I'm also pampering a Champaca in the hope I can get it past the frost susceptibility stage; most Himalayan biome species tend to do well here so all fingers crossed. Will post more soon.
Hostile Witness Review Recommendations: Binged Mindhunter- did not love this second season. It felt sloppy and laboured and exposed a few thespianic limitations (STFU, Agent Babyvoice). Also, the subplot with the freaky kid felt tacky as fuck: just saying. Season two of Succession is far more pleasing to the point of actual deliciousness, what with all that nipple-tweaking McKay DNA. Tough out the fucking drip feed and try it.
Syn. M bicolor, etc. A bird pollinated coffee-relative from montane forest understory in Brazil. It's easy here in coastal New Zealand, flowering spectacularly and pretty continuously, enjoying the same sort of conditions as the other not-strictly-tropical/upland forest South American plants in our collection.
A lot of people seem to have trouble with this otherwise desirable group; in this mild maritime situation we have canopy shelter, temps mostly under 30C during summer and cooler nights. So if you can modify your situation in this direction with shelter and shade, you might have success with flowering and general health.
This vine is supposedly hardy down to a soft Zone 8. Its leaves are tender and spinachy though, so I wouldn't put it anywhere it cops wind, hail or more than a brief powder frost. This one is potted and spending some time outside during winter to kill off the bugs that had scuttled over from a manky Hibiscus I'd put on a nearby windowsill. Other than this minor issue, it's never given me any trouble, self-twining over a 6 foot bamboo tripod in one season even with a couple of major hack-backs. The flower cover in these pics is relatively sparse compared to its usual performance as I had unfortunately hosed most of them off getting rid of the aphids. The bellbirds are hanging around it already, looking for nectar. I highly recommend this plant if you can find one.
White's warm/cool and pure/dirty variations can look fucking horrific within spitting distance of each other. Check prospective tonalities against neighbouring plants before you dig the hole and achieve this outrage aux bonnes mœurs in your own demesne.
Despite the drawbacks, some people are all about a white rose, no matter what. If you're one of them, you've probably been pointed in Glamis Castle's direction. It's a David Austin baby from his middle period and I'll get to the significance of that later.
The top left pic is by no means the full measure of this unfortunate tendency. GC is planted on its own in an area with great ventilation and extra fert etc., but still it poxes up like the fucking Toxic Avenger, hangs on to the offending foliage and joins forces with its nasty dad, Graham Thomas, in spraying plague around the garden. I suspect them of rusting my garlic during bad years. Behold its tangled, thorny fugliness below.
You know your raver days are two fucking decades behind you when you start getting just as excited about incoming blooms as you once did about BPM, random sex and synthetic stimulants. My stimulants are organic nowdays. Autumn used to be a bit of a dud around here since we don't get great deciduous colour, being windy and maritime; all the summer flowers are fucked out and the aloes have yet to get their shit together.
So I decided to establish a bit of a crazy pot farm in the front yard. It covers the scabby concrete and tarmac patches, feeds the bees and pleases the eye with an array of exotic salvias and all the half-hardy beauties that might lose their roots in the clay. It's getting more and more crowded as I get into all those mesoamerican sages and South African bird polinated thingies that do so well here. Above: Aloe hoffmanii, first flowers I think tee hee!
The first flowering on this exceptionally emerald green Aloe glauca clone. I almost lost it a couple of years back to root rot after letting too many old leaves get manky around the base. Don't do that.
Salvia splendens 'Giant Form' apparently tops 6 feet and the hot red variant certainly curb stomps the colour gamut in late afternoon sunlight. Bought both the merlot and the scarlet versions; it was the right decision.
This head is only half-out but is already gratifying us with this intense candy blue-pink. I have several largely unnamed forms of this group and I love them unconditionally. They become enormous here with our decent rain and pissweak-to-absent frosts. The foliage is huge and plush. You can hear the clickety clack of bumblebees sawing into the base of the flower to get at the nectar (they are bird pollinated in native situ I think). Plant some today.
Salvia fulgens 'Red Dragon', a tall, open bush with attractive corrugated leaves and nonstop fuzzy scarlet floral business. Something, I suspect a Bellbird, comes along and snaps off half the damn heads trying to get at the nectar.
If I had a dollar for every euphorbia I had going on, I'd have about $12.50. The lazy gardener's main ho. Can't remember the name of this cultivar, but it's from Marshwood Gardens in Invercargill. Their online shop is like a tinny house for plant tragics. Sheeeeeeiiiiit. Peruse at your peril.
