Spring bulbs

The spring bulbs seem to be less in touch with the current mild weather than me. It has been bright and dry enough to get me out in the garden, increasingly optimistic about the change in the season. But the garden itself is rather reluctant to embrace the changes. It is actually quite useful because I have lots of catching up to do. But I would like a bit more enthusiasm from the garden inmates please! Pay attention, you at the back.

Crocus have leaves but few flowers yet, chionodoxa have yet to show and ipheions are a mass of foliage but no buds. Daffodils, which showed signs of growth before the New Year, have largely stalled, though there are a few buds showing. The exception is ‘Mary Poppins’, a bulbocodium hybrid that is reliably good. They have been in at the edge of the drive, in the lawn, for three or four years now and are slowly increasing. It was raised by W. Blom in Oregon but grown on, as a seedling, and registered by Carlos Van Der Veek (of Fluwel) in 2015 and named via a Facebook competition. It is a cute little thing with grassy leaves and many flowers. It has already been in bloom for almost a month and one of its great features is that, as the first flowers fade, new buds are produced.

Further along the drive, to provide colour before the daffodils bloom in the grass, are snowdrops. These are a mixed bunch of all those I have carried with me as I moved, and vary from ‘plicatus’ hybrids, a few doubles and some ‘nivalis’ snowdrops. The turf gets very dry in summer, which may explain why they don’t increase as fast as I would like, but they are holding their own. It will be a while before I get drifts of snowy white but they make the walk down to open the gate more interesting at the moment as a few more appear every day.

In the raised beds, the two reticulate iris I mentioned last week, are starting to open. Last week I was pleased to report that they had increased and seemed to enjoy their special bed. But pride always comes before a fall and I am sad to see that the ‘Katharine Hodgkin’ are infected with virus. This is a common problem with Dutch bulbs. I am certain they must have been infected when I bought them – if it happened here they would not all be so uniformly infected. I will check the foliage and if it is badly streaked I will dig them up. I am destined not to have this iris in the garden. I have mentioned before that the first time I tried it, I was in my teens and it was very new. The one bulb cost me £5 (you can get 20 for that now) and a caterpillar ate the flower bud as it emerged. I think my desire to enjoy this little beauty is now sated.

On the other hand, ‘Sheila Ann Germany’, possibly a nicer thing anyway and the prettier of the two siblings (actually the same parents but not the same pod) not only seem more vigorous but seem healthy.

Each bulb seems to have produced a clump of two or three flowers this year. I will just enjoy this modest success and forget about my woes!

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5 Comments on “Spring bulbs”

  1. Paddy Tobin
    February 4, 2023 at 8:50 am #

    I am impressed by the Narcissus bulbocodium in the grass. It’s one I haven’t tried. We have lots of snowdrops here including a patch of grass with G. nivalis and they haven’t thrived there at all, something I put down to that area being too wet over the winter! It can be difficult to diagnose what the problem is at times.

    • thebikinggardener
      February 4, 2023 at 9:08 am #

      Well I can’t compare with your amazing snowdrops which are so beautiful. Because I brought my snowdrops with me and there were no beds ready for them it seemed best to put them in the grass. The few new ones I have planted, in beds (bought from Altamont), have increased much better and are starting to make clumps, though it is always so tempting to divide them. But yes, there is sometimes no obvious reason why plants do well in one spot and not another. But thank you for inspiring us with your amazing snowdrops!

  2. Jaye Marie and Anita Dawes
    February 4, 2023 at 9:17 am #

    Those iris are such a lovely colour!

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