Saturday, 11 September 2010

Tip-toeing through the tulips

Woke up stupidly early to the sound of Columbia Road flower market setting up in the dark outside and before it had even opened I was out buying tulip bulbs, the plan being to grow them densely in pots of a single colour with annuals on top, probably starting with nasturtiums and getting more and more adventurous.

Unfortunately the bags, while helpfully marked with the colour, don't have the variety name on them so I'm going to have to nip out later to take a note of the names. And buy some ridiculously over-priced clay pots to grow them in. Should really buy some grit to mix into the compost too but the garden centre's too far away and I have a broken foot.

In the meantime, here some photos of my germination triumphs and relative failures so far, starting with a fantastic crop of the only yellow Dianthus in nature, knappii

Digitalis ferruginea var. gigantea

Lupinus Dwarf Gallery Mixed hybrids

Lathyrus chloranthus

Don't know why only two of about 20 seeds of this amazing acid yellow flowered annual sweet pea have germinated, perhaps it's just in its nature to come up sporadically. They've got till next spring anyway I suppose.

The above is one of a selection of mixed South African pelargonium species bought as a job lot from Chilterns so I've no idea which it is but three of the 12 seeds have made an appearance so far, two, including the above, coming up on the same day and looking identical so I'm guessing they're the same and a third made an appearance yesterday with much darker leaves.

One of two Dahlia Bishop of Landaff cuttings I've managed to root. Check out the mildew though. Not good for its winter prospects...

Just some of the bearded Irises I had sent over from Spain in the summer in the hope that a good summer baking would yield flowers next year but I doubt it, they've been gorging on food but I don't think it's been hot enough for them. 
Same goes for the dormant arilbreds under cover. By the way, when am I meant to start watering them and how? From below? also have the juno Aucheri sitting under cover biding its time but I'm a bit more confident about that having had success with bucharica in the past.

My Clematis tower: a step up from the disastrous sweet pea tower of this year that attracted so many aphids it was brown by the end of June. The plan is to have at least one of the four Clematis in flower all year which should be possible with Nelly Moser, Niobe, Tibetana "Orange Peel" and "Jaqueline du Pre". I must be vigilant with the hose and food though and get some gravel or stones to keep the roots cool. I've painted the pot silver in the hope of deflecting sunlight but we'll see. 

Anyway, I'd better go and find out what these tulips are called...

... Right, that's them named (Scarlet Baby, Queen of the Night (black), Peach Blossom, Red Matador, Golden Apeldoorn, Débutante, Apeldoorn's Elite and Elizabeth Arden and planted in two layers (longer display, and more blooms, if only in year one, year two would be a disaster) underneath Violas "Sorbet Black Duet" and a much nicer orange and purple one that has the wrong name on it* in unfeasibly expensive "vintage" pots (£8.50 each for a 6in pot from a trendy Columbia Road emporium when I could have got them from the N1 Garden Centre for £1.49 each but broken foot precludes that). There are some winter pansies in there too but we'll just brush them under the carpet. 

So hopefully the tulips will have the guts to break through the already considerable rootballs of the violas and my windowsills will be a blaze of colour in April. Or March. Or May. And I couldn't resist some dried bulbs of Fritillaria pontica which I have duly planted on their side as I'm sure I read somewhere this helps growth although I suspect it's because no one can tell the top from the bottom.

So here's an underwhelming view out one of the living room windows at some of my efforts. Remember they will perk and bulk up considerably before dying of drought when I'm on holiday in October

They'll look a million times better when the tulips do their thing. Probably.

*Update: I found a label, it's a bit of a mouthful for something so, well, small and not that great: Viola "Flower Power Orange Red Wing". I'm not sure if the second part of the nomenclature is just a bit too literal, or would be if it wasn't actually purple, not red.

And here it is...

Told you.

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