Wednesday, 11 December 2013
A really wonderful image of Meconopsis bella. The name says it all as it is exquisitely beautiful and really quite large. It can be pink or pale blue with all flowering stems scaopose and this image is quite typical of it in a rock crevice. This was photographed recently on an expedition to Arunchal Pradesh by Jeannie Jones. A slight downside to looking for plants in many of the Himalayan Meconopsis sites is that they tend to flower in the rainy season! Seed used to be available of this species from an Indian seed company and I tried it a number of times. The seedlings are minute even at two years and go dormant for the winter. I did just succeed in flowering it one year at 4 years old and my children at that time were somewhat underwhelmed by the rather small and insignificant flower that fleetingly appeared after all the fuss I had made over it as it gradually got a little bigger!
Wednesday, 4 December 2013
Friday, 29 November 2013
This beautiful image is of a remarkable variation on the lovely form of the genus Cardiocrinum native to Japan and called Cardiocrinum cordatum. It was sent to me by a very good Japanese friend as well as some seed! I shall sow this immediately since it will not hurt to stratify it in the cold before putting some heat on it late January. He also sent images and seed of some really exquisite variations on Anemonopsis and I shall show images of these soon. This Japanese Cardiocrinum is normally a creamy white with variable red markings in the throat so this deep maroon red is extra-ordinary. This genus Cardiocrinum was first described from Japan and the Chinese and Himalayan species were discovered later. It has similarities to the Chinese species C. cathayanum but they are currently separated. Cardiocrium giganteum occurs throughout much of the Himalayas with the sub species C.g. yunnanense from parts of China and Burma.
Wednesday, 20 November 2013
Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Seed pans of Meconopsis punicea. This seed was all harvested as soon as ripe back in late June and this continued with more batches until all was harvested. The seed trays were covered in layers of fine net and then deeply covered in moist compost. This was kept just moist until about 2 weeks ago when the trays were carefully removed from the top covering and then dressed with a little fresh grit. They can be carefully kept moist by adding a little water to the tray as necessary.This will now sit inside an unheated greenhouse until mid January when bottom heat will be applied. Normally this technique produces a high germination rate while using dried seed sowed at the same time can be very poor.
Wednesday, 6 November 2013
I recently found this picture of Alf Evans. He was the man who fired my enthusiam for Meconopsis and peat garden plants. In 1974 he wrote the 'Peat Garden and its Plants'. He ultimately was in charge of the peat beds at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh. Years later he visited my wife's and my garden in Kingsbarns when leading a tour of Japanese people round Scottish gardens. By a strange co-incidence we both started out careers in the same place - Queens College Dundee - then a part of St. Andrews University. He studied horticulture there before the second world war and after wartime service in the Royal Airforce joined the staff at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and eventually ran the alpine , rockery and peat gardens with his real love the last. This visit inspired me to buy 40 tons of peat tailings (easily available from west Fife in those days) and start a peat garden of my own. I now maintain this garden with deep annual dressings of homemade leaf mould
Wednesday, 30 October 2013
All sorts of hardy orchids have always thrived in my garden. This is a group of hybrid Dactylorhiza that just appeared and has clumped up nicely. At this stage they look untidy BUT DO NOT cut them down until the foliage is totally dead and shriveled. In the first place this undoubtedly lets fungal diseases in and perhaps more important there are still nutrients, particularly sugars, that the tubers will take back into storage and use to produce more and bigger plants next year. In gardens where I know people like to cut back and tidy in early autumn, they have lost all their hardy orchids.
Wednesday, 23 October 2013
A picture I may have already used but it makes a point that may help people new to this amazing genus of plants. Nearly every keen grower of Meconopsis that I know calls this plant M. napaulensis. They can be pink, white or red and many plants with this name can be large and yellow as well! Relatively recently Chris Grey-Wilson decided that M. napaulensis was a small yellow monocarpic (dies after flowering) evergreen plant with a restricted distribution in Nepal. I have taken to putting the name in inverted commas implying it is a common usage name and not a technical taxonomic name. Most seed exchange offer this as M. napaulensis rather than the true wild yellow species.
