Monday 19 September 2011

Love in the bushes

I had a nice Saturday pottering around and planning a bit for next year. Although the soil is actually very dry, in the last few weeks the garden has been feeling more and more jungly as things grow bigger and lusher. Some things are certainly past their peak and have been knocked around by the wind but it does feel that the plants are taking back control of the garden.

It’s good to begin planning for next year, and I have been taking lots of cuttings which I’m excited to see start growing. I’m also beginning to write things down and ponder the plants I’ve fallen in love with, those that are difficult lovers, those that are bad for me and those which perhaps should be given another chance.
Good lovers
Ricinus 'Zanzi Palm': I love you, you are fabulous this year this year growing to 8ft when I care for you. I have played with you different varieties, and used to like Zanzibarenzis best, however growing both together Zanzi palm is bigger, faster growing and branches more

Nerines: thank you for cheering me up at a bleak time

Persicaria:I love the shape and colour of your leaves and way you spread through your neighbours. I love you.

Kangeroo apple (Solanum) and proper tobacco plants: This year solanum you are the best, as I discovered how you seemed to hate peat free compost which stunts you so started you off in multi purpose and as such you have gone crazy....whether you survive the winter I dont know. Tobacco plants you are just so stately and seemed to have survived the slugs more than N. sylvestris .

Tithonia: I love you, where have you been all my life? before you what did I do? oh how you glow through the garden and bring me colour!

Lovers Ive been bad to in the past and need more care

Nasturshums: how I have dismissed your simplicity and commonness when all along you fill gaps so well with your glowing red flowers stabbing through the green. Next year I promise to plant you earlier so you can invade more fully.

Fatsia polycarpa: Why aren't you as big as you should be and looking magnificent? Is it me? should I be better to you? hopefully in this new space you can grow.

Unrequited love
Astelia: why do you look so good everywhere else apart from with me? with everyone else you are so big and tall, a status and feature plant, but 2 years on you look a bit like an abused bromeliad

Schleffera: I loved you so much, yet you sulk and cause me heartache. You family are expensive lovers and how my heart wept when your cousins S. macrophylla dies suddenly in the spring and S.taiwanna slowly drifted away. Please survive, please come back!

Curculigo: how lusty you made me when I discovered you, but how you suffered in the winter and have sulked ever since. please come back to me...

Lovers that string you along
Coco Yam: I nurtured you and tried to get you going in deepest spring and then you just sat there doing nothing, before suddenly erupting with your beauty so late in the year, being so much better than Eddoes. Now you fill me with lust, but couldn't you have come to life just a little earlier?

Musa sikkimensis: you were so good the first year you came into my life, sailing through the winter and growing to be 12-15ft. Now you are cut to the ground every winter....I helped your brothers and took them under cover but they didn't grow that well, and you popped out of the ground so late in the year but are now growing so fast
Mirabilis longiflora: How rubbish you looked as a seedling, how lax and needing support, but yet here you are now being very impressive with your very long and unusual flowers...why cant you be like this all over the garden? why have you left me awkward patches where I have to turn away from you in shame?

Salvia gesneriflora how I loved you, and even wrote about how good you were but yet over the summer you are incredibly brittle with large chunks breaking off overnight and then not flowering, even now one of your brothers has no flowers at all, arg!

Bad lovers
Cobea: last year you didn't flower and were eaten by slugs, this year you begin to flower now after invading next doors apple tree?! why do you spite me? but yet I cannot give you up as you grow so much and I love your flowers...
Salvia confertiflora: how I fell in love when I met you, gazing longingly at you in the car as I brought you home. How I saw you growing elsewhere as a huge bush 6ft tall, even hardy (so your grower said). Then all through winter I dreamed of you striking a pose in the garden, but then you are as brittle as anything with all 4 of your brothers loosing big chunks in the last couple of months. Yet how I cant let go, and how I take cuttings from all your fallen limbs to create an army of disappointment for next year

Lovers I'm stringing along
Ipomea: how you treated me bad in the last few years growing to 2ft max?! now you are big, but do you fit in? does your blue flowers work with what I want? I don't know but I will play with you while I decide...


  1. We have been given some pink nerines and they look sad. Perhaps because I don't like them at all. Perhaps a different colour?
    I love the tithonia. We used to grow it in Orkney. In the conservatory, of course and it was wonderful. You are so lucky to be able to grow it outside. I can't grow it here at all, in or out!
    Clive, have you tried tibouchina? It is the most stunning colour. Used to grow that in the conservatory too... those were the days...

  2. Amusing post Clive, 'loved' the way you categorised your featured plants :) Astelia 'Silver Spear' seems to be a hit or miss sort of plant and you're not the only one who doesn't have success with it (when other do!). As for the Cobaea, try Cobaea pringlei which is root hardy and goes herbaceous in the winter but comes back from the ground in spring. The flowers are much nicer.

  3. Thanks for the plant tips, espcially the Cobea one...looks very exciting I will hunt down some seeds! also interesting as it was an old friend who collected it from the wild. Tibouchina also sounds interesting, but looks a bit too tender for us....

  4. Clive the Cobea can be obtained as a plant from Charlie Pridham at Roseland in Cornwall - We had a very nice plant last year from him which has come on well this year.