Tangerine dreaming…waiting for the rain

Papaver ruprifragicum 416
Papaver rupifragum, Tostat, April 2016

We have had a warm week with lots of sun, great for growing, washing and drying clothes, walking the dog, pottering.  But not so good for weeding or jobs that mean getting into the earth.  Our soil dries out so fast, and then sets hard, so there is no point in weeding beasties like dandelions or newly emerging bindweed.  It has to wait for the soil to be loose and moist.  So, today, serious amounts of rain has been promised since mid-morning, but no show yet, and so I am waiting.  So, pots can be topdressed and refreshed, tick, and tidying up done, never my favourite job, some seedlings transplanted into small pots, and so on- whilst I can also dream a bit.

I have written about this little tangerine poppy before.  Papaver rupifragum is a delight, but such a brief one, and knowing that the rain will finish it off, I took this photograph this morning, after the slender flower had already been decked by Dave the Dog on one of his rampages after wildlife.  But the colour is so bright and pure,  that you can spot it from yards away, and so that was me in my pyjamas kneeling down to look down on it.

And a few metres away, my clumps of Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ are really throwing up flowerspikes with abandon. If you’ve never thought of buying plants from the far North of Scotland, let me recommend  Tranquility Cottage Nursery on Orkney.  Their plants are first-rate, decent-sized, a good price and the delivery isn’t sky-high.  I bought 3 of these Geums from them 2 years ago, and they are in great shape, despite the heat of last summer and being in a far hotter place.  I wouldn’t put them in all-day sun with us, that would be too much, but in a spot that is more moist than most, with late afternoon sun and dappled sunshine earlier in the day, they have done fine.  I am also trying out another tangerine geum, Geum ‘Alabama Slammer’ which I bought at my great local nursery at Sanous.

Only in the early part of their second year with me, they are not so well advanced as ‘Totally Tangerine’, but I have a good vibe about them.  Similar colouring, but more ruffled, and with golden hints to them, they will get going a bit later, which helps to spread the flowering.

At the back door, not yet venturing out, maybe at the end of the month, is my small orange tree, which doesn’t fruit, but has fabulous, richly-scented waxy flowers at this time of year.  Some years, it looks a bit sad by now, but actually, this year, it is looking pretty good for having spent the winter in a cold hall next to the glass of the back door. Twining it’s way round it, is a desert climber that I grew from seed last year, Maurandya antirhiniflora, or the Snapdragon Vine.  It hasn’t flowered for me yet, but I hope it will this year.  Much though I would like the trumpet-shaped flowers to be of the magenta variety, judging from what Las Pilitas says, you can start with either magenta or blue, and then the plant will change it’s mind.  Ah well.  Whatever colour it is, is ok with me.

Maurandya antirhiniflora 416
Maurandya antirhiniflora twining into the orange tree, Tostat, April 2016

And back to yesterday, and my ambition to show more of the garden, here is the Pigshed View.  The pigshed, which is empty, and holds wood for chopping can be seen, but more importantly, as the rain is still promised, the blossom on the quince trees front and back in the view, and the beginning of cherry blossom in the middle, is really lovely right now.

Pigshed view 416
Pigshed View, Tostat, April 2016

New to me…..

Horrible UK election result disrupted normal service today, but the best thing to do is to talk about what’s new in the garden for this year and share what I am trying to do with these new plant friends.

Geum 'Totally Tangerine', Tostat, May 2015
Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’, Tostat, May 2015

I had a go with Geum ‘Mrs Bradshaw’ back in the early days in Tostat, but lost it as I miscalculated summer dryness, coming from Linlithgow. So, it has taken me a long while to re-consider Geums. But, this spring, in a slightly shaded part of the garden, and therefore a little more damp, I decided to try Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’. Back in 2010, I had read the great plantsman, Graham Rice, on this new Geum, and many of the American sites were talking about its enhanced ability to cope with dryness, and then I saw it in profusion at Chelsea almost every year since, so that decided me to give it a try.  I got 3 good sized plants late last summer, and so they bulked up quite a bit over the autumn, and this spring, they did literally spring into life in early April, flowering by the end of April. They waft beautifully over the box hedge, standing about 1m high to the tips of the flowers and so I really hope that they will keep coming as promised.

'Totally Tangerine' wafting over the box, end April, Tostat 2015
‘Totally Tangerine’ wafting over the box, end April, Tostat 2015

So, on the tangerine theme, I have done something never before done by me, I have planted Geum ‘Alabama Slammer’ near to ‘Totally Tangerine’. Now this might be a Geum too far, but actually, as ‘Alabama Slammer’ is half the height and, whilst in the same colour zone, has some pretty marking differences, I actually rather like the combination.  So as not to overdo it, I have also interplanted Molinia caerulea ssp. caerulea ‘Edith Dudszus’, which will provide a good contrast. I say, ‘will’ as it is only now making a re-appearance so no photo of mine to show, so I have borrowed a photo from a great nursery in the Lakes that I have bought plants from in the past, Cath’s Garden Plants near Heaves. Its dark flowers and upright green stems should make a nice frame for the Geums.

Geum 'Alabama Slammer' Tostat, May 2015
Geum ‘Alabama Slammer’ Tostat, May 2015
Molinia caerulea ssp.caerulea 'Edith Dudszus' credit: www.cathsgardenplants.co.uk
Molinia caerulea ssp.caerulea ‘Edith Dudszus’
credit: http://www.cathsgardenplants.co.uk

And, over on the other side of the path, I am trying out a new Geranium. I used to have a passion for geraniums in Linlithgow, especially the shade-loving Geranium phaeum, but moving here 11 years ago, I found it hard to find much other than the standard pink one. Now, there are many on-line nurseries that deliver great plants in great condition, such as Le Chatel des Vivaces, where I found and bought Geranium ‘Catherine Deneuve’. Like her namesake, she is a class act with elegant magenta star-shaped flowers with stamens that project like little jewels, and an upright form.  These have proved tough and sturdy so far, and I have high hopes. It’s been windy here and has blown the first flower off (!) so here is the photo from Coblands in the UK. Check her out on their site via the link- they give her a full name of Geranium psilostemon ‘Catherine Deneuve’.

Geranium 'Catherine Deneuve' credit: www.coblands.co.uk
Geranium ‘Catherine Deneuve’
credit: http://www.coblands.co.uk

And lastly, a plant that I haven’t dared to put outside yet, but I will soon, is new-to-me Pelargonium ‘Ardens’. It is an electric red, dark centres to the petals and the most intense colour with groups of tiny, delicate flowers. It really is this colour! Quite loose and floppy as a plant, but that may be youth, so I shall try and toughen it up with some outdoors experience if the wind stops blowing!

Pelargonium 'Ardens' Tostat May 2015
Pelargonium ‘Ardens’ Tostat May 2015