Calanthe - Cypella
Plant names highlighted in green have images attached, click to view.
Calanthe discolor £12
If you’re new to these terrestrial orchids with broad, pleated leaves, this is one of the easiest species to start with. Starting into growth in spring, though never without leaves, the brownish flowers with paler lip are held on 30cm spikes. Do-able in a sheltered spot outside if you’re clever, but easy and satisfactory in a pot under unheated glass.
Calceolaria arachnoidea £3.75
What a diverse and under-explored genus is Calceolaria! This species makes a dense mound of strikingly silvery hairy leaves, with small deep purple flowers held above the foliage. In some climates it can get really quite tall; here, 30cm or so in flower is likely to be it. Certainly needs good drainage for the winter, but absolutely not dry in the summer. Sun or light shade.
Calceolaria filicaulis £3.75
Bright yellow flowers on delicate stems, over rosettes of light green, coarsely toothed leaves. May prove short lived, but easy from seed. Essentially a rock garden subject, but not for seriously dry places.
Calceolaria ‘Kentish Hero’ £4
A subshrubby one, this, with burnt orange flowers over a long summer season. Height 75cm. Given some protection overwinter it’s easy, although is best replaced from cuttings after a few years. Hardy with good drainage in mild winters. A hybrid or perhaps selection of C. integrifolia. Neither new nor very well known in Britain.
Caltha ‘Honeydew’ £5
A unique hybrid, raised in Sussex about 25 years ago. The flowers are a wonderful pale yellow, large on a hefty 75cm plant. The flower stems will root at the nodes, so try layering it as the flowers go over.
Camassia ‘John Treasure’ £7
Thanks to Elizabeth Strangman for our original stock of a great horticultural treasure. This is a fully double, rich deep blue flowered variety. It is not one of the big leichtlinii types, and seems nearer to C. quamash, reaching around 50cm in height, and without the stoutness of the tall ones. It flowers from relatively small bulbs. A clump is a superb sight, and it is straightforwardly growable, yet still rarely seen or offered. (Historical note for youngsters No.4: John Treasure (d. 1993) was the presiding genius at Burford House Gardens, beside the River Teme, a stone’s throw from the point where Worcestershire, Shropshire and Herefordshire meet. Famous for Clematis, the garden was much more, combining plantsmanship, design and very high horticultural standards. Mr Treasure was
well known for not hiding from visitors while at work in the garden, and was keen to encourage youngsters who appeared to be taking an interest in the plants, as I found out for myself. Nowadays the Treasure heritage has migrated up the road to Stockton Bury, but that’s another story.)
Campanula ‘Albert Kirkham’ £4.50 NEW CULTIVAR NAME
This is a unique campanula. The flowers are a soft, slightly lilacy pink, in late spring, in dense heads on stiff unbranched 30-40cm stems. There are many upfacing flowers, densely crowded together within the head. They are not remotely bell shaped, rather egg shaped, the perianth lobes remaining tesselated neatly over the bowl of the flower and never opening out or spreading. The inflorescence form is rather like C. glomerata, but the flowers and everything else about the plant are different. It runs densely and quite slowly, more in the way of lactiflora than either punctata or the dreaded rapunculoides. Considerable effort and baffled responses from many knowledgable people force us to conclude that it’s a novel hybrid. Found by the eponymous Mr. Kirkham, distributed by Jenny ‘Entwood’ Harding, and now NAMED!
Campanula ‘Crystal’ £4.50
Brian ‘Avondale’ Ellis’s fine selection does the ‘Burghaltii’ thing, but more so. The long buds are a rich purple, opening to a lilac so pale it’s effectively white, hanging in proper bellflower fashion, and shown to good effect against the clean green leaves. Height 60-75cm.
Campanula latifolia 'Buckland' £4.50
Large white bells with a small dark violet eye, in late spring to early summer, on an 80cm plant. Beautifully visible in light shade. From the Garden House in the Wiley era and rarely offered.
Campanula ‘Van-Houttei’ £4
Very big, dark blue-purple flowers. A fine plant. 75cm or so.
