Forgotten Things

polytunnel tulips
Tulip in Polytunnel

It is funny how quickly I forget what I planted where.  I had a load a bulbs that I ordered from JW Parkers this autumn.  I did manage to get most of the bulbs planted at a reasonable time (although the left over lilies were a bit late getting stuck in a pot), but with one thing and another didn’t really have much of a chance to prepare planting places for them.  Really I should have planned it better.  Anyway, when these sprouts came up in the polytunnel in February near my pineapple guava (feijoa sellowiana) I was a bit puzzled.  I convinced myself that they must be camassia as I remembered that was one of the plants I had bought several of.  However I have now remembered that they are tulips!  These were free bulbs (purple and white flowers) for making an order, and I have recently found out that tulip petals are edible (although toxic for cats and people with lily allergies, as is the rest of the plant).  With no real hope of repeat flowering outside I thought I would give them a go in the tunnel and here they are!

dogs tooth violet
Dogs tooth violet (and daffodils)

Other bulbs from the same batch are dogs tooth violet (erythronium sp.).  The bulbs of these are supposedly edible and they should like Skye pretty well, as well as having exciting flowers.  I got a couple of varieties, and I have to say that the bulbs did seem to be big enough to be worth eating on at least one of the varieties I got, although I planted them rather than eating them.  The barricading rubbish in the picture by the way, is to try and stop our dog Douglas from trampling on them.  He has a thing about birds in the trees there, and likes to dance around barking up the tree (bless him!).

I also got quite a few snake’s head fritillaries (Fritillaria meleagris).  Not because they are edible (although most fritillary bulbs are) but because I simply adore them.  My mum used to grow some in our garden in Oxfordshire when I was a child, and I know that they grow wild in the water meadows around Oxford.  I just didn’t think that they would stand a chance on Skye.  The soil in Oxfordshire is river silt, and in the case of my mum’s garden quite alkaline clay.  A bit of a change from the acid peaty silt that I have.  However, a couple of years ago I saw some in a local garden and established that they do indeed come back in subsequent years, so I couldn’t resist trying them.  These I haven’t spotted yet.  I have planted them in the grass banks (I think!) in the hope that they will naturalise there. I’m also hoping that they will be enough out of the way of our house extension if and when we get round to that.

camassia
Camassia in top field

What I did get in the hopes that they will a) naturalise and b) be edible as well as c) ornamental are three varieties of camassia.  These are very ornamental flowers of the pacific north west US and I am hopeful that they will like it here.  They are supposed to like damp meadows and we can certainly manage the damp bit.  I have planted some in the grass, some in the dog resistant garden and some in the fruit garden.  All three are sprouting hopefully.

onion
Woodland allium

These nice little onions flowers, that were a gift from a fellow blogger (thanks Anni), have sprouted up happily under the trees in the front garden.  I forget which they were now, I was given two sorts, the others are planted in the dog resistance garden, and are happy enough, but not yet flowering.

I tried to find the collective noun for daffodils and the official seems to be ‘bunch’ or possibly ‘host’ ala Wordsworth.  I can’t see either of these doing justice to the joy of these flowers at this time of year, and others seem to agree with me.  I would probably go for a ‘cheerfulness’ since they just elevate one’s spirits with their exuberance in the garden.  Luckily the wind and hail showers recently have not been enough to destroy them.

 

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The ‘tatty’ daffs are a local variety that multiplies and flowers like mad.  It has double flowers with green tinged petals and I’m not sure I always appreciate it as it deserves.

24 thoughts on “Forgotten Things

  1. I love it when a plant appears to remind me I planted it and I can enjoy it again,
    you have a lovely collection of spring bulbs, I find daffodils do well over here, tulips are a bit ‘hit&miss’ I have some, also free from J Parkers that come up every year, Jimmy and Ronaldo, others just bloom once then disappear, I bought some erythroniums 3 or 4 years ago and they are doing fine, so I hope yours do well, might have been best not to eat bulbs sold for ornamental purposes as we don’t know what treatments they may have had,
    I haven’t thought of buying bulbs for culinary purposes except the usual like onions, I have allium moly which I’ve read is edible, it does very well here and has mulitplied a lot! so far I have not ventured forth and tried eating it, Frances

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    1. Good to hear about the erythroniums. You may have noticed that unusual edibles is one of my interests. Along with perennial and tree crops. With the twist that it has to survive Skye and my semi neglect!
      I agree with eating bought bulbs. Even if they have been grown for food you don’t know what they have been treated with. I guess organic grown edibles shoukd be OK, but much harder to source.
      I think all alliums are edible, even the ornamental ones. Although the bulbs may not be very big, the leaves woukd always provide an onionish bite.

