A first flowering at RBGE for Iris zaprjagajewii one of the dwarf Juno Iris. Collected by members of the alpine and rock garden team on an expedition to Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan. A white flowered species with delicate black pencil like lines and a yellow stripe on the falls. By way of contrast, Iris popovii is as colourful and showy an Iris as you will find in any of the sections of the genus. Also in the Juno section this plant is again found in the Pamir mountain range at 2400m, endemic to one area of the mountains where it is scarce. The flower is predominantly a light purple shade through the petals with the addition of a bright orange crest on the falls which resembles a cockerel’s comb. The tips of the falls terminating with a splash of red.
A fine specimen is Rhododendron hunnewellianum, planted by the laundry building near Inverleith House. Best seen from the pathway and lawn nearby as it is a top heavy plant, towering six meters with a mass of blooms covering its evergreen canopy. The flower trusses open from a light pink to a delicate pink/white. The inner side of the upper petals speckled a darker pink. Prominent flower parts with the style extending out to the parameter of the petals. It was introduced from SW China by Earnest Wilson in 1908. The species name hunnewellianum is after Horatio Hollis Hunnewell and his family, in true American fashion, railroad financier and amateur botanist.
Flowering in many gardens is Prunus cerasifera or one of its many forms. A welcome reminder that spring is arriving. A native to the Caucasus and now found growing in many gardens throughout the country. Flower colour is variable from white through pink to purple. This variability is also seen in the foliage, which colours depending on cultivar from green to a dark purple; hence the name “Purple Plum”. The plant in the Garden is a wide headed specimen found growing in the south west corner.
A lot of plants have caught my eye during the past decade while compiling a weekly profile on a seasonal plant of interest. Below are the consistently reliable ones. These are the plants that whatever the seasonal weather, will flower, produce fruit or give exceptional foliage interest. These are the ten to fill your garden with and appreciate for their resilience and growth.
January: Vinca difformis – Myriad white flowers covering a tight tangle of evergreen shoots
February: Galanthus spp. and cultivars, carpets of Snowdrops through borders and woodland.
An image is attached of G. nivalis ‘Sandersii’ growing in the frames within the alpine yard. The Sandersii group of Snowdrops are known for their yellow ovary and yellow tips to the inner tepals. This collection of bulbs is particularly fine, the colouration resembling free range egg yolk.
March: Iris histrioides – Plant tightly and appreciate the vivid blue of these flowers
April: Magnolia campbellii and the cultivar ‘Charles Raffill’ – Superb trees covered in impressive pink blooms
May: Syringa x persica – Scent and compact form make this a choice specimen
June: The deciduous Azaleas – Select a cultivar that suits your colour scheme
July: Lilium formosana var. pricei – compact, impressive flower trumpet and a heady fragrance
August: Desfontainia spinosa – A Chilean native with hanging tubular red and yellow flowers
September: Anemone x hybrid – A classic cottage garden favorite
October: Cimicifuga simplex- Long musty scented spikes of starry shaped white flowers
November: Ginkgo biloba – Golden yellow foliage covers the tree, dropping as a golden carpet
December: Helleborus foetidus – An evergreen perennial providing flower on the shortest day.
So to planting, there is always room in the garden for new planting. We are now at the start of a fresh growing season. The garden centres are filling with a wide array of plants in prime condition. Better still, visit a nursery and talk to the growers, don’t be tempted by short term planting it is too early in the season for that. Look at woody material; shrubs and trees. Make a wise selection and think of the decades of pleasure a £30 – £40 investment will give both you and your neighborhood. Don’t balk at the price, use your wealth to support our industry, this is an investment in your garden, our environment.
Prepare the soil well, incorporate organic matter and remove any large stones. For container grown plants, remove the pot and roughen up the edges and base of the compost root ball. This helps the new roots grow out into the border soil. Set the plant in the planting hole so that the top of the compost root ball is lightly covered with soil when you back fill. Firm and grade the soil in the border to a finished level.
Water gently, flicking some water over the shoots, leaves and stems to freshen up the plant. After all, it has been on a journey.
In the first year water all new plantings during dry spells and keep competing vegetation clear from the base of and around the plant.
A good selection of young plants of Bergenia pacifica from a sowing in 2015 are flowering for the first time in the nursery. From the attached image can be seen the development of the flower bud and growth leading to a succession of the plants flowering. The flower spike holds a selection of flowers in the terminal cyme that are a welcome warm pink in the last days of winter. A heavy bearer of nectar that can be observed as droplets on the inner surfaces of the petals. A rhizomatous evergreen perennial with rounded foliage, deepening red as temperatures drop through the winter. Native to east Russia and Siberia where it is found in damp woodland and open meadows, this plant is ideal grouped in semi shade growing in moist border soil.
Muscari azureum has sent up its instantly recognisable inverted cone of azure blue flowers. Native to Turkey this is a bulb that appreciates good drainage and a sunny aspect and will naturalise through borders. Just look along the alpine wall later in the year, it is full of M. azureum naturalised in this free draining sun baked environment. The flowers within the raceme are mainly fertile and a minority, paler in colour are sterile.
The forecast last night was for an overnight frost that would clear quickly. How right the forecast was, bright sunshine soon warmed the ice crystals with damaging consequences to the Viburnum bodnantense cultivars. The attached image shows the rapid browning and discolouration that occurs to the open flowers when direct sun expands the frozen ice crystals within the petals.
Rhododendron dauricum, in flower since mid-January. A good show of purple flowers on this native to east and north Asia, the seed from which this plant grew was collected on Hokkaido Island, Japan. A hardy species that is one of the first of the genera to flower, it does rely on a frost free winter to prolong the flowering as early sun directed on frozen blooms is fatal.
Two images, Ivy, Hedera helix covering both plants. The pine trunks are sturdy and it will take several seasons to smother these. The Viburnum is different, colonised at the same time the two are totally different in their approach and growth habit. The Ivy in the Viburnum should be removed with urgency; the vigorous evergreen growth will smother the life out of this plant. Vigour will be reduced and the Viburnum smothered by the end of the 2017 growing season. In the case of the Pines; secateurs can be used to snip the shoots growing up the trunk. The severed growth will die back and can then be pulled from the trunk.
The season of gales and heavy rain can conspire to unseat climbing plants from their supports. Take a pair of secateurs and reduce the overhang growth which can be considerable and weigh heavily especially following rain. As in the attached image of Schisandra plena on a south facing wall. This weight puts any supporting wires of framework under considerable stress. Add in the forces a blustery day will provide and there is the recipe for collapse. Pruning at this time of year will allow a rejuvenated framework of mature stems to support new growth. At the same time inspect all supporting material, repair, replace or strengthen as necessary.