Six on Saturday – 24/2/2018

Brrrr!

One.
The sound of chainsaws nearby on Monday morning put me in a bit of a panic. Turned out that one of our neighbours had decided to have the large oak between him and my next door neighbour down. I reported on his mutilation of it back in September. I can’t really say that it affects us much, overhanging a little at the north east corner of our garden. It’s funny, it’s hard to separate the cognitive fact of it being gone from the actual experience of it not being there. From some angles it seems to make little difference, from others there is a real sense of more light and space. It saddens me because this is a fairly young housing estate with very few trees of any size. Every one that is there makes a significant contribution to the feel of the place.

Two.
Apple tree decision time. I wrote a blog in the week about where I was with growing apples. Bit of a saga. I think writing it down has clarified things in my head. My Suntan apple is going to go. I’m just not going to get a worthwhile crop from it for years, if ever. I will move the ‘Holstein Cox’ to where my Pittosporum ‘Elizabeth’ is languishing; that’s not likely to ever stand up without support. The other Pittosporum we have in a pot can go where ‘Suntan’ is now. Pittosporum ‘Silver Magic’. Sorted.

(Two supplementary. Another half day has passed. ‘Suntan’ is gone, any regrets tempered by realising as I cut it up just how much canker there was on it. Pittosporum ‘Elizabeth’ is gone; once out it was clear that down below was a real mess of encircling roots. Pittosporum ‘Silver Magic’ and Apple ‘Holstein’ now have new homes.)

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Pittosporum ‘Silver Magic’ with doomed ‘Suntan’ Apple on its left and soon to be moved ‘Holstein’ apple on its right.

Three.
Our very elderly next door neighbour has been unable to garden for years, so I have looked after it for him. The front garden was classic conifers and heathers, with the conifers massive and growing into each other. I got rid of most of them, this bit still remains and just now looks quite colourful. I’ve put one or two quite choice plants in, I hope the next occupants won’t want to rip it all out and concrete it.SOS297

Four.
Birds. By the time we got back from Australia, the birds had given up on us. It was a week before they had really come back to the feeders in numbers. Mostly Goldfinches, some chaffinches and siskins, an occasional blue tit, greenfinch and collared dove. I wonder if this cold spell will drive the redwings into gardens, I saw a flock in a nearby field recently.

 

Five.
Every gardener knows that gardening doesn’t end when you come back in the house. There are houseplants, seed catalogues, books and magazines and these days, lots of online stuff. When I did my volunteer day at Mt Edgcumbe this week I spotted a group of trees I’d not noticed before (in two years of weekly visits mind!). Suspecting it was a New Zealand conifer I dug out a book I’d bought in NZ a decade ago. Sure enough it was Dacrycarpus dacrydioides, or Kahikatea. I didn’t know they grew in the UK at all. So I tried to log in to the Tree Register, only to find that my subscription had expired. Sorted that and yes, they are indeed rare. Must look and see if it looks like a champion tree next week.

Six.
Talking of books, back in the autumn I was thinking about how to produce six things each week in winter when nothing much was going on. Slipping in the odd favourite book, maybe claiming to have read it in the garden, in order to comply with SOS rules, back when I thought there were any rules; seemed like a possibility. Well, it’s mid February and the opportunities might be running out. So here is one of my favourites. I’m not going to write a book review, I’m just going to say that it is an unalloyed joy of a book that has spent a great deal of time on the table beside my bed.
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Well that’s my offering for another week. I have fingers crossed for minimal damage in the coming week. Who’d have thought it, cold weather in February! Whatever next?

Six on Saturday is hosted by The Propagator, from whose post are numerous links to other contributors from all over the place. It’s where I’m headed now.

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Apple growing, a cautionary tale.

I have an allotment. On it is a large fruit cage, taking up a third of the plot and in which I grow, reasonably successfully, soft fruit. I have raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries, blueberries,  blackcurrants and red currants. The allotment rules don’t allow me to plant trees in the ground, so I am unable to plant fruit trees on the plot.

