Light box news

24 Jan

As it turns out, the Aechmea bracteata I put in the week before last is definitely dead. The other one’s in there now. It’s blotchy because of a fungal infection but is definitely alive at this point in time.

Bromeliad with green bits. Lower left is the sole living Oroxylum indicum

Also changed over are the two saucers that were housing two dead Oroxylum trees. They’re now housing an as yet unidentified Agave seedling and Chamaerops humilis var. cerifera. They’ll either grow or die, there isn’t much middle ground in the light box.

Maybe the shock of coming in from the greenhouse’ll kill ’em

Acacia flowers

20 Jan
Acacia baileyana


19 Jan

Weekly, I look on top of the bathroom to see how the seeds are doing. This morning there were some surprising new starters. Telopea truncata, which is supposed to be difficult and need sowing straight away instead of spending six months in a wooden box being ignored, has sprouted in number. Also showing signs of life are Vasconcellea pubescens and Echium wildpretii.

It always feels risky to take the lid off the plastic takeaway container so seedlings can grow, but grow they must, so off it comes on those three. They dry out so much more quickly once the lid’s off. I’ll have to get into the habit of misting them every day from now on.

Aechmea bracteata is something i’ve had since starting it from seed almost a decade ago. Now one of them lives in the light box in the lounge, it looks disconcertingly dead next to Aechmea ‘Blue Rain’. Winter hasn’t been harsh. It’s only mid January though. Patience is a virtue.


13 Jan

Well, here I am. Instagram visited and went, it’s the beginning of a new year and the ambitions it brings with it in that gap when the weeds and the subjects stop growing. Except for hairy bittercress. Cardamine hirsuta never stops growing. Nor does Instagram. But we ourselves persist in our singular ways and this I plan to do.

Many seeds have been sown. I have Echium wildpretii. I have Cananga odorata. I’ve hostas, xerophytes and various passiflora.

In utero

Then there are the very young. These are at the stage of having produced vegetative matter, albeit little as yet. Chief amongst these many clans are the rattan palms, though in the company of Furcraea macdougallii, Oroxylum indicum and cannas. I procured the furcraea based on the vague reminiscence of an image in a Christopher Lloyd book. It was only after flashing my £4 that I realised i’d given moral and financial support to a monster. It demands forty years of care in exchange for its apotheosis, which is undeniably spectacular. The internet showed me what looks for all the world like a sawn-off birch tree placed atop a strapping six-foot-six trunked Yucca. Put my name down for another forty years of existence. It’ll mean giving up the fags. Can a four-hundred watt high pressure sodium light bulb fix that too?

Aechmea and smaller pals

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.