On Sunday morning I toddled up the garden to check on how everything was doing. It turned out that I am not the only creature that takes an interested in my Corydalis. Less than amused was I, to discover that some sort of devilish brute had disentombed my plants. In fact I was flippin’ furious. Regular readers may remember that I grow all the tuberous Corydalis in aquatic pots which I then bury in the ground. This gives them the benefit of growing in the soil (rather than the more artificial environment of a pot) and I have the benefit of knowing which plant is where. Whomever it was that committed the crime has made a mockery of all of my best efforts.
Overall, I don’t think the losses are too great. I still have most of the tubers, but significant numbers of them are all mixed up and label-less. From a position of optimism, which is my natural inclination, the plants will mostly carry on regardless. Their the buds are starting to swell, but they are not growing yet so won’t carry too much trauma forward from this incident. From a position of pessimism, in which I occasionally wallow, my plans are ruined! Said plans might be trivial in the wider context, but they’re pretty important to me!
Here’s a rundown of the damage caused:
- A row on the far side of the bed was completely dug out: emptied pots flung to all quarters, tubers and earth spread all over the place. The the upside is that all of the pots on this row were all Corydalis solida sp. (as opposed to cultivars). I had (have?) plentiful supplies of the species, and I could also recover all the tubers in the certainty that they are all the same and haven’t been mixed up with anything else. Ultimately, this could have been worse.
- The middle of the bed had fared slightly better. A pot of ‘Firecracker’ had been dislodged, but not emptied, and a pot of ‘George Baker’ seedlings had been completely emptied. From memory, the ‘George Baker’ seedlings weren’t particularly outstanding. These tubers are either lost or mixed up with some of the other exhumed tubers.
- On the closest side of the bed, the damage was much worse. Right on the end is where several of the rarer tubers live as they get a little more exposure to the elements (which suits Corydalis from higher elevations). Corydalis gracilis is, I suspect, lost. I rather hopefully placed a nearby tuber into the pot, but I’ll be lucky if it’s the right one. Both C. ornata and glaucescens face a questionable future. C. ornata was only tiny and didn’t seem to be thriving, so I’d be surprised I see it again. C. glaucescens is a real loss: it grew really well this year and I think it’s tubers were amongst the general pile of destruction. They might not be lost, but they’re certainly mixed up. C. decipiens (poss. C. pumila) was also badly affected, but this is so strong-growing, with large bulbs, that I’m not too concerned. Trying as I am to see the silver linings, some of the others, like C. schanginii ainiae and C. nudicaulis, were slightly dislodged but otherwise unharmed.
- Moving slightly further into the bed, we come to the worst affected area. Here is where C. malkensis and some of the solida seedlings used to be. They are now all one big mess. C. malkensis is a bit of a bother. I’ll still have plenty of tubers, but I was hoping to have some for sale next year. Now it’ll be at least another year for me to let them grow and identify them. Ditto for the solida seedlings. These are some of the more promising seedlings that I’d selected, but now they’re all jumbled up. As I said at the start, they’re mostly still there and will probably grow on just fine, but in terms of my aims with the plant nursery and my general growing of the collection, this is the bit that is most problematic for me.
It’s always good to learn from our failures, however I’m not really sure what I can learn from this small scale calamity. The best I can see in this mess is that it could have been worse, and that I’ll have to make sure I peg some wire over the bed in the future. For reasons that I can’t quite fathom, describing the wasting of my prized collection has proved a little cathartic: I’m no longer planning to pave over the entire garden, or to sell up and move into a flat.
As things stand, I’m not entirely sure who the mastermind behind my downfall is. I suspect it’s a fox: there are plenty of them around. Whoever it was, they really went to town on this. The tubers are now all safely tucked away again, this time with a big roll of plastic mesh over the top of them. Hopefully this will be enough of a deterrent to prevent any further disturbances. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this won’t become a regular occurrence. Only time will tell!