Before I started gardening, I thought I was fulfilled.
However, my Experiments with Plants directly and indirectly filled voids that I hadn't even recognised, lifting my happiness to a higher level.
This is a blog about a garden near London, England, and how it is changing my approach to life.
Friday, 15 April 2011
Bluebells (15 APR 2011)
Highlights of the garden this week are bluebells growing around my foxglove plants in the shade of the cherry blossom tree.
Bluebells are sometimes coloured white or pink, and I'm fortunate enough to have the complete palette on display in my garden, but I'm afraid to say that's where the good news ends...
I've always thought of the bottom of my garden as my small piece of woodland, it's only the width of the garden shed. I inherited it this way from the previous owner - it has a cherry blossom tree with all its suckers, a wisteria tree, various shrubs, and in between them, bluebells have naturalised. My only contribution so far are foxgloves which I planted there to compare flowering performance with others situated in brighter locations. I've dreamt of extending the woodland forwards, by removing two rows of patio slabs, and transferring the cherry suckers to give them room to live their own lives, but more importantly to create space for more foxgloves. My dreams come true more frequently these days, since I started gardening.
After many reminders about the importance of native gardening and creating habitats for wildlife to thrive, it occurred to me that I could dedicate the woodland to this campaign, as the work had begun already, bluebells and foxgloves being indigenous to England.
However, while trying to find out if the pink and white bluebells had their own name, I discovered a photo almost identical to my pink variant listed as "hyacinthoids non-scripta x hispanica hybrid" in a gallery of “Alien Species & Garden Escapes”.
Hyacinthoids is the botanical name for bluebells which are in the same family as hyacinths. Non-scripta, meaning unmarked (compared to hyacinths), is the species native to England (Scotland has it's own), whereas hispanica originates in Spain. According to the British Natural History Museum's classification, the most obvious difference between the two is that the English native only has bluebells on one side of the stem which causes the stem to bow, it's rarely seen in white and even more rarely in pink. On the other hand, the Spanish native has bluebells around the stem, making it easier to balance, it holds itself upright. On closer inspection, the former has tubular, sweet-scented bells while the latter has cup-shaped bells, with less perfume.
Having made this discovery, I am now faced with a dilemma.
Should I dig up my alien, naturalised, multi-coloured bluebells and replace them with natives? ... or leave them be? Spain isn't so far away after all. Where would I obtain natives anyway? - is there a guarantee that bulbs labelled as "hyacinthoids non-scripta" will be such and not hybrids? Having said that, aesthetically, I do prefer the tubular bells of non-scripta, the way they bow down meekly, and I'm curious to know what they smell like. Something to think about ...
Finally, featuring heavily in my garden at the moment, but not exactly highlights, are dandelions which along with the bluebells are blooming at least a month earlier than usual as we are experiencing an unusually frost-free April.
To determine if your bluebells are English natives ....