Thursday, 23 September 2010

Rosemary and time

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For some reason I had been under the impression that Rosemary propagation was difficult, involving those dreaded heeled cuttings with a bit of old wood on the end. I stand before you now contrite and corrected. It is in fact a piece of piss if you take softwood cuttings in the usual manner. When giving the bush an autumn haircut I decided I might as well give it a go, not having any lamb in the fridge, vegetarians are like that, and have had a 100% success rate, that's even better than pelargoniums! The rest I hung up to dry before sealing in an air-tight jar for the next time I'm called upon to do my famous roast potatoes.

The Clematis, having been in their huge pot for about a month now are looking fantastically healthy, which is as much a testament to the professionalism of Thorncroft Clematis. They're a wee bit on the pricey side (£10-15 each)  but the mature plants come in special deep, narrow pots with a good couple of feet of luxuriant growth and beautifully packed to avoid any damage. The gravel is to keep the soil cool and the pot was painted silver then painted in strawberry yoghurt in an unsuccessful attempt to give it and aged look.

My clematis tower. That pot's more than 30cm wide, to give you an indication of scale
One of my choices, I forget what it was now, was unavailable and they offered me the option of a close substitute or a refund (I took Jacqueline du Pre as a substitute which is in the alpina or macropetala group so should brighten up spring with nodding pink bells.)

Clematis "Jacqueline du pre"

They've really romped away, especially the deep velvet red "Niobe", although much of this growth will be in vain as I need to prune everything back to about two feet to encourage branching, although I won't touch Jacqueline until she's flowered as it flowers on new growth. You could get yourself into a right pickle with your pruning but when growing in a container the main thing to remember is you're aiming to get the stems to branch, so check whether your variety flowers on new or old wood and either take a deep breath and cut each stem right back to about a foot,  just above a node) or wait for it to flower and do exactly the same. You may even be treated to a second flush of colour later in the season.

Clematis "Niobe"

While we're on the subject of climbers, I think I'm going to use some of the Lathyrus chlorathus to screen that horrible plastic mini greenhouse (I saw a neighbour eyeing it with contempt the other day) so I'll probably do that with a short window box and chicken wire. The plants are a couple of inches high now so it will soon be time to pinch out the main growing shoot to encourage side shoots for greater coverage with fewer plants. It's such an eyecatcher I'd like to give a few away to show off and I've only got eight.

"Acid yellow" is how Chilterns describes these and I think it an apt decription

Otherwise its just a case of counting the seedlings as they come through, up to a about 10 llilies, at least 100 (really) Verbascums (pricking them out's going to be fun, I tried to sow them thinly but you know what it's like with tiny brown seeds and brown compost and no matter how careful you are with the watering can, turning the rose upside down and starting the flow away from the seed tray, the seeds always get washed into one corner!).

Iris "Eye of the Tiger". Get back in the ground! It's too early!

Well, as I can't think of anything else worth writing (was any of it?) here are some pictures of what's left as we pass the autumnal equinox.

An unidentified Gerbera which has stunned all summer long with its tropical leaves and endless flowers

the variegated trainling Fuchsia "Sunray"

Is outshone by  Thalia, but most things are

Backyard X-Scapes

A Dahlia missing its label but which has really performed this summer

A humble Tropaeolum majus hybrid, really attracted all manner of bees and other insects 

One last blast of Delphinium

Pelargonium "Lord Bute" (I think, feel free to contradict me)

Old fashioned Pinks. The smell is heavenly

And looking ahead: a winter pansy

PS, I've just arrived back from a nursery in Camden Town. By Taxi. More on that tomorrow...

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