Cantua buxifolia £6
A few to spare of this wondrous South American shrub for a warm wall or conservatory. The clusters of long, hanging rich carmine flowers leave you in no doubt that this is an unusual woody member of the Polemoniaceae.
Great plants as they are, we can’t fill the catalogue with descriptions of plants which almost nobody wants to buy. We have small numbers of the following, at £4, mostly dormant until spring and best left in pots, watered, until well into growth. Woodlanders unless stated: diphylla ‘Eco Cut Leaf’ (white-veined leaves), quinquefolia. (Kew/Washfield flowering form, lilac-pink), raphanifolia (big, bold, pink flowered, a beaut for the bog garden in spring), waldsteinii (good sized white flowers, really nice low leaves).
Cardamine aff. diphylla £4
Special! A vigorous plant with well marked leaves which comes into growth in the autumn, unlike ‘Eco Cut Leaf’ and much stronger growing than the latter. White flowers in spring. Woodsy conditions. Thanks to Kevin Hughes.
Carex grayi £4.50
The flower spikes look like maces (the weapon not the spice) and look rather spectacular from early May through to the summer. A broad leaved hardy sedge for ordinary conditions. Everyone seems to want it when we take them to early May plant sales (then we run out).
Carex sp. from Kyoto £4
An evergreen shock of arching, foot high leaves in a light, slightly yellowy, slightly olivey green. Neat and pretty at the end of the winter when so many plants look jaded. Brought back from guess where by Chris Ghyselen. It probably has a species name, but who knows what?
Caryopteris divaricata 'Electrum' £5
A rarely seen variegated herbaceous foliage plant for summer effect, ideally out of intense sunlight. It’s not much like the familiar C. x clandonensis. The leaves are strongly white variegated (unlike that miserable wretch ‘Jade Shades’). Nip out the tips (cuttings?) in spring to get a bushier mound of foliage to 80cm or so by mid-summer. The tubular pale violet flowers are harmless. We had it from Monksilver 20 years ago, who reckoned it was a Japanese cultivar. Something looking identical is gaining popularity in the US under the sickening name ‘Snow Fairy’.
Castilleja miniata £4.50
Indian Paintbrushes! A summer visit to the American West is likely to inspire visiting plantspeople to give one or two of these hemiparasites a try, even if trying to identify them is tricksome. A few Americans have had success growing them on host – but first identify and grow your host. Over here, there have been more or less successful attempts to grow them off host, notably by the excellent Alpine Dept. at Wisley. Paul Cumbleton spills the beans in The Plantsman (you really MUST subscribe to it) for December 2008. Headlines: well drained alpine-type mix in pots; water freely through the growing season, and liquid feed; dryish in winter. This is one of the big orange-red ones, with some acid-green bits in the flower head (let’s not get too technical). We can grow and flower it, so you probably can too.
Castilleja sulphurea £4.50
This shorter Rocky Mountain species is a delight in the wild, with its rounded creamy bracts. Pretty good in pots here, too.
Cautleya cathcartii 'Tenzing's Gold' BSWJ2281 £4.50
A small species even in this genus of diminutive, hardy-ish, winter dormant ginger relatives. Spikes of rich yellow flowers in early summer, under 30cm for us, but might get a bit taller when well established. The backs of the leaves are nicely flushed with red. Collected by the Wynn-Jones’s in northern India on an expedition guided by a relative of the famous Tenzing Norgay.
Cenolophium denudatum £5
An excellent umbellifer, with finely divided foliage and white umbels in summer. Best of all, it thrives in dry shade. Variable in height, but can reach 1m.
Centaurea atropurpurea £5
A fine tall plant with excellent silver grey foliage when grown dry and lean. Wine red knobby flower heads. 150cm. Previously listed by us, and everyone else who grew it, as benoistii.
Centaurea bella £4
Silvery pinnate leaved clumper with decent sized lilac-pink flowers on 30cm stems. Sun, reasonable drainage.
Centaurea ‘Blewit’ £4.50
Previously, and correctly, sold as triumfettii x montana. Blue montana-like flowers at the tops of unbranched stems to 75cm, with a more open, running habit than montana, but still tough in the garden. The result of one of Joe Sharman’s experiments. His accidentally giving it to us in place of another plant gives rise to one dimension of the Sharmanic pun in the cultivar name. Unlike anything else, and very attractive.
