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 Not the green roof thread 
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Post Not the green roof thread
I've been very lax about collating and editing photographs this year, so I have just waded through the past six months of the garden and green roof. It was instructive, a bit like a time-lapse of the past three seasons.

Here's a trip through the front garden, starting in June.

Trachycarpus wagnerianus and Chamaerops humilis cerifera in the spring sun.

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C. h. cerifera is one of my favourite Palms. It's never going to get big and it scratches my legs because it blocks the path, but it's staying right where it is.

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And the T. wagnerianus on the same sunny day.

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This Woodwardia radicans, which I got from Kev last year in a small pot, announced its triffidaceous tendencies early on. This was in June. By next June, I expect it will have eaten the entire neighbourhood. That's Impatiens puberula on the upper right and Persicaria microcephala 'Red Dragon' on the lower left.

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Some of the contrasting foliage below the looming Woodwardia. They were intended to underplant the Semiarundinaria fastuosa to the right (which has increased its territory since this photo), but after trying to get these to bulk up for several years, it's plain that there is no way they can compete with the Bamboo's root-and-rhizome system - certainly not in my rather dry garden. Most of these get watered nearly daily, but they won't increase. They just survive.

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The entrance patio in June. It's a mess, but for some reason I like this photo. Propagation City is to the right.

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Ficus macrophylla columnaris. Started as two small cuttings from Michael (SW Ireland) in 2014, these struggled for two years, before finally establishing themselves last year. They are ultimately the offspring of Bennz's seed distribution. They're turning into very attractive small plants now, about 0.7m tall and starting to branch.

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I also have a seedling-grown F. macrophylla (not columnaris) that I got from Josh76 in 2012 (?), which is now a substantial shrub. It is planted in a pot in the ground, with the intention of ripping it up and taking indoors during hard freezes - also with the intention of preventing its root system from demolishing my garden wall. But I left it in place all last winter, which included one brief -3ºC and a multitude of overnight -1ºCs. It died back by about a foot, but it has grown back vigorously to about 2.0m. It remains to be seen how much force will be required to lift it this winter.

July

I have 8-9 Chamaedorea radicalis dotted about shady areas of the garden. This sp. is reliably hardy in London - the three oldest were unscathed by any of the harsh winters from 2008-2011. Most of them flower every year, so I get rather a lot of fruit, which I swapped this summer for some interesting hardy succulents for the roof.

C. radicalis infructescense reclining on Cyrtomium falcatum frond.

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August

Abutilon x hybridum 'Golden Fleece' - the ID is mine, it was acquired unnamed. This is probably the most tender of my Abutilons and I lost the main plant after the 2010 freeze, but I managed to get a cutting going before it expired entirely and it has finally motivated itself to provide me with a decent display only this year.

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Abutilon 'Kentish Belle' is much hardier - pretty indestructible in London. No matter how hard I prune it, by August it is sprawling all over everything. The Kumara plicatilis in the pot had 6 branches, but it was so top-heavy that it kept collapsing, so I steeled myself last spring and pruned all but two heads off. Now I have two spare plants ... and I still don't have a suitably sunny place for this to grow. Never mind.

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As I was saying about that Woodwardia radicans... This is the same plant two months later, in August.

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Down the garden path...

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An impulse buy in a sale: Bergenia ciliata 'Dumbo', which is doing pretty well, to my surprise - two plants of B. ciliata 'Wilton' that I got from Nick Macer a couple of years ago are struggling to survive in an exceptionally dry spot. 'Dumbo' has increased noticeably in the two months since this photo was taken.

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September

Musschia wollastonii, from Kev a couple of years ago. In a big pot, though it has rooted itself in position.

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Three Hedychium gardnerianum have flowered for the past several years, reliably, though less profusely this year. They really need to be planted out, as they are very congested. I also have two chunky seedlings waiting to join them.

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Mandatory arty Agave attenuata shot.

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Another species that gets plunged in pots except during freezes - a couple of Begonia luxurians, which have done very well this year under a canopy of Acacia pravissima, more so since the Acacia has been subjected to a heavy reduction by a tree surgeon (it's become too big for me to deal with myself). The elephant leg on the left is the Acacia trunk.