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    1. My mum never labels her garden plants (I think she does her veg). I remember her saying the little white labels were a bit like tombstones – I expect painted stones or cast metal may be prettier, but more expensive. When I do label, I use cut up tomato puree tubes – an old biro makes a good embossing tool – although I have had the birds pull them out for the glitter!
      At the time I was just happy to get the bulbs in the ground. It’ll be a nice surprise when they flower, and hopefully then I can note down which is which!

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  2. My light sandy soil is very different from your moist peat, but most bulbs will flower for me. Some, like tulips and erythromiums appreciate some protection from the wind, but they will repeat flower. Wild garlic (Allium ursinum) should do well for you. It can be a bit of a thug, but eating lots will keep it under control. Do eat the leaves (wilt gently) and not just the buds/flowers.

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  3. Now, it is good to know that tulip petals are edible. I think I will appreciate mine for their beauty but you never know.
    Camassia is a new plant/flower for me, although to be honest most non-vegetables are an area I have still to explore.

    As I was looking at the photo of the Skye landscape, I was hoping that others would be inspired by your work and start planting to increase biodiversity etc.

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  4. I haven’t tried eating tulip petals yet. As you say they are just so pretty. I love the velvet texture. The thing with tulips is that you often just get one flower, which it seems criminal to pick! If you are interested in alternative food crops then I recommend Stephen Barstow’s book ‘around the world in eighty plants’ as well as Ken Fern’s ‘plants for a future’ of course! I quite like the idea of having what appears to be an ornamental garden, when all the plants are edible or useful in some way!
    The best thing to increase biodiversity on Skye would be to exclude or reduce some of the large herbivores (sheep, deer etc.), from some areas at least. It is surprising what is already there – but being browsed to the ground, and with a bit of tree shelter even more plants and other wildlife has a chance.

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    1. I got Stephen Barstow’s book for Christmas etc but I mean I simply know only a tiny amount about plants, as there is so much to learn 😊.

      As for the herbivores on Skye, I suspected as much. I’ve just been having a discussion with someone through a FutureLearn course about getting more trees in – his view was that it’s not an appropriate measure to improve biodiversity but how much biodiversity is there with sheep everywhere.

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      1. Trees have their place – they provide shelter for much wildlife. You wouldn’t want them all over the moors, though since peat bog is a valuable and fragile habitat itself.

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      2. I’ve actually just learned on the FutureLearn course I’m doing at the moment that the uplands of Yorkshire, which I mentioned in another comment, are actually water catchment areas with peat. So perhaps they are not as suitable for trees as I thought. I presume, though, that not all of Skye is peat?

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  5. I so agree regarding sheep, it makes me so mad when I hear on farming programmes that the grazing animals are needed to keep vegetation down, deer are not as many here, they are rarely seen, I remember on Skye they were often seen, Frances

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    1. I agree, although grazing can be useful in certain habitats – some rare wild plants need controlled grazing, although overgrazing is more publicised. It’s the applied fertilisers, pesticides and weed killers that make rural deserts.

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      1. Yes, it’s a complex issue. I’m not sure the problem is fertilisers etc on the North York Moors, though. There is nothing but heather for miles – and sheep.

        Each biome needs its own solution, though.

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  6. Now having our own home (as opposed to renting), we went mad and bought lots of spring bulbs for the garden. Also finally released some snowdrops from a pot they had lived in for years. So we are way too excited watching them all come up. Can’t wait for our tulips to flower 😊.

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    1. Spring is just such an exiting season. Actually I really like the winter, because otherwise we wouldn’t have spring. How boring it would be to have lovely weather year round!

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    1. Well spotted! The single track road runs just there behind the house and Douglas likes to bark the cars off sometimes, not sure if it was Donnie with his sheep, or another neighbour. The green netting is to protect three young tamarisk plants from dog destruction, rather than wind. I’m trying to complete a bit of screening from wind and road.

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