Garden & Houseplants

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When I moved into my Cranham home in the mid 1980s, I inherited a fairly standard mix of lawn, shrubs and borders. The soil being heavy Essex clay was, and is, very prone to waterlogging; it's good for roses and most damp-loving plants, but sets like concrete during prolonged droughts. I've tried, and largely failed, to grow many popular garden plants and vegetables, concluding that any plant which self-seeds and thrives is a rarity worth preserving!

Cultivated Plants

The pink Peony and bi-coloured Tulips are among the few original plants that have survived to the present day. An apple tree in my parents' neighbour's garden blew down in the infamous 1987 storm, and I planted a pip from its final crop of fruit; a sturdy tree has resulted, producing blossom as in photos 3 and 4, followed by a fair supply of sweet/sharp fruit with a slightly aniseed flavour (the parent tree was a Canadian Ellisons Orange). The yellow Climbing Rose, probably Golden Showers, is one of my success stories, producing a reliable supply of fragrant blooms. Another vigorous import is Ramsons, aka Wild Garlic, which I stole from a river valley a few years ago and is now spreading out well. The flowers, as well as the leaves, give a good kick to spring salad sandwiches. The final photo is of a Turnip flower - considerably more impressive to behold than was its root.

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Uninvited Guests

I hesitate to use the term "weeds", as these plants produce a welcome splash of colour and need no maintenance whatsoever in my clay soil. They are, in order: Welsh Poppy, Forget-me-not, Procumbent Sorrel (?), Yellow Flag and Bluebell.

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The Rosary Vine is based in a fairly small pot, but will grow its stems by a metre or more in a season - the flowers are quite extraordinary. I grew the Bird of Paradise from a seed; it's only flowered three times, but was truly spectacular when it did.

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Other People's Plants

The Crocus was in a local patch of wasteland, probably escaped from a garden. The Artichoke and Salsify were seen on walks in Kent. The Waterlily was in a friend's garden pond, and the inflorescence on a Flowering Cherry trunk was in Springfield Gardens, Upminster - property of the Council.

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