Six on Saturday – 21/7/2018

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I spent many years working on a retail nursery where plants exchanging hands for money was pretty much what life was all about. Times have changed and this week was a classic example of a rather different way of doing things.

On Wednesday I was at Trewithen Garden for an away day organised by the Rhododendron, Camellia and Magnolia Group, a specialist organisation within the RHS. I took a tray of a dozen Camellias, of which two came back, along with four other plants. Three were from a lady to whom I had given some camellias a while back, one was in exchange for two of the camellias I had taken with me. No money was involved.

When I arrived home it was to find more plant swaps from another gardening friend, who had gone away with a couple of trays of succulents in exchange.

My six from two weeks ago featured three plants I had been given by the lady who owns Moyclare Garden in Liskeard; today I took her three young hydrangeas. I told her I’d blogged about plants she’d given me and she asked that I mention her garden, which she opens during the summer.

I like this way of doing things, it feels very appropriate to the world of gardening. I have no doubt the rest of the world does it all the time, but it’s new to me, at least as my main source of new things. I am better off by seven plants only one of which I chose myself and all of which I am delighted to have. So much so they’re going to be my six for the week.

One.
Pteris umbrosa. Jungle Brake fern. James Treseder was the speaker at the away day, talking about the convoluted history of his family’s involvement in the nursery trade. His nursery, Wall Cottage, at Lockengate, is producing an ever improving range of plants and there was much on his sales table I’d have liked but few I had room for. Ferns I can always find room for. He swapped it for a couple of Camellias which will hopefully be added to his range in a few years time. It hails from eastern Australia but is reported to be fairly hardy outside in the UK.
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Two.
Pennisetum setaceum ‘Fireworks’. This was moved into a terracotta pot as soon as I got it home. Being border line hardy, I will move it under cover in winter and try to keep it alive.
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Three.
Verbena officinalis ‘Bampton’. Totally new to me, this is like Verbena bonariensis in small format, with glossy purple leaves and small pink flowers. Gets to 80 cm and needs full sun and sharp drainage. I think we can provide that.
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Four.
Pelargonium ‘Radula’. Very finely divided leaves that smell powerfully of lemon; rose lemon according to one website. It will have small pale mauve flowers. Can be used in cooking too, according to my benefactor. Sue practically snatched it out of my hands, she regards Pelargoniums as her territory.
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Five.
Plectranthus zuluensis. Very nice to get something back that you’ve had and lost, like this one. I’ve experimented this year with bedding out in the ground a couple of the easily propagated tender perennials that we have and next year will do the same with this.

Six.
Time to cheat methinks. The goodies box included two unlabelled seedling plants, one of which looked familiar, in a worryingly spiny way. Solanum was all I had to go on and I’m pretty sure I’ve correctly identified them as Solanum pyracanthos and Solanum quitoense. I’ve had them two days and they’re noticeably bigger already. There may be trouble ahead.

I had thought that this was the week I really started featuring Dahlias. They’ll keep. Now it’s off to The Propagator’s Saturday six to pick up on what the rest of the world is looking like on this drizzly, sunny, drizzly Saturday.

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26 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 21/7/2018

  1. Pass it on and the generous world of gardening will compensate you doubly. How great. Love your unusual plants, Jim. I stuck “Bampton” in a sunny, free draining container last year for a client with some Eringeron and it is still there, if a little underwhelming in its display. Have also stated drinking Pelargonium tea recently (Attar of Roses), but don’t tell my mates, it’s not very macho!

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    • Your secret’s safe with me, and the rest of the world. You raise an interesting issue though, if the gifted plant fails to live up to the givers glowing testimonial, what do you do with it? You can’t hide it in the attic until they next visit.

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  2. I do love the sharing part of gardening. Not just the plants but also everyone’s experience. I’m not so keen on the long names! So as a short cut I am going to say I love the ‘Fireworks’ and the Radula. But they are all a fantastic collection of plants and it sounds like you had a great day.

