Well here we are again. Another Saturday, And what do we have today? A royal wedding. Big bunfight as long as you bring your own food ( if you’re Gill Heavens, that’s rioja and cornflakes). A football match. Ninety minutes. That’s ten minutes of chaps kicking a ball around and occasionally into a net, twenty minutes of chaps rolling around on the grass in apparent agony after being kicked on the shin by another chap who was half a pitch away at the time and the other hour of aforementioned chaps running around, doing silly dances, ballet moves, hugging each other and whatever, just because one of them managed to kick a ball into a net thingy. And the ball’s the wrong shape too.
Can’t be bothered with either of those.
Cos today’s my birthday. Once upon a time yesterday would have been a milestone, signifying the last day of employment before compulsory retirement. Today I would have drawn my old age pension. Now I have to wait, for some reason, until January 2020. Your birthday doesn’t matter any more when it comes to the state pension. But I can’t even retire tomorrow as I retired in 2007. Early. Because I could. And nowhere near my birthday. 31 March it had to be. On 1 April I got a work pension; a bit under half pay. And, would you believe, was £5 a month (net) better off!
So now I’m 65. And I suddenly notice how many online forms which ask for your age have a category “5?-64”. Well now I’ll have to check the “65-Methusela” category. Still, my wine merchant sent me a very nice voucher as a birthday present. I’ve already drunk half of it. And no, I’m not talking “a methusela” but Methusela. Can we be clear about that? Google the difference if you want.
On Tuesday I had a water meter fitted. No more freebie water here. On Wednesday I was greeted by a cheery tweet (on Twitter, where else) reminding me that, as we faced two weeks without rain, I must not forget to water all my new plantings. I am not going to admit to the fact that on Monday evening I checked all my water butts and, with the spurious addition of water treatment (tap water’s not the same as rainwater) filled them all with a hose.
Right then, I’d better get on with it before Granny admonishes me again for wordiness.
1 Erysimum and Narcissus
It’s the latter half of May and I still have miniature Narcissus in flower. The perennial wallflowers in the foreground are, I think, on their last legs. They’re a short-lived perennial and, after five years, I think it’s time for a new batch. I’ll wait for them to go over though.
Now I have never bought a columbine, nor have I sown seeds, nor have I ever been given any as gifts. But a few years ago, something looking very much like Nora Barlow appeared. The following year she appeared all around the garden. Then something very much like Black Barlow appeared and, likewise, rampaged everywhere. Now I have this, which looks very much like a “Winky Series” Aquilegia. It appeared as a smallish plant last year; this year it’s much bigger, having stayed evergreen through the winter. At least it hasn’t seeded everywhere. Yet.
No-one in the immediate vicinity grows any aquilegia. So where mine have come from is a mystery.
3 Rhododendron Germania
Until now I have never managed to keep a fully-fledged Rhododendron alive into its second year. I don’t know why I’ve failed but I’ve kept trying. I acquired this variety last year. It’s relatively small-growing. But it didn’t flower. Big juicy buds stayed as big juicy buds all through the winter. Now they have started to open. Maybe it’s just a slow developer but I’ve not heard of any Rhododendron that takes a year working up the energy to open a bud. Nice flower so worth waiting for anyway.
4 Acer Whateveryouwanttocallit
I hope no-one ever gets to try to rename this beautiful dwarf tree. Depending on where you look for it, you’ll find it listed as “Acer Garnet”, “Acer palmatum dissectum Garnet”, “Acer Garnet dissectum”, “Acer palmatum atropurpureum Garnet” and with various combinations of capitalisations and inverted commas. And a few other names.
A few weeks ago, I was worried that I’d lost it as there was not a single sign of a leaf opening. Then it suddenly decided to wake up and transformed itself from bare to glorious in no time. So I’m happy again.
5 Geranium phaeum and Geraniumum phaeum var Samobor
I amended the title and text of number 5 on 20 May to correct the titles of both plants from “Geum” to “Geranium”. People were too kind to point my error out to me!
Look carefully at the photo. In the middle is a Geranium phaeum var. Samobor. Bottom left is its neighbour, plain old Geranium phaeum. I’ve looked long and hard and can’t tell the difference. Does anyone know what I’m supposed to be looking for?
6 Nectaroscordum (Opening)
I actually think that this bulbous plant looks better as the buds open than when it’s in full droopy flower. It certainly seems to take longer to get open than it does in flower once it’s out of bed. It’s not an allium, of course. Not any more anyway.
It used to be a subspecies of the genus Allium but is now regarded as a cousin in its own genus. Or was. These days, no-one seems to be able to make up their mind. Certainly it doesn’t have the usual allium spherical flower characteristics. Interestingly, the RHS seems to be hedging its bets.
The hidden code stuff that is often hidden behind the web pages you see suggests that this is “Nectaroscordum siculum subsp. bulgaricum” which would make it Bulgarian Honey Garlic subspecies of Sicilian Honey Garlic. But you won’t find that name on the actual page.
Whatever, I’ll enjoy it whilst it works out its proper family tree and gets the right passport.
Well that’s it. I’m off to drown my sorrows in a few bottles of Prosecco. As usual I end with an exhortation to visit the blog of Granny’s Son-in-Law. The aforementioned SiL may well, for another week, have stolen his wife’s mother’s ideas for a six. If he has, we may be looking for a new host next week. But for now, The Propagator has the honour of hosting this meme, which he invented purely so that he could host it and get lots of hits on his own blog. Now if you have a WordPress account, you can install the WordPress Reader app and get notifications of all the SoS posts via that, so avoiding the need to boost Mr Prop’s crime ratings. Unless someone is blogging using Google, that is. Oh well ……..
Have a great week and enjoy your garden.
I ought to mention that since Tuesday I have not moderated my water use in the garden. Indeed, whenever I've gone to one of the butts I've asked myself whether I would have done that before the meter was fitted and, if not certain, have used the tap. Gotta compare properly, see. After an unscientific part week, I estimate that my metered water charges will be less than half the cost of unmeasured charges. So even for mad gardeners, a meter may work out cheaper. The rule is if bedrooms outnumber people, you're likely to save. And here in Wales, if you don't you can revert to unmeasured charges. It's a win-win for the Welsh, at least. Like it should be in rugby against England.