Monday, 25 October 2010

Siberian irises - and temperatures

Good morning! It's almost 6.45am here in London and the sun is already beating down with the thermometer touching 40C. 

Can you spot which part of that introduction is true? That's right, it's dark and cold and I don't have to be at work for another five hours but I was awake so I thought I might as well get up and cheer us all up with a nice picture of a Crocus speciosus taken by my bood self yesterday.

They don't last long but they are beautiful when you get up close and personal! © Chris Mackay

The BBC are doing a feature on the morning news from Harlow Carr gardens near York, which I visited when I was about 7 seven yeard old and after which of course the strain of candelabra Primula hybrids is named. Apparently the have 250,000 daffs and tulips to get in in the next few days! I prefer to go for quality rather than quantity!

I caved in to personal pressure and pricked out the Iris sibirica seedlings as six came up in a few weeks and then nothing.  This doesn't mean there aren't more to come and I was very careful not to disturb the  pot too much and once I'd finished I covered with a .5cm of compost in case I'd brought anything to the surface  that I shouldn't have

An Iris seedling showing perfectly seed, roots and cotyledon (shoot), just right for potting into a 2in pot

     Any ideas?

It will be dead in a fortnight (never buy orchids from outdoor markets that have had a life cycle of: test tube, Dutch greenhouse, Dutch flower market, British flower market, windy pavement, my centrally heated house, bin)

Oh, remember I collected some fresh seed from the stunning blue Salvia patems to see if it would come true (I've got about a dozen young cplnes from cuttings) but one of the seeds has popped up, hopefully to be followed by more.

The Lathyrus chloranthus (dazzling annual yellow sweet pea, distribution from Turkey all the way to India)  has taken its place in a mini window box-style planter against the ugly polythene greenhouse and, considering the temperature last night, looks to be a fairly hardy soul which is good. I know you can plant the classic hybdrids in Autumn for an earlier show so I took a risk with this one too. If they don't make it I have another half-dozen in the greenhouse. It hasn't sent out any tendrils yet but the images of mature plants I've seen on the web do so hopefully it won't need any tedious tying in.

Look mummy, tendrils!

Otherwise everything seems to have gone into stasis as far as seedlings are concerned (to be expected with night temperatures just above freezing so I'm going to struggle to fill this every day without making stuff up. I could, but you'd probably want to see the pictures. 

The Iris Douglasiana hybrids have taken the huff since I sprinkled a bit of perlite over them after spotting a few embryos on the surface as well as a lot of green spikes so I'd have expected to see a few through the white covering by now but as the temperature is rarely above 10C I can see its point, I'd rather stay down there too. 

I'll have more time for a forensic (yes, I know that's technically a mis-use of the word, I do work for a newspaper you know) examination and hopefully wring some words out of that but in the meantime here's a nice picture to keep you warm. Except I can't cos they're all stored on my laptop at home. Well, just close your eyes and imagine a lovely Iris, or whatever floats your boat.

Till Tomorrow, the plantboy


  1. That's a Tibouchina, but I don't know which species

  2. Brilliant, that's a great start! Thanks!

  3. Incidentally, I'm betonyjoy on Twitter!

  4. It's Tibouchina Urvilleana !
    I bought a young plant earlier this year and was made up when it flowered in September. I'll do a blog on it soon.