Not a problem, I can grow a few apple trees in my garden. I actually started growing apple trees in my garden long before I got the allotment. My first foray was with three apples and a Victoria plum. The apples were Herefordshire Russet, Suntan and Elstar. They were all planted as two year old bush trees on MM106 stocks. The russet produced half a dozen good apples in its first year and a respectable crop in its second. In the next couple of years the fruits were very small and scabby. When I decided to dig it out and put up a polytunnel it was not a difficult decision.

‘Elstar’ seemed to get a good write-up wherever I looked, as a good grower with good disease resistance and with well flavoured fruit. That was not my experience. All I ever saw were very scabby, very small fruits that didn’t taste of much. A work colleague had brought ‘Holstein Cox’ back from her native Germany and it was doing very well for her so I accepted the offer of some scions and started to turn Elstar into a family tree. The plan was for Elstar itself to leave home.

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Family apple tree. The trunk is ‘Elstar’, most of the smaller branches are something else.

At the same time that I grafted three or four scions of Holstein, I also grafted a couple each of Red Windsor and Meridian. I didn’t really expect many, if any, to succeed. I also didn’t label them. Bad mistake. All nine scions took, most of them grew away well, but I don’t know which is which.

Suntan thrived. Away it grew, strong and healthy. In a year or two it was flowering like an ornamental crab but it was doing so once Elstar, Herefordshire Russet , Holstein et al had finished. There was nothing to pollinate it and I ended up with almost no fruit. I have spur pruned it as an open bush shaped tree, which has worked well, restricting its size whilst maintaining prolific flowering.

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‘Suntan’ apple. Spur pruning in summer has worked well to restrict the size while still producing abundant flowering, if not fruit.

Somewhere along the way I had planted a tree of Red Windsor, on M9, a dwarfing rootstock. M9 is the stock that virtually all commercial growers use and until quite recently has been almost unobtainable in retail nurseries. Commercial growers plant at high densities, growing as spindle trees or something similar, supported on wires and at 3-4 feet spacing. Key advantages for them are that the trees start cropping very quickly and the fruit is a little larger than on other rootstocks. Yield per hectare is very high. I saw these merits as being just as relevant to me as a domestic gardener, plus the fact that in a limited space I could get in more varieties, giving me better pollination and less risk of gluts.

Red Windsor hasn’t done terribly well; it crops freely enough but the fruits have been small and scabby. It hasn’t grown very much.

Did I mention I am in Cornwall. A lot of things grow very well in our mild maritime climate, even some apple varieties, but scab and canker can be devastating.

I decided I needed a late flowering variety to pollinate Suntan. It seemed suitably disease resistant and the few fruits I did get were good. I wanted cookers because all I had was eaters. I ended up with Newton Wonder and Lane’s Prince Albert, both on M9. I was thinking that they wouldn’t take up much room and in time I could graft a couple of bits from each onto Suntan and do away with the free standing trees.

Why two? Well, Newton Wonder is a triploid, as is Suntan, so I needed Lane’s Prince Albert to pollinate Suntan, then something else to pollinate Lane’s Prince Albert. Truth is it doesn’t add up now, though it did at the time.

Neither have grown well, certainly not well enough to start hacking off bits for grafting. Trees on dwarfing rootstocks need pretty good growing conditions to succeed; I’m not sure they get what they need in my climate. I am sceptical whether they will do the job of pollinating Suntan. Suntan itself, in the meantime, is beginning to show a bit of a susceptibility to canker.

In the winter of 2016/17 I grafted some more bits onto Elstar. Plympton Pippin, Tregonna King and Meridian. Two west-country varieties that should do well and Meridian, mostly in the hope it will enable me to identify the bits I did before.

