Thursday, 18 December 2014
A special Christmas post! It shows two of my other loves beyond Meconopsis - birds and trees. In the village in East Fife Scotland where I live there are many holly trees (Ilex) and this year they have been very well berried after the hot summer. In the last week blackbirds (Turdus merula) in particular have stripped off all the berries from the trees in the village. I love having well berried holly to decorate our house and my children's at Christmas. This tree, which is still smothered in berries, has not been touched. Why? - because it has been guarded by the large mistle thrush (Turdus viscivorus) - the species name is derived from the mistletoe - Viscum album. This is another plant species with berries that this species likes and of course it is another Christmas plant. My guardian angel is seen on a chimney pot right next to the tree and any blackbird that comes anywhere near it is chased off with a harsh rattle. This will be the winter food supply for this bird right through the cold months at the beginning of the year.
Sunday, 14 December 2014
This is how I cover them for the winter. Three methods shown here. 1. Glass cloche made of two pieces of glass (broken large cloches from vegetable garden) 2. A piece of perspex on a wooden pole. 3. A clear plastic container of the sort soft fruit is sold in. The last needs a stone underneath the edge it so that air can circulate
This is a two year old rosette of one of the evergreen monocarpic (die after flowering) species - probably what we call M. napaulensis of garden origin. They can rot in winter and wet followed by frost repeated several times can induce this rot. I normally do not have problems in the dry east of Scotland but IF in doubt place a simple tent of glass over so the rosette keeps dry but the roots of the plant are kept moist. I shall suggest next week that you do the same (if you are lucky enough to have them) with Meconopsis punicea seedlings as a simple glass tent cannot harm them and they are too precious to lose and will take an image to show this.
Saturday, 6 December 2014
This is about seed sources
If you want to start growing Meconopsis from seed then both the ALPINE GARDEN SOCIETY and THE SCOTTISH ROCK GARDEN CLUB offer extensive seed lists to members. For rare items or seed collected in the wild there is often only a small quantity of seed available. If you donate seed you get a few extra packets. You are asked for a long list of alternatives but you will always get some seed from the top of the list.
The address of the AGS is AGS Centre, Avon Bank, Pershore, Worcestershire WR10 3JP. U.K. EMAIL is ags@alpine gardensociety.net The subscription is £32 a year. This includes a really excellent Journal 4 times per year (approaching 500 pages for 2014) with superb colour plates all the way through.
The address of the subscription secretary of the SRGC is 10 Quarry Avenue Acklington MORPETH Northumberland NE65 9BZ U.K. The subscription is £18 per year and includes an excellent journal twice a year full of colour images and original articles by experts.
Very few seed houses offer Meconopsis. A firm that offers several species is Plants of Distinction, Abacus House, Station Yard, Needham Market, Suffolk IPO6 8AS.
The only other one I can find is DOBIES which offers LINGHOLM. This is a wonderful fully perennial big blue poppy that reliably sets seed. It is available in their current catalogue at 70 seeds for £3.59. This normally germinates well to a standard spring sowing and 70 seeds is generous and should provide plenty of plants. If you yearn a perennial blue poppy in the garden this is by far the best choice. Even in southern U.K. in a light shady position on well enriched soil because it is tetraploid and thus very robust, it should be content and with more than one seed grown plant it should set fertile seed.
Saturday, 29 November 2014
This is the cover of a new Monograph in the Kew Botanical Monograph Series by Dr. Chris Grey-Wilson. V.M.H.
I should say at once it is very useful with a huge amount of information at all levels. It is however a taxonomist's volume and Dr. Grey-Wilson was a Kew trained taxonomist. It has quite superlative photographs, all in brilliant colour - save a few historic pictures. Each species has a long account - well illustrated - with much very thorough taxonomic information. There is a short chapter on cultivation that is a synthesis of most of what is known. It is a large format book approx. 12 inches x 10 inches of exactly 400 pages. As one might expect there is a very comprehensive index and full references. Many of the photographs are by the brilliant field taxonomist and photographer Toshio Yoshida who has not only photographed so many plants in remote and difficult of access places but has also described a number of new species of Meconopsis starting his explorations in 1984. He talked memorably to the Meconopsis Group in Edinburgh in 2010.
Many others contributed to the wonderful images including David and Margaret Thorne, Harry Jans, Martin Walsh, Tim Lever and others. I should add that this book has well researched information on cultivation. Proof reading is pretty faultless. It is certain that real experts who travel in the Himalayas will find things that they disagree with but that is inevitable. Finally who is this book for? The answer to that has to be real enthusiasts who are already familiar with the basic characteristics or new comers who wish to learn.
I NOW INTEND TO GO THROUGH THE AVAILABLE AND EASILY CULTIVATED SPECIES AND CULTIVARS ON THIS WEBSITE OVER THIS COMING WINTER - ONE WEEK ONE SPECIES. THIS IS SPECIFICALLY FOR PEOPLE WHO WISH TO START GROWING THESE PLANTS ESPECIALLY AS THERE ARE SO MANY WONDERFUL BLUES - WHICH IS A LESS COMMON COLOUR IN PLANTS.