The first and last

Yesterday we were due a scheduled power outage but it didn’t happen. I suspect that the workers had seen the forecast for thunderstorms and decided to keep their feet firmly on the ground. We are having a really mixed batch of weather at the moment but at least it is a wetter spring than the past few years and it is giving the garden a chance to grow. I had a feeling that this would be the year when we would see the hedges and trees finally settling in and the sun and showers is doing the trick. It is still not as warm as it should be but it is not too awful. Even so I was surprised at how late the last daffodil was. Called ‘Doublet’, it is something of a mystery although it is obviously a double ‘poets’. It is supposed to be from 1929 but it does not look quite right to me. I think it is more like ‘Rose of May’ which is more recent (pre 1950). The plants developed very slowly and the buds seemed fossilised for weeks but have finally opened to sweet pompon blooms of pure white. As expected, they smell wonderful and I picked all five flowers and popped them in a vase with the first blooms of purple pink (as in dianthus) ‘Devon Wizard’.

This is the last of the daffs. It is now a case of deadheading them as I walk the cat and leaving the foliage to die naturally – no one who has tied daffodil leaves into knots is allowed last the front gate.

It is hardly something to write home about, let alone brag or blog about but a major moment is about to happen. The first bearded iris is about to flower in the garden. It is hardly momentous as a gardening achievement but it is for me. In a previous life I had a lot of bearded iris and used to go to the States to see them. I even had a National Collection of them. But major moves have meant I no longer have them. I brought all I could but these were in pots and, unfortunately, the labels were lost, they were stuck in pots for years and my unflowered, unnamed hybrids got mixed with the named, lovely varieties. What I can be sure of is that any that survived are tough. They were finally planted beside the fruit trees, in what I hoped was well drained and they struggled last year. But they are settling down and this year I am going to get flowers. A storm is forecast for later in the week which may wipe the smile off my face, and send the blooms scuttling into the neighbouring field, but there is hope. I am still discovering what does well here – in theory Siberians should do best – but I would like to see some bearded iris succeed.

On a different note, it is surprising what will grow when you don’t expect it. After bemoaning so many plant losses I was startled to see some rudbeckias that had survived the winter. Rudbeckia hirta is generally considered an annual though it is strictly a short-lived perennial. I have rarely seen plants survive the winter but, because of my scruffiness, I left some plants in the ground and was about to pull them up and saw they were sprouting quite strongly.

6 Comments on “The first and last”

  1. Paddy Tobin
    May 19, 2021 at 11:06 am #

    Yes, the weather has been a bother and we have been ducking in and out of the garden as conditions permitted. The irises are opening here also, the bearded irises and this may be of interest to you – I was sent 20 rhizomes of Benton irises last year, those bred by the artist Cedric Morris, and I see that six of these will flower this year. They generally have quite different and interesting colours and I’m looking forward to seeing them in flower. Their offsets might need a good home in time!

    • thebikinggardener
      May 19, 2021 at 11:11 am #

      I know of the Benton iris – not that common now but historically important. When they get crowded I know where they would be very welcome – thank you!

  2. Mitzy Bricker
    May 19, 2021 at 3:45 pm #

    Always fun finding a surprise plant that made it through winter.

    Blue Rock Horses Frederick County, Virginia

  3. Meriel Murdock
    May 20, 2021 at 1:44 pm #

    Your gorgeous deepest purple blue “Night Train” Iris – my absolute favourite, almost died out where it was – unexplainable. I’ve managed to save one last piece so I’m hoping it will build up in time, safe in a pot, to be planted in another spot.

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