Just for good measure, I planted a maiden tree of Holstein Cox on MM106. It is a strong grower and I will need to restrict its growth. It had one apple on it in 2017 and it was superb.

Apples-3

‘Holstein’, a German ‘Cox’ hybrid that has so far shown real promise, but what do I do with it?

It’s crunch time. I have six trees, three on MM106 and capable of making 12-15 feet unless restricted, three on M9 and probably doomed to perform badly. Suntan is getting canker and crops poorly. My strategy to improve its pollination has failed. If it goes then Newton Wonder and Lanes Prince Albert may as well go too.

My Elstar based family tree is passable, though I’m not sure that having a trunk and branches of Elstar between the MM106 rootstock and the varieties I have grafted on top of it is a good idea.

Holstein Cox needs to be trained into something that I can spur prune and keep within bounds. It’s also not in the ideal location as it will shade the glasshouse.

Part of me wishes I’d never started. For probably 10 years of trying I doubt I’ve had 50 edible apples. I’ve learned a bit. Grafting shoots of different varieties onto an existing tree is easy. See varieties growing successfully in a garden nearby before you plant them. Spur pruning to keep a particular size or trained shape is easy enough.

I’m not thinking about what could have been growing in that space these last ten years or how much fruit I could have had if I’d planted the right varieties. I’m thinking about what to do now and the blog I’d like to be writing about it in five years time.

Six on Saturday – 23/12/2017

Two days after midwinter and two days until Christmas and we’ve had a week in the low to mid 30’s. When I was out in the midday sun yesterday I was casting no shadow. Phew!

For someone who has worked in horticulture and gardened in the UK all their lives, one of the pleasures of coming to a place like Australia is being surrounded by unfamiliar plants, both cultivated and in the wild. One of the things I don’t know about them is where they all originate from. Most people’s gardens bear little resemblance to what is left of the natural flora hereabouts so it is easy to assume that most of the garden plants are non-native; though without knowing what most of them are there is no easy way to check.

Out in the “wild” I have seen a number of things that I am fairly sure are aliens, some of them invasively so, but have probably failed to recognise others  because I simply don’t know what they are. It is tempting to think the climate here is too challenging for much to gain a foothold, but it does.

Brisbane has two botanic gardens, one in the city centre and a more extensive one at Mt Coot-tha out in the suburbs. We visited the latter earlier in the week and dragged ourselves around in 35°C for a few hours. It was a pleasure and an education and quickly overwhelming. So many fabulous plants, so many unfamiliar names, so much new information to absorb and process. My six this week are from there.

A large area is devoted to native plants and plant communities and there is some encouragement to plant native plants, in particular those from this part of Australia, in gardens. What struck me about some of these plants was just how good they were, how very garden worthy. Grevilleas stood out, with flowers of various shades, all very exotic looking and all having the bonus of being attractive to lorikeets and other nectar feeding birds.

One.
Just inside the entrance is a large area given over to succulents. Much of Australia is arid but succulence is not an adaptation that the native flora has adopted much. These non native ones are very happy here though.

Making it just a little more interesting is the fact that overhead in many places there are massive spiders webs, densely populated by massive spiders.

Two.
Buckinghamia celsissima or  Ivory Curl is from NE Queensland and in the Proteaceae. That much is on the label. It is a rainforest species that makes an evergreen tree to about 10m in cultivation. I have seen it in gardens and as a street tree and covered in its 20cm long white flower spikes it is an impressive sight.

Three.
Araucaria bidwillii, Bunya pine. Not a pine, of course, but a relative of the monkey puzzles, this was once abundant in Eastern Australia. Logging for timber and land clearance have taken a heavy toll but it is not an uncommon sight still and a good specimen is very handsome. The botanic garden have planted a sizable grove which is now beginning to cone, necessitating warnings about the cones, which can be football sized.

