Monday, 22 April 2013

M. ‘napaulensis’ What I have grown under this name was clearly a hybrid. These are tall evergreen monocarpic plants which send a racemose  flowering spike up a metre and a half to 2 metres with up to 6 flowers on each flowering side shoot from main stem (panicles). The foliage varies from gold to grey and flowers from deep yellow, through pinks to almost black red and is variable lobed but never pinnatafid. As now classified M. napaulensis is a yellow flowered plant about 1 metre high. Seed is readily available and usually germinates well and they like rich ground and will normally flower at 3 or 4 years and then die – and if more than 1 plant with a good seed set.
M paniculata. This is like the above but normally yellow and as the name suggests flowers after a few years as an attractive evergreen rosettes to a racemose flowering spike up to 2 metres maybe even a little more. The stigma is mauve coloured. There were two forms in cultivation from different parts of the Himalayas – one with acid yellow /green foliage and the other with grey foliage both covered in fine hairs. Red flowered specimens have been reported both recently and in the past but I am opening minded about whether these should be directed to this species. Another easy species widely available and would probably succeed with care in the south U.K. perhaps covered with a pane of glass in winter.
M. pinnatifolia. Recently described relative of M. discigera from the Discogyne. Seed has been available but here I only grew them on for a few months.
M. prainiana. One of the M. horridula relatives split off by Chris Grey –Wilson. Have germinated this but not grown it on. Images of this look very nice and it would be desirable, probably possible north of the border but seed would be difficult to obtain.
M. prattii. Another relative of M. horridula from China. Very easy probably anywhere in the U.K. Often in cultivation a washed blue mauve but an interesting and attractive plant. Seed germinates well and pricked on plants grow quickly and usually flower as a biennial.
M. pseudointegrifolia. See integrifolia                                                                  M. punicea. An extra-ordinary plant with clear scarlet flowers and the one that I grow well here. A real holy grail when I became involved in Meconopsis and then Peter Cox of Glendoick in Tayside managed to be on the first plant hunting expedition allowed back into China for many years. He re -established this plant and gave me seed but I promtly lost the plants and he gave me some seed from his seed bank and this time I had learned my lessons. It needs sowing as soon as ripe. That is watch the capsules every day and the moment they naturally start to split open sow the seed thinly in large pans in damp peaty compost and cover in 2 to 3 mm of fine grit. Place trays in total shade, cool and under cover with netting of only 3 to 4 mm mesh over and then cover with about 10cms of damp spoil/peat. This should be kept undercover from rain but the topping of soil always kept moist. This is brought out at the beginning of January, the soil and netting removed and seed pans placed where they can be gently warmed by a soils warming cable below which is turned on at the end of January. They often germinate without heat. I expect at least 90% germination. They will germinate if harvested when fully ripe and sown normally in spring but usually only a fraction will come. This year I had a poor harvest and was given seed mid-July which was sown immediately. As I write in late February about 2 seeds have germinated while my own seedlings are throwing their first true leaves.             M. quintuplinervia. A purple but usually perennial close relative of the above – the harebell poppy of Farrer. One of the great garden plants. Relatively few clones in cultivation but easily vegetatively propagated. Colour from clear mauve to almost blue and different clones produce flowers of different sizes. From seed it needs treating like M. punicea but seed is rarely obtainable.        M. regia. Big yellow flowered evergreen monocarpic with large non pinnate grey leaves. A red form has been reported. My early plants hybridized with M. ‘napaulensis’ types. If we are to conserve a recollection needs growing in isolation.                                                                                                                M. robusta. A tall yellow relative of the above with small flowers widely spaced and usually 1 to each side stem. What is called’ biological interest only’!M. rudis – see M. horridula

M. sherriffii. Named for a great plant collector and a wonderful plant like a pink M. integrifolia. George Sherriff was one of the great Meconopsis collectors and gardened at Ascrievie in Tayside. My first garden visit with the Scottish Rock Garden club was to Ascrievie and I did meet Betty Sherriff, his wife, who showed us round the garden. A Himalayan plant now I think sadly out of cultivation. However in the 1930’s a pink M. integrifolia was described from China – this sounds mighty like M. sherriffii.                      

 M. simplicifolia. Can be brilliant blue plants some of which are perennial. Really like a M. grandis but ALL flowers on basal scapes never a raceme. Many forms – some much more difficult than others very much depending on where collected with high altitude specimens as always more difficult. I flowered 4 different seed collections last year but a cold wet summer meant no seed set and few have survived flowering. A very desirable species.                                        M. staintonii. This is really where all the coloured M. ‘napaulensis’ have come from. Named after the collector Adam Stainton and a monocarpic evergreen with tall racemes of pink or red flowers.                                                              M. superba. The exception to the rule that cross fertilisation is essential to set seed. This happily sets massive amounts of seed from a single plant. Maybe all in cultivation have a very limited genetic diversity – but they still set seed. I have always covered these plants every winter with glass so that the rosette centre is dry but they plant has plenty of moisture. Takes up to 5 years to flower and has wonderful white flowers of a good size on racemose flowering stem. 

The image below is the first bloom of M. punicea for 2013.