Saturday, June 9, 2012

We once were lost but now are found

One of the joys of renovating a rather overgrown, winter damaged garden is finding plants that you thought you'd lost.  It may be a seedling from the original, it may be a small plant hidden away under the growth of neglect, it may be delayed regeneration from a fragment of root, tuber or rhizome.  I've previously mentioned Euphorbia mellifera, Freesia laxa and Tritelia laxiflora but over the last year as I've slowly cut back and brought the garden back to life I've found others.

Star of the foundlings has to be Hedychium gardnerianum.  I lost a large pot of this to the extreme winter of 2009-2010 but had a rhizome tucked away where I was trying to establish a colony in one of the borders.  I thought I'd lost that as well until, in late summer last year, a small shoot popped up with the unmistakable glaucous sheen of this gorgeous ginger lilyIt will probably take another year or so to re-establish and flower again even though it is now pot grown and cossetted but at least it survived when so many other plants didn't.  And, assuming I keep it healthy, I've again got these fabulously scented flowers to look forward to:

Hedychium gardnerianum
I used to grow quite a few hardy geraniums before my interests turned to more exotic plantings.  A few still grow in the garden but one I thought I had lost as the front garden became more shaded was the sun loving Geranium renardii.  To be honest, I wasn't too bothered.  My tastes had moved on, I thought.  3 bad winters in a row have forced me to be more conservative so I was delighted to find a seedling of this pretty geranium when I was renovating a border in the front garden.  It's well away from the site of the parent - a tribute to the explosive seed pods - and in the wrong place so I've moved it to a sunnier spot in the hopes that it will once again produce an early summer display like the one I photographed in 2005:

Geranium renardii
When I moved into the garden in 1996 there was little here apart from 6 big bushes of Fuchsia 'Mrs Popple', one of the largest flowered 'hardy' forms.  (Stem hardy down here in Plymouth, root hardy in most parts of the UK.)  Six became three, then two and finally down to one as I cleared them to make room for other plants and plantings.  I kept one in the rear garden for its long season of flowering but removed the rest, roots and all.  So, I thought.  Two winters ago I lost my one remaining plant to old age and cold.  It hasn't regenerated - and I hadn't kept any youngsters.  But, coincidentally, one of the plants I removed five years ago has regenerated.  It was in my warmest border and must somehow have survived unseen amidst a host of tender shrubs and perennials until winter wiped them out and allowed it back into the light.  Welcome back.  Though I'll probably propagate it and move it again. Another mild winter and it will get too big for its position - and I need that space for more tender plants.

Fuchsia 'Mrs Popple' alongside Euryops pectinatus in 2006
Bridal wreath, Francoa sonchifolia, isn't the hardiest plant in the world so I was fairly confident in thinking three harsh winters had finished it off.  I was wrong.  There was no sign of it last year but it's popped up again this year, probably from a deeply buried bit of root.  I admire its persistence but, once again, I've had to move it to a less shady site.  Sun, not the increasing amounts of shade in its original spot, is what it needs to produce its airy spikes of white and pink flowers.

Francoa sonchifolia
My final plant is is one I thought had dwindled away, not liking my rather damp acid loam, preferring drier, sandier soils.  Libertia perigrinans is a pretty, grassy leaved plant with a golden centre stripe running through the centre of the upright foliage.  It's also a runner, roving about mildly by virtue of thin rhizomes.  What I thought was dwindling was actually relocation.  The plant had moved itself to the centre of my clump of Iris sibirica 'Perry's Blue' and was hidden amongst the taller foliage of the Iris.  Dividing the Iris clump last summer revealed the Libertia.

Libertia perigrinans
The moral of the story?  Even in a small garden plants can appear to be lost - but isn't it lovely when they come back to life


  1. It is nice indeed when you find plants again that you thought you've lost, always a pleasant surprise!

    With the Hedychium, it just shows it's resilience. It's definitely a lot tougher (and hardier) than it was initially perceived to be.

  2. a real treasure trove. One of the joys of gardening are the surprises plants come up with. Feigning death or doing the vanishing lady act for a while.

  3. Thanks for the comments everyone. Mind you, looking at my collection of old plant labels there are still a few more that could usefully re-appear - and may do as I let more light into my darker areas.