I think Polyanthus Firecracker is well-named–its’ flowers really create a crackling, fiery red and yellow contrast. Each plant has flowers with slightly different markings and petal ‘frilliness’. Firecrackers hail from China and were used to frighten away evil spirits. Well this exciting and attractive plant must be effective as it has only encouraged positive comments from passers-by.
Having a south-facing ‘hot’ border, these sounded like a brilliant plant for the front edge, so in 2014 I dutifully nurtured small plugs of this gem in 7cm pots until they were large enough to inter-plant amongst my Valeriana phu Aurea–in theory to give some colour after the leaves have reverted from bright yellow to green. However, I didn’t count on the chickens! Yes, they do tend to cause havoc in the borders, but the golden-leaved valerian has stood the test of time – but not this last year. To cut a long story short, half of, if not more, the Polyanthus Firecracker never made it to flower, as the chickens scratched them to death whilst shredding the valerian.
So it was a bit of a surprise to see some of them coming back up for air this spring 2015, first flowering in February despite Jack Frost … and going all-out head-to-head with the March-flowering Narcissus Tête-a-tête. Had the Firecracker retreated … or perhaps they were relocated by you know who! The chickens, well this year they just weeded in between the plants, the novelty clearly having worn off! The vagaries of our weather patterns are always a wild card, but in my garden … what a beautiful survivor! Polyanthus Firecracker is certainly an explosive harbinger of spring!
By Purple Leaf Blackthorn
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