Friday, 18 October 2013
Wednesday, 9 October 2013
There are three basic species of blue poppy. M. betonicifolia (now split by some authorities into two - with this species being reserved for plants found in Yunnan and M. baileyi resurrected for the form from S.E. Tibet). Then there is M. grandis which occurs in several quite distinct regions of the Himalayas and these forms differ consistently. Finally there is M. simplicifolia. and this occurs in two forms, the best of which with beautiful flowers is monocarpic and thus dies after flowering and the other form can be perennial. Both types almost always have flowering stems growing from a rosette with no stem leaves. Many years ago a cross between M. grandis and M. betonicifolia - which is sterile - produced a tetraploid form ( i.e. 2 sets of chromosome from each parent) and this is fertile. This image is of this hybrid called Lingholm after a garden in the Lake District of England. It sets masses of fertile seed and has allowed lovely blue poppies to be grown in many parts of the world. There are dozens of named forms of blue poppies which have differences - some very subtle - BUT for someone who wants lots of big beautiful blue poppies in there garden THIS is the one to get. Most amateur seed exchanges have this large seed and they are relatively easy to grow.
Thursday, 3 October 2013
My daughter's Dundee garden at it's best. It is now time to shut it down for the winter. The tall pink flowering Meconopsis napaulensis hybrid has now set seed right down to the bottom flowering spikes and this has been harvested, dried, cleaned and packeted to send of the various amateur seed exchanges such as the Alpine Garden Society and the Meconopsis group. Unflowered rosettes of this hybrid and other evergreen monocarpic species need the dead leaves removing and the dead foliage of the perennial blue poppies needs carefully removing. I never turn the soil over in these beds since it is so easy to damage plants already dormant and the buds for next year but I like to top dress with 2 inches (5 to 6 cms.) of really well rotted and sieved leaf mould ideally or composted bark or some such if that is not available. In a severe winter this does stop frost penetrating so deeply.
Wednesday, 25 September 2013
Another rather dull picture, this time of Meconopsis punicea plants in a rather wet garden today. This species nearly always flowers as a biennial and thus dies after flowering in the second year. The bigger you can get the plants in their first year, the better they will be flowering the next. They do not go completely dormant and new smaller rosettes of leaves will soon develop and at least here in the east of Scotland I find they need no winter cover. I lost many plants this spring and only have 8 plants to flower next year. I do however have a really large set of sowings made as soon as this years seed ripened and these seed trays are all being kept cool, dark and damp until late November when they are uncovered and they will often germinate, even in the cold, by mid January. I am really hoping all goes well since this is quite a rare plant and very desirable.
Thursday, 19 September 2013
From now on I shall deal with individual species. Nearly all of this material is available on the main website - Meconopsis World and these accounts are largely for people new to growing Meconopsis. This is a leaf rosette taken in the rain today of Meconopsis superba. This plant was a seedling 2 years ago and is one of the monocarpic group that are evergreen and eventually throw a tall flowering spike, set seed (hopefully!) and then die. This has white flowers with a very dark stigma and a lovely rosette of silver leaves that are not pinnate. It is winter hardy here in Scotland but needs a simple glass cover (two pieces of glass or clear plastic clipped together as a tent) because it does not like winter wet.
It is the only Meconopsis that I am aware of that does not need cross pollinating so a single plant sets seeds, but obviously it is better if you have more than one plant. I currently have three and will do my best to get all three to flower the same year - probably in two years time.
Tuesday, 10 September 2013
This is a plant I photographed today at Branklyn Gardens in Perth (wonderfully tidy and still full of colour). It is named as Sichuan Silk. It was shown this year at Chelsea as a perennial form of Meconopsis punicea. It was apparent among a germination of seeds of this species wild collected in Sichuan and grown by Ian Christie of Kirriemuir. The others from this collection were typical of the species and died after flowering (monocarpic). This plant is certainly not typical and nor is the flower colour. Having said that re-flowering of Meconopsis in autumn does produce non typical flowers. Again we need a genetic analysis of the atypical plants before we can rule out hybridisation. A final thought, the species M. punicea can be difficult since unless the seed is sown fresh and then the seed trays stored cool and dark to the following spring the percentage germination can be very poor, so a widely available pernennial form, propagated vegetatively, may be very valuable.
