Sunday, 29 June 2014

Wyethia

White mule ears (wyethia helianthoides)
The Wyethias are a group of stemless sunflowers from the mountains of Western North America. In the wild they form magnificent colonies in meadows and forest clearings. The large rosettes of leaves (known locally as mule's ears) are very striking in themselves as they emerge in spring and the white or yellow flowers, which are held on short stems just above the leaves, are of excellent size and quality. It seems that they are used to plentiful water in spring, from snow-melt, but tend to dry out in summer and may die back as the season progresses.
Mount Diablo, China Wall & Mule Ears
In cultivation however they are rare and seem to be regarded as almost impossible to grow. I'm not sure why. I've raised a several species from seed and although they are sensitive and I have only a few mature plants they don't seem especially more difficult to manage than many other mountain plants.

Wyethia angustifolia
Wyethia angustifolia
Narrow Leaf Mule’s Ears. In this species the leaves are plain green and about 2ins wide. The flowers are golden yellow on short leafless stems just above the foliage. Easy and hardy here so far.
3L pots ~ £8



Wyethia helenioides
Not flowered yet but looking very good - the Grey Mule’s Ears is similar to the above but with bolder, grey leaves and even larger golden flowers. A very choice large alpine.
1L pots ~ £8



Monday, 23 June 2014

Watsonia aff. pillansii peachy pink

Watsonia pillansii?
I've been trying to find the correct identity of this for some time. Most of the information points to it being a form of W.pillansii but there are several other species and hybrids it could be. Typical pillansii is a rich glowing orange but is otherwise similar and there are several pink forms in cultivation.
Watsonia pillansii (?)
What you mainly need to know though is that these bulbs were taken from the edge of a clump that has survived at the foot of a south facing wall in East Sussex for decades. The soil is decidedly badly draining and especially wet in winter. It's a winter grower and in very cold winters it loses its leaves and is unlikely to flower but in milder years it invariably comes back and flowers well. The bulbs are right at the surface so pretty tough. A more sheltered spot on better soil would no doubt produce better results.
10cm pots ~ £5




Sunday, 22 June 2014

Cobaea pringlei

Cobaea pringlei
A hardy herbaceous perennial relative of the familiar half-hardy cup-and-saucer vine, C.scandens. Having white flowers it's not as spectacular as its tender relative but still a lovely thing. I grow it in a sunny spot on a well-drained but rich soil, with a thick strawy mulch in winter just to be on the safe side. It dies down completely in winter.
Cobaea pringlei
The only down side is perhaps its vigour - once it gets going it's a big plant capable of covering about 10-12ft in a single season so make sure you put it somewhere where it can roam free. It tends to start late and flower late too so provide warmth and shelter.
1L pots ~ £8




Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Arnoglossum plantagineum

Arnoglossum plantagineum
The Prairie Indian Plantain - an unfamiliar North American perennial with striking ribbed leaves and 3 – 5ft upright flower stems in summer. The flowers are essentially creamy white daisy flowers which don’t open fully.
Arnoglossum plantagineum
I’m in danger of damning this plant with faint praise but it’s a striking thing and definitely makes a bit of a statement in the garden. I like it anyway. Any good soil in sun. (Aka Cacalia plantaginea)
1L pots ~ £5



Monday, 16 June 2014

Aralia echinocaulis

Aralia echinocaulis
Now for something completely different. A magnificent and exotic woody species with large leaves (to 4ft so far) made up of many small leaflets. The whole plant is dark green tinted maroons and blacks. Ultimately it will apparently reach about 10ft tall but maybe bigger, especially in damp sheltered sites.
Aralia echinocaulis
The overall effect is of a one or a few very prickly upright (remarkably fast growing) stems with a plume of enormous leaves at the top.
Aralia echinocaulis
At maturity it should produce masses of small greenish white flowers followed wine black fruits. A hardy deciduous species, new and hardly ever available. Formidable!
Sold out - sorry

Monday, 9 June 2014

Potentilla atrosanguinea Sundermannii

Potentilla atrosanguinea Sundermannii
I've never been a huge fan of the border Potentillas which can look a bit coarse but P.atrosanguinea and its kind are saved by their intensely silver-backed strawberry foliage which looks good even without the flowers. P.atrosanguinea is best known in its dark red forms and I normally would not rate a yellow version but Sundermannii, with its deep golden yellow and red centres, really stands out.
A splendid and easy front-of-the-border plant for any half decent soil in sun or semi shade.
1L pots ~ £6




Friday, 6 June 2014

Galega orientalis

Galega orientalis
A gorgeous species - so much better (in my humble opinion) than the more commonly available G.officinalis types and sometimes mistaken for some sort of herbaceous Wistaria. The combination of intense violet blue and fresh green is just stunning. There is the slight down-side in that it runs underground but I've never found it rampant and the foliage works in so well with other plants it's hard to object. Any soil in sun.
field grown ~ £8