Sunday, 27 February 2011

Bulbs, Hot Bottoms and the Beauty of Botany

Hi, like the new look? I know, it's a bit garish but at least you can't ignore it!

So what's happening? It's amazing what a bit of bottom heat does for the warm-climate  seeds, especially the bulb species, or perhaps it's just that most of the pots contain bulb seeds. Either way, I now have the beginnings of a Lachenalia viridiflora, the remarkable turquoise Hyacinth-like bulbs that topped my previous post. OK,  it's only a centimetre of cotyledon but it came up within 72 hours of being moved from the cold greenhouse into the propagator. It's the same story with Gladiolus hyalinus, undulatus and that thing that shall henceforth be known as Fairy Bells because I can never remember the first bit of its binomial Latin name, something ramosa. Melasphaerula or something. They all sat sulking in the cold greenhouse then a bit of heat and whoosh!

Space is, as ever, at a premium, so after germination they're whipped out into bell-shaped cloches outside and the space left behind  instantly filled. I went to the incredibly-expensive garden centre yesterday, ostensibly to buy a replacement terracotta pot to replace the one I'd taken from the cactus in the bathroom to plant some Lilies or something else tall and green with colourful stuff on the top. But while there I invested in a max-min thermometer  to see whether I can get any of this through next winter and it was 16C in the cloche, warm enough to keep almost anything alive and, although it wasn't a particularly cold night, it is February.

Nope, can't think of a joke

So, sorry if this is patronising, the black bit tells us it was an amazingly cosy 16C in the protection of the cloche, although it was a very mild night anyway

And it made it up to 22C, presumably when the sun came out this afternoon
Considering there were only five seeds in the packet, not a bad effort from  Melasphaerula ramosa (Fariry Bells)
Schitzanthus grahamii germinated before the cloches arrived and spent too long in the gloom of the propagator, which I'm  not allowed to put in the light lest it becomes able to so its job properly, so even my tinfoil backlighting couldn't prevent this becoming leggy. I've been careful with the fungicide so I might be able to rescue it by planting it more deeply, ie, with half the stem underground. But I'll wait for it to thicken up first (I wouldn't recommend this unless it's a choice between that and losing it anyway.

The Lachenalia viridiflora. See, in front of the label? It doesn't look much now but come back in about three years ... Touch wood!

Gladiolus hyalinus. There is also a pot of three G. undulataus but they are yet to shed their seed cases and straighten up and I'm not a talented enough snapper to capture them. 
The intriguing G. hyalinus

I took the opportunity to buy a selection of other shapes and sizes of terracotta pots as they are reasonably priced and the bus stop is not too far away, any further and it would be too heavy but a thermometer and a packet of Meconopsis betonicifoia (£2.89) didn't add too much to the weight. I'm not sure why I got the poppies, the majority of their seed display was veg and herbs (zzzzzzzzzzzzzz) and the flower seeds were nothing special, apart from one nasturtium, a really pure magenta called "Jewel Cherry Eyes" but I'm already more than covered in that department with a packet of the trusty majus "Tall Mixed" which did so well last year after just about everything else had gone over; the semi-double "Whirlybird" for pots on the windowsill; tricolor, which was a gift from a kind supplier; incisum to trail down the first planting tower; and sessifolium, for the challenge!

Jewel Cherry Eyes: so gaudy it's great
Tropaeolum majus "Tall Mixed" kept going after everything had given up last year so I hope it will grow up the thumping great hybrid Lilies and their supports  (though leaving the more gentle species like L. sachalinense, oxypetalum, macklinae, tsingtuense etc alone to bulk up in peace).

