A stalk of the crinum 'Carolina Beauty' has sat in a jar in the house for five days. Like a trumpet lily, the white flowers came in a cluster of seven blooms, mildly fragrant, and with attractive purple filaments bearing the stamens. The individual flowers last only a day or two but open in succession.
It is feasible to transplant many things at odd times of the year. One of the worst times to transplant a rose bush is mid-June, when the plant is past its main flush of bloom and is heavy with new and not fully mature leaves.
Nevertheless, I received at that time a nice plant of the apricot-orange (fading to white) climber of 1910, 'Aviateur Bleriot,' from Carl Cato, the great rose authority. There was still a flower on it, and it was bare-root, and had been a day or two on the road from Virginia. I planted it and was relieved to see all the leaves fall off. Naturally I gave it a bucket of water every two or three days, and now it is fully leaved again.
About this time I received a Carolina jasmine with a nice ball of earth by an architect friend. It was to replace my old one that I rooted years ago from a cutting I got in Charlottesville. I am sorry to say that despite careful attention, this plant looks sad. It has not dropped a leaf. Usually it is a bad sign if the leaves wilt but hold on, and one feels safer if all the leaves drop immediately and then sprout anew.
I am determined not to lose the jasmine, however. This may be the place to say that there are two forms of the wild Carolina jasmine in gardens. Gelsemium sempervirens and G. rankinii look alike to me, with their small yellow trumpet flowers in spring, but the first one is intensely fragrant and the second is scentless.
The fragrant one has lance-shaped leaves that narrow gradually to the leaf stem, according to "Hortus," while the scentless kind has rounded leaf bottoms where they meet the stem. Mine lacks the rounded leaves and I assumed it was the fragrant sort, but the man who provided it says it is scentless. Sometimes books are wrong, and then sometimes there are hybrids between closely related species and these may belie expectations.
A somewhat neglected lily that seems to be making a comeback, judging from bulb catalogues, is Lilium henryi, with many handsome large reflexed flowers on the stalk. Where it is happy, in good loamy soil in the sun, it increases rapidly to a thick clump with 20 flower stems. As lilies go, it is healthy, and it is the parent of the Aurelian hybrids. One of these is called 'White Henryi' as if it were a valid wild species, but it is a garden form, I believe. In any case its flowers are white with orange centers, and it is relatively foolproof.
I have a clump, grown from a single bulb, that once was utterly swamped by a grapevine, and while this weakened the plant it did not kill it and now (the grape having met its just doom) is flowering reasonably well with four or five stalks of flower.
The garden variety of heliotrope called 'Marine' has rich deep blue flowers instead of the undecided lilac color of the old heliotropes. I get very little scent from it, however, and hope that as the season goes on the fragrance will develop. If not, I cannot imagine why anybody would want to grow it.
It would be a help to hear from any gardeners who have ripe tomatoes early in July. Always, and usually in January, you hear about "loads of big dead-ripe tomatoes on the Fourth," but I have never had any by then.
My plants went outdoors starting April 14 and have never looked back. I protected them with those water-filled plastic cylinders, and the plants are now nearing six feet in height, with a reasonable assortment of tomatoes the size of tennis balls. But I am sure it will be about July 17 before any are ripe.
Against my better judgment (and I rarely succumb to impulse buying) I bought a plant of something called 'Ball's Extra Early,' because you pick tomatoes from it about 56 days after planting it out. But as it grows with me, it will require at least 96 or 100 days, or longer than even the late varieties require. Still, it was such a beautiful plant that no gardener could have passed it by.
The modestly named 'Super Fantastic' seems, at least with me, to set more fruit in the chancy weather of late spring than other tomatoes. It is a main-season variety and will probably come in about July 18. I bought two plants of seemingly equal excellence and planted them the same day in April. One has grown exuberantly, the other is no more than a third or a half its size. If anyone had only that second plant, he'd say "not vigorous enough to be worth the space" but if he had the first plant he'd say "superior in vigor and health with a very heavy set of fruit."
Even when one has superior plants to set out, and even given seemingly identical conditions (and mine have excellent soil, about seven hours of sun, a three-inch mulch of quite rotted wood, plenty of water etc.) the plants may vary in performance.
I think they are like pups. I once raised a litter of bassets and the vet said that never in his life had he seen such a uniform batch, identical in weight, liveliness and so on. That is because I spent much time switching the pups about when they nursed, so the runt was equal with the right tackle (so to speak) by the age of seven weeks. Very slight setbacks, barely or not at all noticeable at the time, can result in great discrepancies in development in pups and, I am sure, in tomatoes.
I do not expect my bush beans to be worth much, as I just stuck them in, whereas usually I see to it the soil is splendid, and usually I pay much attention to early weeding. But my time went to tomatoes and the poor beans seem a bit stunted. If the crop is meager (I have the variety, 'Bountiful,' as I like optimistic names in vegetables), it will be my fault.
Onions, on the other hand, have done far better than they should under neglect. Bell peppers are marvelous, but then they have had close attention. It is surprising that pepper plants can have such large peppers while the plants are only a foot high.