, really hope he didn't just dig them up... No, that's racism. A Nomocharis aperta (to join formosana and pardathalina, also responded to a naughty little rifle about the top layer of bark by revealing a perfect shoot. It should surface naturally any day. This is the same guy who sent me two L. ameonum, which I won for £20 on eBay, but sadly the arrived rotten. To be fair he was instantaneous in refunding my money.

His L. poilenai, a very rare Vietnamese native, is also going strong, a few mm tall now. The one from Crüg Farms is romping all over the roof but I'm just extending the season, right?

L. poilanei. Later I should have my own pix to show you.

I've been secreting Tropaeolums whenever I plant something in a pot big enough to take it. Which means the bare Lily stems are going to be covered, Victorian chair leg-style (that's a myth BTW). No Lilies have flowered yet but I'm pretty sure mackliniae is going to win. Let me just go and find a pic of progress, I took one the other day...

This L. Macklinaie was taken this morning and looks pretty likely to be the first of that most noble of genus, the Lily, to flower.  Someone, somehwere must have the national collection, probably a park of pile somewhere like the lost gardens of Helligan. But, and I know from experience, if you tried take a while to build up a National Collection,  with something like Lilies you would NEVER be fnished. You would have to make it Martagon types or Asiatic trumpets. Imagine the poor bugger who got stuck with something like Aubretia or Achillea!! 

The other contenders are L.cernuum or any of those "tree" hybrids I bought as a kind of screen. They're the ones with the most Tropaeolums in them, some just Nasturtiums but T. ciliatum, a yellow monster that may be added to the same banned list as Japanese Knotweed (one man who lived in a terrace of houses planted it in his back garden and it came up in the front, having travelled all the was under the foundations!) Fortunately mine's in a pot so if it gets too excited i have secateurs! Also courtesy of Paul Christian is T. pentaphyllum. There's also Tropaeolum tricolor and two Nasturtiums: one almost pastel beauty in off-white shades of pink, yellow, orange, etc called "Caribbean Crush" and, in total contrast, "Jewel Cherry Rose", a screaming magenta that could be used instead of flares at sea.

T. pentaphyllum. everything a Tropaeolum should be.
Paul Christian also sent me L. primulinum burmanicum which only arrived a week or so ago so no action above ground yet but it should look something like this:

This doesn't give you a fair impression of the size of the flower, which is about small saucer sized.
Anyway, a lot of seedlings have come out, things like an Aqueligia with flolourescent red and yellow flowers and another with chocolate flowers. The problem is, in this scorching weather, they are burnt before I even notice them. So I end up ordering the plants themselves which is not just a waste of money but makes one feel a failure too.

It's really hard to grow from seed up here. I can get amazing stuff to germinate, all sorts of Andean, Himalayan and southern African stunners; some amazing Alstroemeria (which I'm keeping going) but anything that needs a bit of shade just shrivels and dies. And then there's the sun bleaching the labels (which the pigeons with then pull out anyway). It's a bugger because a lot of the stuff I want to see can't be bought as mature plants or even rooted cuttings.

Having said rooted cuttings, at the end of last year, after a trip to the glasshouse at Kew where I was really taken by their species Pelargoniums. So taken, I got home and on to the internet here I found a nursery called Fibrex who had a HUGE range of modern named Pelargonium hybrids, sports and general freakery. But they also had many if not all of the some 200 original species. So I promptly ordered a mix of 10 of the coolest species and species hybrids (very first generation crosses).

They only strike the cuttings when you place the order, to save money one would assume which means if you order in spring you get them in the autumn and if you order nearer winter you get them when frost risk has past, so you can order any time but you'll have to wait months for them. I went for flower form and colour rather than foliar scent (not bothered in the slightest). One has died already for no obvious reason (it's not too hot on the roof for established Pelargoniums. These things grow (and survive) on the Skeleton Coast in Namibia!). I can see it from the window but not the label. It had quite different leaves to the others. A bit like a Whitebeam. Let me do some research ... It's P. "Splendide".

I have ordered a replacement - £7.99! But worth it for those flowers!
One has started to bloom already, and its leaves are a daft shape but not in a stand-out way so that's fine, and they smell of Pelargonium. Which is not neutral, not unpleasant but not very nice either. P. fulgidum. The plant is also somewhere in the parentaage of many modern hybrids. It grows on exposed, windswept granite outcrops or on sand hills, near the coast. The species is confined mostly to the western coastal districts (of southern Africa). It's only just out so...

The flowers are very small, about the size of a penny when fully open, but a winning colour, combined with a compact habit, so you can see why their genes abound in the modern "Geraniums" you'd put in a window box today.

That was a rare chance of me taking photos and the timing being right to show them to you!
So I keep taking photos and never getting the chance. Hopefully if you're really into Arilbred Irises you can find my set of actually quite good shots of mine on Twitpic. I just went to check the other Arilbred and it's at the annoying stage where it isn't open enough for a photo but may well be perfect in the morning.

Oh sod it, here are a few tasters:

It's hard to tell exactly what it's going to look like when it unfurls but one thing is for sure: it will be beautiful! It's called either Heimdahl or Jehosephat's Reliance but a label mix up occured, infuriatingly

Here are some shots that fell through the cracks:

The Littlest Rhodo: keleticum. To be found in very windy places where pebbles count as wind breaks.
Rhododendron yakushimanum "Cup Cake". I have a nameless Yak hybrid in my garden in Scotland that the Cox's gave me when it missed the final cut. But as this has never been out  of its pot, it might be better able to
come to terms with the fact it never will.

