Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Just when you least expect it...

At the end of 2009, I planted a couple of Crown Imperial (Fritillaria imperialis) bulbs in one of my larger containers. It was a bit late - they're supposed to go in in the autumn, and it must have been early December. But I thought I might just be inside the time limit.

Spring came and - nothing. Not so much as a sprout. So I thought I'd probably done my usual trick of overwatering (easy in the large containers) and had rotted the bulbs. I found out later that they are supposed to be planted on their sides to stop the water collecting in the tops. Don't you always find out that sort of thing afterwards...

Anyway, I forgot about them and planted other stuff, summer annuals and so on, in the container. And when winter came, cleared them out and left the container bare except for one little alyssum plant which I had no room for elsewhere. So I popped it in there on its own to overwinter, thinking that I'd move it in spring.

A few days ago, I went out to do just that. And here comes the Crown Imperial...

It must have just sat there all last year, biding its time.

Needless to say, I can't now remember what colour it is. Did I get the yellow ones? The orangey red ones? I'm going to have to find other stuff to plant in there which will go with either - and so much for my idea of that being my purple and white container this year.

Never mind. Nothing like a few surprises to keep the garden interesting...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Yo-yo weather

March - and the month that, here in Milan at least, we can really get going with the serious stuff. The beginning of the month was very mild - two weeks ago I was out on the balcony in a short-sleeved T-shirt. It was well over 18°C and so, finally, all the last remaining fleece came off the containers.

And then, well, all those seeds were just begging to go in. So I spent a happy Sunday afternoon sowing.

The veg went in first - everything from lettuce and herbs (to stay outside) and tomatoes, aubergines and peppers (to come inside for a few weeks). And then it was the turn of the flowers - antirrhinums, alyssum, calendula, marigolds .. and lots more.

When it got dark I came happily in to cook the evening meal, and turned the TV on to watch the news and weather forecast. And they were forecasting snow for Tuesday.

Well, it didn't happen. But wow, did the temperature drop. Down to below freezing at nights. So the fleece went back on all the containers, and I covered up the seed pots as best I could.

The cold weather (and some torrential rain) lasted a week or so and then the temperature gradually began to creep up again. We've been back around 18°C yesterday and today.

Until a couple of hours ago that is. Adelio and I went out this afternoon to get some bags of compost. It was bright and sunny, and as we went I took some photos of the plants and trees which we saw on the way. There's Forsythia everywhere, and blossom on the roadside trees. And though I'm not desperately keen on this plant (whose name I know but can never remember - I always think of Pieris, but it's not) it does look wonderful in the spring when the new reddish brown leaves contrast with the rest of the bush.

Spring seemed to have arrived.

We were only inside about twenty minutes, but when we came out the sky had turned black and there was clearly a megastorm on the way. We just made it home before it broke...

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