13th March 2022
Narcissus seedling .
Spring continues to rage in confusion through the garden. The week has divided into three parts: perfect spring days, torrential downpours and high winds.
We have had two days of each which leaves one day over for a bit of everything. I am looking out of the window with trepidation.
The earliest spring days are filled with bulbs, leaves emerge and suddenly there are flowers. It all looks very fresh and organised. The second phase of spring
is just starting, the herbaceous plants are pushing through the ground, spreading out and hiding the leaf litter of winter. It isn't obvious yet, but the Hemerocallis are up,
there are bright red shoots on the peonies and the hellebore leaves have appeared. The first goose-grass and red campion seedlings have germinated
like innocent green dust, it is difficult to imagine that they will shortly swamp all other growth.
Just behind the house I have a couple of trays holding my pots of Narcissus seed. The first flower has just opened on this tiny hybrid between
N. 'Snowbaby' and N. asturiensis and I am delighted. I was hoping for a tiny white flower and I have got it at the first attempt. I thought that I would have a couple of generations
to go through at the very least. When I am less excited I will probably acknowledge that it isn't perfect, but in the thrill of opening I am entranced.
Two more seedlings from the cross to flower next year perhaps.
13th March 2022
Erythronium japonicum .
There are endless reports of frogs and fish and even cats and dogs falling from the skies in heavy rain. Somehow there are no reports of slug-fall.
I'm not sure why, the garden was carpeted with moluscs after a rain storm in the week. The sky went black for a short period and I am convinced it was filled with small black slugs.
Once it cleared they were to be found on the ground. I was worried about my Erythronium, but like the rain, they evaporated once the sun came out.
It is warm enough to make them active but the sun is now hot enough to scorch them. Unlike the red campion seedlings, they don't look innocent scattered over the ground.
Eythronium japonicum had a visitation as the bud started to open and I was sure that I would lose the flower but after a bit of nibbling the slug seems to have moved on.
It didn't appear the first year after I planted it and I assumed that it had died, but it has flowered for the last two years and seems to have established.
The leaves are more fragile than the western American species and so far the plant has been slower growing but I have a whole flower to enjoy this year
(last year I had to share it with a slug) and perhaps I can hope for two in the future.
13th March 2022
Pleione (Glacier Peak x humilis) .
Slugs have also controlled the start of the Pleione season. I don't grow many autumn flowering Pleione because they
seem to require more warmth that I can offer in the greenhouse. P. Wharfedale 'Pine Warbler' produced a bud in December but it vanished one night
leaving nothing but some tattered shreds of colour. P. Barcena did a little better but as the flower was opening a slug chewed away at the stem
and I was left with a half-open flower on the compost. I have to make do with the earliest of the spring flowering kinds.
I bought a pot of bulbs of P. (Glacier Peak x humilis) from Jacques Amand in 2020 and when they flowered it was clear that there were two clones.
This is clone.1, the paler of them. It is vigorous and has performed well this year. The first bud was a bit chewed but it has produced so many that the later display has been undamaged.
Clone.2 is pinker, possibly more attractive but also later and less distinctive.
13th March 2022
Paeonia corsica .
The first peony flower of the year is worth celebrating. Peony flowers seen inconceivable in December, even as the snowdrops start flowering as tangible evidence that the season can change
and that warmth and sunshine are possible. Snowdrops may be a sign that warmth is possible but they do not mark its arrival. I have a vivid memory of standing in line
waiting for the Myddleton house snowdrop sale to open a few years ago, stamping my feet to keep warm and puffing bursts of condensed breath like an impatient steam engine.
Peonies are the signal or warmth, in this case an evocation of Corsica and a demonstration of the heating effect of a thin sheet of plastic. It grows in the Agave house
where the temperature has already started to rise significantly and the rain only penetrates in parts.
It would normally be preceded by P. cambessedesii but that was planted in the garden last year. It is currently producing its shiny purple leaves but there is no sign of any
buds. It is not unreasonable to expect it to take a while to settle down again, it was yanked out of the ground rather roughly when it was moved. It is growing in the new herbaceous border
and that is where the attention must shift in the next few weeks.
Unfortunately it will have to wait for a bit. After storms Eunice and Frankie tore through the garden from the north, yestedrdays storm Gawdelpus came in from the south and has taken down
a couple of large Leyland trunks. I have just put a new blade into the saw. Next week will be invigorating.