One-armed gardening

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Auricula Jungfrau, Tostat, May 2019

So, the tendons are mending- but largely one-armed gardening continues as I am keen not to mess it all up again, which is probably what I did in the early Spring.  So, some parts of the garden are engaged in slugging it out with annual weeds and that nightmare called ‘Sticky Willy’ in Scotland…whilst other parts have benefitted from my rather feeble attempts with the left hand.  I have to just accept it.  Most things are in their 2nd/3rd years or older and so will eventually tower over the rubbish, which will start to wilt once the warm weather arrives.  Be stoical, I say to myself.

I bought some tiny auriculas on my last but one visit to Chelsea, which puts it at at least six years ago.  I loved them dearly outside in a little raised, stony bed in Linlithgow and they loved the coolness of it all.  Needless to say, they have toiled here- but they hang on in there and I keep them in the shade, but sometimes with less moisture than they would like.  This year,  Auricula Jungfrau has been the best- it is a pale pinky-peach colour, normally a little inside the beige range for me- but up close, they have a miniature baroque quality to them, and they look as if cherubim with nothing on should be holding them in swags.  I am rather glad that they are not cream-coloured as Barnhaven suggest in the link.

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Cerinthe yellow, Tostat, May 2019

This year, following a link on Noel Kingsbury’s new blog from Portugal, I bought seed from a lovely man called Liberto Dario.  He has a Facebook page and if you would like seed from him, message him on Facebook and he will send you the lists.  I have been really enjoying trying the seed out.  This gorgeous yellow Cerinthe was something I tried early this Spring.  It is about the same height as the blue Cerinthe, but a bit bushier in inclination and the flowers are a lot shyer.  You have to look for them under the mottled leaves, but they are so fresh and pretty with the red splodge at the top and the vibrant yellow.  They seem to be as tough as the blue, so let’s see if I can get seed from them later in the year.

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Geum Totally Tangerine, Tostat, May 2019

Poor old Totally Tangerine, I think, found last summer altogether too much, too much heat and too little rain.  By last year, my clumps of this great Geum were really big- this year they have been on a diet, but are still there.  I may consider moving them back into the shade of the Daphne in the autumn and see if that perks them up.

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Cotinus coggygria Royal Purple, Tostat, May 2019

This is the time of the year when, if it’s sunny, you need to be up either really early or getting into the evening-  the light is already almost too strong for good photographs.  But I just made it with the new foliage on Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’- vibrant ruby coloured and just flushed with dew.

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Rosa Mrs Oakley Fisher, Tostat, May 2019

There is a story to Rosa Mrs Oakley Fisher.  I bought one 30 years ago for my Mum, who was a green-fingered garden lover. I thought she would love it for the apricot flowers and the slightly 1920s form of it.  Embarassingly for her, it died on her, but she didn’t tell me till ages later. So, when I saw it again last year for sale here in France, I wanted one to remember my Mum by.  Last year, it was very unhappy and I thought it might have gone the way of the original.  But no, this year, it looks as if it has cracked it, and the slim, elegant buds are just about to burst on the next sunny day.

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Convolvulus Cneorum, Tostat, May 2019

Frost is still around. This isn’t unusual but a bit annoying.  It is one reason, as well as the one-armed situation, why my tender pots are still all clustered, albeit outdoors, near to the house at the back where they get a bit of warmth from the walls.  Just a touch of frost though gives some plants a diamond-necklace look. It certainly doesn’t bother Convolvulus cneorum at all- one of life’s tougher troopers.

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Geranium maculatum ‘Espresso’, Tostat, May 2019

Here is a real surprise.  A comeback kid, that didn’t ought to have.  A too-late-in-the-season purchase last Spring, which I knew was a risk,  didn’t make it and I kicked myself-again.  But, only one small sprig, but alive neverthless, popped up, coming through the foxglove leaves to flower.  The other thing to remember about geraniums is that they really are tough- don’t give up on them.

