Flowers with special charm

PUBLISHED: 11:16 02 March 2006 | UPDATED: 14:36 12 May 2010

Aconites aren't fussy

Aconites aren't fussy

ONE gardener I know said that winter aconites only grew where Roman blood had been spilt, a very unlikely story but I can see why it was given credence. Winter aconites do seem fussy about where they like to grow. I have been trying to establish a colony

ONE gardener I know said that winter aconites only grew where Roman blood had been spilt, a very unlikely story but I can see why it was given credence. Winter aconites do seem fussy about where they like to grow. I have been trying to establish a colony for several years, and have had only partial success. I used two methods. I bought some aconites in pots from a garden centre and planted them while still in flower and leaf, and over two areas of grass I sprinkled ripe seed which had been saved by a friend from her collection of aconites. I have had most success in an area which is in shade for most of the winter and in normal years quite a damp area. The area beneath my weeping ash tree is where I scattered most of the seeds and last year there was one winter aconite in bloom and this year there are three because I think the soil is too dry. However, I intend to try to increase my stock again this year by buying plants just after they have finished flowering in a couple of weeks' time, and planting them in shady areas among the snowdrops with which they mix so well. Although they are in flower for such a short season they have a special charm. One day there is no sign of them, and the next their light green ruff of leaves is pushing through the earth, even though the temperature is below freezing. Then inside the ruff there is the small flower curled up at first, then partly unfurled like a little yellow light bulb and if the sun shines a wide open brilliant yellow shiny cup held on a single stem. Once they have finished flowering - like snowdrops and other bulbs - their foliage should be allowed to wither naturally after which they will disappear below ground for another year. On no account cut back their leaves or faded blooms, since this will prevent them from blooming again.

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