Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Winter is here ...


Winter arrived this week, just in time for the December edition of Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. I don't have much to show this year though - not like 2007 when I still had pelargoniums, marigolds and several other annuals in full bloom, or even 2008 when my antirrhinums were still going strong. This year, all that's in bloom are my chrysanthemums.


It's not been a cold autumn. Although recently it had started to get chillier, daytime temperatures were still reaching 10 or 11°C (50-52°F). And then suddenly the forecast was for maximum 7°C and minimum 3°C. Not freezing yet, but enough to start warning bells ringing in any gardener's mind. And when on Saturday morning I went out to find a bitterly cold north wind blowing - well, it was clearly time to put the balcony to bed.



And so at lunchtime I was outside making preparations for the winter. The last of the annuals - by now fading fast - got pulled up, and the perennials moved back from the balcony railings to nestle up to the warmth of the walls of the house. A little bit of water just to stop them drying out completely, and on went the fleece. All that's left now are the bulbs - many of which are already poking through. I've replanted the daffs and tulips from last year, to see if they'll do anything, and I also have several containers of mystery bulbs - bulbs I found in my London garden in the summer and brought back with me. They're all coming through well, but so far I've still not been able to recognise what they are. Some with long grass like stems may be snowflakes - but we'll have to wait and see.


And of course there's this year's new collection. I've said before that you virtually have to take out a mortgage to buy bulbs from the garden centres in Milan, and so every year I wait for the Fiera del Artigianato - a trade fair held in early December. It's hard to translate Artigianato. It means crafts - but has a much wider sense than the English word. The fair this year covered everything from what you would expect from the words crafts, to food, to furniture, to clothes, to solar panels and even boats. It's huge, and is divided into geographical areas. The Italian stands are grouped by regions, and the others by continents and then individual countries. So I spent three hours wandering around the world, drooled over some antique ceramics from China, had dinner in India, saw some incredible drumming and bagpipe playing in Scotland, bought some cheese in Switzerland (made with carrots, absolutely scrummy), and ended up in Holland where I have an annual date with a Dutch bulb stand.


And here's what I bought this year - from left to right : allium, fritillaria, freesia, dwarf iris, and lily of the valley. And one other bulb. But oh, was that a mistake ....


It intrigued me when I saw it on the stand. It had an interesting name and a strange flower which reminded me of something I'd heard of blooming at Kew Gardens, a bloom that was so rare it made the news. But no, obviously it couldn't it couldn't possibly be that .... So I thought I'd get one and check on the internet later to see exactly what it was. And oh, what a mistake I've made. this is something that has absolutely no place on a balcony. I'm going to be loathed and reviled by not only my family but also the neighbours. Really, I should throw it straight down the waste chute.


But of course I can't. So I've promised myself I'll grow it, let the flower open, take a photo and then cut it off and throw it out. Quickly. What is it and why does it terrify me so? Over to you. As it's Christmas, I'm giving away a little prize - five Balcony Garden greetings cards (similar to the one below) with some of the best photos from the last few years. First person to identify it and explain and why it's such a big mistake wins.






10 comments:

JWLW said...

Hi Sue: It's always a pleasure to visit The Balcony Garden.

Wishing you the best for the Holidays.

Have a great day, Liza and Johns Garden.
John

Dan said...

Look at all those bulbs, should be a nice show by spring.

jodi (bloomingwriter) said...

Sounds much nicer in Milan than it is here, Sue. Funy about the bulbs...we start with a few, then need more and more, even with a balcony. I really like the card you created, too.

Dreamybee said...

Oh dear, is it one of those things that smells like carrion? I'm thinking of those huge, 3-foot flowers in the jungle though, I'm sure it's not a bulb. Now I'm intrigued. Your Artigianato sounds wonderful! What fun!

wendyusuallywanders said...

Is it a corpse flower? That is only a problem if you don't like the smell of dead things!

gittan said...

Oh, I thought that you had snow when I read that winter is here =) We did get some snow last night (it's pretty unusual in my part of the country) and today I'm going to pick up the little guy from the postoffice. Hope he likes snow. April told me he've never seen any before so that's fun I think.
Have a great day/ gittan

Hank Moorlag said...

I'm going to guess it's a fritillaria bulb - that produces the really smelly blossoms, like a skunk has come to visit and left it's calling card. Pretty, but not a particularly enjoyable fragrance.

All the best for the Holiday Season! Hank

jo©o said...

Hiya Sue,
Snow has arrived here in the UK and I am staying indoors, doing the GBBD round. Didn't know that you got snow in Milan. Do you not take the pelargoniums indoors? They are my mainstay over the winter, and I pick them as cut flowers.
I have lurked for years (seem to remember that you are involved in EFL, am I right?), but never commented. No bloomday post this month, but instead a Christmas Card is HERE

Rowena... said...

Oh dear....I'm not going to even try to guess what that bulb is! By the way, I had never heard of the Fiera del Artigianato, so hopefully I'll get to see it next year. Will mark the calender asap!

ibrahim said...

wow... nice bulb collection. Flower bulbs is such a pleasure to the eyes!

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