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Rosa × odorata ‘Bengal Crimson’ AGM

Last night the temperature fell to -3.2 degrees, yet still this china rose is in flower. Okay so it’s not a blaze of colour as in the summer months, but I’m so impressed by its persistence. On any given day during this very damp grey autumn I have counted at least a dozen flowers, and many more buds, on our rose. I read that city dwellers get flowers all year round which doesn’t surprise me in the least (there is a good specimen in the Chelsea Physic Garden). So, I’m aware that ours would benefit from a little more...

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Ficaria verna ‘Brazen Hussy’

Syn:Ranunculus ficaria ‘Brazen Hussy’ Lesser celandine ‘Brazen Hussy’ William Wordsworth wrote no less than three poems in celebration of our native, lesser celandine, so can you imagine the raptures if he had come across ‘Brazen Hussy’? Closely related to the buttercup, this tuberous rooted perennial takes me by surprise every year: one minute the earth is bare, the next it pops up as if by magic. Its polished, heart-shaped, bronze-black leaves form a ground-hugging mound from which the golden yellow flowers cheerfully shine out as if to declare that spring really is on the way (although this week it...

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Helleborus argutifolius AGM – Syn.Helleborus corsicus  Helleborus lividus subsp. corsicus

Also known as Corsican hellebore or holly-leaved hellebore. That description, ‘holly leaved’, could put you off. Don’t let it, it isn’t prickly, rather that the handsome leathery leaves have a quietly serrated edge. They also have an almost metallic sheen which perfectly sets off the clusters of palest apple-green, cup-shaped flowers which are very long lasting. They will still be there as spring drifts into summer. If you want it to self-seed then leave the ageing flowerheads; if not, there comes a time when you will want to tidy it up (usually around mid May) when you can cut off...

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Dendrobium Berry Oda

Straight off, I’ll admit that I am not a fan of tender orchids, especially not the sort that are so popular in garden centres: so perfect they could be made of plastic, and the flowers so long lasting that they need dusting. However, several years ago when I was visiting one of my sisters, her dendrobium just happened to be in flower, and I was very taken with it. So, she eased out a rooted stem, I took it home, potted it up in orchid compost and it never looked back. Having spent all last weekend outside in the...

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