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A Midland Alpine Gardener's Diary

This entry: 31 May 2011 by Diane Clement

Diary Entry no 42 - End of a dry spring

Most of the plants in the garden are about a week early compared with the last couple of years.  I suppose that must be down the the hottest driest April on record.  Luckily we have had significant rain in the last week, most of it of course, falling on Bank holiday Monday.

Here's some plants in the garden flowering at the end of May, first on the (relatively) sunny side of the garden.  My raised bed has a succession of flowers through the spring and summer. 

At the moment, the raised bed is dominated by Roscoea cautleyoides which I did wonder had died in the winter.  I always forget how late it appears and then how quickly it comes into flower.  Strangely, this year it is quite significantly shorter than usual, I’m guessing this is due to the dry April

Also in this bed, an acquisition new last year that I’m very pleased with, Dianthus “Freda Woodliffe”.  Dianthus in general don’t do well in our acidic shady garden.  The garish colour clash with the Roscoea was not well planned.

Another genus I am fond of but, in common with its close relation Dianthus, typically does not survive for long with me.  This is Saponaria “Bressingham”.  It’s looking happy so far, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Now into the crevice garden, also on the sunny side of our garden. 

Potentilla nitida never flowers particularly well, but this is a good colour form

Tsuga canadensis nestling in a crevice must be one of the slowest growing conifers.

Although I've never seen a flower on Bolax gummifer, it adds foliage interest in the crevice garden.  It's survived the last two cold winters in the crevice.

Sempervivum long forgotten name

Leucogenes tarahaoa one of the four species of so-called New Zealand edelweiss, this one from Mount Peel on South Island.  Looking happy in the crevice so far, time will tell!

At the edge of the crevice, spilling out onto the gravel is Dryas octopetala with its characteristic twisted seedheads.

And by the Dryas, more seeds ripening, this time within the tomato-like fruits of Mandragora officinalis.  It reliably produces huge quantities of seed which goes into the AGS seed exchange.

And now on the shadier side of the garden, another form of Roscoea cautleyoides much shorter than the other and with narrower central petals.  It's been suggested that it might be the cultivar "Jeffrey Thomas" or "Reinier".  If anyone knows the characteristics of these cultivars, I'd be pleased to know.  Alternatively, I shall await the results of the Roscoea trials which I hope will publish those characteristics.

Dactylorhiza foliosa - one of my favourite plants of this time, this year starting into flower about a week early.  It's usually at this stage around the 7th June and in full flower for about a month.


And to finish – the meconopsis with beautiful leaves that was bought as M paniculata and has been nurtured under cloche for the last two winters (first picture below from last December).  I have waited patiently for the monocarpic flower spike which finally appeared this year.  But when it flowered, it is clearly a hybrid between a red and a yellow flower, with this odd colouring, appearing a peachy colour from a distance but close observation shows the red on yellow colouring.  And after all this wait, I’m not really sure whether I like it.  C'est la vie.  

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Midland Diary no 42 Discussion

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