Horticultural Therapy

Clematis alpina 'Frances Rivis'


Clematis alpina ‘Frances Rivis’

I’ve had this plant a number of years but it’s never done very much. And then this last winter its neighbour, a honeysuckle, blew down in a gale. Needless to say the gardener has taken her own sweet time getting round to removing the honeysuckle and the clematis has seized the opportunity to clamber over it to pastures new, blooming profusely as it does so in the enhanced space and light. All fine and dandy except that now of course I shall have to wait until the clematis has finished flowering before I can cut it and the honeysuckle back. The price we pay for tardiness eh?


Geum 'Rusty Young'


Geum ‘Rusty Young’

Spring she is a-springing and brief moments in the garden provide a welcome distraction from the chaos still reigning inside the house. Pursuing horticulture as a hobby is far from plain sailing, as we all know, but I can’t imagine not doing it now. For three years we rented a house without a garden and I kept a few containers. Plants in transit. Of course there were losses. Not everything can adapt to life constrained within a pot. But watching things respond to the changing of the seasons and the build up to my favourite time, Spring, kept me positive in a way that little else can.




Epimedium NoID

Last weekend, at a fortuitously timed plant fair, I acquired this little beauty. The trouble is I don’t know what it is. After I’d carefully carried it home let it be blown to smithereens on the side of a blustery Cornish hill, I discovered that I have two price tags but not a single plant label. I vaguely remember a reference to ‘coffee’ but can find no Epimedium ‘Coffee’ or anything remotely like it on a google search. It is gorgeous though. And I suppose I should just be grateful I didn’t have to pay for it twice.


Epimedium x versicolour 'Sulphurium'


Epimedium x versicolour ‘Sulphurium’

This one I do know. Had it for years and it’s on a mission to take over. I shall have a go at splitting it this year.


Helleborus 'Cinderella'


Helleborus ‘Cinderella’

Habitually late for the ball, this is usually the last of the hellebores to bloom, seen here against the almost spent but still richly coloured flowers of Helleborus ‘Penny’s Pink’. Far from disappearing in a puff of smoke at midnight, Cinderella fades gradually and delightfully to a delicately speckled lime.


Helleborus x hybridus 'Harvington Black'


And speaking of midnight.. Helleborus x hybridus ‘Harvington Black’

Mirror, mirror on the wall, is this the blackest hellebore of them all?


Aquilegia vividiflora 'Chocolate Soldier'


Aquilegia vividiflora ‘Chocolate Soldier’

Brown rather than black, but no less lovely.


Trillium cuneatum


Another comfort purchase from the plant fair, Trillium cuneatum.

Trying one more time. I have killed all of her predecessors. Or something has. Was it three or was it four? Well this one is described as ‘vigorous’, so we shall see. I have given it shade, the moist soil it craves and spoken to it in my best Alan Titchmarsh: “Grow you bugg*r, grow”.


Erythronium 'Pagoda'


Erythronium ‘Pagoda’

Bulbs from last year. Hurray! They did grow. It works!


Erythronium 'White Beauty'


Erythronium ‘White Beauty’

For those of a more delicate persuasion.


Tulipa clusiana 'Lady Jane'


Tulipa clusiana ‘Lady Jane’

Bulbs as we know struggle in the cold wet soil of a Devon winter so I have been experimenting with some of the species, the naturalising types. And this has been another success. Whether they return again next year remains to be seen but to witness a drift of tulips nudging through the earth just once has been reward enough for now.


Tulipa acuminata


Tulipa acuminata

I had a feeling this was going to be special and so it is. Another species but this time with only three bulbs to my name they did spend the winter safely tucked up in a pot, under the house eaves with a little rain but not a lot. Monty Don has planted many more of these in his new Paradise Garden, in amongst Stipa tenuissima. Now isn’t that going to look superb. There will be more bulbs here too come autumn.

Zaluzianskya ovata 'Sweet Stock'

Zaluzianskya ovata ‘Sweet Stock’

Something of a curiosity this one, the night scented phlox. Often grown as an annual in the UK but I’m hoping to overwinter it under glass. It is exquisitely fragrant. Opening the greenhouse in the morning is a delight. But by lunchtime, especially on a warm and sunny day, most of the flowers are closed. They burst forth again in the early evening and the wonderful perfume returns. Native to South Africa it is pollinated by moths.



Lamium orvala, the deadnettle


Strelitzia reginae


And finally… Strelitzia watch

The flower spike is bigger. Much bigger. And it has acquired red tints. Even better, look down towards the bottom of the photo.. there is not one flower spike, but two! The original is now less than an inch from the greenhouse roof. Will the night temperatures rise sufficiently for me to release the plant to the outside world before it smashes its way out on its own? It’s touch and go.


So the weekend in the garden is over and reality returns.






At least we’ve uncovered some new beams..



“Shall we eat in the dining room tonight dear?”

Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear.


Linking to Carol and Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day at May Dreams Gardens (here), where you can enjoy a host of seasonal bloomers from around the world. And probably no mess..