Wednesday, 4 September 2013
A rather dull picture but makes a point. East Fife in Scotland can be very dry and suddenly we have a long hot spell. This is after 4 relatively cool summers. Up to 5 years ago I had found many Meconopsis do not tolerate this current dryness with the exception of M. punicea. The soil is nice and damp already but one cannot create a humid atmosphere for any length of time even with a mist system and most Meconopsis cannot tolerate hot dry air. This is why I grow most of my most precious plants in cool
Wednesday, 28 August 2013
One very valuable source of plants is in private seed lists. Both the Alpine Garden Society and the Scottish Rock Garden club produce seed lists every year. They are only available to members but there is a generous allocation of seeds for everybody. At this time of year people from many parts of the world will be collecting seeds to send to the various seed exchanges. Much of this will be garden seeds but also many people collect seed both from their own countries and places they travel to in the wild to add to the lists. Members who send seeds in do have an advantage but all members are entitled to a share. The Meconopsis Group based at the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens produce a seed list which of course contains a great range of Meconopsis seeds and these days other genera too. As you might imagine there is a huge amount of work involved in first rapidly producing a seed list to send out, then to collect in all the donations and sort them and then to packet up hundreds of seed numbers in thousands of packets and finally to send the seed out usually before Christmas while the seed
Image - various stages of collecting and drying. Clay saucers dry seed well. Fleshy seeds like the Podophyllum shown need scooping out, perhaps washing to remove slime etc. and then drying (dried seed in petri dish). Top Right are this years cleaned and packaged seed ready to send off. Top Left - seed heads of an American species of delphinium drying. UNLESS you are disabled the seed exchange managers do expect seed to be clean and correctly labelled. YOU will find however that not everyone identifies what they send in correctly!
Tuesday, 20 August 2013
This is the time of year when most Meconopsis seed needs harvesting. Here in Scotland it is a late season and the weather is cool and wet. The stems bearing seed pods must not be picked until they have naturally opened the valves at the top of the pod. Then take these whole seed stems and place them on trays to dry. Where there are only a few individual seed pods, these can be placed in dishes of some sort. Once they are dry (3 or 4 days usually) sieve out any coarse debris and then gently blow away finer stuff and infertile seeds. Fertile Meconopsis seed varies in size with something like Lingholm the largest but all should look round and have some weight. The top picture shows a pod of M. napaulensis hybrid with the valves open and the seed ready to spill out
Wednesday, 14 August 2013
Another image from Jeanie Jones taken in N.E.India. This was sent to me as a yellow form of Meconopsis prainiana - not described before. This species was lumped by Sir George Taylor into M. horridula. My view on this plant is that it is part of a super species best called M. horridula and I really cannot see why it is that different from M . racemosa or even M. prattii. I confess the concept of a super species is my own but it helps with identifying very similar species as a group. WHAT FOLLOWS IS COMPLICATED SO ONLY READ ON IF REALLY ADDICTED TO MECONOPSIS!
There are at least 9 named variations on the 'horrid' poppy separated off into new species, but I think many of them merge into each other and I strongly suspect there are more variations yet to be described from remoter areas in China.
What does intrigue me about this plant is the yellow colour. Taylor described a yellow Meconopsis horridula from the Himalayas. There are a number of artficially created Meconopsis with this pale yellow when the lemon yellow species M. integrifolia was crossed with blue species M. betonicifolia to give M. x sarsonsii, M. x beamishii when crossed with M. grandis (there is a suggestion that this has been found in the wild), M. x finlayorum with M. quintuplinervia. Kingdom Ward's Ivory poppy was also found in the wild and has been described as a cross between M. simplicifolia and M. integrifolia. This was raised in the garden first as M. x harleyana by Andrew Harley at Devonhall and was called the Ivory Poppy. It was also described as M. simplicifolia eburnea. It was later found in the wild by Kingdom Ward and since (see M. x harleyana on the main website. Many of the forms of M. integrifolia south of where this deep yellow upright species is found are now split into a very variable species called M. pseudointegrifolia which also tend to be cream coloured rather than a clear yellow. Both these species now have sub-species described.
I should love to see a genetic study on these normally blue species that have yellow forms to see if in the distant past they naturally hybridized with an M. integrifolia like ancestor to produce these cream yellow plants.
Wednesday, 7 August 2013
David and Margaret Thorne from the Borders and Jeanie Jones from Dumfries have recently returned from Arunachal Pradesh and Jeanie has sent me some wonderful Meconopsis images that I hope to use over the next weeks. This is the exquisite Meconopsis bella - extremely difficult to grow. It is a dwarf plant often found, like this one, on ledges. It can be blue or pink.
Wednesday, 31 July 2013
An image for people new to Meconopsis. There are 3 basic types of plants in this genus.
1. Monocarpic deciduous - flower after a number of years, foliage dies back totally in winter and then the plant dies after setting copious seed.
2. Monocarpic evergreen - plant may take up to 5 years to flower - most often 3. It starts as a small rosette which over the years becomes larger until a flowering spike and seed are produced, this then dies. These can be a lovely winter feature in the garden especially with frost on.
3. Perennial plants that produce multirosettes and, if looked after, flower year after year. Meconopsis betonicifolia, M. grandis and the hybrid Lingholm are best known. All usually set copious seed but it should not be collected from any species until the capsules have naturally opened.
