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What happens to a new variety that you bring home, warm between knees and waistband, face flushed with triumph and determined upon success? Does it die in the first week or do you have to spend a year or two, waiting for it to fall off the twig? Do you keep trying and failing to grow something you fancy, only to see it wilt, slump and liquefy, despite your best efforts? You have my sympathy. I’ve given up paying good money for clematis which look lovely in the shop but turn to sticks and slime in my care and then, to use the technical term, cark it. The people who make their living by pimping plants are massaging their wares as we speak, aiming to lure you and me into rash purchases to make ourselves and our gardens look tempting. By the Easter weekend, the levels of enticement will be at total slut maximum; every nursery, supermarket and dusty roadside barrow will display a splash of pert, bright petal for your consideration. Are you going to spend your budget on the tartiest thing that you see? Perhaps you will take a careful decision based on soil type, situation and existing colour scheme. I career wildly between the two extremes.
Mathiasella bupleuroides (Green Dream)
I have a wish list which I organise alphabetically by Latin names, in a small telephone/address book. There is just enough room for a brief description, common name and preferred conditions. Small enough to carry at all times, the record aims to keep me from reckless acquisitions which have no chance of survival in my plot. Thus I desire Delphiniums and Trilliums (soil too dry). I crave Camellias and Gentiana (too alkaline). I positively pant after Agapanthus (too cold). I’ve spent more cash on specimens doomed to failure than I will ever admit to Attila the Gardener. Some can be reared in pots of suitable compost and trollied about the place but as they get larger and particularly if they fail to flower, this preferential treatment begins to pall. Sooner or later I forget to bring in some treasure from winter frost and I vow that I will leave off such foolishness. This sensible attitude lasts until I see the plant for sale in all its healthy glory and I’m smitten anew, unless there’s a “not bloody likely” notation in my want book.
Perhaps it’s time to make some proper plans. Your favourite shades should be a large feature; she who wields the spade gets to choose, by digging if not by common assault. I have a preference for dark burgundy and lime green but I find that I can shoehorn in spaces for whites and cream, purple, blue and red. I squeeze yellow and orange into a separate border because without some sunny giant daisies, I wouldn’t want to live. It’s been said that a garden without pink lacks sensuality; I’m not a complete slapper so apart from lilies, I corral blush tints into the Dahlia patch in a piffling effort to keep my reputation intact. I try to keep colour clashes to a minimum and few plants are rejected because they just won’t fit.
Tulip
Having recommended that you acquire the right plant for a place that suits, in a hue that is apposite, in the appropriate climate, I wish to make a heartfelt impassioned plea. Please don’t get huge clumps of the usual suspects. Allow a little recklessness into your life and give in to the charms of something that you don’t recognise or you’ve never grown before. You could end up falling in love.

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