Four.
Grevillea ‘Golden Lyre’. One of the areas of native plants has a wide selection of Grevilleas on display. Most have cultivar names but whether they are selections found in the wild, or hybrids raised in cultivation I don’t know. This one stood out as much for its habit as its flowers; large scale ground cover anyone?

Five.
Corymbia ficifolia. I’ve been driving past three specimens of this every day to get out of the estate. I had tentatively identified them as Eucalyptus ficifolia, but it turns out that it was moved to Corymbia in 1995. It comes in red and pink and seems to want to make a low spreading bushy tree. In the botanic garden there were cultivars called ‘Summer Red’ and ‘Summer Beauty’, presumably grafted cultivars. It may be that seedlings of the species would be more upright but perhaps of less good colour.

Six.
Bamboo. There are some very impressive clumps of bamboo in the garden, though one with exceptional blue stems that we saw last time we were here is now gone. An unwilling volunteer was press-ganged into appearing in the picture, for scale. I forgot to note the name of the plant.

 

I hope that warmed you up a little. Now I have to steel myself to see what everyone back at the other end of the world are up to and by extension, what our own garden is enduring in our absence. It’s off to The Propagator for lots of links.

Six on Saturday – 9/12/2017

SOS155
Maisie decided I needed some help. Not with the gardening, help to make the blog more appealing in difficult times. What is it with cats and grasses.

One.
Rhododendron ‘Merganser’. This is the only Rhododendron we have left now, other than a couple of deciduous Azaleas and, come to think of it, a couple of evergreen Azaleas. I still don’t think of Azaleas as being real Rhododendrons. Rhododendrons are fabulous, I love them, but they don’t give good value in a small garden; they just don’t last long enough. This one is very small, with yellow bells in spring. I’ve put it in because apart from my bamboo, it’s the only thing I have with ornamental bark. You just have to imagine that the stems are more than half an inch thick.
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Two.
A quick mash-up of a few of the odds and ends that are still flowering.
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Three.
Bismarckia nobilis. This absolutely fabulous palm comes originally from Madagascar. The intensely glaucous leaves are 5-6ft across with quite sharp points. Now that this one has a bit of a trunk and has had its lower leaves removed it is a bit easier to live with than it used to be with leaves to the ground. It will eventually reach up to 12m in height, with a single trunk.
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Four.
The observant among you will have twigged to a slight continuity issue between items two and three. That is because between taking the two pictures, I flew half way round the world and am now about an hour’s drive north of Brisbane. It’s 32°here, in Celsius not Fahrenheit, sunny though with a strong possibility of showers, perhaps even a thunderstorm. I’m here for a while, so Saturday postings will have a tropical flavour for some time.
I’m a bit out of my depth with the plants. This one is another palm, much planted for shade as it’s multi-stemmed but not so tall. I don’t know it’s name. I shall try and find out.
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Five.
Agave attenuata. Massively popular in warmer parts of the world, this is just about hardy enough to survive in very mild west country gardens. It lacks the fearsome spines at the leaf tips that most of the other Agaves have. It readily spreads to form clumps of rosettes and eventually flowers, producing a spike rather like Eremurus, the fox tail lilies.
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Six.
Frangipani. Plumeria is as quintessentially tropical as you can get. Making a tree to about 5m high and at least as much wide, they have very flamboyant flowers with a sweet scent. You’ll be seeing this again.
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So the cats and the garden have been left in someone else’s care. Hopefully all will be well.
Between taking the pictures earlier today and waiting for the UK to catch up, the weather has turned spectacularly. It is now flashing and crashing and the rain coming down in torrents. It’s early evening, 10 hrs ahead of UK, and I desperately need sleep. Visiting everyone else linked from ThePropagator’s blog will have to wait until tomorrow.

 

Six on Saturday – 25/11/2017

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This morning has a flavour of winter about it. Sleet showers and the sunrise getting weird through them. Car didn’t want to start.
Flowers are in short supply now, except for a few that I’ve already used recently. We still haven’t had any frost to speak of so the big move in has proceeded in dribs and drabs so far. Yesterday however, was given over to getting all the potted fuchsias in, getting pots of bedding emptied and generally moving everything around to get it to fit. I have odds and ends flowering in my Camellia tunnel so I thought I’d start with one of those.

