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I had a lovely birthday, thank you. Wonderful gifts included tiny handmade pots for the cactus collection and whopping containers in which I could grow a substantial tree. I was given a green man for an outside wall provided that we can borrow a crane to lift the big beggar into place; doing the job manually is going to give Attila that hernia he’s been courting these many years. Speaking of my husband, he gave me some new benches and a table to go under the cherry tree. The old chairs had rotted after many years; you took your dignity and possibly your life in your hands if you risked actually sitting on the fragile seats and I never cared for an intimate association with arthropods, particularly in such close proximity to my nether regions.
Hopefulness in packets
Hopefulness in packets

My sister gave me seeds. She said that she was aiming for something unusual and which I would have difficulty in pronouncing. Well done kid, that’s a hit on all counts. I now have packets of promise that I have never heard of, let alone seen growing. I’ve read the instructions with considerable care. I’m deeply flattered that anyone should think me capable of breathing life into some very exotic examples of flora. Having been practising, I can now say Clerodendrum trichotomum var. fargesii although I need a good run at it beforehand and a stiff gin afterwards. This is a specimen that needs cool conditions along with constant moisture for a year or more before it will germinate. I’m not expecting to report that my garden is full of these things; I will probably forget to water them after the first month, never mind twelve.
Optimism in the propagator
Optimism in the propagator`

Can you say Michauxia tchihatcheffii? I can’t. The flower looks as if it comes from Mars, which would explain the palaver necessary to get it to grow. How about Molopospermum peloponnesiacum? I’m going to need a speech therapist and my heated propagator for that one. Last time I saw the latter was in the shed, storing plant pots in the base and spider’s webs in the lid. Move over eight legged squatters, I’m on a mission to prove myself here. There are varieties that I have lusted after for a very long time. If the Gods favour me, I could have lashings of Dierama pulcherrimum so dark as to make coal appear pasty faced. Three months for those to sprout and they mustn’t freeze or dry out at all during their first winter. Good luck with that one, guys. Allium schubertii is an ornamental onion which looks as if its head exploded. Help me; my spell-checker is having a nervous breakdown and I’m beginning to feel that I’m out of my depth.
Asplenium bulbiferum (mother spleenwort) in the conservatory
Asplenium bulbiferum (mother spleenwort) in the conservatory

Finally, one that I recognise. Rhodochiton atrosanguineum is the plant that brought Gardener’s Question Time to a tittering halt. A member of the radio audience asked the experts if it were true that a flower bore a rather rude name. If you Google it for a photograph, use the scientific moniker unless you are of an adventurous frame of mind. Polite people use the common name, Chinese purple bell vine. I was taught a more vulgar sobriquet. Gardeners normally excel at calling a spade an earth inverting horticultural implement but there’s no room for whimsy here; for me it’s Black man’s willy, all the way.

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