Bellevalia romana

My head tells me that I should be writing about one of the many spring flowering shrubs that are looking so stunning right now, but my heart tells me to go for this beautiful yet seldom seen bulb that is such an eye-catching plant despite being quite small (8”-10”), and one that fits seamlessly into the spring tapestry. Over the years I have bought many interesting plants from Marina Christopher (Phoenix Perennial Plants), and this is one of them; having just looked up the date of purchase in my garden book, I notice that this was back in 2006!...

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Primula ‘Dark Rosaleen’

This cultivar, bred in the 1980’s by an Irishman named Joe Kennedy, is a beautiful, strong growing, hardy primula, and having chosen it this week as my special plant, I wanted to find out where the name originated. I uncovered more than one explanation, but the one that fits for me was being named after the poem of the same title by James Clarence Mangan, written in 1846: a dark year in Irish history. Being such a good doer, ‘Dark Rosaleen’ is the perfect primula for me because it doesn’t need cosseting. When I first bought it many years...

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Iris lazica

This is not to be confused with Iris unguicularis which I wrote about in this column in February 2017. Although closely related, their needs differ in many respects, and for that reason it is well worth giving today’s plant a plug! Iris lazica is native to coastal areas of the Black Sea in Turkey and Georgia, and unlike the Algerian iris (which needs a hot, dry spot in poor soil), this one positively thrives in semi-shade, even full shade, and preferably a little damp. It also flowers later, in March, so if you grow both species, you will have a...

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Ficaria verna ‘Brazen Hussy’

Syn:Ranunculus ficaria ‘Brazen Hussy’ Lesser celandine ‘Brazen Hussy’ William Wordsworth wrote no less than three poems in celebration of our native, lesser celandine, so can you imagine the raptures if he had come across ‘Brazen Hussy’? Closely related to the buttercup, this tuberous rooted perennial takes me by surprise every year: one minute the earth is bare, the next it pops up as if by magic. Its polished, heart-shaped, bronze-black leaves form a ground-hugging mound from which the golden yellow flowers cheerfully shine out as if to declare that spring really is on the way (although this week it...

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