"Whirlybird" is rather less rampant than the above and doesn't send out those probing flower shoots at the end of the season like the one on the right of the picture above. It should form a tight little bush of little more than a foot in circumference, which makes life easier for the plant in the pot next to it (a pale, creamy yellow F1 I sowed yesterday, can't remember the name and can't be bothered to walk to the kitchen to find the deta ... ok it's called "Prism Sunshine" and is in the Grandiflora series so I'm just hoping it grows up as well as down. I ordered 18 shiny tin pots from my Amazon shop (just scroll to bottom or use the Amazon search tool in the guff down the right) because they were so cheap and won't break if they take a tumble. My plan is to alternate these along the windowsills (I have five windows, each a metre wide running along the sunny side of the living room and hovering above the garden a few feet below so I don't want either species to trail too much as, unless freshly watered, their centre of gravity moves perilously close to "topple". I may put half a brick in the bottom of each pot, they actively thrive on poor soil so shouldn't mind.

Not sure what to do with T. triclor. I've only got five seeds so whatever I do do I have to get right. I've also got a similar amount of Mina lobata and a red Ipomea, as well as an order for Lathyrus  chilensis and a quarter tray of Lathyrus aureus which is germinating great guns, although it's more of a tumbler than a climber, as is chilensis.

The exotic and perennial (several degrees of latitude of London) T. tricolor
Lathyrus aureus, meaning gold, of course, but cone could equally describe it as  "brown"

L.chilensis, as photographed by my chum Mikhail at A great site for exotic Andeans (plants, not women in bowler hats)  that are hardy in the UK, coming as some do, from 3,000m

Tropaeolum incisum (the greyish alien thing in the middle) still looks more like an in invader from another galaxy than a beautiful trailing orange/yellow plant but it has doubled in size since I planted it out to face the elements so it's happy. The three dwarf Rhododendrons surrounding it should cheer it up further as I chose them (from a collection of 7)  for contrast.
Now, on a totally different note, I've been swamped by germinations in the heated propagator, as you know, but perhaps the most satisfying was a few days ago when Impatiens namchabawensis popped up. This is not just a blue Impatiens, this is a plant-hunting discovery to get the feet itchy: just eight years ago, in 2003, it was found by two botanists who trekked 60 miles from the nearest road to a gorge in Tibet that is twice the depth of the Grand Canyon and as long as the UK, and there they found this:

It was named in 2005, once all the necessary checks confirmed it to be a totally new species, not a blue form of Bizzie Lizzie, after the Tibetan name for a nearby mountain, hence the toungue-twisting nomenclature.

So, what next? I've been receiving and planting up bulbs like mad. I accidentally ordered Hippeastrum Sonatini "Orange Rascal" and "Viridi" twice from different suppliers but they are so stunning, and can be brought into an unheated house when in bloom, that I don't resent the extra £10 or whatever. Also Gladioli by the ton (and I still have at least 20 species to sow): G. nanus "Nymph", G. album, G. wilsonii, G. Saundersii and G. Imbricatus. I also took delivery of five obscure bulbs, actually 6, from a very nice bloke in South Africa.

The other day I took delivery, No, actually I queued for an hour at the Post Office sorting depot to pick up a parcel (the postage had been underpaid so I paid immediately online) that was supposedly the subject of an attempt to deliver five days beforehand and yet, depsite the fact we were both in, in the room with the buzzer, the postman left a card instead, marked "perishable" and "too big for letterbox". Did he ring the bell? Did he feck! It took five days of chasing it, trying by website to get it redelivered (they didn't try on the day I'd taken off to receive it) and finally getting hold of it when I took another red card which actually referred to the thing he'd "tried" to deliver the day before. The nice young man behind the counter told me to complain because it was happening so often and gave me a number with a human at the end of it (it's otherwise impossible by phone to speak to a person and their website is so infuraitingly badly designed you need to be called Hawking to use it. But as I'm already moaning about the bins and and several other Post Office failures, including an assault by a member of staff on waiting customers, I think I'll just leave it. I can't wait for privatisation when these people are expected to work for eight hours a day.

The plants were alive but a Thalictrum has become so etiolated in the darkness it is still very yellow.

