Plants from seed.

22 Feb

The season begins with receipt early in January of a catalogue from Chiltern Seeds. Each year I read it from cover to cover looking for something that will fulfil a useful role in my scheme of things. It takes me a fortnight of poring over it to decide what exactly to order. This year I have settled on half-hardy shrubs, scented plants and one or two hardy elements, the latter being the Honey Locust Gleditsia triacanthos and the Japanese Bitter Orange Poncirus trifoliata. These are both fearsomely armed with spines. Japanese Bitter Orange is a hardy, inedible citrus with which I hope to replace the privet hedge (spit) that separates the front garden from the pavement.

I hold on to a contradictory pair of impulses – to plant things that will persist here and to plant things that look like they shouldn’t persist here. So shrubs and trees that tread a fine line between the two, all of which require sun and well-drained soil; the raised bed then. These are Eucalyptus caesia, Acacia baileyana, Caesalpinia gilliesii and Leucadendron argenteum.

Having enjoyed the thick, ailing fragrance of Brugmansia, and that of Night scented stock Matthiola bicornis last year, which gives off a scent of almonds, white chocolate and vanilla ice-cream, i’ve made a theme of it with the same again plus Schizopetalon walkeri and Heliotrope. Heliotrope used to be fashionable as bedding. This sounds like a reason to stay away, but there is, so the story goes, something iconic about its scent, in the manner of Night-scented stock. The clinching thing for me was its appearance Zola’s La Faute de l’AbbĂ© Mouret, which I adore.

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