Saturday, 23 May 2015
Wednesday, 20 May 2015
I've visited a few French gardens while on holidays in the Brittany and Normandy regions but they haven't generally excited me, so many opportunities not taken. Perhaps I'm being unfair, some are fun and are pushing the envelope. The Jardin Exotique at Roscoff on the coast is a great diversion if heading to or from the ferry (Going to UK or Ireland)
This variegated perennial Kale is a favourite of mine which I grow in my own garden. It doesn't bloom, or at least mine certainly hasn't to date and is incredibly easy to strike form cuttings. The foliage if grown in rich soil reaches great proportons. Being a Brassica the caterpillars of the cabbage white butterfly can be an issue, patrols are necessary and decisive action must be taken before any eggs hatch.
Thursday, 7 May 2015
I got this little one a couple of years ago from Crûg Farm plants when they were attending Fota plant fair in Cork.
Crûg do an exciting range of plants that you won't see many places else
Paris polyphylla v. stenophylla, a member of Trilliaceae is a subtle plant, no brash blousy flowers on this 'un.
It's charm lies in its quiet ways, it's grace and poise.
It's funny how your taste changes and develops over the years, not that long ago I'd most likely have overlooked such a plant but it's charms are lost on me no longer.
I've been feeling for a while that a new blog title was required, it's no longer a secret that I garden obsessively. I often lecture to garden clubs, societies and classes, so it's I'm not exactly keeping things quiet on that front any more.
I was in a quandary over the name change for some time, as it'd mean difficulties for the people who subscribe under the old name (mydirtylittlesecretobsession.blogspot.com). Will they be able to find me again, will they notice the change, will they even care? In the end I just decided to go with it.
So why 'Exotic gardening @ 55 degrees North'? I thought it fitted with the ethos of what I'm trying to achieve, growing plants that look like they belong nearer the equator than somewhere on the same latitude as southern Alaska.
This spring I've been busy purchasing big leaved exotics for the garden, Cannas, Ensete, Musa, I'm wanting things to be lush and leafy, big and bold, OTT tropicana.
Cannas are the way forward for me this year, I've been on the hunt for quite a few new ones, both those grown for flowers and interesting foliage. The best are of course those that combine coloured leaves with great flowering ability.
If you're in the UK or Europe Hart Canna are the go to guys for virus free Cannas. I will NEVER buy Cannas as rhizomes from the garden centre, the vast majority of them are infected with various viruses that cause stunted growth, streaking of the leaves and due to weakening of the plant eventual death.
You'll often see potfuls of nice lush cannas in garden centres and DIY stores in late spring and early summer, but look closely. Are there any signs of light yellow speckling or streaking on the leaves?
It can sometimes be difficult to spot, especially with the likes of 'Pretoria' which has vibrant yellow streaks through the leaves:
It's much easier with Canna 'Durban'.
Plants infected with virus will have broken green streaks on what should be purple leaves with vibrant pink lines.
The viruses are spread by sap sucking insects such as greenfly. Slugs and snails are thought to be another possible vector as thy munch on one plant then move on to the next victim.
Your tools can also spread the disease, any that come into contact with an infected plant and then touch a clean plant can then introduce virus. It's a good idea to disinfect any tools/blades after dividing or digging a Canna before moving on to another individual.
Many a grower has had to dispose of their entire collections as the virus spread through their prized plants like wildfire.
Until the big growers clean up their act and start disposing of infected plants, only offering those that are healthy this is likely to remain an issue for many years to come.