Sunday, 6 January 2019

Nothing doing

I've lost three pounds in four days. Actually, that's not quite true: I haven't lost them. I know where they went, but I won't go into physiological details.

Early January in the garden brings few excitements, merely a few observations. A mild morning meant that I had no excuse for indolence and I ventured out to do a few jobs. Task number one was to tidy up the passion flower. These vines, regarded as rather tender fifty years ago, are not only rampant but a few seedlings are popping up here and there. Birds eat the fruit and I'm guessing that the seeds pass through their gut before finding a suitable spot in the garden to germinate. The fruits have long gone of course - or so I thought, until my pruning revealed a fully-formed but unripe example.

The Blue Passion Flower, Passiflora caerulea, still bears
a lone fruit. 6 January, 2019

The Passion Flower received a pruning along with our Chinese Creeping Bramble, Rubus tricolor. It is an attractive plant with, according to the literature, edible fruits, but despite these merits I may find it too vigorous and regret its introduction. I have been tempted to plant its relative Rubus cockburnianus but, its specific name being so rude, I decided against it.

On the same section of fencing grows our Garrya, Garrya eliptica. Over the last few weeks its silky catkins (it is a male plant) have steadily lengthened and are, in my opinion, most attractive. It was awarded the A.G.M. (Award of Garden Merit) by the R.H.S. in 1960.
Garrya elliptica on our back fence.
6 January, 2019

Despite the catkins it is not at all related to plants such as hazel and for a long time botanists were unsure how to classify it. Walter Judd, perhaps the world's leading authority on plants systematics, has not only placed it in its own family, the Garryaceae, but gives it its own order, the Garryales, a high honour indeed.

Myrtle Spurge is seeding itself around our front garden at Stefen Hill.
6 January, 2019
Other than that, the only thing requiring attention was the Euphorbia myrsinites. Known as Myrtle Spurge, this lovely perennial from south-east Europe has spirally arranged glaucous and fleshy leaves on sprawling stems. The flowers are interesting but relatively inconspicuous. From time to time I have to trim back these stems because, as they lengthen they smother more delicate species (and sprawl across the footpath).   Furthermore the plants have a reputation for being allelopathic, chemically suppressing the growth of nearby plants - although I have not observed this in my own garden.  As with the Passion Flower, several seedlings have appeared around the front garden. The euphorbia has also received the A.G.M. from the R.H.S.

So, nothing of great excitement, but with many fat buds sitting at ground level there is promise of considerable interest over the next few weeks.

No comments:

Post a Comment