Last summer, I had a real treat, courtesy of ‘Abebooks’. Abebooks is a brilliant site for secondhand books, and is my first port of call when I want to buy anything that isn’t hot off the press. I bought 2 Dan Pearson books and really enjoyed them both. In ‘Home Ground: Sanctuary in the City’ there was a short piece on Ranunculus ficaria ‘Brazen Hussy’. I love the ordinary celandine, Ranunculus ficaria, and there is a spot in the garden, normally hard-baked in the summer, which is positively wet in the spring. We get a lot of rain late winter and in the spring, and there is a dip in the ground where water collects and also, probably because of a kink in the old roof, rain comes down from the roof in a spout. So it is really damp, and the native celandines pop up in a matter of weeks ít seems.
Dan Pearson caught my attention with ‘Brazen Hussy’. A great name for a sport spotted by Christopher Lloyd in his garden at Great Dixter, and being a man for bold names, ‘Brazen Hussy’ was what he chose.
So there they both are. ‘Brazen Hussy’ is a dark bronze-leaved variety with glowing yellow petals and quite big flowers- the yellow is almost blinding and for a small plant, it really packs a punch. I could only find this at a couple of French online nurseries at a serious price, so I bought just three small plants last autumn, and dug them in near to the house, so I wouldn’t have to go hunting for them. For a lot of the winter, they looked very soggy and unprepossessing, and then, despite our biblical rain, they responded immediately to the lengthening light in February and I could see buds forming. So the picture above is of the very first flower and you can see the number of buds still in the wings. I know from Dan that they die down after flowering, but continue powering away at the root level, so I am planning to move a good plant of Cenolophium denudatum that I grew from seed to grow up and over them. It will be slow to start up in the late spring, and so they will suit one another very well hopefully. I have to admit that I found a good price for ‘Brazen Hussy’ at a Belgian nursery online, so there are three more small plants on their way to help make more of a clump of them together. I really love them. It’s a small price for abundant cheerfulness despite the weather.
PS I forgot to mention ‘Louis the Geek’. He writes a great blog and I am signing up for it. His piece on ‘Brazen Hussy’ is here.