Wednesday, 24 July 2013
Nothing to do with Meconopsis but this is a plant that grows so well with them in my rather alkaline soil and I have never seen it in another garden. It is Carpenteria californica and only rated Hardiness 3 by the Royal Horticultural Society. It has survived here for many years through some very harsh winters without a sign of a blemish to the evergreen foliage.
Wednesday, 17 July 2013
This used to be Lilium giganteum but is now Cardiocrinum giganteum and this is the late flowering sub species giganteum and is usually taller than the sub species yunnanense (illustrated earlier). This has taken 8 years to flower but off-sets, all round the old spike, should continue to flower every year, they can also be removed to flower elsewhere.
Wednesday, 10 July 2013
From now on I shall only post weekly with things I think relevant to Meconopsis culture since most species and cultivars have finished flowering. These images are of the main bed where I grow Lingholm from seed in Caithness. In the lower image the cream flowers appeared from seed and are some sort of complex hybrid with Lingholm and a yellow species - possibly Meconopsis integrifolia. They are sterile, perennial
Friday, 5 July 2013
If you cross a blue poppy, M. grandis or M. betonicifolia with one of the yellow M. integrifolia complex you get a cream coloured hybrid which can be fertile. The blue M. simplicifolia also forms a cream coloured hybrid. This plant, which is rather small, was from a wild collection made on the Serkym La in Tibet and is almost certainly a hybrid with something blue - most likely the very variable M. simplicifolia. Just possible I have muddled the labels as it is a single plant!
I have no seen a cross like this before. The upper flower is I fear just fading.
Thursday, 4 July 2013
This is Meconopsis betonicifolia in my garden in east Fife. It is a rather wishy washy mauve. The temperature, the season and the location can alter the colour of Meconopsis from year to year and this site on the east of Scotland tends to produce rather washed out mauves. The one big blue poppy I have never seen anything but the most perfect blue is Slieve Donard ( a x. Sheldonii type). Fortunately this is still widely available, divides up readily and strong growing.
Tuesday, 2 July 2013
Primula scotica. A plant endemic to Scotland and I usually find it on the north coast of Caithness but this wet year the grass was very long or maybe rabbits could not keep it short - which is necessary. Nothing to do with Meconopsis but this is a Scottish website!
Monday, 1 July 2013
Plants based around what used to be M. horridula have now been divided up into at least 9 species. Some of these simply do not make sense to me and are just excuses for splitting. Two are illustrated here. The dark blue with white anthers on a tall raceme is what is now called M. prattii and is the original easy garden species that would probably grow in some quite dry and hot parts of the world. The other resembles the one that is now called M. horridula and is a high altitude plant (5,000 metres) in the Himalayas. I have always found it extremely difficult and failed with it though I have tried it a number of times. The second plant is one flowering in my garden that resembles the high altitude form in that it is scapose and an attractive pale blue - almost certainly not the real thing I fear!
Sunday, 30 June 2013
Cardiocrinums (clearly close relatives of lilies) are wonderful plants for the Meconopsis garden. This is Cardiocrinum giganteum yunnanense. It flowers from top down and has often a dark purple stem. The flower spike is not as tall as the other other subspecies - C. g. giganteum. This will be illustrated once it has flowered. They take about 9 years to flower from seed and this first spike is always very tall (6 - 7 feet) but after that the old bulb dies. This is not the end however as it is surrounded by offsets of varying age and usually one or more will be large enough to flower every year almost indefinitely if in a rich bed with plenty of nutrients. They have a lovely smell too.
Saturday, 29 June 2013
Friday, 28 June 2013
BOTTOM IMAGE -------- This is a flowering spike of P.C.Abildegaard. This will almost certainly be yet another of the classic crosses of M. betonicifolia crossed with M. grandis. (all called M. x Sheldonii). It was named and distributed by Evelyn Stevens of the Meconopsis Group in the U.K. from material sent to her from a University in Copenhagen, Denmark and named after a professor there. The origin of this plant in Denmark is not known. In Wick, where this image was taken, it is very perennial and regularly sends out suckers making propagation very easy - indeed I took six from suckers up to 60cms. away last year. The flowers, at least in Wick, always have vague mauve overtones. It has been likened to the wonderful hybrid produced in Edinburgh many years ago from the same parents and subsequently named by an Irish garden as Slieve Donard - but with that wonderful cultivar it has always been a perfect blue where ever I have grown it. Slieve Donard is illustrated on this site on the entry for May 29th growing at the Royal Botanic Gardens this year.
TOP IMAGE ----------- I have added an image of the perfect blue Slieve Donard growing for comparison in the lovely woodland garden of the Cox family at Glendoick (only open until the end of May).
