Posted in gardener's jottings

Sleuthing in April

β€œApril splinters like an ice palace.” – Ruth Stone

Ever the over-optimistic gardener, I was set back by mid-April’s hailstorms and overnight frosts but watchful of the weather forecasts. And hence the planting out of some young nemesias and sweet peas I’d purchased was delayed until now. Only an established Rhodanthemum just coming in to bloom had to literally weather the storms and is looking rather aghast at the experience.

Moroccan daisy ‘Casablanca’ soldiering on

Perhaps because of a preference for botanical names I had overlooked this frost tender plant. The clue is in the common name – Moroccan daisies! Fortunately, one of the advantages of a potted garden is that clustered together they do give each other extra shelter. I could though have popped it into the poly greenhouse had I given it some thought.

With reference to botanical nomenclature I’ve recently purchased the RHS “Latin for Gardeners” but feel it is not as comprehensive as it might be. Why for example is Rhodanthenum hosmariensi not mentioned?

I had to search via ‘tinternet’ instead and find the name derives from Greek: rose+flower (though it looks more like daisy to us rose growers). The ‘hosmariensi’ part turned up no info but this variety ‘Casablanca’ (tr white+house) is patented (see HERE) by a couple called White and hence the flower colour? πŸ˜‰

Following on from the last post “Tis the season for Semps“, I overhauled the whole succulent potagerie! Fresh grit and soil (JI#3) and some new Sempervivums to fill the gaps. This led me to ponder the few Sedums I have there too. They’ve now been added to the register which involved more sleuthing as 2 or 3 were given to me as nameless wonders.

Since many hardy sedums (aka stonecrops) are small, I recommend taking close-up shots to ID as images on the internet are often macros which gives a distorted perspective as to what the plant looks like as a whole. This tiny one eludes me for now.

?sedum album ‘murale’

If anyone can help please click the image below for a closer view, and leave your suggestions in the comments section.

Anyway, enough of sleuthing. Despite the planned move later this year, I’ve been buying more plants. Ludicrous though that may seem it makes good sense because I’ll be changing to a different garden style. Thus, some of my plants I shall leave behind or give away, even some of my favourite Salvias as it is not colour impact I want anymore. Besides, full sun is at a premium there.

This compact Forsythia (‘Mikador‘) earns a place in the new garden because, despite its popping colour, it still fits the theme and the new setting.

The genus ‘forsythia’ has no reference to Latin but is named after one of the RHS founders – William Forsyth (1737–1804), a Scottish botanist and royal head gardener. And to quote Forest Gump: “that’s all I have to say about that”… or anything else for now.

Take a scrolling stroll through the potted garden in april
Posted in plant pieces

‘Tis the season for Semps!

By virtue of nomenclature, sempervivum covers every season, being evergreen succulent perennials which can outlast most UK winters. However, I have had a few losses which contradicts the ‘always living’ Latin definition.

A few of the named varieties are not as prodigious as some of the more familiar types like S. Atlanticum or the Arachnoideums. Twice I have lost ‘Engles’ – a favourite purple-grey variety and looking through the labels (kept separately now) I notice that a couple of others have vanished over the past 2 years.

the succulent wall garden

Sempervivums (aka houseleeks, hen & chicks) are alpines, requiring lots of drainage and sunny spots. I grow mine in shallow troughs or circular pots with gritted John Innes #3 but moving house in November 2019, these were rather unceremoniously plonked on top of a stone wall plot. They were then left to their own devices whilst I was away in New Zealand for the winter.

On my return I found that some had decayed whilst a number had been dislodged from the pots, along with their labels. This created a real challenge to identify which belonged where. So many semps look alike and I did in fact replant together a couple that were different varieties.

Sempervivums have currently come to the fore in popularity and garden centres are churning out nameless varieties in multipacks. However, taking time to observe their individual charms creates quite a different approach and so I tend to purchase named varieties for their colour and form as well as heritage.

Anyone who has tried to ID their semps from the internet will face an impossible task as not only do the images exhibit wide-ranging colour differences but most websites give next to nothing in detail. For example, I searched for verification that a label-less one was ‘Green Ice‘ yet only one site mentioned that in Spring the backs of the leaves flush purple – as my nameless ones have!

And that brings me to the title – Spring is indeed the season for Sempervivums as, chameleon-like, many will almost change appearance with fresh greens, reds, bronzes, purples coming to the fore, before the change down for summer flowering.

Useful links:
How to care for Sempervivum plants