Saturday, 1 April 2017

right plant, right place

Plants will put themselves where they want to go.  Years ago I tried the little hoop petticoat daffodil, Narcissus bulbocodium, in the bottom lawn, but I never got more than a couple of flowers. Maybe it was too dry, or perhaps the grass was too rank, but they just didn't take.  In 2015 I tried again, and ordered fifty bulbs of the named variety 'Golden Bells', which were started off in pots and planted out once they were in leaf.  You should learn from your mistakes in gardening, and not keep killing the same plant in the same way repeatedly, but my general rule is to allow myself up to three goes, as long as the idea is not clearly bonkers.  The bottom lawn is dampish, and hoop petticoat daffodils seemed sufficiently within the bounds of possibility for it to be worth investing a further £9.50 on bulbs plus my time and the compost in trying to make the idea a reality.

They didn't produce much of a display last year, and I was beginning to think that this was really not going to work.  This year as winter wore on I peered at the bottom lawn, trying to decide whether any of the tufts of green foliage were daffodil leaves and not just grass.  A couple of flowers appeared, and then more, until there was quite a dense little patch.  The lawn is damper in some places than others, and when I planted them I concentrated on the naturally moister parts and ignored the dry uplands to one side, but I set them out across a wider area than is now flowering. Still, in their small chosen patch they seem perfectly happy.  It is a precarious existence, since the water table is not stable and they could easily find themselves too dry or too wet in a year or two, but for now they have found their niche.

At the opposite end of the garden tiny violets are spreading rampantly across the gravel.  I didn't plant them there, indeed, I didn't plant them deliberately at all.  They came in as stowaways on a pot of something from my parents' garden in Devon, which was planted in a nearby border.  I've forgotten what, and whatever it was it died years ago, but the violets live on.  I think of them as plants of lanes and shady banks and did not initially want them in the gravel, which I thought of as a place for spiky plants and hot, exotic colours, but the violets do not care what I think.  They like baking gravel and are going to live there, and after a while I grasped that it was easier to adjust my ideas to fit reality than to keep weeding the poor violets out or transplant them back into the border under a crab apple tree where I thought they ought to be.

The gravel is acting as a seed bed to primroses as well, but they will be moved once they are big enough since I want to use them up in the meadow, where the existing ones are flourishing (and will be split once they have finished flowering) but I want lots, lots more.

Now that rabbits are not grazing the front garden there are numerous fine, thread like bulb seedlings springing up in the gravel.  At the moment they are too small for me to have any idea what sort of bulbs they are, but there are fritillaries there, and scilla, and autumn flowering crocus, and I should be very happy to have more of any of them.

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