" To plant trees is to give body and life to one's dreams of a better world " Russell Page

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Crisp Whitness for spring gardens

Strolling around my favourite plant nurseries in quest for spring goodies, I came across one of the most professional and well conceived plant catalogues - the RHS online Plant  Shop (www.rhsplants.co.uk)
Besides the accurate and useful plant facts, like growing conditions, dimensions and so on, they have grouped the plants by colours - and the effect is just stunning! You browse pages of cool blues, lavish purples, blazing reds and sizzling hot oranges and yes, an avalanche of cool, porcelain white blooms of any shape and type. 

Sudden images of an impeccable white garden, with pure corollas embedded in dark green foliage crowd in my mind ...
I dream of an airy Wisteria floribunda Alba with long, undulating panicles, of clouds of pure clematis, and here comes a vision of the sheer delight of Clematis  x cartmanii "Joe" and Avalanche, both delicate and clad in white stars. Beautiful beyond bearable levels! Not to say that unlike most Clematis ( which are all desirable of course) the leaves are ferny and decorative by themselves and hardy in mild zones... What could a gardener aspire at more??

 Clematis x cartmanii Avalanche
Clematis x cartmanii Joe

 The immaculate dense spires of Lupinus Noble Maiden
The opulence of the silky peony can hardly find a match in the garden, and here are two real oldies which prove to keep up with any new breed. Both can be found at relatively low prices, compared with more recent varieties, in many catalogues and make a feast in any garden. Festiva Maxima makes a perfect cut flower as well, long lasting and heavenly scented.

 Peonia Lactiflora Krinkled White
 Peonia Lactiflora Festiva Maxima

With its elegant heart shaped leaves, Brunnera macrophylla "Jack Frost" is entitled to stand next to all the other Belles in the Immaculate Garden.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A different kind of love

No, I won't post any rose pictures for this Valentine! Instead I will tell you about a love story for Camellias.

Camellias deserve of course quite a chapter, but here are just some pictures of two of my favourite ones.

I have bought all my Camellias in a blind purchase - that is they were some 20 cm little dwarfs, no flowers to give me a hint of what they would resemble to... I paid them next to nothing at a local store, took them home, pampered them for an year (mind you they are slow growers) and hoped for the best.

Indeed, mature plants can be quite an investment, since they mature slowly and given their reputation for being  finicky and difficult I just wanted to give a try to this little creatures before I would start investing into more established plants.

So after an year this was the result! My little dwarfs covered themselves with flower buds and offered me a generous first flush of blooms.
Useless to say that I cracked and melted away and since then am  totally in love with them.

Countess Lavinia Maggi
An Italian Camellia, in my opinion also one of the best. The plant is very compact, with tiny and very glossy dark green leaves. The blooms are quite thightly packed with tiny variegated petals, the palest mother of pearl pink stained with pink red.
What I really love about Lavinia is its compact growth, since quite a lot of them tend to have a bit of a lanky shape before they arrive to form a big shrub.
It opens well all buds, and very few are aborted before opening as it happens for instance with the C. Mahotiana. The last one has almost too big a blooms and it fails to open properly - or so does mine at least.

 This is actually a picture of the wery first year. Only two blooms, not that full in shape, in fact the stamen are quite exposed, which later did change as you can see in the other picture.


This is Debby, actually quite a comon sort, but it actually did get so popular because it is a very reliable, sturdy plant. It blooms for almost two month, with a profusion of pure sherbet pink flowers.

Inspite their apearance, Camellias endure low temperatures, well below 0 Cº if well protected and planted in a sheltered position. The bigest danger comes from sudden frosts that burn the buds since most Camellias start flowering in February and March. In fact they are an unbeatable sight in those cold month of the year.
Like their fellow Azaleeas and Rododendrons, Camellias thrive only in acid soil and hate baking sun and drought. So keep that in mind if you happen to surrender to their exquisite charms!

If this should happen you can spend quite a dangerous amount of time browsing the catalogue of the Pepinieres Stervinou in France. They offer all possible and very professional informations for each variety ( and they have hundreds), like maximun hight, growth habit, flowering period and the max temperature each plant will endure, since there are considerable differences between them.
They send abroad and have a trully unbeatable variety and quality. 

Thou have been warned...
Happy Valentine to you!