Knee-Ryan; Nay-Reen; Ner-Eeny!

It is peculiar where the mind rambles while one is pushing a lawnmower up and down a lawn. Or, more accurately perhaps, a peculiar mind is inclined to ramble in odd ways while one is engaged in routine gardening tasks. This particular ramble was along the lines of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong’s tomato/tomahto; potato/potahto as I saw the stretch of the first flowers coming into the nerines and thought of the various pronunciations one hears for the name. “Knee-Ryan” best approaches my own pronunciation but, as the title indicates, there are others – and possibly, more that I have not yet heard. It is, perhaps, this lack of consensus on the pronunciation of the botanical plant names which leads people to avoid them and use common names instead but, when Guernsey lily or Cornish lily, Bowden lily, Cape flower or even Naked Ladies are applied, it hardly brings any better clarity to the situation. “Knee-Ryans” will continue to be perfectly fine for me and I really don’t want naked ladies in the garden!

Nerine x bowdenii – a photograph from last year.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Head Gardener continued on her rounds of dead-heading, cutting back and freshening up leading to a fairly constant supply of material going to the compost bin area to be shredded and piled on the heap. Two gates occupied much of my time, the road gate and a smaller one which is between the house and the garage. Both had to be sanded, given some remedial treatment for small patches of rot and then repainted – one getting three coats and another four, to finish off a tin, so I hope they go for a while without the need for further treatment.

My big job of the week was to tackle three trees of Crataegus crus-galli, the Cockspur thorn, to raise the crowns well above my head height and make it safe again for me to drive under it on the mower. This hawthorn has a spreading habit and the horizontal branches are inclined to droop as they extend out from the trunk so the pruning of a couple of years back needed to be revisited. Some of the branches were up to three metres long and almost as wide, fan-shaped, and were awkward to handle and handling them carefully is essential when the thorns are each about five centimetres long and very strong. The inevitable happened. I lost control of an overhead branch and it came down on my arm with a thorn piercing my forearm quite deeply. The resulting blood-flow brought to mind a phrase we used as children when somebody was bleeding – they were “pumping”. The flow was staunched within a few minutes and my arm now sports a fine big bruise. It was a short-lived victory for the tree as I continued my pruning and shredded it all for the compost bin the following day and my head is now safe from those vicious thorns as I mow the grass!

Crataegus crus-galli (those three twisty trunks!) now raised above head height.

Sedums are coming into season, not all quite at their best yet but there is one which is stealing the show in the garden and is, I believe, an absolute stunner. This is Sedum ‘Red Cauli’. We saw this first in The Garden House in Devon about ten years ago but never subsequently saw it for sale and failed to find it anywhere until a gardening friend in the U.K. sent on a piece from her own garden and it has thrived here since. It is the simplest of plants to propagate – Mary cuts all plants back in mid-May as this stops them being too leggy and falling about and she uses pieces cut off as cuttings, simply pushing them into the ground where she wants them to grow and that they do with a will.

Click on the first image to begin a slideshow:

Other sedums varieties will come along in the next weeks and they are among those garden plants which make a significant contribution to extending the season of food supply for our pollinators when native plants are beginning to wane. The crocosmia is a non-native plant; it hails from South Africa, but given half a chance is able to make itself at home here as is often witnesses by the stretches of them on roadsides around the country and there is a good patch along our road also – not from our garden! We hugely reduced the number of crocosmia varieties in the garden some years back as many proved to be thugs. Those still with us are far better behaved.

Click on the first image to begin a slideshow:

It is the season of the phloxes, very valuable plants at this end of the gardening year; easy to grow, requiring little maintenance and perfectly reliable:

Click on the first image to begin a slideshow:

Hostas are still contributing to the garden though their flowers are well over at this stage. We don’t do anything to battle against slugs and snails and most have come through reasonably undamaged.

Click on the first image to begin a slideshow:

Finally, for this weekend round-up of the garden, a few odds and ends:

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!

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26 thoughts on “Knee-Ryan; Nay-Reen; Ner-Eeny!

  1. Personally, I go for Ne-Reen, although I occasionally use Guernsey Lily as I like the name! I find Weigelia is a plant that attracts a variety of different pronunciations. In fact I find myself adjusting my own pronunciation of it from week to week!

    I’ve been admiring some of the Crocosmia on show over the past few weeks and yours are looking absolutely lovely too.