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Rosa Alissar Princess of Phoenicia, Tostat, May 2019

Being of part-Persian stock, I bought this lovely little rose, Alissar Princess of Phoenicia, expecting it to be tough and able to cope with heat.  It has struggled a bit, but this year, in its 3rd year, may have got itself on an even keel.  The only slight disappointment is that I don’t get the rather charming colour change in the flowers from cream to pink.  This may be because it is in a sunny spot from the off, but all the same, it is pretty.

Seeds and cuttings part 2…

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Kalimeris incisa Madiva, Tostat, July 2018

Oh, I am getting impatient- I think that my patience muscle, which has improved since stopping working, what a surprise, is always a bit tested around this time of year.  The enthusiasm of the New Year,  I love that, dissipates a bit in a cold, wet January- and I always start seeds in the house on a window ledge in the sitting room too early, after having told myself I would wait till February.  Which is exactly what I did two weeks ago.  I soaked the seedtray (must get new ones, all a bit collapsible) and since then, have been misting the seeds with slightly tepid water (if I remember).  I have got a good handful of seedlings coming up, albeit reluctantly.  But one whole tray is still in waiting.  I don’t think it’s a disaster, every week there is more daylight and they will wait for the right moment.  It’s just not good for the impatience.

So, this plant Kalimeris incisa ‘Madiva’ which I bought as 3 small godets two years ago is a fantastically tolerant and well-behaved plant.  Forming good solid clumps, growing to about 1m, never flopping, continuously flowering, not needing extra water- it is the perfect houseguest.  So, I am trying seed of Kalimeris incisa ‘Blue Star’- this is the seed that has yet to budge.

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Kalimeris incisa Blue Star photo credit: http://www.bethchatto.co.uk/nursery-online-store/

Three or four years ago, I got very interested in Eriogonum.  The common name is Buckwheat- and the genus has real potential for the summer-dry garden, because not only are they a food source for many butterflies and moths, but also they tolerate dryness, clay soil and handle tough conditions.  I found small .plants of Eriogonum fasiculatum- I lost two and now have only the one, and while I like it for the creamy flowers- it’s true, it’s not a great looker.  So, finding seed for Eriogonum allenii ‘Little Rascal’, I am giving it a go in the seed tray, and quite a few are already up.  Check it out on the link and you can see why I am bothering- and it’s yellow!  One of my favourite summer colours!

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Eriogonum fasciculatum, Tostat, July 2017
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Eriogonum allennii ‘Little Rascal’ photo credit: http://www.gardenprofessors.com/perennial-funday-eriogonum-allenii-little-rascal-2/

Vernonia crinita ‘Mammuth’ is a plant that I love- giving you towering, broad flowerheads of a warm mauve, but at 2m high it won’t please everyone.  So, what about a Vernonia that is only 1m high?  Ah, ha.  Vernonia lettermannii is just that thing.  The link takes you to a comprehensive blog post about Vernonia from the Laidback Gardener.  As I read to the end, I notice that he mentions cold-stratifying the seed.  Oops. I haven’t done this, so I may be waiting a very long time.  Patience, patience.

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Vernonia crinita ‘Mammuth’, Tostat, August 2017
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Vernonia lettermannii photo credit: http://www.northcreeknurseries.com

And the last plant being trialled in the windowsill seedtrays is: Dendranthemum weyrichii.  Completely unknown to me until I found it in the listing of a very good ebay seed seller from Poland- it is a mat-forming, short growing, all-summer flowering sunlover which can apparently easily make a Im wide groundcover, but is not badly behaved.  I love a daisy, and though this insists on being a chrysanthemum, I will forgive it.  If you are interested, I recommend the ebay seed-seller ‘pogoponus’ from the link.

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Dendranthema weyrichii photo credit: http://www.mrnurseries.co.uk

And another seed recommendation from Huntingbrook Gardens on their Facebook feed is this lovely man from Greece.  He is called Liberto Dario, and his seedlist is impossible- stuffed full of fabulous plants and varieties.  You can ask for his lists by PMing him on his Facebook page.  I am, with huge reluctance, only ordering 6 packets.  Must be realistic. Groan.