It stil looks like this. And look how dry the compost is! It weighed almost nothing. And it's not the seller's fault, the box gave some clues as to the urgency of the delivery of the contents

It should look like this:
Thalictrum  rochebrunianum should be a revalation if the foliage ever starts to photosynthesise
A typical delivery, this one from Bloms, who specialise in bulbs but also etiolated Thalictrums (no, I'm sure it was in perfect condition when it was packed)
Gladiolus nanus "Nymph" has been planted in a bowl, on a layer of sand becasue the compost I had available at the time was very humusy and I didn't want the bulbs sitting on wet compost. The roots will quickly pass through into the nourishment below
And your reward should look something like this!
A very healthy looking Hippeastrum sonatini, this one's "Viridi Rascal"
And here it is with the tip left sticking out of the top of the compost. I'll water it sparingly until I see green at the top and  then step it up a bit, with a fortnightly feed too.
The end result
And its twin, Orange rascal

The Fritillarias are making great progress and in the next few weeks I'll have plenty of shots to show you but here are a few tasters:
F. mickhailovskyi "multiflorum"
It will be a while before F. raddeana unveils its bells but the thing is massive already with a circumference of  four inches.
Worth waiting for!
F. stenanthera is about to reveal it's pinky-brown blooms. I'd expected it to be bigger but I'm not complaining!
Followers of the black Primula, eurepes, will be pleased to know it has made it through the winter after a few scares. I lost the main crown to rot so whisked it out and any residue and then moved the plant into the bulb frame and cut back on watering to even less than the regalia Irises and the surrounding crowns have taken over and are growing well. Whether I lost the flower along with the main crown only time will tell but it's very much alive, look:

It's back outside now but no sign of flower buds. Ah well, I've had so much luck with other   genera, particularly the Frits and the emerging lilies, plus so much from seed (even if the labels on half of them have faded to invisibility and the plants are so obscure (you know me by now), identifying them will be a nightmare. Adult leaves would help.

I know we're only at the end of the February but I think it's safe to say that the following gems have passed the snow test:

Paeonia mlokosewitshchii was a single leaf last year. I think we're going to see something more impressive this year but a single, as opposed to double, not just the one, yellow flower? We wait with baited breath.
Erythronium "Kondo". Has wonderful yellow bells, like Lilium canadense or similar, although it is  a bit tiddly. Still, it came as a dried specimen hanging in a garden centre so the fact it's alive is good news!

Meconopsis superba. It will have enjoyed our brief  Tibetan winter snow. Not sure whether to pot it on or just feed more. I don's really  want it to flower as it's generally monocarpic, ie flowers and dies and I'm busy rescuing M. grandis and M. betonicifolia "Hensol Violet" seedlings from a cat/fox/squirrell/pigeon attack and while I have no problem germinating them, it's a lot of work when you can just send off £7.50 and get one straight out of the Himalayan meadow (metaphorically speaking).
M. napaulensis. See above!
M. betonicifolia (the proper blue one)
Here is an example of the faded label syndrome. I know the first picture is the lovely red Delphinium nudicaule,

And I have a pot of seeds that were sold to me as Delphinium "unknown species" which has lost the writing from its label and I have no idea where it is. I had thought the following bleached labelled pot  resembled the Delphinium seedlings and might be it but I've got a new theory: I think they're Tricyrtises. First of all, let's look a the mystery pot:

And now let's look at a pot of a white Tricyrtis hybrid:

I'm assuming the seedlings are from the parent, not a nearby pot, and they look very similar to the mystery pot above. And it just so happens I have, somewhere, a pot sown with a packet of mixed Tricyrtis hybrids. And I think the mystery seedlings are those Tricyrtises.

I do have a load to write about the amazing South African bulbs, including a hardy Crinum that has to kept in a bowl of water at all times, it being a swamp-sweller, which seems so wrong for a bulb, but I'm going to save that for the next post, mainly because I haven't photographed them (although there's a limit to the aesthetic beauty of 5 pots with the top third of the naked bulb sticking out) so here are a few shots from the roof, just to prove that spring has sprung.

Iris domestica (formerly Belamcamda chinensis)
Lilium Hansonii, hardly setting the world alight. There were definitely flowering sized bulbs in there or at least considerably bigger ones than these!
A Corydalis whose name escapes me and it's dark now, anyway I've showed you it before so pay more attention!