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In 2008, Gary King-Hall sent me two very tiny seedlings of Cordyline obtecta, which I believe came from Peter Richardson's seed collection in NZ. Eventually I sorted out that one was 'Green Goddess' and one was 'Emerald Goddess' and which was which. The former was planted out in 2009; the latter remained in a pot. Both were killed to the ground by the prolonged freeze in December 2010. The 'GG' started to regrow in April 2011, when it produced three shoots, but the 'EG' remained moribund until one shoot appeared in spring 2012.

The 'GG' divides its energy into three trunks and has, after a very good growing season, achieved the height of 1.7m. The 'EG', which can concentrate all of its energies in one direction - up - is still in a large pot, but has permanently rooted itself in place (gales permitting) and is 2.5m tall. I prefer the 'Green Goddess' for its wider, less olive-coloured foliage.

Cordyline obtecta 'Green Goddess' (you can see the Ficus macrophylla in the background)

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Cordyline obtecta 'Emerald Goddess' trying unsuccessfully to hide behind a pile of Iris confusa.

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October

When you look out the windows at the front of my house, it doesn't look a lot like London. Not London in October, anyway.

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Hedychium densiflorum seed heads are always a good extension to the season.

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The usual autumnal suspects are still hanging on in there: mainly Brugmansias and Abutilons, which together add at least 6 weeks to the flowering season here. In a good year, I'll have a few of them pushing out new flowers in early December.

Brugmansia 'Charles Grimaldi', a bit battered but still with unopened flower buds.

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Brugmansia insignis 'Rosea' and Abutilon x hybridum 'Nabob'. I also rather like the reflection of the street-Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus).

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in July 2016, someone sent me some cuttings of Salvia 'Amistad', which is one vigorous plant. Growing these on and propagating them takes no time at all, but an experiment growing them on a damper bit of the green roof didn't survive last winter. Since last spring, the remaining 150mm cutting has produced two large plants, which I kept moving around the garden to keep them out of my bloody way. Eventually I liked where I plonked them, so I planted them there, only a couple of weeks ago. They are underplanted with Iris foetidissima, grown from a seed pod that I stole about 4 years ago, and I'm hoping the Iris will flower in spring before the Salvia smothers it and that the Salvia will die back before the Iris seeds become a feature in winter. Fat chance.

The royal purple colour of the Salvia flowers overpowers my camera, so this is the only one where I've had to tweak the hue to get the flowers to look more as they do in real life.

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Sun Oct 29, 2017 3:09 pm
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Post Re: Not the green roof thread
A wonderful array of Exotics David. I am in awe of your Iris confusa... not one leaf out of place. Mine although small has the permanent shredded look courtesy of rambling molluscs. Good to see a lot of abutilon.... they are the mainstay even in my cold garden. I particularly like the dark ruby red/ purple variety. Do you have a name for it? Lastly the Cordyline obtecta green goddess is something I must try. I guess it is a little more tender than australis ? Thanks for showing.

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Sun Oct 29, 2017 6:57 pm
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Post Re: Not the green roof thread
Nice one David your garden looks really well I too love C.humilis "Cerifera" does it stay bluish through winter, mine does, I read a lot of members elsewhere whete their colour seems to wash off.
I gave up on brugs years ago they seeme to catch every bug and virus going I do like that pink one ....any tips?


Sun Oct 29, 2017 9:22 pm
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Post Re: Not the green roof thread
David

You have a fantastic garden.

Woodwardia is one of my favourite genera of ferns


Mon Oct 30, 2017 8:22 am
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Post Re: Not the green roof thread
Andy Martin wrote:
A wonderful array of Exotics David. I am in awe of your Iris confusa... not one leaf out of place. Mine although small has the permanent shredded look courtesy of rambling molluscs.


Thanks, Andy. I'm not sure why I. confusa loves my garden so much. I thought I had an especially vigorous one, but it doesn't seem to go mad when I give chunks of it away. And it's not one plant: I started with a few pieces obtained from a work friend who gardens, but then I filled some gaps with a different one from Architectural Plants. They're all mixed together now. I think it's just a felicitous spot for it: it likes the part-time sun and the clayey loam topsoil.

They do get attacked by gastropods, but I use Ferric phosphate around the garden, which wipes out most of the small slugs that dine on Iris confusa. Also, we've had a very dry season, so this year's new growth hasn't been munched yet. By the time these stems have finished flowering next spring, they'll be damaged, but it will be time to cut them out and let the new ones through. The whole patch is girdled with stakes and wire to keep it from flopping onto the path. It's a labour-intensive species if you want it to look good, but I'm very fond of it.