One.
Camellia japonica ‘Desire’. As lovely as this bloom may be, I can tell you that for the variety it is not a good specimen. If I were judging it in a show it would win nothing. The downside of these pale formal doubles is that it takes so little damage to really spoil the effect. It should be spring flowering but it’s an early season generally and this plant is in a tunnel so it’s got ahead of itself.
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Two.
Astelia ‘Red Devil’. I’m slightly surprised that the RHS don’t have this as A. nervosa ‘Red Devil’; I would have thought it was fairly typical of the species except for the reddish colouring. This specimen is growing in full sun; in hotter areas it would probably be happier with some shade. These sorts of evergreens come into their own at this time of year but looking at the picture, the Fuchsia microphylla behind it isn’t for giving up yet.
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Three.
Taxus baccata ‘Standishii’. I don’t have a record of when this fastigiate yew was planted, it must be about 25 years ago. It isn’t clipped but it does have a couple of loops of wire going around it to stop it splaying apart. ‘Standishii’ is a female clone and it does produce a few berries each year. Seedlings appear round the base of it, some green, most yellow. I don’t keep them. There are several golden fastigiate yew clones and this is one of the brightest yellows and comparatively slow growing.SOS130

Four.
Hakonechloa macra. The picture of the yew serves very well to show why the Japanese Hakone grass is my favourite grass. I’m up to nine varieties now. The green leaved species, albeit sporting its autumn colours, is the clump just at the base of the Taxus. The last traces of green are now disappearing from its leaves, which often roll in on themselves at this time of year, then open out flat again. From now until the end of February they will be the brightest thing in the garden. By then they will be falling apart and I will cut them to the ground, taking care not to damage the new shoots that will be pushing through, and within weeks they are back up in fresh green, or striped, or bright yellow. They’ve grown tall this year, with no really dry spells.SOS131

Five.
Euphorbia mellifera. I cut this shrubby Euphorbia down every two or three years as it gets too big for where it is and starts to lose its shape. As a consequence it doesn’t flower every year, which I don’t mind, the flowers being pretty dull. The foliage on the other hand, is a fresh apple green all year and always looks a picture of health. When I pruned it a couple of months ago, I cut all the flowering shots near to the ground, leaving 12-18 shots that hadn’t flowered. Now that there has been a big flush of new growth from the base, the shoots I left look out of place, so today I removed them.
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Six.
Earlier this year we had a porch fitted at the front of the house. For a while it sat empty but with us that was never going to last. It faces south and is mostly glass, so it gets pretty warm, the ideal place to overwinter our pots of succulents that sit outside the front of the house in summer. In practice, we put most of those in the glasshouse and brought out some different ones to adorn the porch. The black drip trays aren’t pretty, perhaps what we need is some tinsel. The pink outside the window is my Camellia ‘Navajo’ still going strong.
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And that, fellow gardeners, is it, for another week. Hope you found something there to tickle your fancy. Meme host The Propagator, is an accomplished fancy tickler. He is also the link man for the growing community of six on Saturday contributors, making two very good reasons for going over for a look.

Six on Saturday – 18/11/2017

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Once more I can avoid having to think too hard about items to include as there are odd little planty things going on that I can report on. We had just a suggestion of ground frost yesterday but I haven’t seen any damage, even Fuchsia boliviana is unscathed. This morning’s sunrise was lovely, it’s cold but only just frosty atop the car. The gulls are cacophonous; you’d think we were by the sea, not eight miles inland.

All the dahlias in the garden are staying where they are. I’ve cut them down and piled half rotted leaves over them. The seedling ones I had on my allotment have been lifted and are in a box covered with old potting compost. There are still lots of things in pots that need moving in.

