Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

1,789 One Months Dead!!!

The War Against Covid-19

NHS Frontline Workers

The first death reported in the UK was 6th March 2020. It is now the 31st of March and BBC news reported today that 1,789 have died as a result of this pandemic. The deaths, 393 in the last 24hours, include people in the age range 18 – 104. It is less than a month since our shores were invaded by the Coronavirus that causes the disease scientists have named COVID-19. So named because it was first isolated in China at the end of December 2019. China, Italy and now Spain are the worst-hit countries but it seems no-one is safe from this virus.

We are living through history in the making. Future generations will read about this episode in our history like we read about the 1918 Spanish Flu that wiped out millions during the period following the first World War.

Hopefully, just like then, we can rebuild society. Lessons have to be learned about preparedness. I am hoping that all governments worldwide will think anew and consider seriously what is important about how we live our lives and how we treat our planet. The main lesson, as I see it, is to learn just how quickly we can respond to a crisis when we have to but also to accept what a massive mistake it is to cut back on services crucial to the survival of mankind. If we can respond this quickly to this pandemic why not in peacetime. This war should be a game-changer.

Fear and sadness are the prevailing feelings all over the world.

Saturday 28th March 2020 Three Months AC

My plan today was not to mention the terrible situation that is life on Earth today but to add a few plants that I have got ready to plant out in the garden when the weather warms up a little more.

This morning I read an article that says it all. I am leaving the link here. https://www.bbc.co.uk/stories-52

Potentilla Atrosanguinea – I bought this healthy little plant online from https://www.secretgardeningclub.co.uk along with a few others. It’s a shrubby plant that bears red flowers during June and July. I look forward to seeing it thrive in my garden. I received the plant a couple of weeks ago and potted it on to grow a little before it goes outside. The foliage is very attractive and the plant looks sturdy and well worth the couple of pounds I paid for it.

Potentilla is a genus containing over 300 species of annual, biennial and perennial herbaceous flowering plants in the rose family, Rosaceae. They are usually called cinquefoils in English. Potentilla are generally only found throughout the northern continents of the world, though some may even be found in montane biomes of the New Guinea Highlands. wiki

Erysimum Red Jep and Yellow Bird – Today I have planted the two hardy perennial Wallflowers from secret. I already have a Bowles Mauve and an un-named yellow variety, both from cuttings gifted to me by my sister. I love them both and so when I saw these available for £1.99 each I jumped at the chance to add them to my collection. I already have a few roots of Wallflowers grown either from seed or bare roots and I am very fond of the genus.

Wallflower Persian Carpet
Wallflowers

covid-19 The Pandemic

I have been told by my children not to dwell on the most significant event that has happened in my life. However, as this is my diary, and that this ongoing event has significantly affected my life since February this year (2020), I feel it only right that I should include it in my diary.

I am seventy-five years old this year having been born in January 1945 and being fortunate in having been brought up in the post-war years. Although parents, uncles, aunts and grandparents were probably at the end of a terrible six years, as I child, I can remember no tales of wartime hardships and only have good memories of care and comfort. It is evident to me now that I and my peers were being protected from the horror that was World War II.

This Pandemic is my War. I have been using every method available to me to search and follow the global news as this pandemic evolves. This is one war I intend to know all about.

Today 24th March 2020 I have a new desktop computer as my old one has been out of action for some time. Writing my blog on my iPad hasn’t been so convenient so this is the first time I have been able to record the way I feel about the current tragedy. Me being me the best way to relieve stress is to write.

The whole scenario is playing out like the worst horror film ever. All over the world people are sick and dying. Yesterday, in my country, the UK, we have all been ordered to “Stay at home”. The Corona Virus, which causes Covid-19, a deadly disease that is new to the human race, is rampaging across the globe killing thousands. Modern medicine is useless against it and our health services are becoming overwhelmed by it.

If I believed in any God I could think of it as a cull. Clearing away the old and sick. Maybe its Mother Nature herself tidying up to clear the land of the weeds and to let the Earth breathe again eliminating the pollution caused by the human race. However, my rational self can see that it is what it is. A virus that has jumped from animals to humans and is causing havoc as it spreads. It is another in a long list of diseases that we have had to find a vaccine for. At present we have no medicine and no vaccine so our only defense is isolation.