Andy Martin wrote:
Good to see a lot of abutilon.... they are the mainstay even in my cold garden. I particularly like the dark ruby red/ purple variety. Do you have a name for it?


I guess there can't be many that will survive a typical winter in your area. What varieties have you got? The dark red one is A. x hybridum 'Nabob'. It's another self-ID, but I'm confident about this one. It's a rather raw-boned shrub: coarse, inelegant and leggy like most Abutilons, however you prune it and stake it, but it's great in flower, which it will do 365 days, as long as there is no frost or drought to prevent it. I can send you some cuttings next year if you remind me. It's hardier than the yellow one, but similarly I had to start it again from cuttings from the original 15-year-old plant after it was fatally damaged in 2010.

Andy Martin wrote:
Lastly the Cordyline obtecta green goddess is something I must try. I guess it is a little more tender than australis ? Thanks for showing.


Undoubtedly more tender than the type C. australis, but perhaps not more so than many of the coloured varieties. Both C. obtectas seem OK through an overnight -5ºC, but are badly damaged by sustained freezes or anything at -7ºC or lower.

Kev Spence wrote:
Nice one David your garden looks really well I too love C.humilis "Cerifera" does it stay bluish through winter, mine does, I read a lot of members elsewhere where their colour seems to wash off.


It doesn't wash off, exactly, but it does fade. The older fronds get a yellowish cast. Mine is too close to the path (hence chronically scarred shins), so older, more horizontal growth gets brushed by clothing frequently. The new growth stays blue for long enough to be a feature.

Kev Spence wrote:
I gave up on brugs years ago they seem to catch every bug and virus going I do like that pink one ....any tips?


I've not had any problems with virus (except a gift cutting of B. sanguinea that got consigned to the bin immediately), but the gastropods and capsid bugs are a menace every year. There are various posts describing my "treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen" approach to overwintering Brugmansias, so I'll just summarise here: they'll be happiest in a cold, frost-free greenhouse, but I don't have one, so I defoliate them, prune them back enough to get them through the front door and keep them nearly-dry to deter them from growing (and getting infested) indoors. Then they go out into the cold again (plunged pots) as soon as I reckon the last frost has gone. They'll never be as prolific as some people's specimens, they never flower until July and they need incessant watering and feeding, but some of them are 20 years old, so it seems to work.

The pink one started as a cutting from Bruno in Cork, at least 15 years ago.

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Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:15 am
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Post Re: Not the green roof thread
David Matzdorf wrote:

I also have a seedling-grown F. macrophylla (not columnaris) that I got from Josh76 in 2012 (?), which is now a substantial shrub. it is planted in a pot in the ground, with the intention of ripping it up and taking indoors during hard freezes - also with the intention of preventing its root system from demolishing my garden wall. But I left it in place all last winter, which included one brief -3ºC and a multitude of overnight -1ºCs. It died back by about a foot, but it has grown back vigorously to about 2.0m. It remains to be seen how much force will be required to lift it this winter.


Fantastic visual tour of the garden, David!

Glad to hear that the Ficus macrophylla is still going strong and survived last winter outside. Knowing what I do about the aggressive root systems of these plants, I'd say that yours most likely already has roots beyond your property line and, given a few more mild winters, will probably consume the entire neighbourhood :shock: :lol:


Mon Oct 30, 2017 12:02 pm
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Post Re: Not the green roof thread
What a wonderfully nice and exotic garden, David!

I really admire your success with Acacia!

Btw, Iris confusa, your plantlets not only thrive in my garden but also successfully conquered (*cough*) gardens throughout southern and western Germany. It has become a hit among my gardening friends. Foliage is reliably evergreen and to die for and it flowers most years here.

But its tendency towards world domination gives you to think... :lol:


Mon Oct 30, 2017 7:00 pm
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Post Re: Not the green roof thread
Lovely pictures and a lot of plants that look very happy! I think that some of them, whilst fairly hardy, you are using to good advantage in more shade than they would thrive in without the London heat island.

David Matzdorf wrote:
Andy Martin wrote:
I'm not sure why I. confusa loves my garden so much. I thought I had an especially vigorous one, but it doesn't seem to go mad when I give chunks of it away. And it's not one plant: I started with a few pieces obtained from a work friend who gardens, but then I filled some gaps with a different one from Architectural Plants. They're all mixed together now. I think it's just a felicitous spot for it: it likes the part-time sun and the clayey loam topsoil.


