Gorgeous flowers are everywhere in garden stores now, but for those of us with gardens at a higher altitude, it’s too early to put bright annuals outdoors. Patience, patience.
I gave into temptation Saturday and bought six plants that will have to brighten my dining room for the next month, before our nighttime temperatures are high enough to put them in veranda pots and set them outdoors.
My sister-in-law in England, who has a very large garden that wins competitions every year, told me last year that flowers should be bought in groups of three, to ensure good clusters with enough colour. I’m following her advice this year.
The magnificent vivid purple of the pericallus was too much to pass by at the garden centre. They are relatively easy-care plants, but will need to be watered twice a week. I use water from our pond, fed by a mountain bisse, which I haul to the veranda in a bucket, so I don’t like flowers that require water more often than this. Annuals are pretty much limited to the veranda, as we are in the driest corner of Switzerland, and to avoid using precious water resources I prefer to have perennials, whose root systems can withstand dry spells.
A bisse is a Swiss underground snow melt streams that surfaces partway down the mountainside, channeled for irrigation. The mountains here have a fine web of these streams, mostly hidden.
Canton Valais has created a series of bisse walking paths in some of the areas where they surface. They are a great way to visit the Swiss Alps and pick up a bit of history, since some of the oldest irrigation channels were built well over 1,000 years ago.
Farmers use them for irrigation, a system of communal water-sharing. We do, as well, on a smaller scale, but we need to be fair and use just our share, keeping in mind the people lower down who also use them for their gardens to preserve drinking water supplies.
The pink flower, whose name I’ve forgotten (garden fatigue!) is a winner for this climate, as it’s happy even without regular water. I can plant it in the garden and it should flower all summer long. The plan is to put it in front of small rosebushes with varying shades of pink.