The transient delight of dogs tooth violets – Erythronium revolutum
Of all the fleeting seasonal delights, the dogs tooth violets or erythroniums might take the award for ephemera. They are so pretty and dainty and they are here today and gone pretty soon after. We probably only get ten days out of them in flower and a bad bout of weather can knock the display for the year. But we still get a great deal of pleasure from them. The flowers are like nodding hats while the compact foliage is often gently mottled or marbled in green and maroon.
There are about 20 different species, all in the Liliaceae family, but some of them just won’t perform in our climate. Many prefer cooler conditions and dry summers. As far as we know, what we have are mainly seed raised E. revolutum which is native to the west coast of USA. They thrive in humus rich conditions on woodland margins where the soil stays moist and there are reasonable light levels. The corms are interesting, being long and narrow and alarmingly easy to snap in two when disturbed. They find their own depth, often burrowing down quite deep, out of harm’s way.
First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.
The original Iolanthe is a wondrous sight this week
Veltheimia bracteata "Rosalba"
It is not easy to convey the full impact of the original Magnolia Iolanthe in flower. It is a wondrous event. Mind you, at about 50 years old, the canopy does measure around 10 metres across so there is rather a lot of Iolanthe to be wondrous. As somebody commented to us, what will Felix Jury be like in full flower when it achieves the same age and similar stature? Possibly even more astounding. We never tire of magnolia time here.
We advertise that we are open for plant sales on Fridays and Saturdays which means that we will definitely be here in attendance. In fact we are here most of the time and the garden is open every day (there is an honesty box if we are not around) but we just don’t guarantee our availability on other days. You can ring first to check if you want to come on other days. Details on what we have available are listed in Plant Sales. I have to comment though that despite every page on Plant Sales explaining that we do not courier or mail order plants, (sales are to personal customers only), every single day brings enquiries from people who have either failed to read that header comment or who hope that we will make an exception for them. If it was easy to pack and courier plants, we would still be doing it but it isn’t, so we don’t. End of story, I am afraid. We will however hold plants out the back while you arrange for somebody else to pick them up for you or until you can get here.
The dainty delight of the erythronium
The highly sought after lemon and pink variant of veltheimia (bracteata Rosalba) is just coming into flower but we only have a few plants left so be in quickly if you want it. We have plenty of the more common pink (bracteata). And just as a complete contrast to the opulent magnolias, we have plants of one of the daintiest and most ephemeral seasonal delights – dogs tooth violets or erythroniums. Spring here is all about the big pictures and the tiny treasures. Why would anybody want an evergreen garden which looks the same all year round?