What a glorious day! In fact, what a glorious February (so far). The garden is visibly swelling and revving up for spring, whether it’s here officially or not. There’s plenty of growing going on (I’m even considering cutting the grass tomorrow), so I am joining The Propagator for Six on Saturday to share a few things from a garden bursting with new life.
1) Sweet Peas
OK, so maybe a bit of a mundane start to the list, but last week I found out that I shouldn’t be soaking my sweet peas in water to get them started. Who knew? I’ve been doing it for years. But one of the gardeners I work with has just completed an RHS qualification and they have all been told that trials have clearly shown that germination is better without soaking (or chitting). The process is more successful if the skins are soften by laying the seeds on moist vermiculite or kitchen tissue in a sealed container in a warm room. So that is what I’ve done this year with, so far, 100% germination rate. Plus it’s fun to be able to see the plants start to unfurl.
2) Salix gracilistyla ‘Mount Aso’
My late autumn sale purchases of Salix gracilistyla ‘Mount Aso’ and ‘Melanostachys’ are still only ~8 inches tall, but they are already giving me much pleasure because they both have catkins already. The photo is of ‘Mt Aso’ with its delicious pink puffs. Who could resist this?
3) Canna indica
A couple of years ago I brought some canna seed back from La Palma after an Easter holiday and although they all grew well, only a couple of plants reached flowering point and then I lost the whole lot over the winter period. So I’ve decided to try again, starting them off earlier in order to be more certain of flowers. Guess what though? I chipped them and soaked them for 48hrs. They all swelled, so they’ve all been potted up and now (3 weeks later) they are ready for potting on … and this is the bit where I start to run out of windowsill space!
4) Anemone blanda
The crocuses, Tête-à-têtes and anemones have started to flower over the last week and so broad brushes of colour are returning to the garden. The lovely thing about anemones is how the flowers multiple each day until there is a complete purple carpet. New plantlets are beginning to appear in the chipping pathways, so I will be able to spread their cheerful faces to new territories. Next year I am thinking that I will buy pure white one to grow in patches around the base of a couple of trees along the sunny driveway border. They should catch the sunlight wonderfully and highlight the bark on the trunks.
This is last years crop. Yes, the whole crop! I wasn’t very successful with them as you see and I am not sure I understand why since the plants flowered well enough. They just didn’t set. The seeds were from the Eden Project shop and I was curious to try a new crop. They are quite labour intensive, shelling the chickpeas, for (in my case) little reward. I wonder how they are grown and harvested in places like Italy? I would try again if I knew what I’d done wrong, but currently that idea is on hold.
There are some trees in the hedgerow around here, even in our own back boundary hedge, that I’ve never identified, but that seem to have short lifespans. Well, several of them are coming into flower this year and I believe that I’ve IDed them as elms. I had always assumed that elms had been completely wiped out by Dutch Elm Disease (DED), but it turns out that as a tree they sucker very easily and new trees are still appearing around the old stock. However once the offshoots reach a certain size, as clones, they once again succumb to DED. However, with the production of wind-pollinated seed that should follow these flowers, there is always the possibility of the development of disease resistance in the future.
So those are my six. Don’t forget to check out The Propagator’s post for many more.