Friday, 2 September 2011

Yes, We Have Hippeastrums, We Have HippeastrumsToday-ay-ay.

The bulbs are here! The bulbs are here! The lorry from Holland arrived at 8o'clock last night (hardly normal office hours, but never mind), and Jane, John and I have checked through the order and stowed the crates away. Last year we decided not to stock Hippeastrums, even though Rene always gets superb quality bulbs for us, because people are too used to buying piddly cheap ones in supermarkets. This year, however, we have been tempted back by H. 'Red Lion', which Rene The Bulbmaster promised us would be massive. He wasn't wrong.
Jane with Hippeastrum 'Red Lion'
The Whichford Pottery Bulb Sale
The sale starts on Friday 9th September and only lasts for a couple of weeks. We have about 30 different tulips, at least 15 narcissus varieties, fritillaries, crocus, alliums, camassia, chionodoxa, scilla, hyacinths, iris, anemones, nectaroscordum and muscari. I will be planting some of each this autumn, as I do every year: the prospect fills me with dread and pleasure in fluctuating proportions. 
Big, plump tulip bulbs fresh from The Netherlands

I have a love/hate relationship with our annual bulb sale. I hate the extra non-gardening hours and the fact that it always seems to take up the last warm weekend of the year, but I love seeing and chatting to all our faithful customers. They have learned that it is worth coming in the first couple of days if possible as stocks are limited, especially of novelties and/or rarities. They are also a good source of ideas for new bulbs for future bulb sales - as always, the best way to choose a plant is to talk to someone who has actually grown it, so I shall be making notes as well as giving testimonials and advice about various bulbs.

And I do enjoy planning next spring's displays, somehow this is easier when you actually have those plump packages of potential in front of you.

Today, the radio cruelly reminded me, is the start of autumn. Well, if it carries on like this for a while I won't find it too upsetting, this has been a warm day bathed in a beautiful soft light and once again I left work late because I had to take yet more pictures.
The stock yard at Whichford Pottery.
All the plants you can see (except the trees at the far end) are growing in pots.
The arching pink spires are red orache, the blue flowers with it are Salvia 'Indigo Spires'
Red orache - Atriplex hortensis var. rubra
Oh stop being such a weed.
The red orache (Atriplex hortensis var. rubra) has finally stopped looking like a giant weed and now is decorative and pinkish. It was pretty as a seedling but tedious in middle age and I cut some of it down as it was making the plantings look drab. I'm glad now that I spared a few plants as it glows in the sunshine and is exactly the dusky pink I was hoping for.
I will pay for it next year in hours spent weeding little purple seedlings from the gravel.

The two big italianate pots by the entrance arch are looking sumptuous. All the biggest plants are annuals: Ricinus 'New Zealand Purple' and Nicotiana glauca are towering in spite of lousy, windy, cold weather and Cobaea scandens 'Alba' has been guided along the pot arch - I had to use string to stop it from leaping off into neighbouring plantings.

This is what it looked like soon after planting in June, no plants have been added or subtracted since then.

Small but perfectly formed

At the other end of the scale, today's soft but clear light was perfect for inspecting the details of the small succulents dotted about the garden in tiny pots. Our little pots are often literally overlooked because we make such spectacular big pots but a collection of them gives huge pleasure and scope for variation.
This succulent was a nameless cutting given as a gift - can anyone identify it?
The dear little pot is a mini Rose Bowl

Right then, I'm not going to talk too much now - I'll just squeeze in a few more warm pictures - something tells me that soon we are going to be huddling round them, clinging to the memory of summer.

Acalypha pendula in a glazed Buxus Pot
Acalypha pendula's odd little cat tails were glowing this evening against the deep green of a glazed Buxus Pot. I bought this plant a year or two ago as plug-plant bedding and take cuttings in spring as the older plants seem to run out of puff after a year.

Shield bugs cosy in Aeonium arboreum 'Zwartkop'
The Eclipse Pots overflowing with Aeonium arboreum 'Zwartkop', Pelargonium 'Voodoo',
Begonia Non-Stop Mocca and Hordeum jubatum.
The drunken angle is me, not the pots.
And finally - Riv's beloved Staffy, Patrick, has been crowned "Most Handsome Dog" at the Whichford Fete. He hasn't let it go to his head.
Riv and Patrick at break time in the Whichford garden

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