This morning I have potted on the Pulsatilla plants which I received free from J Parker with an order for Clematis. There are six little plants and they all look quite healthy so far. The pasque flower is said to be a sign that Easter has arrived. The pretty spring flowers are followed by fluffy seed-heads. Pulsatilla takes a while to get established and then does not like being disturbed, so plant it in the right spot and leave it alone. If happy, plants will self-seed, so leave the seed heads to allow colonies to build up.
Pruning a bush Rose – I am a relative new comer to the ups and downs of growing roses. Although we already had a rambling rose, Wedding Day, a climber, Dublin Bay, and a Hybrid Tea, Margaret Merrill in the garden they had more or less been left to their own devices. This year however I have taken a more keen interest in roses and have recently bought another climber, Compassion, a hybrid tea, Helen Robinson, and a few floribunda so I need to read up a bit about care. The first lesson I learned involved Spring pruning. The first four new plants are already in and the last three should be in before the end of this weekend. I have already hard pruned the existing three and found out that one negative aspect is that roses can rip you to pieces if you don’t treat them with care. I hope that future skillful pruning will reduce the risks. The following is an excerpt from Gardeners World Magazine.
“Any old stems showing signs of dieback can be pruned away, and badly positioned and congested shoots can be cut out to shape the bush. Last year’s stems need shortening to prevent new growth developing higher up the bush which may result in flowers with leggy stems. You should prune just above a bud, but remember that the developing shoot will grow out in the direction that that bud points. In most cases you want this to be outwards, keeping the centre of the bush light and open. Prune to an inward pointing bud and the shoot will grow inwards, crossing other stems to create a congested bush.”
Today I am sowing seeds of Abutilon, bought from Lidl. Abutilon Bella Mixed F1 Hybrid. A half hardy perennial that grows to about 16″. Bella Mix gives a selection of pastel colours blooming continuously. Sow February to April in pots of moist seed compost and cover with a fine sprinkling of compost or vermiculite. Place in a propagator or warm place and keep at a constant temperature of between 20-25. Do not exclude light as this helps germination. Keep the surface of the compost moist. Germination will usually takes 21-30 days. When large enough to handle transplant seedlings into 3″ pots. Harden off before planting out after all risk of frost.
There was a beautiful greenfinch hanging in the top branches of the Silver Birch tree this afternoon. With the sun shining behind him he looked almost lime green with a darkish tail. He was singing away, the most lovely song, even though the wind was waving the uppermost branch about so much. We have been told to expect snow in the next few days so I hope he has a warm nest to go home to. https://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/g/greenfinch/index.asp
The bare root roses that I ordered from Harkness have been delivered today. The Roses are Rosa Burgundy Ice, a scented Floribunda. Rosa Caring for You, a pale pink Hybrid Tea. Rosa City of London, a deep pink scented Floribunda. Rosa Compassion, a climbing rose with a strong heady scent. Rosa Belmonte, a perfumed pearly blush bedding rose sold on behalf of the Prince’s Trust. Rosa Helen Robinson, a deep pink Hybrid Tea. Rosa Susan Daniel, a translucent apricot blush Floribunda. https://www.roses.co.uk/acatalog/section_hybridteas.html
This morning was a little milder and so I planted a new rose, Rosa Pascali, alongside the chicken enclosure. There is already a rose there, Rosa Margaret Merrill, which has been in the garden for a couple of years. Both are white and both are scented so they should look good in front of the new Clematis I put in recently.
Pascali was bred in Belgium and introduced in 1963. Like its parent, Queen Elizabeth, it presents one fragrant, creamy-white bloom per stem. It is a modern bush rose that grows into a sturdy, upright plant and has pointed blossoms well suited for cutting, blooming continuously or in flushes all season.
Rosa Margaret Merrill has delicate, double, exceptionally fragrant, pale pink to white flowers from July to September and crisp, dark green leaves. This vigorous, cluster-flowered bush rose is perfect for an open, sunny site with fertile, moist, well-drained soil. Offering good resistance to disease, the beautiful high-centred to cup-shaped blooms make excellent cut-flowers.
I also divided fifty Crocus Ruby Giant between two pots
Crocus tommasinianus Ruby Giant was introduced in 1956 and is rich reddish purple with yellow-orange anthers. It will naturalise readily. Bred in Holland, even when closed, the sturdy stems hold the flower heads up above their leaves. It will flower early in Spring, and is attractive to insects. While needing a well-drained position and loving the sun, it is more happy in shade than most crocuses. Its capacity for spreading means it will establish itself wherever it is put.
