Some plants take a long time to actually arrive in your garden. Maybe you read about them, see a picture or admire one in a garden you are visiting. You put it on your mental or not so mental list and then somehow you fail to find it and it hangs around as a vague aspiration, something you like the sound of but are not so driven to have that you track it down like a rare animal. It must be years since I first read about smyrnium perfoliatum.
I liked the idea of something other than euphorbia doing that vivid limey, yellowy green which seems so much the colour of spring, but spring intensified, spring squared. I liked the name too and the way it rolled around your tongue. But I never saw it anywhere as a plant or as seeds and was a bit put off by the sense that it was slow and tricky. Still I kept an eye out for it, just in case.
I bought one tiny plant at a visit to Great Dixter, my first and only visit so far, which my blogging history tells me was in April of 2009. Gosh another world, another life back then. These plants are triennial and the plant I bought must have been in its first year, a tiny seedling from a tiny tuber, smaller than a crocus corm. I planted it into the side garden, it did its vanishing trick in the summer, disappearing back under the ground, and I thought I had lost it.
But the following year up it came again, a bit bigger, with more leaves, looking a bit like ground elder but fortunately located in a part of the garden where I don't have ground elder. If it had looked like bindweed or dandelion it would have been hoicked out, as it was I hoped it was the smyrnium and left it alone.
And in 2011 there is was again, taller, with larger foliage and a certain presence, and that year flowering away fit to burst. If you dug down at that stage you would have found a tuber the size of a new potato. I loved my one and only plant but to be honest I did not have high hopes for it. It all seemed rather delicate and difficult and not the sort of thing likely to survive in this garden where so many of the carefully researched and chosen plants which should have coped with my conditions have failed to thrive.
So this year was, I suppose, year six of the cycle, assuming my purchase in Great Dixter is to count as year one, and this year I have three plants singing away in lime and yellow green. I like it very much and really hope it will become one of those plants which actually likes it here. Plants that are happy reproduce like mad. Plants that are not happy slowly or quickly disappear. I love it against the orange tulips and the soon to be purple alliums. I love its foliage against hardy geraniums and aquilegia. Fingers crossed.