It’s Camassia time. I adore these bulbs – they are undemanding and often overlooked as a brilliant naturalising plant. Camassias, also known as wild hyacinths, produce tall spires of blue, white or occasionally pink star-like flowers in May and early June. Grown from bulbs that are planted in autumn, they are not only worth hosting in their own right but also to prolong the ‘spring bulb’ displays.
Hailing from damp meadows and woodland edges in the Pacific Northwest of America, Camassia roots were once a food staple for native Indian tribes and apparently have a sweet taste similar to a baked pear, prune or sweet chestnut. Camassias will grow in heavy, moist soils, and being completely hardy they cheerfully come back year after year. Bees love them but very few pests do – another reason to include them in the garden. They also make great cut flowers.
Camassias will be happy in beds and borders providing fabulous focal points and can also be grown in containers – so you can move the ‘focal point’ to get the maximum effect but I think they’re at their most effective when naturalised in grass. You’ll need to let the leaves die down before mowing, like daffodils, so choose a spot where they can die back naturally.
And when writing about blue flowering bulbs, of course I have to mention bluebells – another favourite. If you haven’t managed to visit a bluebell wood yet you still have time. I always view these ‘visits and vistas’ as top up’s, as they just fill the happy tank. And as we are in the middle of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, it’s a very relevant time to ‘top up’ with nature.
You can find out where the best bluebell sites are in Wales (and England, Scotland and Northern Ireland) at www.woodlandtrust.org.uk
I have had quite a lot of feedback on my recent weed words–‘weed ‘em and reap’ could be rebranded as ‘read ‘em and weep’! Not only are the RHS rebranding weeds as resilient plants, Chelsea Flower Show is now referring to weeds as ‘hero plants’. Just to be clear, I am a huge fan of (most) weeds – my garden is testimony to that – and wonderfully, most ‘weeds’ are in fact medicine of sorts. It’s definitely not weeds that I have an issue with, I just don’t think anything in nature needs a ‘rebrand’.
Horticulturist, Alys Flower wrote an interesting piece recently, ‘A Guide to Laidback Gardening’ and whilst I agreed with most of it, I think the most important thing to remember is that your garden is your business. Simply garden as you choose. And for most of us that will be a sort of ‘midway path’.
Talking of paths, whilst I am already pretty laid back about my own garden, I do like to keep the paths through the veggie bed clear and have just found the perfect tool to do it. The ‘super-slice’ is the grown up version of the weed slice (will that need to be rebranded I wonder) and the perfect width for paths and larger areas. As the name suggests, it slices through unwanted weeds (and heroic resilient plants) easily and has even won an award for its talent.
In this month’s newsletter, no-dig expert, Charles Dowding recommends an oscillating hoe – I have never actually used one but might have to try. More details about both at www.burgonandball.com