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    • Sorry about the long names, a longstanding habit of mine. A lot of the things I grow don’t have “common” names that are any better known than the botanical ones and Google searches on common names are a very hit and miss affair.

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    • I think it’s important to refuse things I don’t want, nothing worse than being stuck with a hated plant just because it was a gift. There are a few things I’ve just not had a suitable spot for, luckily.

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  3. Man o man, you made out like a Latin speaking bandit. I’ve seen what I thought was your fireworks used as an edge along a path & thought how wonderful it looked, but probably wasn’t that, since it was planted in the ground. And that verbena . . . just wow. A great haul (& I’m sure your camellia recipents think they same thing about what they got in return, cuz yours rock.)

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    • I’m especially pleased to have passed on two of my favourite Camellias to a nurseryman who will make them available to more people. ‘Annette Carol’ is not available anywhere as far as I know and would certainly be in my top ten.

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  4. Last weekend I introduced the pennisetum orientale ‘Karley rose’ and Jonathan asked me if it was spreading. I don’t think so but what about yours? Are you going to cut the seeds soon? Otherwise, I do like the solanum quitoense ( right pic) : the leaves are gorgeous !

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    • My Pennisetum is variegated, so won’t come true from seed. I only just got it so it hasn’t had a chance to spread, I just collected some seed, most is not ready yet. I’ll see what comes up, if anything.

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  5. Christmas arrived early in your garden, Jim! Love all your new gifts and the spirit behind them. I’ve given away quite a few plants that didn’t;t suit me, from kniphophia to various grasses — friends frequently arrive with shovels 😉

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    • I’m fairly sure there are no circumstances in which I’d let anyone loose in my garden with a shovel. I’d be too worried about collateral damage. I will happily dig things up for people though.

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  6. What lovely plants and how wonderful that they are for free. Well in exchange then. Always a good thing to do. I do like the look of the Pennisetum setaceum ‘Fireworks’. Hadn’t realised Pennisetums are tender perennials, so that’s good to learn. I am debating on one for a container to finish off my ‘gravel garden’ but dithering about a Phormium.

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    • I went off Phormiums once the two or three we had got large. They just get taller and duller until they have to go. Astelia chathamica is a much better plant IMHO in spite of mine having been badly damaged by the Beast. In vaguely similar territory might be Miscanthus Morning Light and Chionochloa rubra, in that they have similar lines.

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  7. I found Pteris umbrosa came through last winter on the shady side, edge of my Bog garden in Devon, so hopeful your plant will too. It is a lovely thing!

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  8. Isn’t gardening life wonderful! I was always told if you are offered a plant never say no, even if you don’t really want it, because something else you really would like might not come your way. I’m smitten with the pennisetum ‘fireworks’ definitely one for my list.

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    • Saying yes when you really mean no is a philosophical Pandora’s box if ever there was one. I have never been good at saying no and there have been a few times when I should have, and no, I’m not talking about plants. The Pennisetum has been much admired, upping the pressure on me to keep it alive and healthy. That’s a good thing, that sense that the world is watching.

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  9. I find keen gardeners are always very generous, not only with plants, but with time and advice (and I mean that sincerely) and also in the blogosphere with interest in what other gardeners are doing. I had a Pennisetum like yours, but the frost badly damaged it and it took well into summer to semi-recover, so I dug it out in the end. I hope you have more luck with yours as it’s a pretty plant. I like the verbena very much: like bonariensis, as you say, butbwith prettier leaves.

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    • I do agree with you about gardeners, you have to care for plants, bullying them, as some people do with animals, children, even other adults, just doesn’t work. Mean spirited people don’t make successful gardeners. That’s my dissertation subject sorted then. I need to look up Pennisetum and find out what it needs. I think it was the thing growing like a weed in San Diego when we went there years back. I need climate data for there maybe.

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  10. I love wandering around my garden remembering who gave me cuttings/seeds of various plants, or where I bought them from. Verbena bonariensis is a bit of a weed here now. Is ‘Bampton’ the same? I love the dark foliage.

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