So what's happening? It's amazing what a bit of bottom heat does for the warm-climate seeds, especially the bulb species, or perhaps it's just that most of the pots contain bulb seeds. Either way, I now have the beginnings of a Lachenalia viridiflora, the remarkable turquoise Hyacinth-like bulbs that topped my previous post. OK, it's only a centimetre of cotyledon but it came up within 72 hours of being moved from the cold greenhouse into the propagator. It's the same story with Gladiolus hyalinus, undulatus and that thing that shall henceforth be known as Fairy Bells because I can never remember the first bit of its binomial Latin name, something ramosa. Melasphaerula or something. They all sat sulking in the cold greenhouse then a bit of heat and whoosh!
Space is, as ever, at a premium, so after germination they're whipped out into bell-shaped cloches outside and the space left behind instantly filled. I went to the incredibly-expensive garden centre yesterday, ostensibly to buy a replacement terracotta pot to replace the one I'd taken from the cactus in the bathroom to plant some Lilies or something else tall and green with colourful stuff on the top. But while there I invested in a max-min thermometer to see whether I can get any of this through next winter and it was 16C in the cloche, warm enough to keep almost anything alive and, although it wasn't a particularly cold night, it is February.
|Nope, can't think of a joke|
|So, sorry if this is patronising, the black bit tells us it was an amazingly cosy 16C in the protection of the cloche, although it was a very mild night anyway|
|And it made it up to 22C, presumably when the sun came out this afternoon|
|Considering there were only five seeds in the packet, not a bad effort from Melasphaerula ramosa (Fariry Bells)|
|The Lachenalia viridiflora. See, in front of the label? It doesn't look much now but come back in about three years ... Touch wood!|
|Gladiolus hyalinus. There is also a pot of three G. undulataus but they are yet to shed their seed cases and straighten up and I'm not a talented enough snapper to capture them.|
|The intriguing G. hyalinus|
I took the opportunity to buy a selection of other shapes and sizes of terracotta pots as they are reasonably priced and the bus stop is not too far away, any further and it would be too heavy but a thermometer and a packet of Meconopsis betonicifoia (£2.89) didn't add too much to the weight. I'm not sure why I got the poppies, the majority of their seed display was veg and herbs (zzzzzzzzzzzzzz) and the flower seeds were nothing special, apart from one nasturtium, a really pure magenta called "Jewel Cherry Eyes" but I'm already more than covered in that department with a packet of the trusty majus "Tall Mixed" which did so well last year after just about everything else had gone over; the semi-double "Whirlybird" for pots on the windowsill; tricolor, which was a gift from a kind supplier; incisum to trail down the first planting tower; and sessifolium, for the challenge!
|Jewel Cherry Eyes: so gaudy it's great|
"Whirlybird" is rather less rampant than the above and doesn't send out those probing flower shoots at the end of the season like the one on the right of the picture above. It should form a tight little bush of little more than a foot in circumference, which makes life easier for the plant in the pot next to it (a pale, creamy yellow F1 I sowed yesterday, can't remember the name and can't be bothered to walk to the kitchen to find the deta ... ok it's called "Prism Sunshine" and is in the Grandiflora series so I'm just hoping it grows up as well as down. I ordered 18 shiny tin pots from my Amazon shop (just scroll to bottom or use the Amazon search tool in the guff down the right) because they were so cheap and won't break if they take a tumble. My plan is to alternate these along the windowsills (I have five windows, each a metre wide running along the sunny side of the living room and hovering above the garden a few feet below so I don't want either species to trail too much as, unless freshly watered, their centre of gravity moves perilously close to "topple". I may put half a brick in the bottom of each pot, they actively thrive on poor soil so shouldn't mind.