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One.
Hedychium densiflorum ‘Assam Orange’ is something I featured when it was in flower, back in early September. It has produced fruits which are very slowly splitting open to reveal these vivid red berries within. In the past I have collected seed and grown new plants but I have no need of more. It comes more or less true from seed, which almost certainly means that much of what is sold as ‘Assam Orange’ is really just another seedling Hedychium densiflorum, quite possibly including mine. If anyone reading wants some seed, let me know.
Two.
Viburnum tinus. There are 34 forms of Viburnum tinus listed on the RHS website in what used to be the online version of Plantfinder. 15 have no suppliers listed, four more only one. The big ones are V. tinus, the species, and V. tinus ‘Eve Price’. ‘Gwenllian’, ‘French White’, ‘Purpureum’ and ‘Variegatum’ are widely available too. My plant is very different from all of these well known forms. For starters, the largest leaves are 11 cm long and 7cm wide, much bigger than the usual forms.

It was growing in my parents garden in Surrey when they moved in around 1956. The house had been built around 1900 and it is altogether possible it had been planted soon after. I’ve always assumed it was a form of the wild species that was available at the time. I just looked up Viburnum tinus in Bean* and it may be form hirtum, which the RHS says was last in Plantfinder in 2001.

Have I lost you yet? Suffice it to say that including it here was the spur to trying to find out more about it. It’s a handsome enough evergreen shrub though in truth it’s mostly nostalgia that motivates me to keep it. It’s a direct link back to the garden in which I became a gardener and a horticulturalist.

* Bean’s Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles is available online, updated to include New Trees. These books would cost you a small fortune to buy and they are available here for free.
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Three.
Fuchsia splendens ‘Karl Hartweg’, or is it? It could be splendens cordifolia. Or maybe it’s ‘Lechlade Marchioness’. I don’t know how this came to be planted in the garden. It’s not regarded as a hardy variety. Perhaps it was bedded out for summer then forgotten. Who knows? It gets killed to the ground every year by the slightest frost and has to start from below ground in the spring. This year it is now about five feet tall and flowering freely, though it didn’t really get started until September. It has flopped more than somewhat and should have been supported, but it is mid November and it looks fantastic.
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Four.
My polytunnel. In the top corner of my garden is a small polytunnel. I say small, by commercial standards it’s small; 10 x 20 feet. It has featured in these posts as background to a lot of pictures of Dahlias and Nerines. It’s full of camellias, mostly 9cm and 1litre.SOS126
When I finished employment 3 and a bit years ago I toyed with the idea of producing camellias for sale. I have since seen sense reconsidered but I still have a lot of stock. There’s another batch of cuttings on the mist bench now. There are days I’d give the whole lot away if I could find a taker. There are others when I have optimistic plans of what to do with them all. Some of them were flowering today so I took their pictures. The very least I can do with them is enjoy them and share them.
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(‘Winter’s Charm’, ‘Gay Sue’, ‘Bokuhan’, ‘Snowdrop’, ‘Minato no akebono’, ‘Sasanqua Variegata’, ‘Peter Betteley’, pitardii (supposedly but not), ‘Cotton Candy’)

