Poor Uprooted Old Thing

It’s been a little while since I’ve written anything; Christmas has a tendency to envelop and consume all other activities at this time of year. Outside of work hours the weekdays have been dark, and the weekends have been filled with various seasonal Bits and Bobs. The end result is an almost total neglect of the garden and associated blogging. No matter: I’ve finally got out in the damp and dingy garden to shift the tonnes (quite literally) of leaves that have been carpeting various corners of the garden. Now that that’s done, things are actually looking pretty good for the time of year. There’s plenty still to be done but no great rush.

Lovely Leaf Mould

Anyhow; whilst I was raking, lifting, heaving, turning, cursing, spreading and so on, I spotted a wee little Corydalis solida (prob.) tuber lying uprooted on the ground. The squirrels have been mischiefing with extreme mirth, as is their way, leaving mostly harmless little hollows here and there. Our unfortunate little self seeded Corydalis solida tuber was the only casualty as far as I could see. I thought I’d take full advantage of the situation and took the poor chap inside to take some blurry photos of it at life’s lowest ebb.

Here below, here underground, is the real work, here, here, here and here new stems are growing; from here to there, within these November limits, the life of March will spring up; here underground the great programme of spring is laid down.

K Čapek

Yes indeed, whilst most plant life above-ground is resting for now, the subterranean realm is a veritable melee of root growth and shoot growth. The rudely uprooted Corydalis tuber had a good two inches of shoot and a modest complex of roots to show for it’s efforts: this is all at least a month before it is due to show itself above ground.

Uprooted Corydalis

What an industrious, if ultimately doomed, little plant. Next up, a couple of close-ups, just because we can:

Those optimistic, upthrusting shoots are currently still sheathed in a tough scale leaf. This is usually pushed aside as the shoot reaches the soil surface but evidently the plant wasn’t quite at that point yet. I took a Stanley knife to one of the scale leaf-enveloped shoots so that both you and I could have a little peek inside. This is where the photography starts to deteriorate; I suspect a tripod would have helped, along with some better lighting. I tried looking at the photos on the computer and instructing (with authority): “Enhance. Enhance. Enhance.”

Apparently, this doesn’t work in real life. Regardless, here are the two best shots:

The focus is slightly iffy but hopefully you can see well enough. The entire flowering shoot, replete with leaves, flowers and side shoots, is ready and waiting for action. It’s an interesting state of affairs, and quite common amongst plants, that next year’s growth is almost fully formed by the time the plant reaches it’s dormancy. When the spring comes around, it’s a case waiting for the right moment to expand the already formed cells with sap.

Whilst the individual documented here has been unceremoniously uprooted by the local fauna, and dissected by yours truly, the garden is full of hundreds of other tubers doing exactly the same thing. Some are almost at the soil’s surface (I rummaged through the leaf litter around ‘Purple Beauty’ and spied a few shoots), some will be much further behind (I imagine C. vittae will still be dormant); they’ll all get there in their own time.

Well I feel much better for that; after over a month’s hiatus, it’s good to be getting back into the swing of things. As ever, I’m heading into the New Year full of implausible and impractical ideas. If any of them are achieved it will be a small miracle – either way, I’ll document my successes and failures here. In the meantime, Happy Christmas and all the best for 2022!

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