Not sure what to do with T. triclor. I've only got five seeds so whatever I do do I have to get right. I've also got a similar amount of Mina lobata and a red Ipomea, as well as an order for Lathyrus chilensis and a quarter tray of Lathyrus aureus which is germinating great guns, although it's more of a tumbler than a climber, as is chilensis.
|The exotic and perennial (several degrees of latitude of London) T. tricolor|
|Lathyrus aureus, meaning gold, of course, but cone could equally describe it as "brown"|
|L.chilensis, as photographed by my chum Mikhail at chileflora.com. A great site for exotic Andeans (plants, not women in bowler hats) that are hardy in the UK, coming as some do, from 3,000m|
|It was named in 2005, once all the necessary checks confirmed it to be a totally new species, not a blue form of Bizzie Lizzie, after the Tibetan name for a nearby mountain, hence the toungue-twisting nomenclature.|
The other day I took delivery, No, actually I queued for an hour at the Post Office sorting depot to pick up a parcel (the postage had been underpaid so I paid immediately online) that was supposedly the subject of an attempt to deliver five days beforehand and yet, depsite the fact we were both in, in the room with the buzzer, the postman left a card instead, marked "perishable" and "too big for letterbox". Did he ring the bell? Did he feck! It took five days of chasing it, trying by website to get it redelivered (they didn't try on the day I'd taken off to receive it) and finally getting hold of it when I took another red card which actually referred to the thing he'd "tried" to deliver the day before. The nice young man behind the counter told me to complain because it was happening so often and gave me a number with a human at the end of it (it's otherwise impossible by phone to speak to a person and their website is so infuraitingly badly designed you need to be called Hawking to use it. But as I'm already moaning about the bins and and several other Post Office failures, including an assault by a member of staff on waiting customers, I think I'll just leave it. I can't wait for privatisation when these people are expected to work for eight hours a day.
The plants were alive but a Thalictrum has become so etiolated in the darkness it is still very yellow.
|It stil looks like this. And look how dry the compost is! It weighed almost nothing. And it's not the seller's fault, the box gave some clues as to the urgency of the delivery of the contents|
It should look like this:
|Thalictrum rochebrunianum should be a revalation if the foliage ever starts to photosynthesise|
|A typical delivery, this one from Bloms, who specialise in bulbs but also etiolated Thalictrums (no, I'm sure it was in perfect condition when it was packed)|
|Gladiolus nanus "Nymph" has been planted in a bowl, on a layer of sand becasue the compost I had available at the time was very humusy and I didn't want the bulbs sitting on wet compost. The roots will quickly pass through into the nourishment below|
|And your reward should look something like this!|
|A very healthy looking Hippeastrum sonatini, this one's "Viridi Rascal"|
|And here it is with the tip left sticking out of the top of the compost. I'll water it sparingly until I see green at the top and then step it up a bit, with a fortnightly feed too.|
|The end result|
|And its twin, Orange rascal|
The Fritillarias are making great progress and in the next few weeks I'll have plenty of shots to show you but here are a few tasters:
|F. mickhailovskyi "multiflorum"|
|It will be a while before F. raddeana unveils its bells but the thing is massive already with a circumference of four inches.|
|Worth waiting for!|
|F. stenanthera is about to reveal it's pinky-brown blooms. I'd expected it to be bigger but I'm not complaining!|
|Paeonia mlokosewitshchii was a single leaf last year. I think we're going to see something more impressive this year but a single, as opposed to double, not just the one, yellow flower? We wait with baited breath.|
|Erythronium "Kondo". Has wonderful yellow bells, like Lilium canadense or similar, although it is a bit tiddly. Still, it came as a dried specimen hanging in a garden centre so the fact it's alive is good news!|
|M. napaulensis. See above!|
|M. betonicifolia (the proper blue one)|
And I have a pot of seeds that were sold to me as Delphinium "unknown species" which has lost the writing from its label and I have no idea where it is. I had thought the following bleached labelled pot resembled the Delphinium seedlings and might be it but I've got a new theory: I think they're Tricyrtises. First of all, let's look a the mystery pot:
And now let's look at a pot of a white Tricyrtis hybrid:
|Iris domestica (formerly Belamcamda chinensis)|
|Lilium Hansonii, hardly setting the world alight. There were definitely flowering sized bulbs in there or at least considerably bigger ones than these!|
|A Corydalis whose name escapes me and it's dark now, anyway I've showed you it before so pay more attention!|
|My plan with the Tulips following the Violas seems to be working!|