My plan with the Tulips following the Violas seems to be working!
Just a little of the Lupins, Verbascums, Digitalis and Lathyrus that are off to My friend Linda's house,  serving two purposes: clearing room in my garden and filling just a little of the blank canvas that is hers. Much more is to follow including candelabra Primulas, more Digitalis of myriad species, including thapsi, trojana, stewartii and viridiflora. And if those are Tricyrtises, I don't need any more, I've already got four and am bidding on a yellow with red dots on ebay so she can have as many as she likes!  And I've a ton of Iris douglasiana hybrids entering their second year . And that's the tip of the iceberg. I'm so glad she has a car!

Well, I have much more to show and tell but I've been doing this for five hours and I'd already done half of it. And that doesn't include the photography. I hope everything is going as well in your garden as it is in mine and if it isn't, ask me by leaaving a comment at the end of the post. I'll do my best, although I'm a lot better on temperate ornamentals than, say, Mango trees. I'm not qualified (unless you count 1/3 of a botany degree) but my obsession is such that I refuse to let a plant die. 

And remember, a plant's entire existence is geared towards staying alive, at least long enough to set seed. So you've got nature on your side!

Happy gardening my chums, and remember, if you're thinking of shopping Amazon, shop via the plantboy's site! (it's just down there, keep scrollin') xxx

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Strange and Beautiful

Good morning/afternoon/evening/night my international friends, especially the one in Namibia, you lucky devil. How I covet your vast range of bulbous oddities, from the subtle grace of your wild Gladioli, through the Iris-like sex appeal of your many Moraeas to the bizarre, such as the Lachenalia, a plant that looks the a hyacinth after a trip to the Dr Who props department. You can keep the Skeleton Coast though.

This is a particularly weird and wonderful example of Lachenalia viridiflora, one I'm trying from seed, despite having no means of getting the young bulbs through even the mildest of our winters. There is only room at the bottom of the stairs for three pots. And that's assuming either of my pots of five seeds each do any germinating (that's the problem with South African seed dealers, you do get literally five seeds per packet. The Lachenalia comes in many other colours, a few of which I'm trying but it's pouring with rain and I've just been out with the camera so I'm not going out again to scrutinise labels. I probably haven't sown them yet anyway,  a lot of southern African plants flower during their winter which is when the rains fall but we don't really have an equivalent season, our wet winters being too cold. And it's not winter in the UK when it's winter in Namibia. So five seeds is not really enough to experiment with but they're not cheap so I'll have to make do. Photograph copyright: Strange Wonderful Things.

Strange and beautiful: L. mutabilis

As regular readers will know, I'm trying my hand at all three (Gladiolus, Moraea and Lachenalia) , from seed mostly, plus many others from southern Africa. This despite having no heated greenhouse, and an indoor heated propagator that I amazingly persuaded my other half to let me use in my own house but which is on the only surface on the entire wall that doesn't get direct sunlight.

So when things germinate it's a race to hoy them outside under a hastily devised cloche where they are at least protected from the biting wind (it is technically winter) and have sun from all sides.

So far only the Schizanthus grahamii has gone too leggy to make it as the others are monocots (this means only one seed leaf children, like a blade of grass, only tucked round in an inverted "U" shape during germination, after which the end that doesn't have any roots on it will eventually straighten up to give a single leaf, called the seed-leaf). Anyway, the point is they get outside while still bent over so they have no chance the go leggy (too much stem before the first pair of leaves) and rot off.

Copyright Leo Breman

I can claim success with Gladiolus undulatus, that fairy bells thing, no, not the Disporum one, although I have that as a mature specimen, the one with the incredibly long and unmemorable name, hang on … Melasphaerula ramosa, Dipcadi serotinum and Alonsoa "Bright Spark". But far more remarkable are the two outdoor successes: Moraea ciliata – which had nothing more than a clear polythene bag to encourage germination – and Gladiolus watermeyeri which is in the cold "greenhouse" but I've been leaving that open at night to try to resolve a bit of a mould and possible fungus problem so it affords almost no protection from the elements (mind you, it's little better when zipped up. It's like the difference between a sweater and a cardigan).