Outside, Spring is filling the air with the scent of blossom, flowers are blooming, birds are singing and nest building. Nature is carrying on regardless and that is what the whole human race is trying to do. For those of us who survive the world is waiting.

Epimedium – Barrenwort

Last year I discovered a ground cover, spring flowering plant called Epimedium. I did a bit of research and eventually bought myself a good sized root of a white variety from Ashwood Nurseries. I potted it on and after flowering I divided it into three. I am hoping that it survived the chickens and the Winter. Today I plan to have a look at them and bring them indoors for a bit of tender loving care. It is listed as ground cover and is said to thrive in dappled shade. Visually the plant looks robust then surprisingly the flowers are very delicate. I really hope that I can get a good colony of these beauties into our garden.

Apparently this species is becoming more opopular because of the arrival of a new species from China and Japan. The Asiatic varieties require summer moisture whereas Europeans can be mainstays in dry shade. A Genus of more than 50 species of evergreen and deciduous rhizomatous perennials from the Mediterranean to temperate easten Asia. They are found in woodland, scrub and shady, rocky places which gives an idea of their preferences. Info from Burncoose Nurseries.

Some varieties have been in western cultivation for the last 150 years. There is now a wide array of new Chinese species being cultivated in the west, many of which have only recently been discovered, and some of which have yet to be named. There are also many older Japanese hybrids of the genus in cultivation. Few genera of plants have seen such a dramatic increase in newly discovered species, primarily thanks to the work of Mikinori Ogisu of Japan and Darrell Probst of Massachusetts. Most varieties are proving extraordinarily amenable to general garden and container cultivation. Wiki

This plant is getting more and more interesting . There are so many different types and colours that like the Cranesbill I am spoiled for choice and my wish list it growing daily.

There is an amazing article by Tony Avent on the RHS site that is a mine of information about this very interesting genus. Its called An Overview Of Epimedium and, written in 2010, is the best source of knowledge about Epimedium that I have come across.

https://www.rhs.org.uk/about-the-rhs/publications/the-plant-review/2010-issues/march/an-overview-of-epimedium.pdf

Spring 2020 – New plants

Cranesbill Pratense Mixed Seeds

Its 11th February 2020 and we have been potting up new bulbs, roots and corms. Lauras enthusiasm far exceeds mine and she has been obsessed with seeds and plants since January, just as I used to be before Adam was Poorly and eventually passed away on 20th February 2016.

I have to admit that I can get lost in messing about in the garden and find some sort of peace out there. At present the garden is far from beautiful. I still keep a few chickens and they have eaten quite a few plants over the Winter. This, added to my neglect, has meant there is a lot to do to bring it back to life.

An online foray onto Wilkos website saw me buying a few bare roots and corms plus some topsoil and compost. I bought Spectabilis, Dahlia, Gypsophila, Calla Lily and mixed Cranesbill seeds. Laura added roots of Agapanthus and Sea Holly.

Dicentra Spectabilis Alba – This white perennial dies back to below ground level each year in autumn and fresh new growth appears again in spring. If you can get a plant established it will bloom during April and May and can become fully hardy. Arching sprays of dainty, pure white, heart-shaped flowers appear in late spring above fresh green leaves. Easy to grow, this elegant plant is ideal as part of a cottage garden scheme. As long as the ground is kept moist it will thrive in full sun or partial shade.

Dicentras are northern hemisphere plants, growing from Asia to North America. In their natural habitat they are found in moist soils in the cool margins of woodlands. This dicentra was first introduced in 1816, then disappeared from cultivation but was reintroduced by plant collector Robert Fortune in 1846. It soon became one of the most popular garden plants. It is one of the earliest perennials to flower but the foliage does start to die back after flowering.

Calla Lily – Zantedeschia White – Caring for white calla lilies is different to caring for the colourful hybrid calla lilies. White callas are semi-aquatic and their rhizomes thirst for watering holes but their colorful cousins hail from higher ground and their tubers demand drainage.

Calla lilies prefer to grow in a sunny spot with rich, well drained soil. These tropical beauties also prefer slightly moist soil that’s rich in organic matter. If you are growing calla lily in containers use a commercial potting soil. Move the plants indoors before frost strikes in Autumn. I have planted a few of these before but think I have lost them. Time will tell.

