Saturday, 11 May 2013

last of the daffodils

It is just starting to spit with rain, so I have come inside for a cup of tea, while it decides whether it is going to rain properly or stop.  The Systems Administrator's view is that the cloud is so high and fast moving that we won't get much in the way of rain just yet.  In fact the ground could do with a proper soaking, since the top few centimetres of soil is starting to get quite dry, but I'd much rather (not that my preferences will have any bearing on what actually happens) that it did that at night.

I have been planting out more of the daffodils, carefully potted up last September.  It is late and slightly mad to be doing it, since they have almost finished flowering and I have missed getting the benefit of them in situ for this year.  However, I haven't had time to finish the job before now, and there are advantages to planting them as they start to fade.  I can see what else is flowering around them, and avoid colour clashes like the orange and yellow 'Jetfire' with the pink and purple Pulsatilla, and I can see how tall other foliage has grown by this stage, and how much leaf deciduous shrubs are carrying, to make sure I don't plant the daffodils in a spot where they are going to be concealed and invisible by the time they flower.

'Pipit' is lovely, with strongly scented pale yellow flowers, the trumpet almost white, held in clusters of two or three blooms on one stalk.  'Cheerfulness' is a white double with a muddled yellow centre, also scented, though I don't find the fragrance as free on the air as 'Pipit'.  I am dropping them into the island bed, between the clumps of asters.  I suppose there is a risk that the aster foliage will grow too tall and shading before the daffodils have finished dying down, and that the bulbs will not be able to store sufficient energy for next year, but the way to find out is to try.  You often see daffodils planted in borders among herbaceous plants and shrubs, and they seem to last from year to year.

I planted out the pale yellow tulips 'Concerto' from their terracotta pots as well, breaking them down into groups of three bulbs.  The bulbs look hugely fat and healthy, and I'm hopeful of flowers next year.

In the sloping bed the Exochorda x macrantha 'The Bride' is breaking into bloom.  It has white flowers (what other colour could they be?) and is well named, with a pendulous, mounding habit that means the ends of the branches seem to trail along the ground like a train.  By a lucky chance it is planted at the feet of a double gean, Prunus avium 'Plenum', which flowers at the same time, so that from a distance you see a cascade of white running from the top of the tree to the ground.  If you should plant Exochorda x macrantha then watch its neighbours carefully, and curb any that crowd in upon it, since if any of the Exochorda's branches are shaded out they will die.  Many roses behave in the same way.

There is lots of basal foliage on the tall growing, slightly tender Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue', and it is starting to run about with new isolated shoots some fifteen centimetres from the central mass of shoots where I planted the original potful.  I take this as a sign that it is happy.

Anyway, it seems not to be raining, so I shall go back to it, though the sky has gone very grey, and the wind is howling dismally in through the garage door, the gusts banging the cat flap open.  The forecast for the end of next week is starting to deteriorate, to the dismay of the Systems Administrator who has tickets for the second day of the test match.  Tomorrow we are going to a lunchtime party to celebrate an old school friend's silver wedding anniversary, and on Monday I have to go to work, so I'd better make the most of it while it's not raining, even if it is grey and blowing half a gale.

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