Gladiolus undulatus. Mine's a bit smaller than this...
G. Watermeyeri. I think this might be one of the rainy season group
The snappily titled Melasphaerula ramosa, or one of several plants called Fairy Bells
Dipcadi Serotinus. My seeds are romping away. There does seem to be a direct correlation between the attractiveness of the plant and the ease of growth. No, it's intersting rather than ugly.
Alonsoa is one of my first batch of Chilean babies, which I've only had a couple of weeks so  it's clearly happy. The species range from pink to deep red and look a bit like Diascias

However, since I moved my 30 or so Lewisia Cotyledon "Sunset Strain" seedlings in there, not only have I stopped kicking them over and made some space in the process, they have started romping away, possibly even to the extent that I might get some to flower this year, which would be handy cos of course I will give most away I want to keep the best colour combinations for myself. I'm especially keen to have a yellow. I have been taking care to spray both seedlings and the ungerminated with fungicide at fortnightly intervals (according to the instructions on the bottle) and think this has saved some of the nameless species pelargoniums in the process).

My crappy little "greenhouse" from Argos. It's all I can fit up here and will do the least damage to neighbouring properties in the event of a small gust of wind. The top layer consists of  Lewisias on the left and seeds and a seedling on the right. The bottom is a mixed bag of pelargoniums, more seeds and the green pot contains seeds of Narcissus serotinus which are germinating fine but then growing painfully slowly, many still with their seed shells still clinging to the top of their cotyledons.
The Lewisia Cotyledons have thanked me for lifting them off the constantly wet and muddy roof surface by sitting up, looking sharp and getting on with some proper growing
A nice yellow would be great. And the chances getting one must be quite high with almost 30 plants.
It doesn't look much but Lilium concolor  ssp strictum means a lot to me as getting hold of bulbs has so far proved impossible and it's a dinky little thing that would go nicely with my other 50 or so species

As you know, I'm experimenting with seed from Chilean plants as much of the Andean climate rarely outperforms our own, despite being considerably closer to the sun. But there's about the same amount of  clean air up there as there is in London. I'm experimenting with a new method of sowing the smaller seeds: JI no1 and a bit of grit (these are mostly alpines, in the true sense [well, different continent but you know what I mean]) with the seed (just a dozen or so of the bigger ones, impossible to count the wee ones) carefully distributed on the surface and then a thin layer of 4mm grit (aquarium supply shops sell it in sensible quantities but be careful with the pH; I almost walked out of the shop with a bag of crushed sea shells, I might as well have used pure lime). And I mean thin layer, one or two stones deep. So you have light, moisture and you know how deeply the seed is planted.

The exception is Tropaeolums(ae?) which should be buried as they need darkness to germinate and tend to be on the large side. A 72-hour soaking or careful scarification with a blade to let in moisture will either speed up germination by letting in moisture more quickly or kill the embryo, depending on your knife skills.

Not your average Nasturtium. Tropaeolum needs dark and heat to germinate and hates root disturbance but as I don't know where I'm going to put then yet, they are in a wide pot on top of the propagator indoors

I've just planted a pot of T. sessifolium after a good soak (I'm not a knife fan, tried it on a batch of Iris pseudacorus alba and not one of these less-than-challenging seeds has appeared.) However, while we're on Irises, I do have a single Iris attica through after only a couple of weeks.

