I’m not a particularly adventurous gardener, as you may have observed. We simply don’t have room for many experiments. The roster of plants in this garden changes little from year to year, and I have certainly talked about our favourites often enough. So if there is any news, it is new introductions. Or rather Hatches, Matches and Dispatches.
So many neighbours’ box hedges have been dispatched, having been gnawed into skeletons by the box caterpillar, that box protection (by mothtraps and insecticide) is a boringly constant theme. I don’t think anything else has croaked, though several things that should be lightening the shade with flowers quietly demonstrate that, like the sundial, “Sine Sole Sileo” – “Without Sun I am Dumb.’
You might not think Rozanne, the deservedly ubiquitous violet-purple geranium, could easily be muted. She normally sprawls with abandon, insinuating her cheerful flowers everywhere. Not under the sycamore, its shade enhanced by roses and fuchsias and a lusty camellia. Poor Rozanne struggles underneath. The fuchsia, the albino form of F.magellanica, never fails to sprinkle the gloom with its delicate little bells, the playground, surely, if we have one, of flower fairies. The Garden Museum exhibition of Cicely Mary Barker’s Flower Fairies had us all entranced, from grandfather down to a four-year-old boy more given to fire-engines than flowers.
Matches. One colour-match that proves again that 2+2 can = 5 is the blue potato bush, (sadly now no longer a Solanum but renamed Lycianthes rantonettii) as a climbing frame for the yellow Clematis orientalis. The purple potato flowers have yellow centres; the harmony is complete.
Hatches are new arrivals. More geraniums to decorate Grandpa’s (Alitex) Shed; dark red Lord Bute, incendiary Rimfire and our favourite, Aldwyck, whose shade of red I can’t describe, They came as plugs – and within a month have flower-buds. A fastigiate form of the holly being touted as a box-substitute, Ilex crenata; not very impressive. A yellow-berried (at last) variety of Nandina domestica – ‘at last’ because I collected the seed in the botanic garden at Kobe twenty years ago. And of course bulbs.