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Wisley's Alpine Diary

This entry: 27 August 2009 by Paul Cumbleton

Log 55

Wisley's Alpine Log

By Paul Cumbleton

Log 54... 13 Aug 2009

The autumn-flowering bulbs are beginning to bloom in increasing numbers. Last time I showed the first solitary Sternbergia flower to appear. Since then many more flowers of S. lutea have come out, both in the garden and in pots:

 

With them, the first Colchicum are out such as my favourite, C. agrippinum:

The chequered patterning of the petals is as delightful as that on any Fritilaria. This Colchicum is also small enough to grow well in a pot and is nearly always the first one to flower for us.

 

Of course the Cyclamen are also appearing more and more at this time of year. Cyclamen hederifolium is already making a good show on the bed at the top of the Rock Garden:

While enjoying the autumn bulbs, our major summer job re-potting all the other bulbs is still under way. So far we have completed all the South African winter-growing bulbs, as well as the Narcissus, the small blue bulbs such as Scilla and most of the Crocus. I have also just started Fritillaria. While most of the bulbs are Ok, we occasionally turn out a pot that has had problems. Some of the bulbs in this pot of Fritillaria elwesii have completely rotted away leaving just husks:

Of the remainder, most show signs of rot starting.

I do not know which disease is specifically the cause of this, so I have taken these down to my colleagues in plant pathology and asked them to see if they can identify the cause of the problem. Then we can see if there is anything that can be done to avoid the problem in the future. I will report the results in a future log.

While on the subject of problems, I think some of you can guess what this holly is doing on top of a mat of Raoulia australis Lutescens Group:

Yes ? it is to deter Sunny our cat who finds Raoulia a soft and comfortable bed! She is feeling very important at the moment after she featured in an article in ?Your Cat? magazine:

With so many pots of bulbs to re-pot and a lot of people doing the work, it would be  easy to lose track of what has been done and what has not. We get around this by putting a coloured label into each pot as soon as it has been repotted

You can see then at a glance which sections of the plunge have been done:

Once a whole plunge bed is done, the coloured labels are removed for re-use on the next bed.

As always, I like to finish with some colour. Just outside the Display House, the Zauschneria californica are once again providing some late summer colour:

There are two cultivars in the above raised bed. Individual flowers are shown, below, for comparison. Top is ?Ed Carman? and bottom is ?Western Hills?. The former is a larger, broader flower than ?Western Hills?. Its colour is also a more orange-red than the more scarlet-red of Western Hills, although this difference does not show well in this photo. It is one of things that is very obvious to the eye but apparently not to a digital camera!

To finish, here are a couple of plants from inside the house. The first is a splendid pot of Cyclamen graecum where all the flowers are presenting at the same height:

Finally is Berlandiera lyrata. This is called the Chocolate Flower or Chocolate Daisy (also sometimes called Green Eyes) because the stamens of the plant give off a chocolate-like fragrance. The flowers open at night and the fragrance is strongest in the mornings. In its native south-western USA the flowers drop each day as the temperature rises, but I find in our cooler climate they can last a few days each.

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