Showing posts from April, 2020

Camassias! And more about narcissi

Camassias, Narcissus poeticus var. recurvus, white bluebells and the lime-green flowers of Bupleurum rotundifolium The camassias are the last of the bulbs to flower in what I call the "spring bulb meadow". This isn't actually a meadow – far from it; it's a crescent-shaped swathe of grass punctuated by ornamental cherry trees. I have another small circular "bulb meadow" around another cherry tree, and in both of these areas, the flowering season begins with snowdrops, then crocuses, then daffodils, then – finally – camassias and bluebells. I got the idea of a spring bulb meadow from Rosalie Dawes, owner of  Birtsmorton Court , in Worcestershire. She had created one on a patch of grass beneath deciduous trees and at this time of year, it looks superb. Rosalie explained that wildflower meadows are not only notoriously difficult to sustain, but also mean that the grass has to be kept long until June or July. Birtsmorton is very popular as a wedding ve

Daffodils and narcissi

When I was little, I thought daffodils were yellow flowers with trumpets, and white flowers with orange centres were called narcissi. Now, of course, I know that they are all narcissi; that daffodil is a common name for just one member of the genus. I've since found out that the name daffodil is a corruption of “asphodel”, the flowers which were said to carpet the floor of Hades. I still tend to cling to my childish belief that white “narcissi” with orange centres are somehow much more exotic and interesting than yellow flowers with yellow centres. The only exception to this  are the ones with salmon centres, such as ‘Salome’. I do have some ‘Salome’ in the garden, and I know people love them, but to me they always look as if they’ve been left outside in the rain, and then faded in the sun. (I can be very conservative when it comes to certain plants.) Actually, the more intense the contrast between the tepals (the ring of petals) and the corona (the bit in the middle), the mo

Gardening around bees

I was having a conversation with my bees this morning.  I was doing all the talking, needless to say, but I could tell from their body language what they were saying in reply. It was like when you go into your teenage son or daughter's room and ask them if those T-shirts on the floor need washing, or if they are ever going to pick up that plate with the pizza crust on it. That "It's fine , Mum, just  leave it" look. The bees have come through the winter well, thanks to the mild weather. At the first sign of sunshine, they are out and about, foraging among their favourite flowers. Hellebores are high on this list, as is any kind of prunus blossom. They also love euphorbia. Anyway, having sorted out the bees (I was putting supers on for honey), I still had my bee-suit on so I thought I'd do a bit of tidying around the apiary, if that isn't too grand a name for three hives. There was a huge flower spike on the phormium left over from last year, whi