A ray of sunshine on a cloudy day

Un rayo de sol en un día nublado translate or Solas grèine air latha sgòthach

It doesn’t matter how you say it, if it is followed by a sigh, it echoes the melancholy of Spring. Waiting for the rain to stop, waiting for the sun to appear and longing to get outside and garden. There are only so many seeds you can sow, seeding you can prick-out or transplant and eventually even the number of many pots of over-wintering plants that can be cosseted and titivated diminishes. So when sunshine is in short supply, a trip to the lean-to indoor garden to view the Spanish bulbs, is always therapeutic.

Scilla reverchonii is quite a robust plant with loose racemes of pale blue flowers and dark purple stamens. It is a native of mountains in south-western Spain (Sierra de Cazorla) and grows in open spots in partially shaded rock crevices and cliffs.

Scilla reverchonii
Scilla reverchonii

Scilla ramburei also originates from the mountains of southern Spain and Portugal. Related to Scilla verna, it is a small compact plant. The flowers are typically pale blue, but this year, a white form appeared in a group of plants grown from seed.

Scilla ramburei
Scilla ramburei

Even in my sheltered covered garden it is still too early for Narcissus, but occassionally one will take you by surprise. and a pure yellow flower will light-up the whole bed, like a shaft of Spanish sunshine.

Narcissus cordubensis, Narcissus jonquilla ssp. cordubensis or Narcissus cerrolazae
Narcissus cordubensis, Narcissus jonquilla ssp. cordubensis or Narcissus cerrolazae

This is a stunning, delicate bright yellow jonquil, which has flowered for the first time. With long, fine, rush-like leaves, the elegant flower is only a couple of cms across, with a shallow, lobed corona. It is labelled Narcissus cordubensis (although some reference works have it as a subspecies of Narcissus jonquilla). However, other authorities classify plants with a lobed corolla (trumpet) as Narcissus cerrolazae. Both are native to Andalusia and grow in damp conditions on limestone. It is usually multi-headed, and shortly after I had take this photograph, the second flowere opened.

When originally introduced into cultivation the plants were erroneously identified as N. cordubensis, so for the last 30 years there have been bulbs sold as N. cordubensis which might be N. cerrolazae. Botanically it is all very confused, as some authorities lump N. cordubensis, N. jonquilla ssp. cordubensis and N. cerrolazae as synonyms, whilst others maintain that N. cerrolazae, which is apparently found only around Montecorto in southern Spain, is a distinct species. Whatever label you attach, it is still an absolute gem,

6 thoughts on “A ray of sunshine on a cloudy day

  1. I love it when a flower shows up unexpectedly, like your S ramburei; it’s part of what makes gardening–and gardens–so enchanting. That yellow really is a ray of sunshine!

    • Some of the best things in gardening are the small surprises.

  2. Your Spanish sunshine is wonderful and must have been such a welcome sight when it first opened. Blue and yellow are undoubtedly my favourite spring colours. It is interesting to know the names, but at the end of the day it is the effect the plant has on us that counts!

    • I agree entirly, as much as I love the subtle blues, a splash of sunshine yellow is irrestible.I’m interested in the names of plants and their origins, but sometimes the taxonomy becomes just too tedious!

  3. All lovely. Would all of these need to be under cover in the UK, or just in your wet and windy part of the UK? And where would you buy seed from? I am always on the lookout for things to grow in the Coop.

    • I’m sure they’d be fine in your sheltered garden, but they like sharp drainage. I have a clump outside, it’s not in flower yet – just waiting for the elusive spring sunshine. The plant is tough, but doesn’t like winter wet and the flowers are easily damaged by the wind and the rain.
      I’ve been growing this iris for ages, and I think I must have bought it as a small tuber. I’ve never tried any seed, but if it sets some seed this year, I’ll share it with you.

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