What is it with the spring season that gets us all excited? Yes, there’s that element of
new life and the prospect of new beginnings, but there’s also a wonderful sensory
appreciation for nature – new blossoms, their scents, their beautiful prettiness and
their promise of soon-to-grow fruit. As floral themes pop up everywhere – from fabric
ranges to school projects – you may want to join in the flower-power brigade by
planting bulbs that love flowering in September and October when spring is at its
Chlidanthus, with their incredibly sweet, citrusy fragrance, should be your first port of
call when choosing a bulb to really make you feel like spring has sprung. Known as
the perfumed fairy lily, C. fragrans is the species available to gardeners (it’s also
known as the Peruvian daffodil for its origin in the Peruvian Andes), a species
guaranteed to fill your home with the exhilarating aroma of the new season.
C. fragrans’ funnel-shaped yellow flowers are a striking little collection of petals, 10cm
in diameter, on 20cm long spikes. Because the flowers appear before the leaves do,
there’s nothing for them to hide behind – just bloom after bloom, about three or four
on a stem. The Greek word from which Chlidanthus is derived – chlide, meaning
opulence – is indicative of the strong statement these blooms can make.
For your own garden of opulence, plant these bulbs (which should be for sale in
August and September) in an area of full sun to semi shade, 4cm below the ground,
and 8cm apart from one another, in friable soil containing nutritious, old compost.
This should be done in early spring (September and October) for best results.
If planting directly in the garden, consider lining a walkway with these plants so that
the scent carries you along your walk, or on a terrace at eye level so that you’re
instantly hit by the scent as you pass by. Alternatively, pots are a great way to carry
the scent indoors when the flowers begin to bloom, affording you a true sense of
spring inside your home, and not just out in the garden. What’s more, indoors you
have less chance of these plants being pestered by the snails and slugs that love
attaching themselves to Chlidanthus.
The bulbs will go into a dormant state between April and June, so if you wish to lift
them, do so at the end of this period, in the month of June. Offsets should be kept for
planting, although patience may be required with these, as they usually take three
years to flower.
The same patience may be necessary when waiting for winter to end so that you can
start planting your favourite sweet-smelling yellow petals. No matter where you
choose to plant your Chlidanthus, you can take advantage of their potential as great
cut flowers and place them in vases in each room in the house, giving your interiors a
spring in every step.
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