14th March 2021
Spring has been rushing ahead in the garden, purring like a kitten at the start of the week and yowling like a wild cat at the end. I had some help
at the start of the week to deal with the bonfire. It had grown to a disconcerting size exactly where I am hoping to plant things this spring. It had to go.
In an ideal world it would all be chipped and shredded, I could certainly do with the resulting mulch, but the ideal world has plenty of time availabe, not to mention a heavy duty
chipper. I have to rely on the assistance of the Gods of Fire, summoned to action by my fervent entreaties and, it is only reasonable to admit, a couple of firelighters.
The season of bonfires is coming to an end, the garden is warming up and only the latest of the snowdrops remain. I have a late flowering form of G.plicatus growing under the trees
that will have a day or two of splendour but it doesn't last for long if the sun comes out. In the snowdrop border the first flowers of 'Midge' opened in the snowdrop season
but they have lasted for long enough to look like an anachronism, surrounded by daffodils. It's a sweet thing and I am very fond of it, making the best of being caught
slightly out of time. A wistful reminder of another age.
14th March 2021
Freesia laxa ssp. azurea .
It has been a week for Freesia. The buds were expanding last week so I knew it was coming. I don't grow many species, I had started to take an interest
and grow a few species from seed at the same time as I moved the South African bulbs into a new section of the greenhouse. Inevitably the Nerine started to swallow
up the available space and the number of other things declined. The confusion that followed wasn't eased by taxonomic changes in the genus Freesia
or the similarity of number of the species. I may have F. leichtlinii, F. sparrmanii and F. caryopohyllacea or I may just have a lot of forms of F. alba.
One fine day I will sit down with the monograph and find out. It is unlikely to be a fine day in spring, they are far too precious.
Freesia laxa is much easier to identify, the scarlet blooms appear around the greenhouse throughout the summner. It is a weed of the most delightful and insidous sort. Like
Habranthus tubispathus it seeds about with unreasonable profusion and I have lost patience with both species. If I see them gowing, I yank them out and they can take their
chances outside. Usually on the compost heap.
The blue form of Freesia laxa is the exception. It is a very different thing, growing through the winter and flowering in early spring. It is also far less invasive
and I welcome their occasional appearance in other pots. At least I do at the moment.
14th March 2021
Nerine undulata 'Fish River Gorge' .
I can't imagine that N. undulata will ever be a weed in the greenhouse, although I do have a number of pots. It is a variable thing and there are many
interesting and distinctive forms. When I was offered seed of 'Fish River Gorge' I was more than happy to give it a try even though I had no idea what to expect.
It has turned out to be the latest flowering Nerine in the collection. The flower spikes form at the end of autumn and grow upwards more slowly than a tortoise on a steep hill.
Frosty weather could well destroy them, but fortunately the nerine house keeps the worst of it out. The first flowers opened at the end of February and although the display isn't spectacular
it could last until the end of the month. I'm not sure if it is a good thing to have flowers on it when the rest of the plants are swamping the ground with foliage, but it is certainly different.
My plan is to try to save some pollen from it until the first of the new season Nerine flowers open in July or August. It's a long shot but it might be interesting.
14th March 2021
Leucojum aestivum 'Gravetye Giant' .
I am particularly fond of early daffodils. Those that flower before the new year are a startling and cheering promise of the spring to come at a time when the afternoons grow dark
and snow is a possibility. The fresh shoots of the later daffodils are almost as cheering. They appear at the end of the year and every centimeter of new growth records the advancing appearance of spring.
The Summer Snowflake marks the changing season in the same way. I noticed the new green shoots pushing through the ground about a month ago. The snowdrops were still at their peak,
the weather had delivered a cold snap that risked setting the whole garden back and even penetrated into the greenhouse. Despite the fact that Summer Snowflakes flower in spring,
they still seem to mark a distinct change. The first pangs of spring have been satiated and rather like the Hobbit "second breakfast" they arrive to stave off hunger for the heat of summer.
Suddenly they are in flower, almost overlooked in the shade. I am sure that they would be more magnificent in a sunnier location but I am reluctant to move them. My bulbs arrived
as a free gift with some snowdrops and I scattered them around the garden. This group have prospered, others have faded away. I am convinced that I know where they would grow better
but I am prepared to accept that the plants know best. I saw them blooming and started to look for flowers on the azaleas, the last great spectacle of spring.