29th March 2015
Euphorbia myrsinites .
A week of sunshine and showers to suggest that spring is in the air. Cornwall Garden Society has held their Spring Flower Show which confirms the fact. The clue
is in the name. Every winter I manage to forget how fast the garden can move when there is some warmth. Every spring comes as a surprise. I also forget how frequently
the greenhouse has to be watered and how the long summer evenings disappear in the company of a hose-pipe. Later this evening I will enjoy the first of the long
summer evenings, tomorrow is already pencilled in for watering.
Euphorbia myrsinites is flowering in the Agave house. I had to move it last year and was expecting it to sulk, but it has bounced back with exuberance. I have a beautiful
image of it in my mind growing in glaucous perfection over a rough stone step leading to a rustic hut. The sort of shed so filled with romanticism that there is no
room for any other contents. I have tried to get it to repeat the effect outside but I need more sun and less water. It was too lush, like a loose cabbage with floppy legs, so
I brought it under cover. In the still air of the greenhouse it is wonderful but a long way from the lounging, blue-scaled snake-lizard of my memory.
In the hours of hose-pipe philosophy to come I will reflect on the unreliability of memory.
29th March 2015
Gladiolus tristis .
It seems a pity to hide in the greenhouse when I could be stomping around the garden in the sunshine, but this is spring and the sunshine can't be taken for granted.
Gladiolus tristis acts as a sesasonal retrospective. It starts off as the autumn leaves fall and grows through the winter. By the time the flowers appear
it has more or less finished. As the seed pods form the leaves will shrivel away and the ripening seed will suck the last of the sap from the dying stalks. It is
widespread in South Africa in all the regions that receive winter rainfall.
I grew these from seed because growing Gladiolus seed is a great amusement. The species are poorly known in cultivation and the unexpected is almost commonplace.
I got the seed as G. viridis because the idea of a green Gladiolus appealed. It didn't take much research to discover that G. viridis is an old
name for Freesia viridis, a lovely green flowered thing but definitely not a Gladiolus. It didn't take much research, but it took long enough for the seed
to germinate and it clearly wasn't a Freesia. I was left with one of those mysterious pots of grassy leaves that are so easy to invest with hidden promise.
In the end it turns out to be G. tristis. Beautiful, cool, hardy and sometimes scented, the scent being controlled by a single recessive gene, which I also
discovered after not much research.
29th March 2015
Hacquetia epipactis 'Thor' .
Hacquetia is one of the simple pleasures of spring. I might have the green leaved form planted among the Hellebores. I say might , I certainly planted it there
and it has appeared for several years but most of the Umbellifers are delicious snack food for rabbits. This year I have watched the patch of earth it inhabits with
great interest but I have yet to see a leaf. They may be taken the moment they appear, or it may just be dead. I have a replacement in a pot but it will be planted in
a tall tub, out of reach of rabbits (though probably at a handy table height for deer). It might work.
The variegated 'Thor' grows inside a rabbit netting 'compound' which is more effective than attractive. I tried to grow a Jasmine up it once to conceal the wire and
was surprised at how ugly and obvious it made the whole thing. Now I rely on my increasing short-sightedness, which seems to be doing the trick.
The green form is cool and elegant and stylish while 'Thor' for all his suggestion of macho hammer-wielding, is all fluff and giggles.
29th March 2015
Pleione Eiger .
The Pleione are on the move. Received wisdom is that they shouldn't be watered until the flowers start to fade but I can't do it. Perhaps the day will come when I
can adjust to a monsoon mindset but I'm not there yet. The pseudobulbs start to move, the new roots appear and the urge to add just a bit of water is irresistible.
They were watered last weekend and will get it again shortly.
This clone of Eiger has become a favourite. When I bought it I was hoping for one of the pure white forms, standing perkily on a thin stem. In place of that I got pink
stemless flowers that hang over the edge of the pot. On the plus side it is early, starting the season off in a rather understated way. If the first flowers were giant
and scarlet, perched and quivering on wonderful springy stems the season would be over before it had really started - what more would there be to say?
So I have come to value this sagging pink blob. No one remembers who fired the starting pistol in the olympic 100m but they are important at the time.
Eiger performs the same service for the Pleione season. Make a clean start and then get out of the way.