Easter is supposed to be about suffering and death, followed by resurrection and redemption. I try to remember that every time I tuck into an Easter egg. But it's surely no coincidence that Jesus chose a garden in which to reappear after the crucifixion. Gardeners are well placed to experience the cycle of death and life on a regular basis.
Well, I'm glad to report that the losses and sorrows of last winter have been followed by an unexpected rebirth at Oca Acres.
I'm talking about the yacons, or rather the hybrid brood produced when a bed-hopping bit of rough from Costa Rica (Smallanthus riparius?) got together with true yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) in Frank van Keirsbilck's garden. I sowed the seeds of this union and some impressively vigorous plants resulted.
A few days ago, I was staring at the bleached and lifeless stumps of last summer's luxuriance and decided that it was time to clear the bed - out with the old and in with the new. Grasping the remains of the nearest plant, I levered the holy relic from the ground, ready to consign it to a nearby pile of combustible material. Blow me if it wasn't sprouting. Several of the other inauspiciously splintered twigs showed similar signs of life.
The storage roots, although very small, do show a little bit of thickening and the new shoots are issuing from something that looks quite similar to your typical yacon propagule. So maybe I've been granted another chance at backcrossing them with some of the true yacon varieties. One thing is sure: they're considerably hardier than my true yacons - all of which were killed in situ by the particularly penetrating frosts of last December. That extra bit of vigour and cold tolerance would be well worth transferring into the yacon genome. So when the flowers appear in the late summer, I'll be there, paintbrush in hand, ready to assist in the process.