I had forgotten how much I liked the colour of this hippeastrum, Red Lion, which always reminds me of red silk. This is the one I used to treat myself to each year if I hadn’t been presented with one for Christmas or my December birthday; there then came a point when I fancied a change but in recent years I have snapped up several varieties from Aldi to provide colour in the Coop in the early months of the year – the early months of the year, note, NOT April! This year, the red beast is joined by Intokazi/Happy Memory, one stem of which appeared in my Monday vase, and a still yet to flower Dancing Queen, not really exotica but making a good stab at it.
Down in the working greenhouse we find a miracle, a small one but a miracle no less – germinated cleome seeds! I have tried a few times with these but without success, even religiously following alternate heat and cold regimes as sometimes suggested. As these seeds were free from the HPS seed scheme I had nothing to lose and after a month or so on my seed sowing stand next to the Aga, I half-heartedly shoved them in the fridge and forgot about them. A couple of months later, clearing out mouldy tubs of leftovers I found them and brought the seed tray in its polybag out into the warmth of the kitchen. A few days later, not expecting anything from them and intending to dispose of the contents, I was amazed to discover several spindly seedlings! Removed to the working greenhouse, the spindliest seedlings curled up and died, leaving half a dozen less spindly ones to a more promising fate – a small miracle!
Still a mystery are the various bargain clematis I bought from Thorncroft Nurseries some weeks ago, still waiting to be identified before I decide on a place for them to be planted. There are some clues to be had from the leaves and the rate at which the plants are growing, but I am awaiting blooms for a definitive identification; most are in bud, like the one shown below, but the buds are in no great hurry to swell and open, sticking to their own schedules. I know some of you bought some of these mystery clematis too and I will be interested to hear what landed on your doorsteps…
I am awaiting the opening of other buds too, to see who wins the race for the first rose to bloom. Last year, as it often is, it was Mme Alfred Carrière on May 10th, but she has competition in 2020, with buds on almost every rose. Even Rambling Rector has been smothered in them for a couple of weeks, building up to a very early show as he doesn’t usually make his presence felt until June. However, it looks as if the winner is likely to be the new kid on the block, Olivia Rose Austin, who arrived as a potted specimen last autumn to occupy the end of the extended shrub border – with two fat buds already showing pink, she stands a very good chance of taking the crown…and could we have roses in April even…?
Apart from a cool breeze at times, we have had another week of gloriously warm and sunny weather – great for morale but not for trays of seedlings waiting to be planted out. We are forecast rain in the coming week but of course it is not guaranteed and we often seem to miss out; however, I am going to begin planting out into the cutting beds tomorrow, regardless, and you are all my witnesses to that!
Jon the Propagator invites us to show six different things from our gardens every Saturday, so along with the exotica, the mysteries and miracle, the rose race and the waiting for rain, we have another red beast which torments us and our pristine lilies – the lily beetle. Until the lilies are ready to bloom, I keep all the pots together to make inspection easier and each day find myself squashing several of them – unlike the first one I ever encountered which was carefully removed and popped into the green waste bin, complete with lily leaf for sustenance! Devious little creatures, they were nowhere in sight when I came to take a picture, so sneaked up on a return visit to find a pair of them, one camera-shy which promptly hid under a leaf, and his friend who began to beat a similar hasty retreat as I snapped the photo…hey ho!