There's no doubt that my favourite garden episode in late April/early May was the long, lingering death of tulip 'Sorbet'. In spite of the heat, the flowers took forever to splay themselves, separate petal by petal, droop, and finally drop their gorgeous colours for another year. The result was pleasure from about the beginning of April (variegated foliage and juicy, stripy green buds) to these pictures, taken on May 5. What a tulip!
And finally, after the water vole massacres in 2012, the bronze fennels were able to do what they were born to do - highlight the stars of the show. I have a suspicion that I might be trying a 'Chelsea chop' on the fennels when I get home from Scotland, where I'm staying at the moment. I don't know if it will work, but I think I'd like to carry on enjoying fresh foliage for as long as possible through the summer and spare the roses in the Rose Walk (still struggling) the competition with such tall plants.
Fortunately my greed in dividing the one small clump of 'Black Knight' that I purchased last year seems to have paid off and I now have two plants, although neither have flowered. I've tried to grow 'Black Knight' from seed for more times than I can count on my fingers and toes together, but no joy. Has anyone else succeeded in germinating seed from plants of 'Black Knight? And can you let me in on the secret?
I added a number of good iris cultivars to the border in the Iris Garden last summer; not much to show in the way of flower this year. A wet winter has left their foliage tatty with slug damage and the drought in April seems to have caused premature snapping and drop of some flower buds. At first I thought that the sad buds I kept finding on the ground in the morning were the result of a wicked brown Burmese cat's acrobatics. (Was he leaping on them energetically from the wall above just for fun?) But when other irises followed suit I realised that he was as innocent as he always likes to pretend. The new irises are all still alive and growing strong (about 10 cultivars) and I think I'll do some shuffling around this year to improve their conditions. 'Langport Storm' (below) was one of the few that lived up to first-year expectations, although I'm hoping its stems will be taller in years to come.