Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Crocus Pocus

Stunning! Crocus speciosus © Chris Mackay
Blimey! You go to bed at night with a few half-inch buds of Crocus speciosus popping through in the pot and wake up to find another one has decided to take a short cut and zoom up between the inside of the pot and the compost AND burst into wonderful blue bloom with gorgeous orange stamens! In my minds eye I imagined all my bulbs having identical levels of enthusiasm and blooming as one but of course the show gardeners grow hundreds and then pick the perfect ones and transplant them into one pot. Cheats!

66 Verbascums anyone? And I've got a few spares too...

Don't worry, I've got a few spares (on the right), the left is a tray of Digitais obscura

Anyway I spent yesterday fiddling with the Verbascum phoenicum hybrid seedlings. They are slightly on the small side for pricking out but they had been sown so thickly that something had to be done before they became too leggy so I spent a good hour on my knees transplanting 66 of the best into nodules. The obvious problem here is that I have no space for 66, or even 6, Verbascums so quite how I'm going to grow them on to flowering size and then choose the best I have no idea. But a friend with a beautiful new baby (hello Margo!) has offered a bit of her allotment as she has nappy duties to attend to for the next two years so that might be the answer.

The Digitalis feruginnea var. gigantea that I pricked out a few days ago are sitting up and looking quite happy and they were at much the same stage:

Iris sibirica hybrids starting their long journey to flowerhood

Lily hybrids (who said growing bulbs from seed was tricky?) There's at least 20 in there

The same applies to the Iris sibirica hybrids and Lily seedlings, with theLilies unlikely to reach flowering size any time before three years hence. But as they are such a  mixed bunch of no particular group or strain I really need to see them flower before I decide which to keep and which to give away. Anything orange can take a running jump, unless it has massive trumpets and anything too close to pyrenaicum can go too. The Irises will most likely be slight variants on a purple theme but should flower in two years and you never know, I might get one with nice veining or even a yellow (why not just grow pseudocarus? Cos it's not the same!)

A larger than life candelabra Primula seedling. The packet was of mixed species in the group so this could be anything from deep purple to yellow and every shade between. Yippee!

Same age, differnt stage: the primulas are a triumph but very variable in maturity

The pricking out issue is fast coming up with regard to the mixed candelabra primula species: some are ready now while others remain teeny cotyledons (presumably different species). But they are less crowded so the issue is less pressing.

What else? I've been experimenting with coir pots, which are remarkably sturdy. I think the idea is you just plant directly into the ground as you would with those old peat ones but as I don't have any ground that doesn't really apply up here. Anyway, they look nice!

One of many cuttings I've taken of my Salvia patens because (see below) it is such a stunning blue selection

The bearded Irises have all done a great job since they arrives from Spain in April or whenever it was: I expect a fair few to flower next year and have been feeding accordingly with a general purpose fertiliser. If even half of them bloom it will be a brief but beautiful reward. And the rest had better flower then next year or there will be trouble!

I couldn't resist leaving you with another look at Rhododendron vireya "Saxon Glow", which has brought an unexpected, er, glow to the October garden while most other plants are winding down, like the Galtonias which need the scabby leaves to build energy but look awful 



Anyway, that's  enough for today, more later

The plant boy


  1. Hi readers, I know you're out there because I'm averaging 50+ hits a day so it would be very nice if you could pass comment on what I'm writing, what you'd like to read more about and any general improvements I could make to the site to broaden our little niche. Anyway, thanks for reading and remember, keep coming back, things will get really interesting in the spring when the juno Irises and Frits start showing off but I'll keep going through the winter too as that's when everything will probably die

  2. I read most days, don't always understand the technical stuff, but the pics are truly lovely and its all inspiring!