Wednesday, 10 November 2010

It All Looks Better in The Sun

What a difference a day makes! It's the same collection of browning perennials and seed trays, pots with green bits sticking out and on the far side, trays of nodules filled with next year's bounty, pots and pots of Reticulata Irises and those Fritillarias that are made of supposedly made of sterner stuff so (touch crappy wood cold frame) there should be a riot of blue and brown. Along the house wall is said frame and "greenhouse". So, a bit like a very small and oddly-placed garden centre in November.

And that's largely what it is: The only mature plants are of the bulbous variety (i'm including corms, rhizomes, stolons and any other  kind of underground energy storage device here, pedants) and a few Rhododendron hybrids. So, this being the nicest day until June,  I decided to have a bit of a tidy up. I'm a firm believer in leaving the old foliage on to give over-wintering places for the baddy-munchers and also to allow any seed to drop where it feels, to be weeded out, moved or potted up as necessary. But I also have to take into account the diners at the cafe below on Sundays, having once almost killed one when someone, who shall remain nameless, decided to put a dried out Pelargonium in a clay pot on the windowsill on a VERY windy day. Apparently it was an inch from her head.

So here's the view out the main window (I'm not pixelating the faces of any schoolchildren, as the Press Compaints Commission requires. If they wan't to make that much noise and throw shit at my windows I don't see what harm it can do.)

Ignore the hose, dead foliage and lack of flora and it's full of potential. Oh, and the lack of soil  and the fact that it's the roof of the cafe next door, which wasn't built to take mature trees, and it's the ideal site for my rooftop garden.

A few haircuts and tidy up the tender perennials so they'll fit in the little greenhouse without bringing in mouldy leaves etc and things will look much better. With a container grown- mature shrub I'd normally replace the top inch or two of potting medium and replace it with fresh compost mixed with slow-release feed granules to see it through the next year, assuming potting on is not an option. But with rhododendrons I would never disturb the topsoil as they root so close to the surface, spreading rather than going down in search of food and water. It's why a mulch would be a good idea, if there's room. Something like well-rotted compost or leafmould, which would really make it feel at home by recreating the forest floor. But it is low in nutrients so again, slow-release granules or blood, fish and bone. AND NEVER USE SPENT MUSHROOM COMPOST, it's too alkaline. If the plant is lacking specific minerals this will show up in the new leaves, just do some web research.

All at once, as if answering some mystical call of nature.
The Gladiolus Tristis, sown on 6/10/10, have all germinted in the last 24 hours, as if answering some mystical call from mother nature. I'm delighted , although mid November seems like a strange time to do it. I really hope they last the winter because G. tristis is a total stunner of a plant, hence my need to grow it! Here's the real deal:
It's a beaut! Somewhere between a lily and and Amarrylis
Back to the tidying up, the "Triphylla"-type fuchsia's well tender and needs looking after while the rest can fend for themselves. They'll get knocked back but recover in Spring unless it's a really bad winter.

Looking a bit sick already, and that's with it having been under protection and dry.

And after a short back and sides.  Of course, there is always an insurance policy...

So the "greenhouse is filling up with rooted cuttings from Penstemons, Fuchsias, Pelargoniums and my perfect blue Salvia.
If it needs protection, this is the best I can do. I suspect the fridge will be warmer some nights!
Note the species pelargonia, big ones left, wee ones, right.
You may have spotted a lot of pots with the coir pots upside down on them, Fez-style. This is not horticultural, more practical; it seems to keep the squirrels from digging up the bulbs, edible or not.

This one's protecting a Lilium ducharai which muct be close to flowering size and its babies. And if you thought the Glad was a stunner...

The (mature) candelabra Primulas such as this one, Japonica "Strawberries and cream" have been taken out of the water trays they've been sitting in since Egypt. Ice is out enemy!
The Lupins will be the first tenants of my allotment space, allowing them to overwinter and then reveal all in early summer when I can choose which hybrids I want for the roof (max three, even though they're a dwarf strain.

The bulb house is packed to overflowing, but it's essential to keep the air flowing so the pots outside have been chosen for their suitability. The idea of the house is all about controlling water, not heat so it's wide open as often as possible.

Only a couple of seedlings so far from the Salvia, just an experiment to see if the amazing blue comes true
I hope it doesn't! I'll make my cuttings very desirable!

My Lewisia Cotyledon "Sunset Strain" seedlings are  doing well, despite my inability to sew thinly and evenly! You  may have noticed the rescue job in the greenhouse which got a bit wet in the middle and I was blasé, thinking, it's only coyledon, it's easy. Well, I have a very mature plant that doesn't flower and I would appreciate advice on perhaps breaking it up? Anyway, here's my insurance.

The Calochortus, which I have never grown before, is making lots if incredibly erect foliage. Hopefully to be followed by this:
Hmmm, quite different in the foliage department but very nice!

 Well, I'd better leave it there, happy gardeing as ever and if you like what you see, join out merry band!

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