Slice of jungle

14 Aug

There’s a wedge of jungly stuff in the back garden. It’s looking pretty good at the moment, what with the Phormium inflorescences, Hedychium forrestii about to flower and the bananas looking substantial now. Yesterday I weeded around it so thought i’d record it with a photo.


Weeds or not?

6 Aug

The first is Nicandra physolodes ‘Violacea’. It belongs to the solanaceae family, a family of plants full of hidden mysteries. Either it arrived by accident from Special Plants this year, or was in with some older seeds from Chiltern Seeds which I scattered about this spring, or was dispersed by birds, as it is often found in bird seed mixtures. At first I found it coarse looking. Age hasn’t made the form of the plant much less dumpy as a whole. It looks out of place, too lumpen amongst the grasses, poppies and succulents in the gravel bed. But it does have a lot going for it and i’ll be keeping seed to sow in a different bed next year. It looks a spotlessly healthy deep green, from a distance. Up close, it has fleeting lilac flowers that set off the racy black colouration of the stems and calyxes. Oh, that ink-stained calyx, such poise in the way it curves around the hidden fruit inside. The bees give added entertainment. While I was taking photographs, one fell out of the flower rear end first and on its back.

The other is more troublesome. It is of the Fabaceae family, is a woody perennial, has compound, chartreuse coloured leaves with ovate leaflets and thorns at the axils. I find it attractive. In fact, when we moved in it stood out to me as perhaps the only thing in the garden worth keeping. Trouble is, it suckers like a beast. A ravening beast, complete with taproots. It might be Robinia pseudoacacia, but I can’t see why the previous owner would’ve planted one of those. I’m minded to let one shoot grow and attempt to suppress the others. That way I might end up with an attractive tree less prone to suckering, with flowers which will aid with identification, and when I get tired of it I can chop it down and – if it is false acacia – make some super tough rot resistant fence posts out of it.

I just removed dozens of suckers like these:

The lone survivor:

The stylish thorns:

The Wrong Ginger

27 Jul

After waiting for four or five years to again experience the scent of Hedychium coronarium from this plant I bought for the purpose, it’s finally flowered. It’s very nice, but it isn’t coronarium. It’s, what, H. aurantiacum? H. kewensis? No scent to it that I can detect. Oh bugger.

Success stories

13 Jul

Quite a few bits and bobs are coming on nicely. So, here’s a post about them, the success stories. 

The children and I have a little project going on. We’re growing trees from fruit seeds which would otherwise have ended up in the bin with the rest of the food waste and scraps. My youngest, Reuben, thinks it’s slightly silly to be growing trees inside our house. Mango:


The Arabian jasmine I bought produced its first flower today. It’s also the first flower of any of the scented plants I plan to fill the hall with.

The next to flower in the atrium, or so I hope, is Hedychium coronarium. It’s looking pretty chunky and i’ve started it on the tomato feed, so here’s hoping.

Delonix regia, the famed Flamboyant of the tropics! It is very early days, but this seems to have a decent growth rate. Nor has it minded being moved from the propagation spot, way up high on top of the bathroom, to the greenhouse.

Caesalpinia gilliesii is leading a very happy life in the greenhouse, having been defoliated over winter by slight frosts.

This Agave has filled out very well indeed. Does anybody recognise the bright green centres to the dark green leaves as belonging to a particular species? In other words, can anybody ID it for me? It was from a batch of mixed seed. (A. lophantha maybe?)

Wham! That red! The ladybird and opium poppies set Agave ovatifolia off nicely, and Aloe striatula has been hugely cooperative now it’s had a chance to stretch its roots.

The jungly bit of the garden has escaped the worst of the chlorosis which has blighted a great many of the trees i’ve planted. More on that some other time.

Local goodness

10 Jun

Anna (my partner in crime) spotted that there was a weekend of open gardens in Burnage and Levenshulme, areas of South Manchester just adjacent to us. We missed them because of my work and our colossal hangovers. But something good did come of it. Tickets were available from a local garden centre called Bud, which I was always going to visit sooner or later, it being just a short distance away. 

It wasn’t disappointing. The owner is very much engaged in what’s on around and about and the place has the appearance of being a labour of love. She gave me several tips for local exotic gardening connections and asked if I grew commercially, perhaps as space for horticulture is at a premium in our city. 

I left a few things behind but came away happy with the following haul

Rubus lineatus, look at those pleated leaves up close

Darmera peltata, grown locally by someone who also supplies hostas (and I suspect also supplied the Arisarum proboiseideum I left there)

A Helleborus foetidus of a size handy for transport in bike panniers

Acca sellowiana with those nice silver undersides to the leaves, which will place it in the blue garden.

The most encouraging thing about Bud is the encouragement the place gives to try something new. Being in the inner city, it’s run with a bit of imagination and creative relish, rather than being beholden to hidebound hordes from the stolid suburbs. It makes perfect sense and is a refreshing change to visit. There was a pop-up cafe and craft beer stall there last night which Anna and I could have gone along too, but I was feeling rather lazy. I’ll be along again soon, that’s for sure. 

Besides which, this morning I was able to pot up seven sprouting Calamus rudentum seeds with the assistance of a little compost the owner kindly agreed to give me for free. It all helps. 

History in the making

9 Jun

At risk of this becoming a politics blog . . . 

This country is in it’s current state because of the Tories’ own selfish self-interest, but that’s a damn sight better than this country being what I thought it was two days ago, which was a miserable, self-hating, cap-doffing wretch.

The open sewer that is our press portrayed Jeremy Corbyn not as the mild-mannered social democrat that he is, but as a frothing communist whose leadership of the Labour party was held to be a re-enactment of the Jonestown Massacre, in sitcom format. 

And he got nearly thirteen million votes from people who preferred his fair minded views to the crabbed and crooked misery of the Conservative party. 

The last seat to declare, Kensington, just went Labour. KENSINGTON ffs

A day well spent

8 Jun

Apologies for posting on things other than gardening again, for those who are concerned for such things. So am I! Tell you what, two of my Calamus rudentum seeds have sprouted, which was really exciting for me. I just thought i’d post to say that I spent the day out canvassing. I felt the need to do something to try to nudge the result in a constructive direction, so I went along to the local Labour club to volunteer my services, which isn’t something i’ve done before. Here’s hoping that my children have better prospects than my generation as a whole.