Years ago, there was an Astelia at RHS Rosemoor called ‘Alpine Ruby’. It was very nice, I wanted one. At the time I worked on a nursery and looking for sources of supply, there was one, in Northern Ireland. There still is. Around the same time a new variety called ‘Red Devil’ was launched and I bought liners to grow on for nursery sales. One found its way home with me and I planted it in the front garden. I have long been a fan of Astelia chathamica, usually sold as ‘Silver Spear’. Unlike Phormiums, which get dull as they age, it retains its silvery brightness and it doesn’t keep on getting relentlessly taller like Phormiums do. Mine has topped out at around three feet and I don’t do much more to it than remove old dead leaves. ‘Red Devil’ is presumably a selection of A. nervosa and I did grow the form ‘Westland’ until a few years ago. I think it was removed to make way for a polytunnel, which I couldn’t claim to be more attractive, but basically it was rather dull. It’s a shame, I’ve seen it growing in the wild around Arthur’s Pass in New Zealand and there it looked superb. Anyhow, when I came back from my allotment this morning, I noticed how good Astelia ‘Red Devil’ was looking, so I took its picture. Looking back at the pictures of ‘Alpine Ruby’, I have to admit it has a stronger colour, but I am more than content with ‘Red Devil’.
Lysichiton camtschatcensis is a plant we used to have growing at the side of our pond, until I filled the pond in to make a bog garden. It’s in flower now, though coming to its end. It is probably less invasive than its American cousin, L. americanus, but nevertheless I have a carpet of seedlings coming up around it. The leaves get huge, though to begin with the spadixes (that can’t be the plural of spadix) have the show to themselves. I don’t find they smell much. The worst thing about it is its name; I’ll save my Paeonia mlokosewitschii story for another day.
Erythronium is a bulb I’m very fond of, as are many of the people I follow on Twitter; they’re everywhere. ‘Pagoda’ is popping up all over the place, I suppose I must have split clumps and spread them around. I’m fairly sure I’ve planted others over the years but none seem to survive. I bought some pots of growing plants at a nursery a few weeks back and the slugs have hit them hard. Perhaps that’s why all I have is Pagoda.
Fuchsia perscandens is not a showy plant. Until last sunday I thought it was a low, sprawly shrub getting to 3 feet or so. Then I went to Tregrehan and saw their 10-12 feet tall bushes! We planted ours on the soil bank between us and a neighbour, then later I put a fence up marooning it on his side. No chance of it getting very big, his idea of pruning is to shear everything off at three feet. Fuchisas, Pieris and Philadelphus all get the same treatment. The fuchsia is growing through the fence; I should take some cuttings before he uproots it.
And finally a couple of Camellias before the season comes to a close. ‘Adorable’ was raised in Australia, ‘Bob Hope’ in California. Both seem very happy in Cornwall. The deep red of ‘Bob Hope’ carries off a certain amount of damage rather better than ‘Adorable’, but I love them both.