Thursday, April 1, 2010
Look at that! Roots of a perennial fuchsia sprouting out. This one is called Alba. I bought it at a plant sale at some local garden place, not a garden centre, a demonstration place. What I like about those sorts of plant sales is that you can get unusual plants there, side plants from well-established ones, in different colours and varieties than you can get in most plant centres, although I will say that our local plant centres are really showing some nice plants these days.
Like this primrose, or, as its tag says Cowslip. This one is called Gold Lace. Click on the picture. It's a pretty cool looking flower. What I like about primroses is that they are up early in the year. They peek out when the irises are blooming and they continue on long after the irises have exhausted themselves. They're still going when the scilla and bluebells have popped up, and even when the daffodils and tulips and hyacinths have arrived. They also hold up well. When a daffodil has had it we all know about it: it's shrivelled and droopy and losing its yellow. A tulip is more sudden - it reminds me of a puppy that chews a newspaper to bits: one day it's gorgeous and the next the petals lie in withered drifts around it's base. Hyacinths I feel sorry for, to be honest. They just slump over, looking like something came along and sucked all the juice out of them. The vampire bug!
Here's a nice drift of tulips and candytuft. It's funny, but before we owned a house I was always a bit scornful of things like candytuft. It took up so much room, and room was never something I had a lot of in all our rental houses. I was more intent on filling it with pots of tomatoes, or basil, or hot chilies, or even flowers. But candytuft? It always struck me as an old lady's plant. Now I have a nice long bank of it. So either I'm an old lady or I have changed my standards...
This is a lilac my dad gave me when we moved here. Apparently it is a cutting from a plant a very distant sort of relative used to have in her garden years and years and years ago. It's a very dark, very double flower, highly fragrant and beautiful. And this year looks like its year to really bloom. Look at that row of furled blossoms. Nothing like a lilac scent drifting into a room.
Another thing I used to (somewhat) scorn was the concept of having 'winter colour.' And now look at me! Winter colour everywhere: primroses, brick walls, perennial grasses, spring bulbs, hellebores, and then this coral bark maple. I love this contrast in colours. It's so red.
Can I make another plea for the fritillaria? Click on this picture and cast your eyes over those perfect chequered patterns. This year I had some albino ones come up, but I still prefer these purple ones.
And finally, another primrose. I think this is the proper English one. I love how the slugs ignore them. I think the slugs are all over those shrimpy little garden centre primulas right now, you know. They are easily tricked, those slugs.
Around the garden these days
I am trying to figure out the pea and bean trellises this year (or is that trelli?). Click around the net long enough and you will find some really amazing ideas other people have had. Here is one amazingly compact pea trellis. I don't see myself making it, sadly, simply because it looks like it requires more forethought and attention to detail than I see myself having, but it sure it beautiful.
I usually use bamboo poles attached to cedar stakes attached to wire attached to whatever else I can find in desperation because the bean grew ten times longer than I'd expected it to. Why is it that these trellis ideas always seem to be for well-behaved plants that don't spiral out of control like mine seem to do?
Here's a really great idea from This Old House, using long branches to encircle sweet peas. I did this last summer with a potted tomato and it worked extremely well: the plant got lots of air circulation and the tomatoes were always well supported. Looked a little weird there at the end, once I'd picked all the leaves off the tomato plants (a good idea at the end of the season when you're trying to get the last of the indeterminate tomato plants to ripen).
I love how this article starts: "The first step in getting peas started is to build a trellis." So really, all we have to do is build the trellis. And the peas will just start. Why did I think of that? Now that is magic.
And finally, when you're out and about this weekend, no doubt on some Easter egg hunt or another, if you happen to see this poppy in a garden centre somewhere, buy it. I might even send you seeds if I was so inclined. It's called Princess Victoria Louise. And it is, as you can see, a very very beautiful poppy.