The roll call of narcissus flowering since June has been a source of delight, many of my bulbs are housed in pots, sitting in a bed of sand in big bulb crates, this means I can take a little stroll along the unused portion of the driveway admiring them and then nip back inside out of the cold weather that rolls down off the mountain. The hardier and more common are destined to find new homes in the garden once they’ve gone dormant … and when I’ve found the space, preferably without creating any more new garden beds to maintain
Narcissus Xit is just about perfect in very way
Narcissus canaliculatus has been growing beneath a coral bark maple for a few years and I always look forward to its cheery little two tone faces. They’re growing on the top edge of a four foot stone wall so are at a perfect level for admiring and sniffing. There are also cyclamen graecum and persicum adorning that wall and I’ve added a few species iris to extend the spring joy although rampant seeding by the incumbent helleborus sternii needs to be kept under control. The mother plant, a tall and hugely floriferous plant initially purchased from the Elizabeth Town Nursery, (the home of Betty Ranicar) about 25 years ago, finally succumbed (presumably) to old age. However I’m grateful that each year she produced a profligate number of seedlings.
I’m rather fond of the airy little jonquillas, particularly the delicate deep yellow Narcissus cordubensis with the loveliest crenulated cups nodding atop strong stems. It’s dreadfully difficult to separate them though, requenii, rupicola, henriquesii, fernandesii, all golden and lovely and to my untutored eye relatively undistinguishable.
The last to flower is the winsome ‘Hillview triquilla’ with its refined citrus yellow blooms showing just a hint of petal turn back from its triandrus heritage, another little treasure.
The cyclamineus hybrids are both adorable and remarkably long lasting with their little faces always pointing into the wind, Below an unlabelled cyclamineus hybrid and Narcissus ‘Slipr’y’
And the celestial Angels, delicate and delightful in every way
These particular Narcissus bulbocodium blooms have lots of substance and long solid corollas making a contrast to the airy N. romieuxii that have been flowering all winter. Unfortunately the snails and slugs are rather taken with it too, filigree bulbocodiums are not so attractive
I watched the little pot of Narcissus W.P. Milner hopefully but it seems he is going to wait another year before offering his modest downward facing blooms
Finally just opening at the end of September, the wee Narcissus ‘Solveig’s song’ This is a simply beautiful little fellow.
Brilliant Tecophilaea cyanocrocus continued to flower till the end of August, here the the last of the ‘leichtlinii’ are just going over
I’ve always had some scillas and chionodoxas spread about under the nashi pear together with a few crocus and Narcissus ‘Tete a tete’. Quite a lot more plus some hyacinthellas joined the party in autumn and their bright blues and soft clean pinks have been so welcome over late winter. Originally they were intended to naturalise in the grass but the twitch grass and the totally dominant buttercups made it to hard for them to thrive. Now I’ve cleared most of the grass and other flat weeds out they look much happier and I will mulch over the area when they’ve died down to prevent a re-infestation of grassy weeds.
Late winter is the time for the major Tidy Up — all those interesting seed heads and autumnal leaves suddenly look messy and totally past it. The miscanthus, and calamagrostis have been cut to the ground, Panicum ‘Heavy Metal’ and Poa labillardieri ‘Suggan Buggan’ given an all over haircut, Stipa arundinacea divided and replanted, the roses were given a harder than usual prune, (they missed out last year) , Rosa ‘Munstead Wood’ was purchased on a whim and planted, (although the delicate and delectable Rosa mutabalis is still confined to the vegetable garden) and the raging battle with running buttercup and flick weed continues.
Hellebores, so eagerly anticipated during the dark days of winter, have passed through their best stage; lovely pale pinks, picotee doubles, slates, blacks, yellows, the usual assortment of dusky maroons and purples with anemone centres. I’ve diligently tagged those that I consider not worth keeping, generally they’re seedlings but also a couple of purchases that didn’t live up to their description. Now I just have to find the energy to dig them out, those massive root systems!
I have 3 Rhododendron ‘Princess Alice’, purchased for their heavenly scent. Sadly over the last 12 months I’ve noticed problems with die back and mottled leaves. I suspect some sort of mite infestation (perhaps introduced by a trio of white azaleas I purchased from a garden centre) So finally I’ve taken action, spraying with a pesticide/miticide/fungicide eco oil and have crossed fingers hoping for the best
A damaged raven found sanctuary with me for a couple of weeks. It found its way to my front garden so I of course I fed and tried to protect him (I’ll assume it was male for the sake of simplicity). Initially the problem was indicated by a sightly dropped wing, and he was clearly unable to fly. However the call of the wild was too strong and he exited though a small gap in the fence and headed off down the footpath on foot. I only realised when taking the dog out for his evening constitutional and we interrupted two raven attacking what looked like my lodger who scuttled under a bush when the attackers flew off.
The next morning he was back in the garden peering at me and the dog through one eye while waiting for breakfast. There were signs of head pecking, plus the wing was dragging more. I was concerned that one eye had been lost but after a couple of days I was being scrutinised through both eyes again. I did realise that a happy ending was unlikely … he left the front garden sanctuary again and when I went out with his breakfast all I found was a bundle of bedraggled feathers lying up against the gate on the outside. I felt quite awful that the gate was closed when he was trying to get back inside where he had been safe, trouble is, the gate is always closed to prevent an infestation of local pademelons.
Muscari and its friends leopoldia, pseudomuscari and Muscarinia have been flowering, wonderful value in the garden and mostly hardy and tough.
Leopoldia comosa, not yet fully opened but showing its range of soft purple and lilac bells all tucked up neatly together, Bellevalia dubia are just kicking into gear, startlingly bright azure bells fading to purpley caramel as they mature,
The diminutive Muscari discolor replays close attention with those ink blue white edged bells
The common lapis lazilu blue is always worth having but combine it with the delicate pink of ‘Gul’, pure whites and the softest sky blue of Valerie Finnis and the effect is gorgeous.
For the first time the strange little cream washed with aqua and heavily perfumed flowers of the Muscari muscarimi ‘Wisley’ are opening.
The erythronium have such perfectly balanced poise
The hepaticas provide more beautiful blues and purples sparkling under the deciduous shrubs
Clematis armandii has been briefly glorious, and the evergreen leaves provide good cover as it continues to engulf the fence
First peony off the block is Paeonia kesrouanensis, stunning blooms as usual but only 4 this year so I’m anxious that maybe something is amiss
A splash of cheering colour from an anonymous tulip, however judging by the leaves I’m assuming it’s a greigii/kaufmaniana hybrid
Strange the things one sees in trees when walking the dog, stuck while honey hunting perhaps?
Spotted dog enjoying romping around the Cascade paddocks, we’re both just a bit concerned about the nesting plovers though, I’ve noticed he tends to stay close when they swoop above to warn us off ( I usually make sure I’m wearing a hooded jacket)