Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Sweet bulbs of Spring

An engine-red tulip has just opened its bright buds: Tulipa eichleri is a large flowered species; other than its rather short stature I would have thought it a Dutch hybrid, particularly with its – to my eye – attractive petals lacking the expected gold stripe on each outer petal. Hailing from south-east Transcaucasia and north-west Iran, it’s a bulb that grows in cornfields as well as dry slopes; perfect for south-east Australia. I have an idea where I’ll plant this potted bulb in autumn; I know I’ll add lots of green to counter the brightness. But it’s still early spring and I can live with this cheery colour right now; in summer when I am red-cheeked, it’s a different story….maybe I’m less tolerant then.

A little less harsh on the eye are little gold Narcissus cyclamineus (above) and the deep yellow trout lily (below), Erythronium tuolumnense, both made prettier by the contrasting soft blue nearby. From north-west Portugal and north-west Spain, this tiny daffodil with its swept-back, cyclamen-like petals is a favourite but I need to find a place where it won’t be lost in the hurly burly of the garden; some light deciduous shade would be perfect.

From California (and hardy in the Dandenong’s), this trout lily is, I think, the tallest of the species and while I like the deep yellow flowers, the leaves are the least interesting because they are not dappled with attractive cinnamon-brown markings like most of its brothers. However a friend (Craig of Gentiana Nursery) has combined it with china-blue flowers of Navelwort (Omphalodes) which creates a stunning tableau.
Of course trout lilies, one of my very favourite flowers, is a delicacy for wallabies…and we had one in the garden yesterday. Time to raise the height of my fence, methinks.


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