Capricious spring

Monday, 08 September 2008

The essence of spring is its unpredictability. After a brilliant start to September, we endured the coldest September day for over seventy years on Saturday (6 September) at a maximum of just over 14C, and we recorded 80mm (over 3 inches) of rain here over Friday and Saturday. Fortunately, Fathers' Day today was a beautiful sunny day! The rain was very welcome, and should do our gardens the world of good over the next few weeks.

My shaded spring border, full of hot coloured flowers, continues to glow, undaunted by the wet weather. A very dramatic bulb - called the paintbrush lily Scadoxus puniceus is nestled amidst the clivia flowers: an enormous red brush with luminescent orange bristles on a thick stem. It opens from a tight bud over several weeks and blooms for a long time. Corms and bulbs from South Africa are some of the most useful for Sydney gardens, as they do not require a very cold winter to bloom, as many other spring bulbs need, and they survive our hot, humid summers without complaint. The beautiful perfumed freesias are already flowering and will soon be followed by other South African bulbs, bringing that sparkling freshness to our gardens that only bulbs seem able to convey.

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