Every month I am setting myself the task of buying a plant in flower, as suggested by the late, great Geoff Hamilton, so that, by the end of the year, my garden will have all round colour. It is a burden as you can imagine, but I am learning to cope somehow! I am trying to push out of my own little horticultural comfort blanket, so that I purchase a plant which is completely new to me.
My visit to the nursery this month resulted in the purchase of a plant I have seen before, and has caused me intense plant-envy in the past. It is 'Fritillary Lutea', a luscious, gorgeous thing, which seems far too exotic for the bitter winds of early spring.
A month ago, the nursery yielded little colour, but this visit was completely different, and there was an explosion of pastels. It really lifted the spirits to see so much colour again after the bleakness of winter. I had to discount many of the plants though, as I have loved (and often lost) them before. The rules are that the plant purchased has to be unknown and ungrown, and much of the colour in the nursery was from primroses, hyacinths and miniature daffs, all of which are very familiar to me.
I was quartering the sales benches, like an eager retriever, when my nose caught an unusual smell which lay heavily around whole area. It was a difficult smell to place, not unpleasant, but equally, not pleasant; reminiscent of something I recognised but was unable to recall. It was very pungent and hung in the air without dissipating. Reader, I should have walked away while I still had the chance ! However, by this time my eye was taken by the huge golden - yellow bells of Fritillary Lutea, and I was hooked. I quickly checked the label for any contra-indications, like soil type etc, but there was nothing to stop me, so into the trolley it went.
A stately, elegant plant, with fleshy green leaves, it looked the epitome of health and vigour. The flowers are borne above long, spear-shaped leaves. This exotic looking plant has a weird little top-knot, almost like a leafy pineapple, set above the flowers, which are downward facing. At the moment the flowers are still in bud, but in a short while they will open to be large bell-like flowers, with white stamens, which protrude from the base.
I may have inadvertently picked up a couple of other very small plants on the way to the checkouts, I don't really recall! What I do recall is that the cloud of odour travelled with me every step of the way.
It was only when I was talking to the woman on the till, that I realised that the smell was coming from the trolley! It was only when she said;
"Gosh that is one stinky plant!" that the penny actually dropped !
The car journey home was breezy, to say the least, as every window was open to get rid of the strange odour.
To be honest, now this lone plant is not in an enclosed place, but enjoying the great outdoors, I can barely smell it, just an odd whiff occasionally, when I lean in close. Reading up on it, the smell has been described as "odd" and 'foxy" by others.
(No apologies for dirty hands and compost-filled nails, which had been doing an honest day's work in the greenhouse!!)
The label below gives all the basic information needed to make a plant happy in its new home - it likes any well drained soil in full sun ; is happy in mixed beds and borders; needs water in dry weather (now, there's a surprise!) and enjoys a weekly feed. height is around 90cm, although I have read that it can be more if the plant is truly happy.
Since I got home I have been reading up on my new acquisition, and sadly, feel that a warning has been omitted from the label, to the effect of :
'WARNING ! This plant is considered highly desirable by any self respecting Lily Beetle, which will travel miles to get a mouthful!'
I also feel I should be prepared for this onslaught, and so should erect a big sign next to my Fritillary Lutea, with an arrow on it, saying "All Lily beetles this way. Please form an orderly queue."
I shall be keeping a vigilant watch, and have my squishing fingers at the ready!
(I was going to grapple with Mr Linky, so that anyone who wished to join in every month, and buy a new plant, could add a link to their blog from here. Sadly, Mr Linky and I grappled to no avail - but you are very welcome to put a link in any comment you may add.)