You Wouldn’t Know What it’s Going to Do.

The forecast rain fell in torrents in many parts of the country but was little more than a nuisance with us. There was enough of it to interrupt normal gardening activities but not enough to be of benefit. The garden is dry and what rain we had during this past week did little more than preventing it from drying out further. It was neither here nor there, neither hot nor cold, neither wet nor dry, a bit of an annoyance and the Head Gardener looked out the window so very often and uttered, “You wouldn’t know what it’s going to do!”

Of course, we did some gardening during the week, the usual routine upkeep – weeding, freshening, grass cutting, shredding and the likes and we also lifted our first potatoes of the year – British Queens, our favourite potatoes by a long shot and especially enjoyed with some fried mackerel, mange tout from the garden and our own strawberries for dessert – it wasn’t all a bad week and some plants have performed well and have given some lovely colour to the garden.

Our native orchids have been an interest for several years though outings with friends have been severely curtailed last year and this. Despite my interest in these wild orchids, I have never had a desire to grow them at home though I have had an odd one over the years. The Common Spotted Orchid, Dactylorhiza fuchsii subsp fuchsii, has found a home with me growing in an area of grass which has spring bulbs followed by long grass and whatever wildflowers decide to appear. The plants came from other gardens where they had appeared and were in the way of the lawnmower so they found a safe haven with us.

Click on the first photograph to start a slideshow:

Of course, there are also garden varieties of orchids, hybrids bred for general garden planting, and most with Dactylorhiza blood in them so they are easy to grow plant enjoying similar conditions as Primula japonica and associating well with them. I’m sure those I grow had cultivar names attached to them at one stage but they came to me as gifts, unnamed gifts, and have grown well and increased well over the years:

Click on the first photograph to start a slideshow:

Many, quite justifiably, would regard geraniums as the most versatile of garden plants. The often quoted, “When in doubt, plant a geranium” is attributed to Margery Fish and has been put into practice by many gardeners over the years. I grow a good range of geraniums – actually, I must show an Irish-bred geranium which I believe it vastly superior to the much vaunted ‘Rozanne’, coming into flower earlier, lasting longer and with far more flowers on the plant, Geranium ‘Mount Venus’ – but for today I am showing three varieties of Geranium cantabrigense which I have found is the perfect plant to grow over an area where snowdrops flower in spring. It is the simplest of plants to propagate – all those shown came from a single plant. It is very like Geranium macrorrhizum but smaller in every part. It spreads over the ground but is of loose enough habit to allow the snowdrops come through and dense enough to hide them after they have flowered.

Click on the first photograph to start a slideshow:

We were in Powis Castle a few years ago and saw Allium ‘Red Mohican’ and it really caught our eye as it was both unusual and attractive. We searched for bulbs but didn’t find it but instead found Allium ‘Mohican’ – without the “Red”! Despite this, it has proven itself an attractive and curious garden plant. It is one of those bulbs which is inclined to throw odd shapes as it grows before it straightens up to produce its flower.

Click on the first photograph to start a slideshow:

The penstemons are among the most versatile and obliging of garden plants. They require little attention, are easy to propagate and are reliable to flower – and don’t need staking, a great advantage!

Click on the first photograph to start a slideshow:

Finally for this week, Dieramas which are in full flower at this very moment. Dieramas grow very well for us; so well that we take care to remove the long swinging stems when the flowers are over and the seeds are setting for the self-seed vigorously here and weeding them out is quite a chore. We have them planted around a small pond where they have room to move and swing in the breeze though they do pop up elsewhere in the garden. We did have a number of named varieties and species at one time but they have crossed with others over the years and we now regard them all as hybrids of some sort or another.

Most of the dieramas grow in this area around a pond.

The easiest way to show the variations which arise from self-sown seed it with this slideshow:

I’m sharing this blog with a group of fellow bloggers who contribute to a “Six on Saturday” theme which is hosted by “The Propagator”. To read more contributions go to The Propagator’s entry for today, scroll down to the comments and you will find other bloggers have posted links to their Saturday entries there. Lots to read!

23 thoughts on “You Wouldn’t Know What it’s Going to Do.

  1. Wonderful article,loved it all.Im currently collecting my first seed from my Geranium crosses,if I manage to produce anything half bad.Ill send a piece to you.
    I can’t sing G.himalayense’Derrick Cook’ praises high enough.Im using it in lots of my crosses.Another absolutely fantastic plant is G.Dark Eyes.
    I loved your Dactylorhiza, just superb.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t heard of ‘Derrick Cook’; one I must look up. Odd crosses arise in the garden here; some good; others not so but it’s easy to get rid of them when not wanted.

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  2. Hello Paddy,
    Some lovely photos and plants here to inspire everyone. I particularly liked the orchids, Dierama seedlings (which will inspire Fiona who’s a big fan), and Geranium. I wondered if G. cantabrigiense is just as easy to hoik out as G. macrorrhizum, should it spread too far, and how it relates to G. macrorrhizum re. flowering time? We find G.macrorrhizum is one of the top 3 flowers in the garden for bumbles and honeybees, when it’s flowering, and wondered if you’ve noticed how G. cantab. compares in this regard?
    Best wishes
    Julian

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    1. Good morning, Julian. G. cantabrigense is most easily described as a miniature form of G. macrorrhizum. It is less dense and very easy to both propagate and to pull out when it goes beyond where you want it – though, to be accurate, it is not a rampant plant by any means. I take single pieces of those small woodly rhizomes in early spring and simply plant them in the ground where they take off very quickly to give a new plant.

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      1. Thanks Paddy, it sounds great then – one of the things I love about macrorrhizum is how easy it is to pull out compared to some thug like Geraniums. And indeed as you say how it’s so easy to spread around = we’ve got great swathes under small trees, where it was just chucked on the grass and in a few years it’s covered the area and the grass has been eliminated completely.

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  3. I’m going to have to come back and have a good look through all your photographs and comments Paddy. You and Mrs T are indeed master gardeners.

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      1. I’ve had another look, and learning so much from you. I’ll be looking out for Geranium ‘Mount Venus’. Is it so new which explains why I can’t find a nursery on line here? Today I’ve been chopping back many of my geraniums to allow other plants to come through.

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  4. I agree with Gill, it’s so hard to pick a favourite as all looks so lovely. There is also definitely an eye for a well-placed pot, I really like that scene with G. cantabrigense. I have it growing along my front path and agree it’s a great plant, although mine finished flowering a couple of weeks ago and has been cut back. I might copy your idea of planting some snowdrops among the geranium, I don’t have enough snowdrops.

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    1. We have big numbers of snowdrops, big drifts, which look well in spring but you do need something to follow on/cover up after them and this has proven an excellent choice. Some other geraniums are also ideal for this purpose – those which don’t spread any great extent at the root but have long sprawling growths – ‘Ann Thompson’, ‘Patricia’, ‘Rozanne’ and ‘Havana Blues’ for example.

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    1. The coral-coloured one I have are from D. igneum and D. dracomntanum and they are very nice but also very small in stature. The taller ones have won out here.

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  5. Wonderful selection as always. The tip about the geranium which will happily mingle with the snowdrops is very useful. I’m off to search out Geranium cantabridgense. I’ve been admiring similar alliums at Hampton Court Garden Festival. They are also on my wish list!

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