Friday, April 02, 2010

Plant envy

I turned up at a client's garden for the first time in a little while the other day to find this.

Isn't it beautiful? It is, of course, the dog's tooth violet, Erythronium dens-canis, and I am spitting mad.

The reason I'm so bloody furious is that I can't grow the damn thing. Never have been able to. I must have wasted twenty quid over the years on buying its funny-looking bulbs and though I have planted them by the book - partial shade, moist but well-drained, lots of leafmould - they stubbornly refuse to do their stuff. Yet here they were: a little clump, nestling among the spring bulbs on the rockery. And she hadn't even really done much other than plonk them in there. When told of my incredulity at the ease with which they sprang up she just said, "Really? I've never had any trouble."

Why do gardeners always say that?

Dog's tooth violets are not the only thing I can't grow. There's quite a long list, actually.
  • snowdrops (going to try the elwesii types at some point though -you never know)
  • chillies (this year's failed to germinate, again)
  • trilliums (but I'm in good company)
  • heliotrope: how do you overwinter them?
  • Nicotiana sylvestris: germinate beautifully and then sulk, permanently
  • morning glory: ditto (going to try sowing in late May this year)
And if any of you lot say you've never had any trouble, I'll torture you till you tell me which plants you can't grow and then show you how brilliantly they're doing in my garden. So there.


HappyMouffetard said...

I can't grow bears breeches, which my husband finds hilarious, as it grows like a weed in everyone else's gardens. I've tried it in 4 different gardens, with varying soils but no luck :-(
I don't want to try trilliums, as it would just be too expensive a failure.
I do however have Erythronium ;-)

Su Harris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Su Harris said...

I can't grow dog's tooth violets either! Nor morning glory, which so far have germinated offering so much promise, and have now keeled over. SO annoying. Failing with purple sprouting broccoli too - courtesy of the local pigeon population.

La Petite Gallery said...

Happy Easter Sunday.. Fab post.


Christine B. said...

My kill list is so long I could post about it once a month for the rest of my life. Your list is quite modest, no need for shame.

Christine in Alaska

keewee said...

She is a little beauty.

elizabethm said...

I adore erythroniums too. For some reason I can grow pagoda but not the violet ones, which I actually prefer. I can't grow all sorts:delphiniums, roses except the tough old rugosa types, trilliums (of course), and basically anything which needs moist soil, ligularia and so on. I have failed with morning glory for the last couple of years but might have a go at sowing it much later as you suggest.

The Constant Gardener said...

HM - bear's breeches grows like a weed in my garden I'm afraid. I tried to move it once and it just keeps sprouting up in the place I moved it from as well as where I moved it too. But you trump me on erythroniums :D

Su - net the PSB! Now! Before it's too late! (I am a PSB fiend)

LPG & Keewee - thanks :D

Christine - you make me feel much better. But there are things on my list I haven't confessed to: shame is definitely required.

Elizabeth: delphiniums is one of the things I didn't confess to. Ligularia are entirely out: as are primulas, so I share the moist soil thing with you. And morning glory... I'll let you know how next month's sowings go I guess...

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