Centaurea ‘Caramia’ £4
A nice plant which doesn’t seem to be getting about as quickly as I’d have expected. 30-60cm tall, with undivided greyish green leaves and purple-pink rayed flower heads over a long summer season. It’s in the area of C. phrygia, perhaps a hybrid with jacea – some intermediate forms have been recorded in the wild.
Centaurea glastifolia £5
Lots of good sized rich yellow flower heads on a 1m+ plant, in early summer. To me it’s the nicest of the big yellow ones, isn’t too fussy and makes a decent spreading patch without being thuggish.
Centaurea montana ‘Jordi’ £4.50
The darkest purple montana, quite extreme, very upright and with slightly different looking foliage. Repeat flowers if cut back. Easy as any other of its species.
Centaurea montana ‘Ochroleuca’ £5
An interesting pale yellow flowered form of the familiar perennial cornflower, later flowering than most. I could believe it is a hybrid with cheiranthifolia.
Centaurea montana ‘Purple Heart’ £5
White rays, proper purple centre. A no-nonsense perennial cornflower
Centaurea montana ‘Purpurea’ £5
As above, with unambiguously purple flowers.
Centaurea triumfettii ‘Blue Dreams’ £4.50
This species, allied to montana, is from Turkey and the eastern Med, needing better drainage, and going almost dormant for a bit in summer. The flowers are a lovely sky blue, in May, at around 30-40cm high.
Centaurea triumfettii ‘Hoar Frost’ £4.50
A sister seedling to the above, with good sized white flowers with pink-purple tinted centres. A great plant for a sunny, well drained place.
Chaerophyllum hirsutum ‘Roseum’ £5
Universally known as ‘Pink Cow Parsley’, but actually a Rough Chervil, which makes it even better since it’s a sound perennial. Classic.
Chamerion (Epilobium) angustifolium ‘Album’ £5
The White Willowherb, valuable as a splendidly clump-forming back-of-the-border plant. Dies down completely in winter; pure white flowers on 1m or taller stems in early summer. One of those white flowers which is properly, opaquely, beautifully white.
Chloranthus fortunei £7
An extraordinary and beautiful woodland perennial, almost certainly the most desirable of its genus. Each shoot consists of a whorl of leaves on a 15-30cm stem, with several little drooping tassles of white flowers rising just above them soon after the plant emerges in spring. What’s best is that the stems and leaf backs are a really dark purple, sometimes almost black, and the upper surfaces can be the same colour, at least for many weeks, if the light levels are adequate. It makes a stout, dense clump over time. From a CDR collection many years ago. I can’t really see how the clone ‘Domino’ differs from this stock, apart from in its price...
Chlorophytum krookianum £6
A decidedly odd winter-dormant perennial which is approximately south-of-England-hardy (these things are inevitably vague, and microclimate is, of course, paramount). It makes a massive clump of fleshy perennial roots, with leaves low to the ground and stout, stiffly erect flower stems in summer, reaching 1.5m or more. The flowers are white and the whole effect is rather Verbascum-like. Rather few flowers open on any given day, but they go on for ages.
Chromolaena arnottiana RCB/Arg - L2 £4.50
A wiry stemmed Argentinian, distinctive for its amazing Ageratum-like powdery lavender-blue flower heads at the end of summer. 1m tall. Not entirely hardy outside the mildest gardens. The generic name, perhaps unfamiliar, comes out of the breakup of Eupatorium.
Chrysosplenium macrophyllum £4.50
The golden saxifrage that thinks it’s a Bergenia. Round bristly leaves, new rosettes forming at the ends of obscene fat hairy stolons. Flowers quite large but uninteresting compared with the foliage. Mad ground cover for a woodsy bed.
Cirsium sp. white £5
Basal rosettes of shiny, only weakly prickly-edged leaves. Fine white flower heads on 1.5m stems in autumn. It could perhaps be a Serratula sp., but not S. bulgarica. Thanks to Roger and Sue Norman.