I'm hoping for more than just one Iris attica seedling as they come in a huge variety of colours in nature,  from blue to yellow and stunning combinations in between

A lot of the Chilean seed was tiny so, having bought a bag of cleaned and neutral sand I was able to follow the Carol Klein method of mixing a little sand with the little specks of seed and, top tip here, using one of those paper liners you use for fairy cakes, you can use it form a V-shaped shute down which you tap the mixture, straight onto the top of the growing medium (don't pack it down too hard, just a few good taps to level it off) and the sand shows you exactly where you've been so you get an even distribution and pricking out such tiny seedlings becomes a challenge rather than an impossibility. I used this method for Mimulus naiandinus, seeds so small they would easily get into Heaven via the needle route. They were the smallest but the method was required for several others. On the Chilean side yesterday saw Herbertia lahue, Oxalis squamata, Solenomelus segethii, Calandria sp. 1212, Rhodophiala splendens, and the Tropaeolum. I also sowed Romulea monadelpha, Primulas fauri and wilsonii and some Helichrysums and Zinnias I got free to give to my friend Linda who has a blank canvas in south London to fill with a quick splash of colour while I craft the long-term vision.

Herbertia lahue
Oxalis squamata
Solenomelus segethii
Rhodophiala splendens

Romulea monadelpha from South Africa, just to confuse you

During the week three red Nerine sarniensis arrived, as did 10 Dichelostemma "Pink Diamond" and today four packs of labels I ordered a month ago from actually arrived, one to avoid there I think, if they can't get the labels right I'd hate to buy their plants! Just as well another delivery of deliciousness from Lord Paul of Wrexham came: an amazing Gladiolus Saundersii that looked like a really chunky garlic bulb with last years stems (trimmed, of course) to show how deep to plant it, oh, new compost: JI3 with a bit of open humusy stuff, sand and plenty of grit and fertiliser granules because some of these things live in crevices (which I don't have), G. imbricatus, Moraea Robusta, again a really nice big bulb that made planting obvious, Rhodophiala bifida (my third of the genus), Lilium sulphureum (a nice yellow trumpet) and Anemone verae, an extremely rare tiny corm shaped like a stick of used chewing gum and with no obvious top or bottom. According to Paul: "This is a name that we can hardly trace, but the species is a soft yellow plant of the bucharica alliance. It has a red-tinged exterior, especially noticeable when the plant is in bud.

The Ukrainian paper describing the plant was obtained through the kindness of a Czech colleague who got it for us from Slovakia. The plants came from Poland via a different Czech colleague -see what we go through to bring you new plants!
Well drained, loam based compost in sun, or potted. Cultivated stock, traceable to the Darwas range in Tajikistan."
It wasn't cheap but if I've got it the right way up it will be worth it.

Anemone verae. I really hope I got it the right way up!

Nerine sariensis, said to be the most beautiful of the genus. So I bought it
Dichelostemma "Pink Diamond".  A bit gaudier than Ida-maia but unusual enough to make it 
Gladiolus Saundersii
G. imbricatus. A bit like the European species (magenta and not half as sexy as most South African Glads)
Lilium sulphureum. Nothing special but very hard to get hold of so when the chance came up I snapped up a beautiful, chunky, purple bulb which certainly looks to be of flowering size. Fingers crossed

Did I tell you I've got myself a couple of Eucomis bicolor?  Well I have. And Gladiolus alba, Agapanthus "Peter Pan", Zantedeschia "Picasso", 10 yellow Tigridia  (much classier than the usual mixture) and I've had it a while but haven't told you about my Diplarrhena moraea which is a totally hardy and stunning Phalaenopsis-like bulb. Stuff is arriving or maturing at an overwhelming rate and quite apart from the space issue is the fact I keep running out of pots. Terracotta pots are relatively cheap even at  The Very Expensive Garden Centre in a fashionable area of north London (99p for 3in but 7.99 for an Achillea to which I wouldn't give garden room if I owned Canada), they're not very easy to move around london when you don't have a car. There is one company ( that sells them at a really decent price (you have to wade through a load of expensive fancy shite to get to the simple pots) and delivers almost the next day but they come in enormous boxes that could easily be a new washing machine, not half a dozen 7in pots! You can have a metre square galvanised steel container for just £600 but a 13cm clay pot is 72p so unless you drive I'd thoroughly recommend them. They mould two halves of foam stuff round the pots that then fits in a huge cardboard box, meaning they arrive in perfect nick and leaving you with a waste disposal nightmare.

