Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Narcissus 'Jetfire', 'Velocity' & 'Canaliculatus'

Two stunning and very similar narcissus varieties  are the well known and widely available 'Jetfire' and the less well known 'Velocity'.  Atrocious weather has not affected the former in any meaningful way. They have withstood wind, hail, snow and ice. And that was just yesterday. 'Velocity' has the slightly larger flower and is just as long lasting although later than 'Jetfire'. Quite frankly the bright narcissus are needed to lift a dismal Spring. They have increased well.

Narcissus 'Canaliculatus' looks similar in size in the photographs but images can lie. It's a tiny flower, dainty and pretty.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Narcissus 'Altruist': early, sweet and long lasting

Narcissus 'Altruist'  was described in the catalogue as April flowering. Well it is despite having been in bloom since February. Perhaps the absolute freshness has gone out of the blooms, but it was photographed yesterday at 6.30pm on a gloomy day and it still evinces the colour of summer, a scare commodity this spring. Tall and elegant, they stand upright in the large containers for my clematis varieties. Indeed, they were planted as an afterthought after their original container disintegrated in last year's frost. I'd forgotten about them and suddenly in the February frosts and snow they were in flower, drooping dramatically until the temperatures rose and, like springy plastic, they jumped up to attention again. And I have not yet mentioned the sweet fragrance. The catalogue never mentioned it either. Descriptions vary. Some sellers declare it is non-fragrant, some fragrant. Mine are the latter variety of the variety. As long lasting as the snow that is falling on a dire Easter Monday.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Easter Sunday Narcissus

Compared with last year my narcissus are three weeks late. 'Swift Arrow' defies the weather. In close-up many of these narcissus look very similar. 'Swift Arrow' is taller, very upright and has a rich colour. It is not well known but worth the effort of a search.

When we went to Harlow Carr last weekend the variety that stood out, other than the ubiquitous 'Tete a Tete', was 'Peeping Tom'.  The bulbs have increased well since last year and with their long, inquisitive noses, they compel the eyes. They are a must have.

'Trena' is another favourite. Its distinctive contrasting colours and sturdy quality allows it to stand up to the cold and deluge of water that has cascaded upon it these past few days. A stunner. Three fabulous varieties so far.  The snowdrop season has ended but there are compensations. Usually it's the weather. Not this year.

'Perky' by name, perky by nature. The contrasting colours of this variety make for a fresh sight on a cold Easter day. We are again moving down in the size scale. Again this is a bulb that increases well. Again it takes the eye.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Is there a problem with Galanthus 'E.A. Bowles'?

Here is Galanthus 'E.A. Bowles in its pomp, 24th February 2016, a very good year and a stupendous snowdrop, easily the finest in my collection at the time. Well last year it failed to flower. When I checked out the pot it had rotted away. Given that in 2011 it was a world record breaking snowdrop, a loss like this is not to be tolerated. I replaced it and then, this spring, I checked the pot and there was no sign a bulb had ever existed. None. At the beginning of March I obtained a three nose sprouting bulb from a very reputable supplier, the price having gone down as rare snowdrop prices invariably do. This was to be a present for my sister-in-law. It has not flourished. Indeed when I opened up the pot the bulb was rotting, and black inside when I cut it open.

There are a number of reasons why bulbs give up the ghost. Narcissus Fly is one, compost that is not sufficiently well drained another. Neither of these factors applied here or indeed earlier with the bulbs.

Now I am informed by a very reputable grower that she has experienced the same problem with the cultivar. She no longer grows it and two other well known growers in her experience have also given up on this beautiful bulb. Luckily I was reimbursed for my failed bulb by the seller and I have a source for a free replacement.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Galanthus 'Mighty Atom'

'Mighty Atom' is weeks later than last year. Here is the very same snowdrop in flower on 26th January two years ago and that was a week later than the previous year.  I've given up any certainty about flowering times for snowdrops. Yes there are earlies, yes there are lates, no I'm not completely certain of when or indeed 'if' for there are a few competitors around. If you Google the name 'Mighty Atom' you will discover different snowdrops, often being sold as 'Bill Bishop'. I purchased my 'Mighty Atom' from Matt Bishop some years ago and it is sightly different to 'Bill Bishp'. So it is that I present my own contender just filling out, short of stem and big of flower. And late.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Lake District, Derwentwater, Borrowdale, 29th October 2014

We're planning a few days in the Lake District. The following images accelerated our desire. One of the most beautiful places in one of the most beautiful National Parks. And my birth county.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Looking Down on Phil and Barbara: Galanthus 'Phil Cornish' and 'Barbara's Double'

I take a lot of photographs of snowdrops at eye level, so as best to appreciate their finer points. Of course, the natural viewpoint is from above so here are two snowdrops I have written about previously, 'au naturel': 'Phil Cornish' and 'Barbara's Double' are shown directly from above so it's hardly natural, just another perspective. Don't they make a bonny couple! I'd venture to suggest the former is one of the nicest marked snowdrops on the market. It's not a cheap buy but better than some, possibly all, that I have seen for huge sums on eBay or at plant fairs. 'Barbara's Double' is one for the collection, just such a pretty snowdrop.

When one pays a pretty sum of money for a single snowdrop cultivar it is reassuring to know that s/he will not stay single for long, and one hopes for large families. Such is the case with the very handsome Galanthus nivalis poculiformis, often referred to simply as 'poculiformis'. It is a pure white form possessing six petals and is particularly good when fully open which today it was not. That apart it is towards the inexpensive end of the Poculiformis Group or, for those whose education was unhampered by Latin lessons, 'little cup' from the Latin 'poculus'. I studied Latin to a decent level at school but believed the form denoted something to do with all white flowers. I should have studied harder for it refers to the form where the inner and outer petals are very similar. So my little fellow may be forgiven for the spot of green on the inner petal. I digress. The original bulb has clumped up very well indeed.

And another hepatica is in flower, the Hepatica japonica 'Imaizumi'. There is a huge range of such varieties sharing one thing in common: they're not cheap. So my collection is limited and will remain so until and if they seed themselves as did the seedling that closes today's blog. it is minuscule in reality.

And remembering .....

Our Front Garden, 14th August 2005