|Who cares if it's still January, it's Spring!|
First up was F. camschatcensis, a brown/purple belled wonder from the eponymous peninsula in Siberia. So it's hardy then.
|This is larger than actual size but the final plant should be approaching half a metre in height|
|Fritillaria pyrenica. I note the label says "Easiest of the Fritillarias" Just ignore it|
|Fritillaria uva-vulpis. I'm sure I didn't plant that many ...|
|It should look like this|
The bad news is I think I've lost two of my arilbred Iris hybrids to drips in my rubbish bulb frame from "Creative Garden Ideas". It cost almost £70 and I could have knocked up something much better for a tenner. Anyway, I just hope I got them out of there before the rot spreads, literally. Certainly the junos are doing splendidly with all of them up, cycloglossa being the last one to poke through.
|Iris Zenidae might not flower this year, I fear the two spikes mean there are two bulbs down there building strength but that will only mean double bloom delight next year|
|As a last-ditch attempt to cure the Arils, I've decided to expose them to the elements. It's crazy, it's dangerous but it might just work. Oh well, I could do with the pot anyway|
But this disappointment was cast into the bin by the discovery of a lighting move to titillate my pleasure zones by Iris stolonifera - a regalia and thus technically more difficult to grow than the above "Aquilifer". Last week it was doing nothing, today I noticed this:
|There's no-one to credit but great photo! Next year I should have some of my own!|
|Maybe I just grew up with too much broom and gorse...|
|Lupinus versicolor: what a great pair of cots!|
|Why did I buy this?|
I took delivery yesterday of another small consignment from Paul Christian, including Dactylorhiza fuchsii, a plant that used to, and I assume still does, grow with no human intervention near and in wild drifts in my old garden in Scotland; from pumice on a Beeching victim to my artificial wild flower meadow, it just popped up and spread. So it's a bit ironic that I had to bung PC £13.50 for one admittedly superb looking specimen!
|See how shiny the scale is? That's not water, it's the stuff that lives under that really painful molar that squirts all over the dentist when the drill hits it|
|It could have been so beautiful...|
But back to the much more reliable Sir Paul Christian...
Also in there was one of the few Lily species I don't have potted, sown or on order, lancifolium. It's nothing special but short of heading of to Asia with a spade and a lot of Yuan it's the best I can do just now. It's awfully familiar but I'm sure there will be subtle differences when the time comes.
One more Gladiolus for my potentially disastrous collection, this one's flanaganni or "Suicide Lily" due to its scarcity and propensity for growing in remote, moist cracks and the lengths to which collectors would go to get at it.
Finally, and this seems mundane in comparison when it's actually a highly-prized rarity,
There's a lot happening outside on the roof all of a sudden with not just the Frits and junos coming through but the various Reticulatas coming through: "Natascha" such a pale blue it counts as white; "Halkis", originally discovered by Norman Stevens on Mount Halkis in Turkey.
The flowers are a lovely rich blue with much deeper blades of almost navy blue, the whole set off with a vivid yellow crest.
Danfordiae, that odd yellow honorary member of the the group, is bursting out of the gravel. It will be interesting to see if it does its usual trick of flpwering and then disappearing next year. There are various theories for this, the most popular being that the main bulb dies leaving lots if little "rice" grains but surely they would send up a little leaflet? Well, I've tried not to over crowd them so I can tip one out after the leaves die back to have a good rummage around and see what's what.
|These are variously known as Galanthus woronowii ikariae, G. woronowii or just G. ikariae. Sod it, they're just Snowdrops (apologies to Galanthophiles everywhere who would doubtless find 50-odd blue irises a bit samey.|
There are also a couple of Calochortus, one outside, one at the bottom of the stairs which is frost free but very dark so I have to bring it up to the living room each day. I need to find out when I scan start hardening it off; I don't want to make the mistake I made with Oxalis deppei which I had down there too and immediatelt put outside when one if the three corms broke through (the other two are biding their time but they have plenty of time to catch up.
|Calochortus venustus, not sure of its hardiness - can anybody help me?|
Oh, and the tulips planted under the violas are making good progress, and that's also helped me to identify a pot that was squirreled but which is clearly red flowering dwarf "botanical - surely it's all botanical?" Tulips with red markings on the leaves. I don't think there will be any flowers due to overcrowding so once they've completed the cycle I'll find a nicer pot and spread them out. All my pots of bulbs have been totally neglected until this year, I even have one that I think might be Chionodoxa but as it has never flowered I can't say for sure. And there's a lovely old clay put I want to use for something stunning like Lilium Lophophorum that seems to have some old Narcissus coming u in it. I'll feed them fortnightly, let them die down and then find a more boring pot for them.
|Definitely miniature Tulips. Akela, give it a survival badge, there must have been five max originally|
I've become obsessed with Gladioli species and other South African plants but equally confused by the seasons. All are ecxquisite but some flower in summer, some autumn and some winter. Apparently rain is the key. Only as the seasons are caused by the tilting of the planet and we're a lot higher up than Cape Town, it's not our summer, winter etc. And there is the added complication of a necessary dry period. I have bought six bulbs and countless seeds (I'm not including the European one's like Italicus or Papilio, beautiful as they are but I think I've mastered them) and I've had to do a lot of research on them and even then most of it is written by Americans which doesn't help much. The same applies to Moraeas (they look too much like Irises for me to ignore). Does anyone have any success with Gladioli species in the UK? I have limited glass cover (juno and regalia Irises) and an unheated polythene thing masquerading as a greenhouse. I am in central London's microclimate but if winters like the one just passed(ing) are to become the norm I will surely fail. Any advice would be great, even when to plant them is a mystery to me...
Till we meet again, put a spring in your step for me
PS Fritillaria whittallii is germinating. This excites me more than David Beckham with his shirt off. The label has blown away but by a process of elimination I have identified it as such (F. whittalli, not topless footballer". Will confirm in 3-4 years. Of course, not trusting my own brilliance, I bought a mature corm, although it's still sleeping.