As spring warms, they are arriving: clusters of exquisite white and yellow, sweetly fragrant blooms, richly petalled and with stars in their throats.
Freesia alba has arrived in the garden.
Not surprisingly for a wild species, they are diminutive, both plant and flower, in comparison with the more common hybrids. I fell in love with them from afar one day while looking at Diana's blog, where she tells about these and so many other lovely South African native plants. But while some of her plants would be unlikely to thrive here in the low desert, I felt that the freesia was well worth trying.
And try it I did.
My batch (ordered from Bill the Bulb Baron, who kindly made it a baker's dozen) has so far consisted primarily of blooms of pale yellow with a deeper yellow patch.
But one is distinctly whiter, with pale lavender petal backs.
Here are the two colors side by side.
According to Wikipedia, Freesia alba is variously listed as a species to itself or as a subspecies: Freesia leichtlinii subsp. alba. Whichever they may be, they combine elegance with good cheer in the spring garden.
They are said to be even more fragrant than the hybrids, but I have not tested that yet for myself. They are a different flower in any case, at once daintier and more robust.
I have them growing in two patches: the first in the White and Silver garden is blooming profusely, while the second at the corner of the East Border is coming more slowly. That it exists at all is tribute to the sturdiness of these little bulbs. The second batch was eaten to the ground as soon as it appeared and, in some cases, munched down once or twice more. There is still a good showing however!
In the White and Silver garden, they are planted between Lavandula dentata and Asclepias subulata, the desert milkweed. Its gray stems are still leafless, but new stalks are arising.
The freesias form a burst of color between it and the lavender. If the latter continues to grow as it has been, I will have to dig the freesias out from under it soon!
But for now they grow in the glow of the sun...
...in full clusters of scent and color.
Weather Diary: Sunny; High: 87 F (31 C)/Low: 54 F (12 C); Humidity: 17%-71%
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Annette (Sunday, 12 March 2017 07:24)
You've taken some beautiful images of this equally beautiful Freesia. Just the type of yellow I like and so welcome at this time of year. I'm glad you've enjoyed the snowdrop dance. The good thing is that after this dance is over, there'll be many more...now I'm dancing with the daffodils :), take care, Annette
rusty duck (Sunday, 12 March 2017 09:28)
Just gorgeous and I can imagine the scent. Then I got to the bit about munching.. I can see the mice rubbing their paws together already.
Diana Studer (Sunday, 12 March 2017 11:45)
The lavender is the colour that I have (in pots scattered around the garden)
You have enough to pick a few?
Amy@smallsunnygarden (Sunday, 12 March 2017 11:59)
Thank you so much for the kind compliment, Annette :) I was a little surprised by the color - such a perfect pale yellow... just the color I have been wanting in the East Border. So I am already thinking about transferring a few... I look forward to seeing your daffodils - always a favorite for me!
Amy@smallsunnygarden (Sunday, 12 March 2017 12:02)
Jessica - Discouraging, isn't it?! They (presumeably rabbits) kept taking the tops off some of my narcissus leaves too. Didn't their mummies ever tell them narcissus would make them very sick...! ...sigh... ;-)
Amy@smallsunnygarden (Sunday, 12 March 2017 12:04)
Diana - I have just the one plant of this variety - Lavandula dentata - but what a lot of blooms! I must start cutting and drying some...
Cathy (Sunday, 12 March 2017 13:34)
They are gorgeous flowers Amy! I nearly picked up a bunch of Freesias at my local gardening centre the other day, and then I saw the price! So in my eyes you have real gold there, and not just in terms of colour!
Kris P (Sunday, 12 March 2017 22:54)
They're wonderful! Freesias are my very favorite bulb. I think all of mine are hybrids and they do vary a lot in terms of scent, both in fragrance strength and nature. My white varieties are just now coming into bloom (the gold variety always leads off the parade) and they smell more peppery than any of the others.
Jane King (Monday, 13 March 2017 02:41)
Lovely! Just wish they'd invented scratch and sniff blog posts!
Brian Skeys (Monday, 13 March 2017 06:06)
Those freesias confirm that the more natural a flower the more elegant they often are.
Amy@smallsunnygarden (Monday, 13 March 2017 15:29)
Cathy - Luckily these were not overly expensive, but I had to find an out of the way supplier. I plonked them in as dormant bulbs last autumn, and I would have to say they're even better than I expected :) I wonder whether you could carry some over winter in a warm spot? Or perhaps dig and store, like gladiolus (something I never managed to do!)?
Amy@smallsunnygarden (Tuesday, 14 March 2017 00:01)
Kris - I guess one should expect quite a bit of variation. My bronze colored freesias are open now, and they are not as fragrant. These are so strongly scented that the fragrance gets airborne!
Amy@smallsunnygarden (Tuesday, 14 March 2017 00:05)
Jane - If they did, this would be one of my most popular posts ever, I'm sure! ;-)
Amy@smallsunnygarden (Tuesday, 14 March 2017 00:07)
Brian - Yes, it's the best possible illustration of that!