Agapanthus "Peter Pan"
I'd imagined something a bit more like this which is ironic because it was Broadleigh who sold it to me! They probably don't get too many people complaining that their bulb was too big. It will need dividing next year anyway so I shall have my wish. And about 20 bulbs to give away

Peter Pan was a little bit of a disappointment as I had a picture in my mind of one bulb filling a little clay pot with one stem about a foot high with a miniature Agapanthus flower. But what actually arrived was a tangled, solid cube of roots with a few leaves at the the top indicating the presence below of at least half a dozen bulbs. I was very tempted to pull the whole thing apart into individual bulbs but it would have been like tearing an old telephone diretory in half. I then considered using a knife to slice the mass into more manageable chunks but I was worried I'd end up with a bunch of diced onions so I chickened out and settled for teasing out as many of the thick roots as possible to end up with more of a ball than a cube (it had obviously been growing in a square pot and forgotten about) and planting the whole thing in a much larger pot than I'd planned, leaving the top of the bulbs and the new leaves above the surface of the gritty compost. It will have to be tackled at some point as the centre will be crushed to death but I'll get some flowers out of it first!
Zantedeschia "Picasso"
Diplarrhena moraea. Has the look of an orchid but a lot less upset by frost and other bothersome things, like being outside on a roof under six inches of snow
Yellow Tigridia. I thought sticking to one colour might make them look a bit less vulgar than the  packs of dried out mixtures from B&Q or Tesco

I have seeds springing up all over the place but my indelible marker has proved to be anything but and I have at least three pots of lush, green babies with blank labels. I keep most of my used seeed packets for reference and tried to identify them by a process of elimination (at least they're dicots so the second set of leaves will hopefully give a clue but at the moment all I know is what they're not. The pot I thought was the new Delphinium species isn't, now that I've compared it to what I know to be D. nudicaule. Well, I like surprises but the Aspergers in me likes order. I'm sure time will tell but until then it is frustrating.

I have no idea what these are
But these are definitely the beautiful red Delphinium nudicaule

Coming up: My 30 or so varieties of Lily are beginning to do cool stuff, especially a group of containers containing those mighty hybrids including "Tiger Woods", which are a foot or so tall, and I've realised I have so many doubles (not that kind of double, unless you include "Flore Pleno" but I have three pots of L. martagon album but don't think I have the type. And at least 3 lancifolium. This is not counting seeds. 

One of three pots of Lilium martagon album I've accidentally bought. I think I've got the type too.

And the  Fritillarias are on the verge of something very special indeed. Raddeana has burst through mightilly but will be a while in make-up before I can show it off. Others are a fortnight from perfection. You will be impressed!
It's hard to tell from this photo but that bud is about an inch wide
Something interesting going on with F. stenanthera
F. michailovskyi var. multiflora, very much in bud(s)
Iris aucheri is on the verge of budding and while svetlanae is using this year to split in two and spend this season in the gym so next year should be very yellow. The other junos and arils are showing no signs of illness and are in fact in rude health, while the beardeds have taken on a bright green gloss over the last few weeks that must mean my TLC is going to pay off in the form of a display worthy of Monet's brush.

Iris aucheri in the rain today looking exactly like one in a book. I amaze myself
That was a single rhizome with three leaves on it when it arrived from France last autumn. I think he likes me. All 15 or so have flourished but will they flower? You'll be the second to know.
I just had to show you a couple of other things. You know that yellow Paeonia, mlokosewitschii?

It's going to bloom, it looks so happy! And finally, those stacking strawberry growers without the strawberries? 
Primula maximowiczii and the Corydalis from the last post together in perfect harmony in one of the strawberry planters. So it's turning out to have been quite a smart purchase and I've sprinkled Dianthus knappii throughout both of them so hopefully they'll trial about looking pretty and yellow
So the posts get longer and harder work the futher into the growing season we get. This took two days and it's mid-February. It will all be worth it when I win Rooftop Lily and Iris and some very odd stuff  blogger of the year. Until then, may your gardens flourish, whatever their altitude.

The Plantboy