The Common Snowdrop – They are extraordinarily hardy and can be depended on to flower very early whatever the weather, the colder and gloomier it is, the longer the blooms last. Best planted in light shade. They will grow in most soils but make the best plants in heavier moist conditions. They are most successfully transplanted while growing in the green. Bulbs often take a season to settle down before flowering.
I have planted up some Snowdrops in the big blue pot by the back door. I have planted these before in the area around the pond but they were spoiled by the ducks and the chickens as soon as they popped their green shoots through the soil. I am hoping that they will have a fighting chance to multiply in the pot and then I will make another attempt to put some in the garden. We only have the two ducks and little YuYu the minature Silkie in the garden now as the bulk of the chickens are restricted to the trellised off area.
We made a quick visit to the plots this morning to take the chicken poo. We put it all on the top of the bean trench hoping that the worms will dig it in for us. I finally put the Dahlias to bed by cutting them off at about two inches above ground then covering them with straw to protect them from the wet and the frost. They really needed digging up and splitting this year but we just haven’t had time.
Today I sowed 6 Sunflower Giant seed, three to a 3″ pot. We had planned to try some sown directly at the plots but its so cold and windy down there at the moment. If these make decent strong plants I may sow them all at home. (update – all have germinated after just three days)
It is Libbie’s third birthday so we went to take her presents over. She is so beautiful and really bright. We are so proud of her.
When we came home we got changed and spent an hour at the plots. Rob planted two rows of potato Rocket on plot 18 and I planted some Dhalia corms Graceful Mix and a root of Gypsophilia in the flower bed on plot 8. I collected a good sized bag of sprouts to bring home and the rest of the time was spent pulling up plants past their best and tidying beds ready for new planting.
I have bought a few plants in the past of the Himalayan Blue Poppy but never had one survive in my garden. I have been doing a bit of research on the internet and have been amazed at how many cultivars, I think thats the right word, there are of this beautiful flower. Not being too hopeful and not wanting to spend too much on seeds I ordered Meconopsis Grandis from Alan Romans and have today sown them in moist compost, covered the tray in a polythene bag and sat it on the computer box. The seed pack had been sitting in the fridge for two days. My research brought forth much conflicting advice about how to raise these plants from seed and after looking at the pictures I am determined to get hold of some Meconopsis Bobby Masterton and Meconopsis Mrs Jebb as they look truly wonderful.
Here are a few bits of advice I found. Store seed in a sealed container in a domestic fridge. Commercial seeds sometimes appear to be less viable than home-collected seeds. The type of compost used for seed germination is not too critical. A peat-based one is most usually used. An important feature is for it to have high air porosity. The incorporation of a lot of grit enabling minimum root damage when pricking out is also preferable. Sow seed in Dec – Feb onto the surface of moist compost in trays or plastic pots. Water the pots from below and avoid seed disturbance. Either leave uncovered, but more usually growers cover the seed with several mm of fine grit or a little sieved compost. Keep in a light place, usually a cool greenhouse. Sometimes pots are placed on a heated bench (around 15C), or out-of-doors. Never allow surface to dry out, especially after germination has taken place. Germination takes two weeks to several months, sometimes occurring in the second year. Damping-off can be a problem. Prick out seedlings at the two or three leaf-stage. Avoid damaging the stem, by handling the leaves only. Transfer gently to the same light compost, avoiding compaction. Keep in a shady place until growth has resumed. Keep the plants growing actively, and repot before the pots become root-bound. It is important not to let the plants suffer a check in growth. Transfer to larger pots or into the garden when large enough. Depending on climate this is summer, late summer-autumn or the following spring. You can see why I am confused.
This morning I have sown 24 Busy Lizzie seeds in a modular propagation tray and they are now sitting on the window ledge. I have often bought these from the garden centre as small plants but have never grown them from seed. I haven’t seen this particular variety before. They were bought from Alan Romans at 50p for 85 seeds.
This compact variety is early flowering and very tolerant of shade. The flowers are large and come in a cheery mix of orange, pink, carmine, scarlet and white. Ideal for beds and borders or to brighten up a shady spot on the patio.