Monday, 4 December 2017

The year draws to a close - almost

It is time to get to work with the secateurs because, as I said in my last blog, the Dahlias have gorn. Their blackened leaves and stems are a sad sight and will be removed, to live once more - via the compost heap - as plants on our allotment.
Our Dahlias are now a sad sight. Stefen Hill, Daventry.
4 December, 2017
The Hylotelephium spectabile plants will also have their stems removed, not just because of the frost damage sustained by the leaves but they have done their job and are now simply unsightly. This plant is still generally known as Sedum spectabile and it may be some years before its new name achieves common usage. Native of China and Korea it has always been included in the same genus as our native stonecrops (Sedum acre, etc) but its general form is quite different and in retrospect it seems surprising that it was not separated from them long ago. 
...and our 'Sedum' plants are only marginally better. 4 December, 2017
The top growth may have suffered but at ground level a cluster of healthy buds holds promise of fresh growth in 2018 and fortunately I have never known them to sustain slug damage.
A cluster of buds at ground level on the Hylotelephium augurs well for 2017
Stefen Hill, Daventry. 4 December, 2017
Elsewhere there is still colour to be seen, with Salvia x jamensis 'Hot Lips' maintaining a brave display. As I have pointed out before, it hails from broadly the same area (Mexico, south-western U.S.A.) as our Dahlias, but it clearly copes far better with the cold. I ought to have cut it back by now but I haven't the heart. The petals bear a few blemishes but what the heck!
Our 'Hot Lips' continues to flower and there are even unopened buds
to be seen. 4 December, 2017
Perhaps the greatest surprise has been the performance of Hesperantha coccinea (formerly Schizostylis coccinea). This native of South Africa is not reckoned to be frost-hardy but so far, so good. It is a shame the name had to be changed for the split in the style which gave the plant its generic epithet is quite distinctive. In truth the plant has flowered for such a long time that the stems (or, strictly speaking, scapes) are now, like 'Hot Lips', getting leggy and a bit on the untidy side.
The Crimson Flag Lily continues to confound us with yet more flowers.
4 December, 2017
It can't go on of course but we know that just below the surface changes are occurring in bulbs and in a month or so the first new tips will be showing.


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