Sunday, 29 June 2014

Wyethia

White mule ears (wyethia helianthoides)
The Wyethias are a group of stemless sunflowers from the mountains of Western North America. In the wild they form magnificent colonies in meadows and forest clearings. The large rosettes of leaves (known locally as mule's ears) are very striking in themselves as they emerge in spring and the white or yellow flowers, which are held on short stems just above the leaves, are of excellent size and quality. It seems that they are used to plentiful water in spring, from snow-melt, but tend to dry out in summer and may die back as the season progresses.
Mount Diablo, China Wall & Mule Ears
In cultivation however they are rare and seem to be regarded as almost impossible to grow. I'm not sure why. I've raised a several species from seed and although they are sensitive and I have only a few mature plants they don't seem especially more difficult to manage than many other mountain plants.

Wyethia angustifolia
Wyethia angustifolia
Narrow Leaf Mule’s Ears. In this species the leaves are plain green and about 2ins wide. The flowers are golden yellow on short leafless stems just above the foliage. Easy and hardy here so far.
3L pots ~ £8



Wyethia helenioides
Not flowered yet but looking very good - the Grey Mule’s Ears is similar to the above but with bolder, grey leaves and even larger golden flowers. A very choice large alpine.
1L pots ~ £8



Sunday, 22 June 2014

Cobaea pringlei

Cobaea pringlei
A hardy herbaceous perennial relative of the familiar half-hardy cup-and-saucer vine, C.scandens. Having white flowers it's not as spectacular as its tender relative but still a lovely thing. I grow it in a sunny spot on a well-drained but rich soil, with a thick strawy mulch in winter just to be on the safe side. It dies down completely in winter.
Cobaea pringlei
The only down side is perhaps its vigour - once it gets going it's a big plant capable of covering about 10-12ft in a single season so make sure you put it somewhere where it can roam free. It tends to start late and flower late too so provide warmth and shelter.
1L pots ~ £12




Monday, 9 June 2014

Potentilla atrosanguinea Sundermannii

Potentilla atrosanguinea Sundermannii
I've never been a huge fan of the border Potentillas which can look a bit coarse but P.atrosanguinea and its kind are saved by their intensely silver-backed strawberry foliage which looks good even without the flowers. P.atrosanguinea is best known in its dark red forms and I normally would not rate a yellow version but Sundermannii, with its deep golden yellow and red centres, really stands out.
A splendid and easy front-of-the-border plant for any half decent soil in sun or semi shade.
1L pots ~ £6




Friday, 6 June 2014

Galega orientalis

Galega orientalis
A gorgeous species - so much better (in my humble opinion) than the more commonly available G.officinalis types and sometimes mistaken for some sort of herbaceous Wistaria. The combination of intense violet blue and fresh green is just stunning. There is the slight down-side in that it runs underground but I've never found it rampant and the foliage works in so well with other plants it's hard to object. Any soil in sun.
field grown ~ £8