Clematis recta dark leaved £4
Purple leaved form of the classic herbaceous species, making 2m rambling / sprawling stems (often grown into a shrub or up one of those pyramidal support jobbies). These are seed raised from the excellent ‘Lime Close’, rogued at the seedling stage to eliminate the inevitable green ones. The purple colour is most intense in young growth, greening up eventually, but with later new growth purple again. Seedlings will not, of course, be identical, and most of what’s around is seed raised, whether it’s explicitly labelled as such or not.
Convallaria majalis var. rosea £4
Lily of the Valley is one of those infuriating plants that likes some people/gardens and not others, for no
discernible reason. This is the pink form...
Convallaria majalis ‘Haldon Grange’ £4.50
…while this is a butch plant, triploid I’m told, with a cream margin to the apical third of the leaf…
Convallaria majalis ‘Vic Pawlowski’s Gold’ £5
...and this has particularly good yellow stripes to the leaves; we’ve hardly ever seen a reversion.
Coptis japonica var. major £4.50
From the backwaters of the Ranunculaceae comes this small Northern genus for cool, humusy positions. Finely divided, but rather stiff, ternate leaves to 25cm, and tiny white flowers in autumn, as the leaves go down, with extraordinary whorls of seed pods with the new leaves in spring. Gently running. Very rarely seen.
Coriaria japonica £4
I really like coriarias. It’s such a shame that so few are ever seen. This is one of the less common species, a subshrub rarely reaching 1m tall in this form, much of this height in the bold, attractive, pinnate, deciduous leaves. The flowers are small and early in the year, inconspicuous females and prettier polleny males seperately. The berries are conspicuous and red, in clusters. These are just year-old plants, priced accordingly (check out the alternative...) They grow quickly. Oh yes, growing conditions: well drained soil, sun or part shade, protection from late frosts.
Corydalis leucanthema DJHC 752 £4
A fibrous rooted species for shade. Rather substantial leaves, grey and somewhat marbled in silver. Pink-and-white flowers in spring. 15cm. There’s a real possibility that this collection was incorrectly identified. Excellent, anyway.
Corydalis sp. from Gongga Shan £4
Short stout rhizomes at ground level, with stout buds during the short summer dormancy. Rather finely cut greygreen leaves all winter, heads of purple flowers in spring. Not for a dry position. Given us by Martin Rix, whom I think collected it. We were left rather unclear as to whether it had ever been identified, or whether he just couldn’t recall the name. Some people say it must be anthriscifolia, and it certainly looks quite like that, although when we grew that in the past it seemed an altogether skinnier and less impressive plant. I realize all this sounds feeble and poorly observed, but Corydalis is so not my genus...
Crinum campanulatum £6
This fine-leaved water crinum needs ample moisture in the growing season. Having messed around for some years, we now grow it in a big pot, stood in a deep saucer of water, outside from spring to autumn, brought into the unheated polytunnel in winter without the saucer. This gives fast growth and provides a first line of defence against snails, which can trash the narrow leaves. The flowers are a lovely warm pinkish red, deepest in the centre, on a 30-40cm stem. Very much worth this minimal effort!
Crinum ‘Carolina Beauty’ £5
Fragrant white flowers on tall stems. Seems cold tolerant when dormant, but seems to need a warmer position than we give it to flower – perhaps a south wall, or planted in a greenhouse bed.
Crinum from Glasgow £6
An old cultivated plant (not hardy in Scotland!) and probably an old hybrid. The 19th Century ‘H.J. Elwes’ has been seriously suggested, but we’re some way off being sure. Flowers with a very long perianth tube, most attractive, capable of flowering on relatively small bulbs. Thanks to Paul Matthews.
Crinum x powellii ‘Haarlemense’ £6
A particularly good clone of the well known hardy hybrid, much less coarsely leafy than the usual pink form, and a lighter pink. Very rarely offered. Ours stock goes back to Messrs Archibald and Smith. (Historical note to youngsters No.1: inspired plant collector and bulb/alpine grower Jim Archibald, with excellent hybridist Eric Smith, made a mark – if not much money - in the 70s with their Sherborne nursery ‘The Plantsmen’)
Crinum x powellii ‘Krelagei’? £6
A fine plant under a dubious name we’ve kept for want of a better one. A different, less coarsely leafy clone of x powellii which goes back to The Plantsmen (remember them?)
