Sunday, 30 March 2014

Celandines and peacocks

I look on the sea of golden stars that covers parts of our garden with mixed feelings. The stars are lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria), a plant that is a beautiful thug.
Beautiful but smothering blanket of celandine.

The flowers are very attractive to early butterflies. Yesterday I saw two peacock butterflies feasting on the little yellow stars.

Peacock butterfly on a rather limp daffodil.
The problem with wild celandine is that it spreads like crazy and smothers other small plants such as wood anemone that emerge at the same time of year. The RHS page on Celandine suggests some methods of control. We hand weed them in selected areas but you have to be very careful to remove the bunches of tubers intact. Otherwise you are just spreading them around. Another trick is to make sure that they are sharing space with bigger plants such as hellebores that can stand up for themselves.

There are some cultivated varieties that are a bit better behaved. We have some of the bronze leaved Brazen Hussy. This variety has bronzed, almost black leaves. Although it doesn't spread anywhere near as quickly as its green cousin, you still need to keep an eye on it. The butterflies seem to like it well enough.

Brazen hussy.

There are other varieties too. We quite often find doubles that have spontaneously developed from the singles in our grass. Celandine is a pretty but troublesome plant. Don't let the wild one into your garden if you can possibly avoid it but if you are stuck with it, enjoy the show.

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