Warm leatherette

Tulip Queen of Night
Queen of Night

I picked two tulip Queen of Night and have them in a vase on the kitchen windowsill where I can marvel at the softest leathery sheened petals and deep deep colour.

In the Saturday Telegraph this weekend Fergus Garrett was talking about reliably perennial tulips and the importance of choosing finer leaved varieties for borders so they don’t flop all over newly emerging plants. For pot display I would normally throw away the bulbs anyway and treat them like an annual. However in one very neglected pot which is weed filled and hasn’t been touched for a couple of years, a deep red-purple tulip is flowering away merrily. It may be Havran as it is less cup shaped and more pointy than Queen of Night or it could be Philippe de Comines.

We visited the plant fair at Great Chalfield yesterday and they had planted a black tulip probably QofN in amongst cow parsley,  tulip / cow parsley is a classic May combo, normally with scarlet tulips, black was an interesting change, but you do need to pick tulips with staying power and which don’t mind jostling with thuggish ‘weeds’ (these are other variations on the theme collected by Ben Pentreath. I’d say the meadowing in the Mall has been going on longer as I remember maybe 10 or more years ago riding down the Mall in a black cab on a rain washed May day and being enchanted by a similar scene).

Tulip batalinii Apricot Jewel nearly over
Tulip batalinii Apricot Jewel nearly over

Much as I like tulips I haven’t quite convinced myself to add swathes to the long borders (yesterday at Great Chalfield there was a very pleasing combination of creamy pink and apricot tulips). I do have some species tulips dotted about and must remind myself to add more T batalinii Apricot Jewel to the tawny border this autumn. I have some much carted about scarlet T sprengeri, there were 3 bulbs originally 10 years ago now only 2, you can see how successful I am with this tulip! They’ll go on the move again. I also have the elegant yellow early in to flower T sylvestris  in the woodland bed.

And I forgot to celebrate May Day in writing, well it did rain most of the day, but I can say that the candles on the Horse Chestnut are well alight. I’m still fretting over the Ash trees of which we have a number round here, barely a whisper of greening. Then I have to tell myself with this advanced season it’s only early May, patience.

Iris and Allium May
Fat buds of iris English Cottage and Allium stipitatum

The first proper iris is out  I Florentina (the mini’s Gingerbread Man and Jewelers Art started first), I was so hoping I still had a bit of this iris. As usual I didn’t label up pots when I moved house so have had to wait a year to see what was what and who was who. She isn’t much really to look at being a mopey off white, it’s just one of those sentimental (and scented) things. She’s closest to the really wet section of the border so will be moved to the back garden when we’ve made raised beds. The eremurus at this end has already decided to call it a day due to squadge despite grit. Next iris out will be I germanica English Cottage, white with a blue picotee edge and heavy scent and then a wave of I sibirica’s.

And those darned vine weevils fooled me again, everything looks fine then comes spring. Rather than break up some of the summer pots I left them in the greenhouse over the winter. One contained Fuchsia Lady Bacon, a ginger and a dahlia. Lady Bacon looked a little sad suddenly a few weeks ago, I thought it was lack of water as the greenhouse was starting to get warm and pots to dry out. Yesterday I decided to break the pots up and redistribute the plants, Lady Bacon still looking decidedly worse for wear. One light tug and away she came, too easily parted from the soil, she had no roots left at all.  I managed to break the emerging ginger shoot in the tipping out. The chickens got the pot soil to beak and claw through, some of the weevils were already in their soon to be beetle state.

And it looks like a good year for Hemlock Water Dropwort, it’s coming up in the garden and great lush swathes are pushing up from the stream banks, did the flooding aid it’s proliferation this year? ‘Tis a pity that this pretty umbellifer is extremely poisonous, Glyphosate time..

The first shy flower on Molly The Witch and the woodbed one year on
The first shy flower on Molly The Witch and the woodbed one year on