Black Fingernails

It was breezy but lovely round here today. Blue skies, clear golden light, all that good stuff. It seemed like a good day for gardening. The ever patient Calum at the garden centre sold me quantities of horticultural grit and bonemeal, ericaceous compost and so on and so forth, and so after lunch, I got to work. I have evicted last year’s begonias from their pots, checked them for soundness, and put them in fresh compost, enlivened with grit and bonemeal, and made some pretty arrangements of pansies and primulas, also ex Calum: I couldn’t resist buying pansies because he had scratched up a variety called Beaconsfield, which has dark lower petals, light upper ones (Oxford & Cambridge pansies, so to say). I saw these for the first time in The Cut when I was ten, and really wanted them, but the whole tray had already been sold. My father subsequently tried to get me some, but to no avail, and I have felt sentimental about them ever since. Then there was a lot of strenuous and tedious stuff, chucking bonemeal at the banks of crocuses, top-dressing the camellias and azaleas and generally hauling stuff about. I chucked bonemeal at the crocuses last year, and I’ll swear that this year there are twice as many. A feed at this time seems to work wonders. I’m now feeling a little creaky in the back, but very pleased with myself. I planted some crocus in the winter of a named variety called Ard Schenk, and these have now flowered; they are particularly beautiful. For some reason the black lilies I bought last year roared into life the second they were planted, and are now budding like fury. They seem to be minded to flower in April, and you don’t on the whole think of lilies as spring bulbs. My cycad has put forth a new set of leaves. This is a major event, since the previous set of leaves has been on the plant for five years. Cycads as a group are 200,000,000 years old and seem still to be set in Jurassic ways.

5 Responses to “Black Fingernails”

  1. The Man From Maryport Says:

    Ard Schenk? Good grief . . . surely not the speed-skating star of the 1976 winter olympics? Transformed by some Ovidian conjuring into a crocus? I suppose that having a crocus named after you is rather a sweet way of commemorating sporting achievement of an utterly obscure (though not presumably in the Netherlands) variety . . .

  2. The Man From Maryport Says:

    What on earth is going on? I seem to be repeating myself . . . help!

  3. The Man From Maryport Says:

    That’s better . . .

  4. Jane Says:

    Repetitions were duly zapped. I like the idea of Metamorphoses as an aspect of the naming of plants. I have a rose called Sir Frederick Ashton which is tall, awkward and disobliging though when it gets around to it, it produces a single flower of supernatural beauty with a perfume detectable within a radius of six feet. Perhaps one might draw conclusions There is a viola named after my beloved agent, and I think I ought to grow it. It doesn’t seem to me the most obvious of avatars. She might be an iris reticulata of a very pure and surprising blue, or a hepatica (a flower she loved), or a very strange aquilegia. Certainly, something pretty tough but which will only grow if it likes you.

  5. william Says:

    We are moving and our Knot Garden is bloody well coming with us…

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