Friday, 5 November 2010

Gritty, Pretty and Shitty – a pity

Oh I can't be bothered with this; woke up at 4am with an incredibly sore right foot where I had a "stress fracture".  I decided to hobble to A&E (Like ER, my American friends, only free) because my doctor's surgery is closed on Thursday afternoons and I needed to see someone immediately.

The embarrassing thing is I'd had an appointment at the fracture clinic yesterday morning and without x-raying it or having a good poke and prod, the surgeon discharged me after a 90 second consultation, which I was happy with as I was no longer in pain unless I jarred it accidentally.

And then this: the whole foot throbbing like a cartoon thumb after a comedy incident involving  a hammer. So I went to Bart's and didn't have to wait long to have an x-ray and a consultation with a nurse practitioner (kind of like a cross between a doctor and nurse, I think). She showed me the original x-ray and even I could see it was actually broken; snapped in two like a piece of unfashionable table leg at a bonfire.  The pain was a delayed reaction to my little hike round Kew and our heavy duvet. So they apologised profusely for making such a fundamental error and sent me on my way with a "helpful" list telling me how to reduce the swelling (take ibufrofen and don't move ever again is a fair summary). This is not practical, so I am waiting for a Dr Marx, distinguished surname,  to arrive at my house to prescribe some strong painkillers before the chemist shuts...

...Which he did, which is why the rest of this post probably won't have any punctuation or make much sense.

I got the irritating/exciting red card from the Post Office saying "You're parcel is too big to fit in the letterbox so we flogged it and went down the boozer". Actually, they usually don't say anything at all except the name. And they don't ring the bell, I know because I've stood at the window, beside the buzzer, and watched them fill in the card. Surely it takes longer to fill in the card than to deliver it?. Still, at least they didn't take what was  obviously an LP and "fold" it so it would get through the letterbox, as happened to a friend. He's had that twice now and one of them was a very rare Never Mind the Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols from far flung lands. I know because I sent it.

A huge box for one tiny little plant!

So I was down the depot the next morning at 7am sharp since I'd been awake since 4 (not with excitement, with career-threatening insomnia. It had said on the card that it was too big for the letterbox which is a good sign (otherwise it's probably a new credit card). And it was a package from J.Parker, the Dutch bulb specialists, containing a hell of a lot of packaging and one plant, well packed, of Fritillaria assyriaca.

Almost there...

It arrived in a very open, peaty compost so if that's what it needs, that's what I shall have.
And a little shoot to prove there's more to come...
A top dressing of gravel to keep the stem dry and prevent ugly splashback when watering
And then another delivery today, this time from Paul Christian Rare Plants. Annoyingly this was the second order I have placed and I spent 45 minutes trying to get the Royal Mail (yes, those hopeless buggers again) to accept my tracking number. Quite how it kept thinking "A" was "B". They sound NOTHING like each other! It kept telling me to go to its website where all my troubles would be over (it's bleeding useless) and when I finally got the chance to speak to the only bloke in the customer service office he said to call back when 15 days had elapsed between posting and non-arrival (its currently 10, too many when we're talking about rare plants. He didn't care about that, only the 15 day mantra. I told him I was glad he'd lose his job when the service is privatised and hung up.

What did arrive was five tiny packets of joy.

So there we are, five little bags of beauty (well, not yet but in spring ...)

Iris Svetlanae, said to be quite easy but we'll see! Photo: SRGC

The Iris is a stunning new juno  native to Central Asia. It has This compact, stocky growths composed of short but broad, glossy green leaves clustered around the central tube which supports a large golden yellow flower borne very early in the year. In effect this is like a golden yellow Iris nicolai. I'm going to grow it under glass until we become a bit more familiar with each other, and I've tried the planting method where the chunky roots sit in the compost but the bulb in a layer of grit. The idea is to protect the bulb from sitting in damp compost. it also has a thick collar of grit to protect the stem.

Start with plenty of drainage

The roots sit in sharp compost mix
So, we then fill to the top of the bulb with more grit, the theory being that this protects it from cold, damp compost, although those poor chunk roots have no such luxury
Fill to 1cm from the top with more free-draining compost and then top off with grit the height of the pot

Notholirion thomsonianum. With many thanks to the copyright holder, whose site is in Japanese, a language I don't read!

Fritillaria  kurdica "Talysh"


Fritillaria kotschyana

So, what else is going on up here? We haven't had frost yet and daytime temperatures regulatly reacched double figures, which is good for the Afghani above. No, it's not the Taliban, its  something you be far happier to find lurking in a cornerr of your back yard: Delphinium zalil, the only yellow specieso (I think). I've only got three, all seed raised but looking quite happy after the pot took a tumble in recent high winds.

Speaking of which: more tulip tragedy!

Another pot of tulips and violas hass taken a tumble

At least the tulips are getting a move on
Remember the pelargonium species I was so taken with at Kew? Well I got a packet of 12 mixed  random species seeds a few months ago. Well, five germinated, (one is pictured twice for technical reasons) the two above came up together and have identical leaves and habit so I think it's safe to assume they're the same,  followed by the other three, below

I have annoyingly mis-placed the very conveniently provided list of the ten species that the seed was collected from but the catalogue says only "mostly shrubby, aromatic  - Some strongly so and with peppermint, lemon and rose among the scents - and much branched plants )18in-3ft. Peachy! It's more exciting growing from seed when you have no idea what is going to come up - as long as you can make a positive identification afterwards - I hate not knjowing what something is! That's why I'd rather have a label saying "unknown seedling" than admit it's probably a weed.

While we're on seedlings, the Iris douglasiana hybrids are coming up like cress now, they're are at least 20 s not all of which I'll have room to flower on Nicky's alllottment but they don't take up much room, horizontally at least, so I can keep plenty on the roof  in plastic pots to help keep them in their beloved moisture,  along with the assorted sibiricas.

You count the Iris douglasiana hybrids! I keep getting to twenty-something, and twenty-something else  the next time!

Until the next time, the plantboy x


  1. Hi, I found your blog on GardenWeb. I've enjoyed reading this post. I am looking forward to see them bloom.

    Love your blog!