Wisley Alpine Log
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Wisley's Alpine Log
By Paul Cumbleton

Log 1 3rd January 2008

Welcome to my first log of 2008 and a very happy new year to you all. I've been on leave over Christmas and am not back at Wisley until next Monday. So I have not had access to pictures stored there or done anything to report on! Instead I thought I would give you a glimpse of things at home. Gardening for me isn't just a job, it has always been my passion and almost all my spare time at home is spent pottering around with plants. My first memories plant-wise are of growing marigolds from seed - I must have been about six years old. The magic of seed raising has been with me ever since. When I was about 12 I , like so many youngsters, was attracted by the prickly spines and brilliant flower colours of cacti and so was born my first specialization. How can anyone resist them when you get displays as fantastic as this?:

Chamaelobivia Meryl Sweeney

Sulcorebutia caniguerallii

I amassed a collection of hundreds of cacti in my teenage years, but this all had to stop when I went to university. But I kept a few always, moving them from windowsill to windowsill until eventually I was able to give them once again the luxury of a greenhouse. Some of those original plants are still with me, now over 40 years old.

Anyway, enough history, let's come up to date. In autumn 2006 I moved from Reading in Berkshire to Staines in Middlesex and set up home with my civil partner Colin (who is just as mad about plants as I am). All of you who have moved home before will know the trauma of having to move not only home but garden too! Having most things in pots was a help but we still had to move three greenhouses. We have been here over a year now and the house…..well the house still has much to do to it, but having our priorities right we of course have spent most of that time sorting out the plants. The old glasshouses are re-erected, three new ones have been added and all the plats moved in from their temporary quarters. This one is a 20 x 8 new one and houses part of my Pleione collection:

Pleione house

This one now has a second beside it. Round the other side of the house another new one went up to house the winter-growing bulbs from South Africa (and a few from South America) as well as the old cacti. This house is now in full operation housing the collection:

Inside South African Bulb House

The spot it is in is a sun trap in summer but, being surrounded by walls the light in winter - when I need it most - is not so good, so we will have to see how things grow there. The last of the new houses went up next to this one, a job completed only recently and the insides are yet to be sorted out, but this one is mainly intended to house Colin's Fritillaria collection, along with a few Calochortus that I love.

Fritillaria house next to South African House

The glasshouses occupy much of the available garden space, though there is still some left for growing things in the ground. But we haven't done anything to this yet - it is just as we found it, largely filled with conifers. In fact much of it is filled with just one monster that covers half the space…!

Monster conifer

I have always loved Japanese maples and have grown many in containers over the years - all of them raised from seed. These I was able to bring with me and they are stood around in various spots


More Acers

One final plant that made the move with us was a 30 year old Rhododendron yakushimanum, grown in a half barrel. It was so heavy we had to literally take a saw to the rootball and reduce it by half! The old house had no access to the garden except through the house and this plant, like everything else we moved, had to go through standard size doors. You can imagine the fun we had…but despite this it survived and flowered quite well last spring:

Rhododendron yakushimanum

I must just mention three other family members. Strictly speaking these belong next door but I treat them as mine and love them to bits, even if they are the greatest destroyers of plants in the area!!


Curly is so called because of her tail - always held like this:

Curly's tail



Though now spayed, both Smokey and Curly had kittens last year. I could bore you to death with endless ridiculously cute pictures of kittens……no, stop me…

Finally, Ian Young recently described in his bulb log about his new camera. I too am soon going to upgrade to an SLR type, only so far having had a compact, but as yet have not decided which to buy. However, Colin's compact recently broke and he needed another. He is very much a "point and shoot" photographer so didn't need an SLR or anything overly complex, but did want one with a good macro function so he can take flower pictures. In the end he got a Ricoh Caplio R7 and we have just finished the first experimental shots with it. First impressions are favourable. We took pictures of Phalaenopsis in rather low light conditions and without flash. See what you think…


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