Bearded Iris hybrid "Rare Edition", aply, though I'm not the sort of person who'd choose a plant by its name. My mum collected Fuchsia's and every year (this was pre-internet days) she'd go through saying things like: "Oh, you've got a great aunty Susan, shall we get [insert variety with "Susan"] in the name."

OK, so Iris flower stalks can be a bit fragile (I blame the breeders): This fell off and, what's worse, I can't  work out what it fell off! If you really like it Cayeux Irises of France can provide you with an excellent and very cheap rhizome. These all arrived last spring and all but one of the 15 or so plants, which arrived as a rhizome with trimmed leaves. You'll notice this was taken in the dark but fortunately the flash on the Canon series in question is quite good.

This is what they looked like when planted up (they arrived bare-root) and it was still possible to turn round on the roof. This is no longer the case.

A weeish Iris called Hocus Pocus. It had a similar accident and I had to get it photographed that night in case it flopped over night. So this is taken without a flash but in a very well-lit room. The only problem is the majority of the bulbs are Halogen, which casts an orange glow over everything when photographed (it's possible for digital SLRs to reproduce the foibles of film too much).

Iris "Dark Vader", I'm not going to class it heightwise, it's too tall for a dwarf but too short for an intermediate. It's about 6in. Here we have perfect falls (downward hanging bits), beard (go on, guess) and standards (the upright bits).

Fritillaria hermana ssp amonis. A bit of a mouthful, but easy and a bit more fun than a Crocus. And bad news on the F. persica front, the flower buds developed but then shrivelled. Dunno why because it was well but not over watered.

So this is the last of the Frits for this year, F. pontica. Hardly a stunner but it's a hard worker: the po's full to overflowing but I thought it best to focus on a single  bloom.

I wonder if this Lewisia cotyledon "Bright Eyes" knows about the 25 or so pots of "Sunset Strain" in the open greenhouse. It ought not to be jealous, this is exactly the coral pink/orange shade I was after anyway so I bought it. A yellow one would be good. I've also got one with a double-barreled name that has smallish white flowers with feint pink lining called cantellovii var cantellovii.

Gladiolus communis ssp. byzantinus; one of an indefinite number of almost identical magenta species almost exclusively from around the Med region, one, I think it's G. illyricus has naturalised in Britain but they tend to prefer spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey and, bravely, considering the political situation there at the moment, north Africa. I don't know if it's only me who is confused by these almost identical species but I aim to get to the bottom of it without buying a book. Having said that Google is bollocks all use. Unless I can actually buy mature bulbs I can't compare the subtle (and they are subtle) differences without having them beside each other (great excuse to waste a load of dosh on low-rent bulbs).

The moment I've been waiting for: my first arilbred to bloom which isn't bad considering I only got it last yearr, once it had entered its dormant period. A cross between an Oncocyclus or Regalia (the spots hint at the former) and a standard bearded Iris (species or hybrid, it's up to the man with surgical kit and the cotton buds). I've lost the label for this but I know it's either "Heimdahl" or "Jehosephat's Reliance". There is a tiny possibility it's an un-named hybrid that the nursery (whose name I've totally forgotten) included as a gift, rather sportingly of them. I wish I could remember their name because they deserve a mention. There's another on the way, I think it's going to be a pink with the  signature spot and will be called what the other one ain't. The Oncocyclus "Dardanus" is still growing steadily as is I.stolonifera but, despite being a country lad I'm far better at telling whether a fan of leaves from a Tajik Iris  stolon is hiding a flower spike than whether a sheep is with lamb.

Primula Japonica "Apple Blossom", one of the sprawling candelabra group. This is growing in a large pot in an extremely moisture retentive compost as the whole group, and many of their relatives such as P. florindae and Sikkimensis which don't display the distinctive whorls of flowers around the central stem that Apple Blossom is developing. I have a whole packets' worth of Harlow Carr mixed seedlings (many will have to go free to good homes, I just haven't the room for them all. I have three mature plants that I bought last autumn and they take up a single 30cm tub and are a bit behind Apple Blossom but have split into several crowns each go we should get a good show. I've also secreted some Naturtium seeds around the pot so there's colour right up to the first frosts.

The intermediate bearded Iris hybrid "Red Zinger" (I'm trying to make these look interesting. If you want a boring picture most of the Irises are on twitpic.

"Brighten Up". A more appropriate name for this intermediate bearded would be hard to think of. Those orange beards really set off the golden yellow blooms which sit a well above compact leaves.

Primula Auricula "Sarah"

Camassia quamash

Meconopsis x Cookei

Well, there are more but I'm going to save them up, although when the Lilies start blooming I am going to have more than enough material for the rest of the year. Unless those little red beetles I keep squishing manage to get through the whole lot and that's going to require a plague!

In the meantime, please have a look at my Iris art on twitpic, some of it's really rather good, according to strangers!

Have a lovely, short week and thank goodness that sun's going in for a bit, which means pricked out seedlings have a chance of survival!

Take joy in your plants and throw away the bloody privet and anything that looks at bit like a daisy (Dahlia's excluded). 

Thanks for your support

The Plant Boy xxx

PS, Russell, you probably don't remember staring at each other outside Urban Outfitters in Covent Garden. I thought you were someone else I'd had a crush on a few years ago. You probably thought, who's this poof? I thought, "Why's that potential husband material such a fuckwit?"

1 comment:

  1. Anna, he does not look like a potato! Well, maybe a baked one with lots of cheese