Signs of life

Both botanically and bloggily, signs of life have been sighted. Here in the world of blogging, you are the sighter and this post is the sign. Out in the garden, Corydalis ledebouriana is the sign and I am the sighter. Upon reflection, I’m very pleased to be both a sign and a sighter of life.

Corydalis ledebouriana

For several years I’ve avoided growing the various Corydalis that require more specialist treatment. I’ve preferred to grow the species that are happy in the open garden; not the plants that require the shelter of the greenhouse, or dry spells in the summer, or any other such cosseting. At some point over the past year, something changed and I started to entertain the idea of growing such species as Corydalis popovii (from section Leonticoides of the Corydalis genus, for those of you who are interested). Curiosity, the relish of a new challenge, obsession, or that most human of traits: owning stuff – I couldn’t tell you what changed my mind, but change it did. Several months and several expensive purchases later, here we are: signs of life.

On the many challenges of growing fussy plants

… giving the impression of a Medusa’s head with a tonsure…

Lidén & Zetterlund, 1997

The situation described above is one of the potential pitfalls of growing expensive and pernickety plants. In their defence, they are well adapted to their natural habitats, high up in the mountains across Central Asia. The tubers lie deep underground on rocky hillsides; enduring freezing winters, plentiful snowmelt in the spring, and dry summers. The main hazards for cultivation here in Birmingham seem to be that our mild, unpredictable winters confuse these hardy souls into early growth, before knocking them back with a cold spring. Given the choice, they like a cold winter with a definite end, not the four seasons in a day we so often experience. The only plant with growth currently above ground is Corydalis ledebouriana but a little rummaging around proved that C. popovii and C. sewerzovii aren’t far behind. The best I can do at the moment is to grow them in very free draining soil, deep down in tall pots. In the long run I’m aiming to create a plunge bed which should help to maintain consistent conditions for the roots.

The fact that there are any signs of life at all is a huge relief and one that I’m counting as a significant success. Step two will be to keep the little blighters alive and step three is to induce them to thrive. I will hopefully be able to keep you updated on these fronts, although consistent blogging has not been my forte of late. In the mean time, Happy New Year and thanks for popping by!

2 thoughts on “Signs of life”

  1. It’s always worth trying something new; a new project; a new plant etc. I must confess to having gravitated towards those plants which will simply get on with growing without too much worry for me. Snowdrops are my particular interest and I grow a good range of the easy-to-grow species and cultivars and have given up the bother of those which demand a level of attention which is not available in my garden. Some species need a dry hot summer and not too much wet over the winter and these dwindle away here so I have given up bothering… which reminds me of Homer Simpson’s, “If at first you don’t succeed, give up!”

    1. I can imagine that your wet winters (and summers!) would rule out a number of alpine plants. These Corydalis will have to stay in the greenhouse on account of the wet rather than the cold. If they grow well, I might think about making a home for them in the garden but lifting them in the summer to keep them dry. For now I’m happy that they’re growing at all!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *