Every year my birthday falls near Mother’s Day and occasionally on Mother’s Day itself. I am not usually sent bouquets of flowers as I am not keen on the commercialization of ‘special’ days, but this year with the Covid thing and no visiting allowed I received a bouquet of pink flowers from my daughter.
The beautiful roses arrived as semi opened buds and unusually the bouquet included some white foxgloves in bloom, all of course grown under glass probably in Holland.
Naturally, after about two weeks the flowers gradually began to fade and we arrived at the cut-down stage for some, and the transfer to a different vase stage for others. This transfer trick also included adding a couple of stems of hellebores from my backyard.
Unlike the roses and carnations the hellebores from my garden completely drooped after a single day, but as many of you know these flowers can be seen so much better when cut with a very short stem and placed in a bowl of water. And, I can report one week later the floating blooms are still looking fresh and catching the light as they bob around.
It’s that time of year again when I am out in the backyard surveying the residual winter mess and examining the plants already budding with potential.
I have also been spending a few minutes poking around in the sodden vegetation to find any discrete beauties preparing for their floral entrance.
And, to my surprise these hellebores had just started to bloom as the last of the snow finally melted away.
Not all the plants in my backyard coped as well as the hellebores with the -5 degrees centigrade and 20 cm of snow. All of last summer’s pelargoniums that I had moved up close to the house are now a sad, blackened gloopy mess of vegetation. That is they are dead. Fortunately, last autumn I brought three indoors; one white single zonal, one dark pink regal and one pink scented-leaf variety. Overwintering in my kitchen isn’t ideal, but at least the are still alive.
It isn’t only the temporary residents in my kitchen that are doing well, a couple of cuttings taken from the Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Schneeball’ seem securely rooted and have recently burst into leaf.
Now, I must come clean. I don’t normally buy imported flowers but I couldn’t resist having some of these sweet pink beauties. I think it was a Lockdown 3 thing.
Of course, I could be mistaken regarding their provenance and they may have been grown under glass in Lincolnshire, but somehow at £1.79 a bunch (worryingly cheap) I think probably not.
Last week in between Ciara and Dennis (that’s the storms) I ventured out into my backyard to check for damage and collect up the debris from the neighbouring eucalyptus tree (still standing). And, to my enormous pleasure I found that the hellebores I planted last year are now blooming.
Now, I do not normally cut these flowers as with their drooping heads once cut they tend only to look at their very best as single blooms floating in a shallow bowl. A shallow bowl arrangement is fine as a table centrepiece, but in my studio I only have shelf space. The two tables I have are covered with frames, silk and all the associated bottles and jars of dyes with which I am currently working.
Nevertheless, even though I knew they wouldn’t last long, I did cut two stems. I then spent some time fiddling around propping up the blooms using some blossom-bearing twigs of an evergreen shrub (Viburnum tinus) finally making my first vase arrangement of homegrown flowers for 2020. Incidentally, it wasn’t just the first flowers that were picked, but the first caterpillar was also sighted.
Although I don’t have space to grow bulbs for cutting myself, there’s no reason not to buy a bunch of Cornish-grown daffodils. At this time of the year they last a good week and absolutely brighten up my basement kitchen.
And, of course also at this time of year a stroll through the Old Cemetery finds the crocuses in bloom . . .
. . . but what’s all this noise? I raised myself, camera in hand, after kneeling for a crocus close-up, to find myself amidst a startled murder of crows. Wrong exposure and not in focus, but, for once, I managed to capture a half-dozen of the birds as they wheeled away. All rather spooky!
Finally we had a sunny day and I ventured out to have a quick look round the garden. The hellebore flowers and the hebe foliage are looking colourful, but that was about all.
So feeling impatient I’ve cheated for my spring bouquet and bought some tulips to add a little more flower power. These tulips are Libretto Parrot and will open into a frilly, striped affair.
I’m sure I used to have pink and green stripy tulips (Greenland) in the front garden, but I don’t think I planted them deep enough to survive more than one season. Still, these parrots will bring a burst of spring colour indoors.