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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The Bees’s Knees

Do bees do have knees? They carry pollen back to the hive in sacs on their legs, but the origin of the phrase is uncertain. But the meaning is more certain – excellent, or the best possible. In mid August in my garden, the best possible flowers for bees are held on Teucrium x lucidrys. Daisies are popular, […]

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Early to Rise, Early to Bed

Some people are early risers; others are night birds. There is no difference in the plant world as some make use of the early light or moisture in their native environments before retreating for the remainder of the year. Adonis amurensis is a small bulb from northeast Asia, where it grows in cool, moist, humus rich, […]

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Climbing in Nepal

There are a few clematis that flower in the winter or very early spring – Clematis cirrhosa and C. armandii come to mind. But there’s another, not often seen, C. napaulensis. Strictly speaking, it comes from North India and southwest China as well as Nepal, and needs a sheltered spot in sun or part shade. A scrambler rather […]

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Any plant that flowers during the dank grey month of November has to be worth a place in the garden. Add in the fact that it must be beneficial to insects as well and you wonder if there is such a plant. Well, there is. Fatsia japonica is a native of Japan and South Korea, where […]

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A Knock At The Door

Early one evening a few years ago, there was a knock at the front door. A smartly dressed lady was standing on the doorstep. “I hope you don’t mind,” she said. “But I often pass your garden and you are obviously a plantsman. Can you tell me what the shrub is with the pink leaves?” The […]

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They Used To Be Asters

The botanists have been at it again. Not content with changing schizostylis to hesperantha, and dumping dicentra spectabilis in the bin and rechristening it lamprocapnos spectabilis, we now have another almost impossible name to remember. Some asters (but only some) are now symphotrichum, but that includes most of the named varieties that keep the colour […]

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