It's my experience too that this is a plant that behaves very differently depending on circumstance. I had a division of my dad's clump (of I. confusa 'Martyn Rix') which at his house near Stroud on thin limestone soil forms a tight, dense clump which flowers madly every spring. For me on rich, slightly acid and moist soil it spreads like wildfire forming a colony of lush foliage but never flowers. I struggle to get rid of the runners each year! Snails I find only go for it for quite a brief period in spring.


Mon Oct 30, 2017 9:02 pm
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Post Re: Not the green roof thread
A great jungle David.

John

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Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:24 pm
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Post Re: Not the green roof thread
Congrats on a very GOTE looking garden. The Acacia is wild. Its trunk looks tropically smooth.


Mon Oct 30, 2017 11:20 pm
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Post Re: Not the green roof thread
Here's the Acacia pravissima flowering last March. I forgot to upload it yesterday. Unfortunately, the photos can't convey the scent.

It won't be doing this next year, as two thirds of it is gone. It was sprawling all over the crown of the Phoenix canariensis and threatening to block the public pavement unless I gave it a mini-crown-lift every few weeks. It needed a major lesson in discipline. I look forward to flowers in 2019...

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Tue Oct 31, 2017 2:30 am
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Post Re: Not the green roof thread
Thanks for taking the time to post all these photos, David. An incredible diversity of plants expertly combined into a small space!

I am also in awe of your Iris confusa - by far the best specimen I've ever seen. Your photos have persuaded me to give this a go here. Also great to see your Woodwardia radicans. How hardy is this? I've seen it growing on Tenerife many times and would like to give this a go too. I already grow Woodwardia fimbriata, but radicans has a different look and feel to it which I like.

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Tue Oct 31, 2017 8:21 am
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Post Re: Not the green roof thread
BenC wrote:
Thanks for taking the time to post all these photos, David. An incredible diversity of plants expertly combined into a small space!


Thanks, that's an especially welcome compliment. Everything is where it is for visual as well as horticultural reasons. Even the mistakes.

BenC wrote:
I am also in awe of your Iris confusa - by far the best specimen I've ever seen. Your photos have persuaded me to give this a go here.


Have you got some or would you like me to send you a division?

I tried to get 'Martyn Rix' going a few years ago (PeteFree sent me a potful), but it never got established - too much competition, I suspect. I don't know if it's less vigorous than the type. I suspect it's just that I didn't give it a chance. Many of the plants that have done especially/surprisingly well here are the ones that were planted when the garden was new: as well as the Iris confusa, that includes the Acacia, the Phoenix and the oldest Trachycarpus fortunei, which got a head-start in freshly-laid topsoil and rocketed away in a manner that I have never duplicated since - now everything has to fight for root-space, not only with my own plants, but with invading roots from the multiple mature trees in adjacent gardens and the street. It isn't just dry here because there's less rain than there was 15 years ago. It's also because there is so much demand.

BenC wrote:
Also great to see your Woodwardia radicans. How hardy is this? I've seen it growing on Tenerife many times and would like to give this a go too. I already grow Woodwardia fimbriata, but radicans has a different look and feel to it which I like.


I think its hardiness is a question for Kev, who gave it to me last year. He's growing it in Leicestershire. Mine has been through one London winter, with a single isolated -3ºC and a plethora of -1ºCs. It needs a lot of water. The raised bed where mine lives (on top of the bin store) is right next to the garden mains tap. The rainwater tank is at the other end of the garden. I point a hose at the Woodwardia nearly every day. If I relied on hauling the jug over from the tank and lifting it up to the raised bed every day, I know I wouldn't do it.

I'm propagating it at present, so I might have 2-3 small ones next spring.

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Tue Oct 31, 2017 9:45 am
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Post Re: Not the green roof thread
David Matzdorf wrote:

Have you got some or would you like me to send you a division?



That would be amazing - thank you very much indeed. Very kind and unexpected! Hopefully I can sort out a suitable exchange for something for you to try. I'll drop you a PM :)

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Tue Oct 31, 2017 11:19 am
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Post Re: Not the green roof thread
Beautiful garden David, you have a great collection well-matched, looks good :wink:

Eduard.

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Tue Oct 31, 2017 1:50 pm
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