Salvia sagittata supposedly but it looks like it might be a hybrid with something else. The flowers and parts of the stem are an incredibly dense Afghan lapis blue, which is as much as you can ask of any given organism really. Not quite out yet, but you get the picture.
Below: good old Salvia leucantha, which I only discovered a couple of years ago after encountering its luxurious, almost extraterrestrial plushness in the flesh at a garden centre.
Always touch plants. The tactile dimension is a whole nother thing.
I always try to have some Dagga (Leonotis leonurus) going, even though this plant seems to labour under a curse in our garden, attracting all kinds of misfortune and mysterious fatalities. I have a slightly disappointing creme version too, which unfortunately looks like used bogroll a lot of the time due to the unsightly off-whiteness of the bloomage so I might pass it on. Dagga is supposed to be psychoactive but it looks like it tastes like something you would do in your late teens because you couldn't get any real drugs. So I haven't been tempted. Give it a few more years. I may well regress to vomiting sludgy decoctions in someone's backyard. Lol.
The honey-seeking birds tend to give it a fucking hammering, which is why some things are better closer to the house where the avian contingent is a bit more circumspect about humping the shit out of popular plants.
My delightful nascent colony. Opens in the later afternoon for nocturnal moth pollination. Looks like a maternal bohemian darlek. Smells like boiled-down jungle honey, gingery vodka and alien varnish.
A pleasant MMXIX to you all. Yes I had to google the numerals. I am wasted. what do you want from me
Fir is a crazy little unit with rolling sanpaku eyes and a joyous love of virtually everything. He's a year old now, which we cannot believe. Like Felix, he's topped out his miniature designation and gone over 35cm at the shoulder but is still small enough to sit comfortably in your lap. He throws up on long car rides. He treasures little pieces of fabric for hours, flipping them around and carrying them in his mouth like the little pica freak he is. Neutering didn't take the edge off his inexhaustible mania so I think we're stuck with all that dragon energy.
In what seems to something of an emerging pattern, late winter was warm and clement, easing into a nice early spring that then shit itself badly, turning into a month and a half of clammy sunless rain late in the season as Antartica started its seasonal thaw and threw front after front at us. Not fun. But the roses are gigantic. I'll post some pics soon.
Scentimental it is, unfortunately. Though I am baffled as to why. I have sniffed this rose in a dozen settings and can report that there just isn't much worthwhile scent to speak of, and it's not like anyone who sees it in full bloom will give much of a toss what it smells like anyway. To my reckoning, 'scent' must be consistently present and furthermore worthy of your nosetime to be rated as such; fucked-out pot pourri dust (as is the case here) doesn't count. It may just be the particular bud material propagated in NZ, but as a sensory panel veteran I can faithfully declare this is not an anosmia. It's hardly surprising, though- overselling scent is a rose breeder con driven spectacularly out of hand in the last few years by online sales.
On my return a couple of weeks later it had completely recovered and burst into another round of flowers.
Its health, good form and performance are gobsmacking. I mean, above left is a rose competing with Horse Chestnut roots and half day shade in early spring. In these humid, no-spray conditions it resists rust almost completely and blackspot is never able to outshine its vigour; I can't recall seeing it more than 1/3 spotty, even in the very worst years. Cane dieback is a bit of a problem here too among wimpier roses, but I don't think it's ever lost a single one.
It's obvious that Scentimental draws its genes from a deep ancestral well of quality plants. Its parents are Playboy and Peppermint Twist, both descended from generations of unkillable roses. We need more like this.
Scentimental's blooms are produced in profusion, both clustered and individually (meaning there is always a decent number of picking prospects) over the entire plant. Although slender, the stems support the blooms well with just enough nod to ease that awkward Floribunda brass neck stance. They are quite Hybrid Tea-ish at first, their clean white liberally streaked with deep, vivid raspberry, the former dominating in shadier positions while the red will take over in full sun. Few things are more lovely than a vase stuffed with an armful of Scentimental once they have opened out to reveal their generous eyes of pale golden stamens. It flowers in lengthy pulses for me starting in late spring through to early winter, meaning it's a top choice for a position that needs prolonged and reliable impact.
Earlier stripeys like Commandant Beaurepaire and Ferdinand Pichard might have more refined individual flowers, strictly speaking. Rosa Mundi might have more roguish vintage charm. A number of modern striped roses promise more complex colour combinations. But I grow CB, FP and RM and Scentimental pwns those guys by almost every criteria except fragrance. And I can't even remember the number of modern striped varieties I've punted onto the compost heap after they've proven themselves inexcusably feeble.
