With the exception of bringing a child into the world, there is nothing in life so rewarding as growing a plant from seed. The emergence of a single vulnerable seedling from a tough, dry husk is nothing short of miraculous, a tiny incident of creation, evolution and the continuation of life on Earth.
The flowering of Canarina canariensis has given me special cause for celebration. I first encountered this pretty, scrambling, Canary Island native at the Chelsea Physic Garden in spring 2015. I promised then to update you on my efforts to cultivate this sub-tropical beauty. Two out of ten seeds germinated, one of which perished due to my own clumsiness. The other flourished. My fledgling climber died down in April, as it would in its natural habitat, and found itself stashed in a dry corner of the greenhouse. In late September I spied glaucous blue-green foliage beginning to emerge from the surface of the compost and commenced watering again. Throughout October, lush, 5ft long shoots were rapidly produced, most terminated by a tapered bud. Pictured above is the first, now carefully cossetted in the bathroom, coming into bloom.
The thought that I might miss this moment was giving me palpitations, but I have been lucky enough to watch that tapered bud transform into a campanulesque bell through the course of today. Canarina’s fiery flower, hopefully the first of many, is sufficient to warm the cockles of my heart and restore my rather maudlin mood. Perhaps in a couple of years I might enjoy a display like the one pictured below. Only by growing from seed could I have achieved this spectacle (as far as I am aware no nursery offers Canarina canariensis plants in the UK), hence I’m as proud as a new father. With seed catalogues beginning to drop through the letter box, now’s the time to plan your own little miracle for 2017.