Crinum x powellii ‘Album’ AGM £6
Clean white flowers, of slightly better form than the usual pink one. Divisions of our own stock which really does have white flowers, unlike some you find in the bulb trade.
It’s hard to imagine British gardens without these summer stalwarts, yet they are essentially a garden
phenomenon of the 20th Century. The 1898 edition of Robinson’s cutting-edge ‘The English Flower Garden’ mentions only aurea, under a synonym. All £5
‘A.J. Hogan’Tall (80cm), red, mid-season, with upfacing flowers. There’s a whiff of paniculata in the genetic mix
of this fine Cornish variety.
‘Baby Barnaby’Branched stems with orange flowers, blotched maroon. 60cm. Sarah says I must emphasize how very nice it is.
‘David Fitt’ A very tall (well over 1m) and substantial orange-red cultivar with dark stems. Inflorescence form and leaves show some paniculata in its background. Uncommon and very fine; raised by Dave Fenwick.
‘Debutante’ Peculiar, but attractive pinky orange. Quite early, but with staying power.
‘Ellenbank Firecrest’ 60cm small-but-many flowered orange and red bicolor. Eyecatching.
‘Fire Jumper’ Dan Hinkley’s red/orange bicolor. Excellent, still rarely seen. Unusually many flowers per stem.
‘Harmonia’ Prolific flowers, the colour of barbecued tomatoes, with yellow throats. Mid height. Uncommon.
‘Hellfire’Deep red, densely clustered flowers, dark stems. To 1m.
‘Jackanapes’ Good old dwarf red/yellowy orange bicolor, making a cheeky face at you..
'Limpopo' Large flowers, pinky-apricot.
‘Paul’s Best Yellow’ Very large, rich golden yellow flowers face outwards. Impressive: the best yellow, we think.
‘Salsa’Densely clustered, upfacing orange flowers with a red ring, fairly early. Loud and very nice, but oddly hard to obtain.
‘Star of the East’ Huge, open, slightly inclined orange flowers.
'Walberton Red' Upfacing (masoniorum-type) tomato red flowers, 90cm.
‘Zambesi’ Best of the African Rivers hybrids. Tall and long flowering. Many large outfacing orange flowers. PBR.
Crocus x leonidii ‘Jānis Rukšāns’ £4.50 (several in a pot)
Spring flowering, with golden yellow flowers, strongly striped red-brown on the backs of the outer segments (and so clearly visible when the flowers aren’t open.) C. x leonidii is the name for hybrids between angustifolius and reticulatus; they are pretty straightforward garden plants, given sun and very good drainage. This one was selected for early flowering, with very many flowers per corm, by Leonid Bondarenko from Jānis Rukšāns’s hybrid stock.
Crocus speciosus AGM £3.75
One of the classic autumn flowering species, with large veiny lavender flowers, set off by orange stigmas. Years ago we acquired several clones (all labelled ‘Oxonian’ – not convinced any of them were) and let them seed around the garden. These are the result.
Cymophyllus fraserianus £4.50
Small North American sedge whose flowers are an improbable pure white, against the dark foliage. 15cm. Probably needs acid soil. Slow.
Cynodon aethiopicus £4
A blue leaved grass with flowers clustered along several radiating inflorescence branches. Hard to describe but very smart. East African, and moderately hardy in a sunny, well drained position.
Cypella coelestis £4
Good-sized blue tigridia-like flowers on an upright, scarcely branched plant to 60cm. A summer growing bulb which goes dormant-ish in winter. Best in a pot in the cool greenhouse, watered well spring-autumn, dryish in winter unless frost-free.
Cypella herbertii £3.75
Orangey yellow flowers like small tigridias on a branching plant over a long summer season. A no-trouble bulb for unheated glass, tough enough that you might risk it outside in a mild garden.
For all those interested in South African plants we've also put all our listings of South African
bulbs and plants onto one website we've called South African Bulbs at Desirable Plants.
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