Thursday, 27 June 2013
The Arisaemas are a genus often associated with Meconopsis rich gardens. Many come from China and one of the best is Arisaema candidissima. This normally is relatively dwarf and late through (mid to late June) but rapidly comes into flower. There are many larger species but most of these suit a large woodland garden. A few years ago white and yellow forms of this were offered by a Chinese nursery but both proved to be the usual pink form
Wednesday, 26 June 2013
Perhaps the most famous blue poppy of them all - it has for nlong been known as GS600 (wrongly! - since like all the collections of Ludlow and Sherriff it should be L and S 600). The seed of this was collected by Ludlow and Sherriff in 1934 on the Nyuksang La in Bhutan. It was their 600 th collection that year. The first - L and S 1 - was Primula gracilipes. They returned to collect seed later and is probably their most famous collection from all their trips both before and after the second world war. It does not set seed anymore but recent visitors to this area report very similar plants there to this day. They were fortunate to get seed since when they
Tuesday, 25 June 2013
Dactylorhizas self seed in my Meconopsis garden and I have given literally thousands away. This one is truly gorgeous and is called Eskimo Nell. It was given me a few years ago by Fred Hunt of Invergowrie, Tayside - one of the all time greats of Scottish Rock Garden club shows. He had bought it from the late Gerry Munday. I am sure it was produced from a cross with D. elata and a 'white' form of D. fuchsii. Not at all sure if this was done in culture or whether the cross arose from sowing actual seed. I have a white form of D. fuchsii which I collected very many years ago from the Irish Republic. This is a totally different plant in size, structure and flowering time.
Eskimo Nell is very strong growing and looks healthy and has clumped up well in about 4 years and I have given a number away.
Monday, 24 June 2013
Thursday, 20 June 2013
This plant I saw earlier in the year (see 8th April on this blog) and with more or less regular outline to the leaves it resembled M regia. Recently I returned to this splendid garden in Perth and the rosette had expanded to a large flowering spike. The large flowers were a clear cream yellow with a dark stigma. It still looks typical of the species M. regia but it is in fact what we now call M. 'napaulensis' hybrids - which originally would have included genes from M. regia and is rather a nice throwback to the true species.
Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Tuesday, 18 June 2013
Monday, 17 June 2013
There is an earlier image of the Meconopsis hybrid Mrs Jebbs on this blogsite. She was a lady who lived at Crocketford and this is one of the most distinctive of the M. Sheldonii types -- (M. betonicifolia crossed with M. grandis). This one is at the incomparable Branklyn Gardens in Perth, Scotland where they have a really large collection of many cultivars of 'big blue poppies'. Mrs Jebbs is distinguished by a rather more delicate growth form and uniquely cup shaped flowers.
Mrs Jebbs is the plant on the right.
Sunday, 16 June 2013
This is the fertile hybrid Lingholm. This was originally a plant derived from one of the M. x Sheldonii hybrids - (M. grandis crossed with M. betonicifolia). The plants were fertile because it became tetraploid and thus has two sets of chromosomes from each parent. It is easy, robust and perennial and usually a sound blue. More than 1 plant will give you generous amounts of seed which germinates well. For expert Meconopsis growers it is becoming interesting since it is showing variations on the form we have known for many years when new plants are raised from seed
Saturday, 15 June 2013
Nomocharis are a wonderful genus of about 7 species. All are very beautiful and no more difficult to grow than many lilies to which they are closely related. They tend to hybridize and the two illustrated are likely somewhat hybridized.
Friday, 14 June 2013
A lovely pink form of what I grow as Meconopsis 'napaulensis'. This is very like the material brought back by the Stainton, Sykes and Williams expedition many years ago but clearly now hybridizes with other things. Sets masses of seed and is easy. The rosette which is evergreen gradually expands in size and usually at 3 years erupts with a tall flower spike that may reach 6 feet. In the garden of my middle daughter Caroline in Invergowrie
- who wanted a mention!
Wednesday, 12 June 2013
There are several forms of Meconopsis quintuplinervia in cultivation. This is an old one and has rather a lanky stem and a slightly wishy washy flower colour. Faint praise indeed but this when pollinated with another form it
Tuesday, 11 June 2013
Two more colour variations on the Meconopsis 'napaulensis' hybrids. Red, again probably derived from the Stainton, Sykes and Williams expedition and the white from a more recent collection in Nepal. There is in fact a spectrum of colours that goes from deep blood red to some whites just shaded pink. All are desirable but some have larger flowers than others and more attractive foliage hair colour