If you can reconcile yourself to the fact that striped roses are awesome and fancy just one for your own place, this is the plant to go for. They're addictive, though, so make sure you have room for the rest of them.
The first real bunch of the season. The smell. I almost forget why I am such a slave to a good rose and flowers in general, then I go out into the garden after late spring rain and find them all smiling at me. I am hard-pressed to think of anything more gratifying.
In the pagan canon, the Garden returns to us everything we've lost along the way-
love, virtue, honour, pleasure, even those who have departed and descended- restoring everything we require to endure. I think that is almost true, and if not literally so, at least its gentle substitutions are resplendent and perfumed.
(I've decided to finally get onto reviewing the hundred-plus varieties of roses that have cycled through our garden in the last 20 years, just because most reviews are generated by suppliers and thus pretty suspect to peeps worried about dropping thirty damn dollars on one bloody plant; just saying. If this prospect bores you, too fucking bad. Everyone should garden, where possible. Your body needs the exercise. Your brain needs the tranquility. The dirt needs friends. Roses and indeed most other plants are indisputably preferable to the company of most people and far better for you than that other shit you're doing. Prove me wrong.)
Agnes is a really odd sort of rose, a hybrid-looking thing with the wild-type foliage of one parent and the feral habit of the other. The flower form resists effective classification too, seemingly stranded between Old Rose fluff and 70's Floribunda realness. She doesn’t get a lot of love, perhaps due to this misc. look and the often whack nature of the label photos that always seem to misrepresent her. She's a survivor, though, a flapper minted in 1922 from the wild roses Rugosa x Foetida persiana.
Agnes deserves far more attention. Her hair is full of secrets.
Negatives? Well, she does bristle with Gooseberry-like thorns, making her a great hedge prospect and a menace to the unwary. The only other 'difficulty' I've encountered with Agnes is in regard to pruning, which usually means it's best to just put down the secateurs and back away from any impending hack job. My cack-handed meddling has made her a wee bit flat-headed at the moment as you can probably see in the pic below, but I intend to leave her alone from now on in the hope she regains her original, more graceful Rugosa form. Agnes may not knock you on your arse with her drag show, but there could not be a more low-maintenance, aesthetically sympathetic and uncomplaining rose.
I know it's not a technically spectacular shot. But this tiny, tiny camellia approx 15cm high produced this perfect china-red bloom amid this carpet of lacy cranesbill and I thought you should know about it.
If the camellia can make an effort to do something beautiful, so should we. This sentiment is pretty fucking rich coming from someone who has been putting off posting in favour of general spring cleaning drudge bullshit, I know. Imma put some new stuff up this week, pinky promise.
Thanks for reading and looking.
It was a bad summer in that Felix's illness and the building project coincided, so we had no time for the poor old plants. The garden has gone to shit in autumn and now lies, unsightly and betrayed, awaiting a pretty nuclear winter cleanup that I am not looking forward to. Armfuls of mouldy and worm-squirming mush dripping into your shoes as you dump them on the compost heap, etc. etc; fuuuuuuck.
R managed to get a few nice shots regardless, so I thought I'd share as part of warming up to regular posting in the near future. Jesus christ I am a lazy bitch these days. Well, lazy and depressive; I might as well use the old mental illness shit as a crutch and get some fucking value out of it.
R made this nice little triptych after catching the bird feeding on this, one of my favourite plants. Bellbirds and Tuis also visit the blooms. Waxeyes are not my favourite birds because the little fuckers tend to ruin a lot of fruit with their incessant pecking, but they do make pretty cool pets when hand raised.
If you dont get too much frost, I highly recommend the Canary Foxglove; it flowers almost year-round here in NZ and is fairly unfussy as to soil as long as the drainage is good. I have three or four plants now and would happily install 20 if I had the room.
Still very fucking busy. I thought getting to the finishing stage with the new place might mean less work. Wrong.
Here's a few pics of Fir who is still firmly in the juggalo phase of his personal development and is just lucky he is a cute little arsehat otherwise he might not have made it this far. Also: bonus pic of monarch on dahlia from our new lower garden.
I'll post some pics of the new place over the weekend if I get a chance.
We picked three kg of gooseberries and got a shittonne of jam from that, then R decided to go crazy and pick the other currants, which we usually leave for the birds because laziness. The hot month before xmas has turned them into something worth bothering about so we rounded up every remaining Ribes for committal to jars.
Thought you might like to see them since they are so beautiful.