Kiwis and cats

Actinidia kolomikta is a deciduous woody scrambler/twiner growing 25 to 30 feet. What sets it apart and makes it an attractive garden plant is the foliage, ovate-oblong and six inches long, marked with pink and white variegation once the plant is two to three years old. Discovered in the mid nineteenth century, actinidia kolomikta was soon being […]

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Is it or isn’t it?

Being a plantsman, I am always on the look-out for interesting and unusual plants. A couple of years ago, I visited a small nursery about forty miles from home – the sort of place that is immaculate with well cared-for plants, the sort of nursery you instinctively trust. Among the plants on sale were some […]

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Crown Imperials

If bluebells are synonymous with Britain, crown imperials must surely be synonymous with Iran – they grow everywhere. In sun or shade, on open hillsides or rocky crevices, their orange flowers are abundant in early spring. Orange flowers are dominant in the wild. Even in the Dasht-e Laleh valley, where thousands of them grow, there are no […]

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Some heritage daffodils

Those who live in the UK may remember two series of programmes on the BBC called “The Great British Garden Revival.” One of them featured Carol Klein extolling the virtues of heritage varieties of daffodils, some of which have naturalised in the hedgerows of Cornwall, a county that used to grow them for the early cut […]

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A frit by any other name

Have you noticed how many plant names have changed in the past few years? Schizostylis became hesperis, dicentra spectabilis is now lamprocapnos spectabilis (who makes up these names?!), and some of the asters are now symphiotrichum. Several years ago, Russian botanists decided fritillaria sewerzowii displayed enough differences from the rest of the family to be split […]

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Small but perfectly formed

There are some plants that as soon as you see a picture of them you say, “I must have that.” I have a list of these, my ‘wants’ list, that never seems to get any shorter. Does anyone else have the same problem? Of course these are nurserymen who prey on people like me, putting […]

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