5th June 2022
Dactylorhiza praetermissa .
A sort of normal is radiating through the garden, as comfortable as a warm bench by the sea. The chaos of spring has departed beyond question. There is no point
probing the dark corners for a last gasp of excitement, Elvis has left the building. The trees are green, the garden feels enclosed once more. Through the winter
the wind whistles over the hilly horizon and straight through the bare branches. The wind is still there, but it has stopped whistling. Now it billows through the garden
in heavy breathlessness like an audience at the opera as the house lights go down.
It has been hot, the greenhouse has needed almost constant water. Fortunately the rain came on Friday night, soaked the ground and filled the water tanks.
In the last week or so the garden has escaped from the illusion of control. Weeds have doubled in size and the long arms of the brambles are reaching across the paths.
Gardeners like tidy plants, everything else is a weed almost by definition. I have tried to grow Dactylorhiza tidily and they fall into line grudgingly in pots.
In the garden, free of constraint, they do exactly as they please. The Southern Marsh Orchid is the commonest species around here, lurking locally beside footpaths. In the garden
it comes up where it will, there seems to be reason to it. I would love to have it scattered through the meadow but it actually comes up in the hard standing for the car,
under the deepest shade of the trees and most particularly in pots of other things. This one is a passenger in a pot of Iris. I have learnt to be untidy
(it wasn't difficult) and now I leave it to do as it pleases, which is what it does.
5th June 2022
Ixia viridiflora .
While the crescendo of spring was still echoing around the garden I noticed the buds on Ixia viridiflora. It grows in the Nerine House and flowers just as I start
to reduce the watering of the Nerine for their summer rest. I watered the Ixia and made a mental not to come back and water it again shortly. Not a very effective
mental note as it turned out. By the time I came back to it the buds were wrinkled with drought. I applied some emergency first aid in the shape of a bucket
of water and moved the pot outside in the hope of rain. Fortunately a few flowers have survived and I am hoping that I might get some seed this year.
In most years the seed fails to mature in the Nerine-drought of the greenhouse. I would like to try it in a moister place but the pot has been growing successfully
for so long that I am frightened to change anything. Seed would be a very convenient solution.
The flowers have an astonishing colour and it is difficult to see how they can blend into the background but they do. Mine is a pale form, there is a deeper
turquoise one in circulation. If I don't get seed from my own plants I might try to get the darker one.
5th June 2022
Pinguicula lusitanica .
The subtlety of the season is short lived. In a few weeks the garden will start to show the raucous tones of summer, the light will be hard and uncompromising
and the shadows will run under the trees like a knitted cardigan full of dropped stitches. For now there is a pause, time to take a deep breath,
put all the short sleeved shirts through the washing machine, remember to walk more slowly and drink plenty of water. Time to prepare.
It is already hot in the greenhouse and Pinguicula lusitanica is enjoying it. It is a tiny native species and I have never found it in the wild
although I am regularly told that it is common. Perhaps it is just too small for my eyesight. In the greenhouse it enjoys the heat, flowering without a great fanfare
and then scattering seed about with gentle disregard for my organised intentions. I am very fond of it, it can come up where it will. I sow a couple of pots every year
just to be on the safe side but, like the orchid, it takes scant heed of my intentions.
5th June 2022
Silene dioica .
The space under the trees at the top of the garden performs in waves of colour through the autumn and spring. At least it does when I get it right.
There are a series of moments though the early spring when I look at it and congratulate myself smugly at the things that have worked. Naturally
there are things that haven't worked but I try not to think about them. Smugness is hard enough to sustain without letting objectivity muddy the waters.
I am kept in my place by the bluebells. I did have a hand in establishing them here, but they have done all the hard work by themselves. After my own heavy handed attempts
at a woodland flora, the bluebells take over in May and smooth away my blotchy schemes with a woodland lake of their own colour. I think of it as the end of the woodland season
but a few weeks later the same ground turns pink with Red Campion. It is a weed, I think of it as a weed, if I could stop it growing then I would. Fortunately
I can't and I will just have to endure the blue lake fading to pink. I can enjoy it with little more than token grumpiness. A couple more months
and I will mow it triumphantly back to tidiness.
By then it will have scattered seed for next year.