Dahlias – I bought four Dahlia corms. The varieties are Perfect Match, Crazy Love, Avignon and Cantarino. Dahlia is a genus of bushy, tuberous, herbaceous perennial plants native to Mexico and Central America. A member of the Asteraceae family of dicotyledonous plants, its garden relatives include the sunflower, daisy, chrysanthemum, and zinnia.Wiki

Dahlia Cantarino
Dahlia Crazy Love
Dahlia Perfect Match

Gypsophila Paniculata – Babys Breath

Gypsophila paniculata is a species of flowering plant in the family Caryophyllaceae, native to central and eastern Europe. It is an herbaceous perennial growing tall and wide, with mounds of branching stems covered in clouds of tiny white flowers in summer.

Copyrighted Aad van Haaster

I have some seeds to start too but thought I would hedge my bets with a bare root. There were three good roots in the pack labelled one. I have a soft spot for this plant as it conjours up old memories of my mothers garden around the prefab where I grew up. She had a large old root that carried on giving for years and frothy sprays of which she used to add to bunches of pinks or carnations grown in the coal sleck beds which were our front garden. In season she sold these bunches to neighbours for a shilling. Always useful to slot into the electricity meter. I have tried and tried to create a similar strong root in my own garden over the years but so far to no avail. Maybe this will be the year.

Favourite Flower 2019 Gaura the Bride

Although this plant was started from seed last year, 2018, it didn’t come into its own until this Summer. This years favourite flower then is Gaura Lindheimeri, commonly known as Whirling Butterflies. The variety I have is white and called, The Bride.

It is such a lovely plant that, although I intend to propagate the plant I have, I intend to start more of the other varieties and colours. There is a dark pink variety, Belleza, that is smaller than mine and I am on the hunt for some seeds.

To propagate in July dip each gaura stem in powdered, gel or liquid rooting hormone, then plant the stems in the holes, just deep enough to stand upright. Pat the soil lightly around the stems. Be sure the leaves are not touching the soil.

Red Ginger Lily Torch

We decided to have yet another go at growing Ginger. After trying to start shop bought rhizomes with no success Laura decided to buy some seeds from Chiltern Seeds. The variety is Phaeomeria magnifica Pink. Laura gave me three seeds and she sowed seven. I duly sowed them in a largish pot in new multi purpose compost. I laid the three seeds on top of moist compost and covered with a plastic bag.

You know what they say about not buying at auction without first visiting the property, well I think a similar caution should be taken when sowing gifted seeds. Doing my research after the event I found that this particular plant can grow to 13ft. Now, I know that Ginger is in general a substantial plant but I am a bit concerned about the future of this one.

One of the world’s magnificent plants, a gigantic herb from Indonesia with long, arching canes, produced annually, bearing pointed leaves like those of the Banana. The fantastic and striking, torch-like flowers, formed of countless waxy bracts, are borne on separate, leafless stems and are a brilliant red edged with a white margin.  13ft chiltern seeds.co.uk

Hardy Geraniums – Cranesbill

This year I have bought in some Hardy Geraniums or Cranesbill. I bought them from Cranesbill Nursery in Walsall. I have never grown them in the garden before but after doing a bit of research online and finding this specialist nursery I decided that I had to have them in the garden.

Out of a very tempting variety, and with cost very much in mind, I had to choose just four plants to start my collection. My first list of must haves would have cost over a hundred pound so a bit of pruning had to be done and my list of four was ordered.

Geranium Maculatum Beth Chato

The journey to the nursery was horrendous. It was very hot, traffic was end to end and the scenery between home and the nursery was awful. However, Gary, the plantsman, was lovely. I bought four very established plants and was very happy. I think if I do order any more I shall order bare root and have them delivered.

Geranium Pratense Delft Blue Butterfly

My first choices were, Geranium Pratense Delft Blue Butterfly; Geranium Pratense Laura; Geranium Beth Chato and Geranium Versicolour.

Geranium Pratense Laura

I have a lot to learn about this rewarding genus and am looking forward to having a lot more of every variety in my garden.