Terry O'Connor

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The Garden

OK, calm down. This isn’t Heligan or Kew. My small garden does its best, and there are some good plants in it. So this page simply records what’s in flower, what’s doing well or otherwise, and generally reports on the gardening year.

Early May 2015

A cool but bright spring has meant some things are slow to get going. On the plus side, narcissus have stayed in flower for weeks, and the early tulips were excellent this year. However, if it’s early May, it must Lewisia season. It took me years to work out how best to grow these blousy Rocky Mountain natives, and now I’m over-run with them.

Lewisia cotyledon getting into bloom

Lewisia cotyledon getting into bloom

Lewisia cotyledon is the best known of the bunch and probably the easiest to keep happy. It will grow out in the garden, but needs to be planted on its side so that winter wet cannot rot the leaf rosettes. I find that if I do that, slugs eat them anyway. The flowers come in a range of colours through pink, orange and white. There is nothing subtle about this species.

P1040272-edited

Lewisia cotyledon ‘Cragg Hybrid’ in a particularly lurid shade of orange.

The flower on the right here is fairly typical of the species. The veining is usually a darker version of the background colour of the petals. This one has rather nice pale margins. Behind it, there is a typical bud, and a flower showing the protruding style. I originally grew this plant and its siblings from seed, and have gone on growing seedlings from that first batch. As a result, the variation in colour is now considerable and unpredictable.

I also grow Lewisia tweedyi, which can be a really spectacular plant. It was a reputation for being a bit fussy, and can be a pig to get from seed to young plant, but once through its difficult infancy, I find it to be as tough as any other Lewisia.

Lewisia tweedyi, showing the apricot colour typical of the species

Lewisia tweedyi, showing the apricot colour typical of the species

In the species, the flowers are an attractive pale apricot colour. One of my plants comes quite close to that. This is acquired as a seedling from a nursery that had lost its label. We agreed that it was L. tweedyi and that I would take pot luck on what it looked like. Turned out well in the end.

This winter, for the first time, I found L. tweedyi seedlings in the greenhouse, and potted them up.

Lewisia tweedyi seedling that sowed itself in my greenhouse. A bit pink, but it can stay.

Lewisia tweedyi seedling that sowed itself in my greenhouse. A bit pink, but it can stay.

The first of those self-sown plants is just flowering, and clearly got some of its genes from the variety ‘Rosea’. The flower is distinctly pink, though I like the way it shades towards yellow at the centre. Another half-dozen are growing on and it will be interesting to see what range of colours they produce. What I really want is a pure white one.

The other thing I really want is some warmer nights so that the garden can get moving!


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