Five.
The tricky little encliandra group of Fuchsias, that’s the ones with the tiny flowers, threw up another conundrum last year when we were given a few cuttings of what appeared to be a white flowered seedling growing just below its pink flowered parent. It turns out that they open white then gradually turn pink, in the way of Hydrangea paniculata. I moved the parent plant last week. Six feet tall with slender arching branches carrying minute leaves and tiny pale pink flowers; beautifully graceful but in the wrong place. I hope it survives and thrives in its new quarters. Pushed for a name, I’d plump for F. obconica but I’m far from certain.
This flower is just 12mm from the top of the tube to the tip of the stigma.
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Six.
Polystichum setiferum ‘Ray Smith’. I bought this at Binny Plants in Scotland years ago. It has long narrow fronds that come up at a steep angle and is almost evergreen. It also produces plantlets (gemmae, I’m informed) along the midrib (sorry, rachis) late in the year. In theory it should be a breeze to propagate but the plantlets are tiny going into the winter and by the end of the winter the fronds are dying off, taking the babies down with them. I have had some success with pegging whole fronds to the surface of compost in a tray but this year I have removed several and pushed them individually into a pot of compost which is now under the mist. My hope is that with a bit of bottom heat they’ll grow slowly over winter so I can pot them in spring.
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So another Saturday bites the dust. Five more till Christmas. Can I make 30 things happen in the garden between now and then? Might have to cheat.
Links to the rest of the six on Saturday participants will pop up through the day below Mr P’s own six at ThePropagator. Be sure to check them all out.

Two pictures.

I came across a picture of the garden from June 2005 and, struck by the number of plants that we no longer have, tried to take exactly the same picture as it looks now.

 

I worry sometimes that the garden has become too static, that I am too slow to make alterations. Not so, it is clear. Nothing remains the same, with growth and plant replacements sharing the honours for being the greatest driver of change.

The big things are the most obvious casualties. Let me list the plants over 3 feet tall that are no longer there.

Eucalyptus pauciflora niphophila
Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Siver Queen’
Viburnum tinus ‘Variegata’
Pinus sylvestris ‘Chantrey Blue’
Corylus avellana
Acer grosseri hersii
Berberis ‘Orange King’
Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Goshiki’
Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb’
Pinus mugo pumilio
Cupressus macrocarpa ‘Goldcrest’
Fargesia murielae ‘Simba’
Diselma archeri
Vallea stipularis
Rhododendron ‘Ginny Gee’
Picea abies ‘Little Gem’

And what about the similar sized plants that are there now but were not in the earlier shot.

Magnolia Ann
Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Elizabeth’
Schefflera taiwaniana
Berberis thunbergii ‘Golden Torch’
Camellia ‘Minato-no-akebono’
Camellia ‘Spring Festival’
Hydrangea macrophylla You & Me Together
Camellia japonica ‘Eximea’
Cistus ‘Sunset’
Leptospermum rupestre
Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald Gaiety’
Philadelphus ‘Snowbelle’
Zingiber mioga ‘Crûg Zing’

Then finally the things that are in both but which are now twice the size.

Taxus baccata ‘Standishii’
Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Little Spire’
Astelia chathamica
Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Elizabeth’
Rhododendron ‘Merganser’
Chionochloa rubra
Fuchsia magellanica gracilis

Of the things that have gone perhaps seven were in poor health, diseased or damaged. The rest were judged to be too big or too dull or both.

It is interesting to try and envisage the garden as it would be now if nothing had been removed. All those evergreen trees and shrubs would be roughly twice the size and there would be a great deal less room, not to mention light, for anything else. As it is, the overall effect is not so very different, albeit with a different palette of plants. The balance of light and shade is about the same, which, though not a very conscious aim, seems right.

Only for the Eucalyptus did I enlist outside help. By the time it was felled it had grown much bigger and was beyond my competence. A very large limb broke off from low down, leaving it unbalanced and unsafe. Tree surgeons dealt with it.

As I get older, it will get harder to remove trees and large shrubs myself, a problem that all older people face. Tree surgeons are expensive, especially when taking down large trees in confined spaces, as is all too often required. It’s not hard to see why so many old people’s gardens are beyond them. Just a couple of hours on hands and knees weeding becomes a trial to be endured.

Just a couple of pictures, snaps from an upstairs window. Look a little closer and you see time, the all too easily overlooked forth dimension of gardening. You see changes in fashion, changes in personal taste. You see decisions taken and decisions ducked. You see the fruits of countless hours of pleasure, some pain too. I say “you see” and mean “I see”. You probably see something completely different.

I’m glad I didn’t delete it.