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    1. Yes, from your spelling I see that you add the i before the a at the end of the word so you get an eeea finish though that e doesn’t exist at all. In the Irish language this is referred to as an assisting vowel and we have a habit of adding vowels to words – so they flow more easily off the tongue! You came to mind during the past week as I was looking at a patch of Corydalis cheilanthifolia which has thoughts of taking over the garden through seeding about. It’s a pretty thing but it has covered several patches of snowdrops. I’ll wait to see if they can manage with it and, if not, I’ll pull it out.

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      1. Funnily enough, I only recently noticed that I spell it wrong! I accidentally slipped into old habits there. I think I probably spell it how I’ve heard it said. For some reason the word ‘epitome’ comes to mind here: for many years, I failed to make the connection between the word as it is written (which I read in my head as epy-tome, accent on the first syllable) and the word as it is spoken. I only realised my mistake several years into adulthood!

        Yes, C. cheilanthifolia can run a bit riot at times. Hopefully the two plants can come to a compromise!

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    1. The choice of crocosmias has been whittled down over the years. Some proved to be terrible garden plants, increasing and running at a frightening rate; pure weeds! These are better behaved.

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  2. Hello Paddy, remembering my Latin pronunciation from Bro. Barrett in SQS Cork, some 60 years ago, Nerine would be pronounced as ‘ne-ri-ne’, all short vowels!

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    1. And that would come with divine Cork imprimatur, sure what could be more certain! LOL The short Latin vowels don’t come easy to the Irish tongue! We like a little drawl.

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  3. Very true regarding plant names. Clem-a-tis or Clem-ay-tis. Soo-per-bum or super bum. Agastash or (as Monty Don referred to it the other month) Agastash-ey. That variegated phlox is rather eye catching. I was pondering getting a hawthorn. I’ve gone off the idea now. The pyracantha is vicious enough.

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    1. I have several hawthorns in the garden and they are perfectly nice; no threat to he alth or life but this particular one is vicious. Yes, “eye-catching” is a pleasant way to describe that phlox! And pronunciation conundrums will amuse us for some time to come!

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  4. Fine Gardening magazine has a pronunciation guide on their website, but nerine is not among the entries. Wikipedia often has a pronunciation guide as part of its entry about a particular subject. In this case I don’t think it matches any of your suggestions. I’ve never heard it pronounced, but in my mind I’ve always imagined it as nuh-rye-nee.

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  5. It is such a pleasure to return to your blog. I’ve been living life without writing for the majority of the summer, yet your gorgeous take on the garden has me inspired, Paddy. Your collection of phloxes is impressive and beautiful. I’ve been happy with my one clump of ‘Bright Eyes.’ hahaha. Have a delightful week working the soil.

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  6. I pronounce nerines in the same way as Kind Hearts, and I have some in my garden, but I doubt they’ll ever make a show like yours as they flower just as the frosts start and the flowers are burnt. I don’t have enough canopy to provide shelter.
    I love that sedum. Sedums grow very well here, but I haven’t seen that one before. I do envy the way people in the EU can share plants. We have such strict rules here, it could never happen.

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    1. Yes, gifts from gardening friends, near and far, are always especially treasured in the garden. It’s a very enjoyable aspect of gardening.

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  7. I have a little book on how to pronounce plant names, I’ll look up Nerine for you, though it may already have become what teachers call an engrained error! That’s a lovely sedum, mine are just coming into flower and as you say the pollinators are all over them, very satisfying to see. Well done on tackling the hawthorn, we all have a bete noire in our garden, mine is the bramble which gets me every time.

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  8. Very sorry to hear of your impalement, and hope the bruising goes quite quickly! My father generously cut a palm of ours and unwittingly ended up with a bit of palm tree in his arm, involving a trip to Emergency. Omg. Not good.
    I laughed about the Nerine pronunciation. I had no idea there were so many options and have just been saying Nuh-reen (like Shireen?). 🙂

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  9. Ner- reen for me (although I never now how to pronounce anything). I hope that the crataegus appreciates the trouble you are taking with it as you could have just reached for an axe.! Wonderful selection of plants as always. I was wanting a yellow crocosmia and its great to see what they look like growing in your garden. I think solfatare might be the one for me.

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    1. Of all the crocosmias, ‘Solfatare’ is my favourite. I like the contrast between the bright flowers and the dark foliage. I have another, ‘Dusky Maiden’ which has similarly dark foliage but a flower very similar in colour to ‘Emily McKenzie’, perhaps a little darker. It also appeals to me as it is well behaved and a tidy size.

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