Saturday, 31 March 2012

The Allotment Continued

The allotment had to fend for itself for more than a week and I couldn't wait to see if there were some changes. Finally the peas and broad beans are coming up in droves, I might even need to thin them out a little (though I'm never a fan of that). Also the rucola that I sown in between the pea sticks finally germinated, squashing my suspicion that the seed was to old to be viable.

Thankfully the polytent held up and the radishes and lettuce planted underneath are growing much faster than the exposed ones. I think the radishes might be ready in the very near future.

The buds on the fruit trees are about to burst, the honeyberry is already in flower. Last year on the balcony the honeyberry gave me one whole berry so I'm hoping for more this time.

I also sowed some carrots and planted out the seedlings of yellow beets, purple cauliflower and purple kohl rabi. 

What A Difference A Week Makes

After coming back from a week in sunny warm London I was curious about what had grown in the garden. In the Netherlands it had also been a perfect spring week filled with sunshine (but no rain). Thankfully there have been no casualties. The Cyathea australis seems to have suffered a bit from low night temperatures with a bit of browning of the leaf margins but I'm fairly confident it will recover nicely and continue to throw out fronds that are more suited to dealing with outdoors growing (it was growing in a greenhouse). I'll post a couple of pictures of the things that have shown the most growth.

First of all the Edelweiss in the lime rich alpine container. I got this plant cheap (1 euro) at a plant sale outside of the yearly bulb sale at the Keukenhof and it seems to quite like its new home. Here is a previous photograph of it showing the beginning of spring growth. Now it has thrown out a nice bit of foliage and I can't wait for it to bloom again with it's lovely silvery flowers.

Speaking of the this container I'm a bit surprised the Pulsatilla is not doing much yet. At Kew they were in full flower but here there is very little growth.

I am excited to see the Cypripedium 'Pueblo' growing along nicely, seemingly unaffected by the repotting.

In the ground there have also been a couple of nice surprises. I talked about planting some Meconopsis betonifolia into the ground last October, and being pretty sure they did not make it (eaten by the chicken, or just not settling in). However inspecting the ground today I found two little plants coming up so they survived.

As for flowers I came back to the snakehead frittelaria almost blooming, and an uncommon anemone also slowly starting to put out some flowers. I bought this anemone at the aforementioned bulb market. It is a relatively uncommon variety but once again I misplaced the label (I know I put it somewhere). So for now it is a NOID.[EDIT I have found the website of the people I bought it from and it is Anemone apennina 'Petrovac']  It suffered a bit from some chicken burglars who really should not be getting into that part of the garden. One thing I am slightly worried about are the hardy orchids that are in the full ground. None are coming up yet but I'll be patient till at least the end of April.

In the house there has also been some significant growth namely from the Euphorbia Bupleurifolia. Not so long ago it only showed it had woken up by throwing up some growth points, but now it has a significant amount of leaves showing, I'm both happy and surprised with how quickly this grew.

Update: Cypripedium Pueblo is now in flower.

Friday, 30 March 2012

My Favourite From Kew

Of all the plants and flowers that I saw in Kew this weekend, the one I loved the most was the jade vine (strongylodon macrobotrys). I had seen this on the 'A year at Kew' TV show and was delighted to see it flower. The colour of these flowers is beyond stunning, a really intense shade of blueish green or greenish blue. It was flowering both in the palm house and the princess of wales conservatory. This is the sort of plant that is impossible for me to grow myself so I'm really glad to have seen it up close and personal at Kew. The bunches of flowers are huge and it is easy to see they belong to the pea family.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012


I started growing Plumeria at about the same time as I started with Adenium. First in winter with quite unspecified seed (Plumeria rubra) and later I got seed from Plumeria 'polynesian sunset' from here . Only one of the random rubra seeds survived to grow in summer and that one seedling got pretty big. However it did not survive the winter. I made the crucial mistake of putting it in too big a pot that kept it too wet when in dormancy. Upon inspection the lower part of the stem was mushy so I cut it off to try and root it in a new pot. However the growing tip is black so I'm pretty sure it is dead.

The three seedlings from the 'polynesian sunset' on the other hand are doing fine. They overwintered the same way as the adenium did : on the central heating grill. Just like the adenium they did not enter complete dormancy though they did lose most of their leaves. Two have already been put into a bigger pot (though not huge) the other will follow. I don't suppose they will flower this year but they should at least put in a good amount of growth. Maybe it is not a bad idea to keep their growth in check somewhat so they do not get too tall before branching. 

Monday, 26 March 2012

Some More Kew Pictures

Before I start using some of the Kew photos in more specific post I thought I'd post some of the more general display pictures i can't use in other posts. Unfortunately the tropical carnivorous section was closed but the temperate was filled with a nice selections of sun dew and saracenias. The orchid display was slightly disappointing because there was not that much in bloom and there was a lot of filler that probably was flown in from the greenhouses near me. (including a ginormous selection of American hybrid paphiopedilums.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Visit to Kew Gardens

I'm in London for the week so naturally I had to go and visit Kew. Even though it is still early spring there is more than enough to see. London is at least a week ahead because here the magnolia are already in full flower. In Kew the rock garden was filled with flowering saxifraga, primula, frittilaria, anemonies and pulsatilla. I have plants in these families but none are close to flowering in the Netherlands yet (except for my primula auricula which is in bud). Over the next couple a days I will post some of the photo's from inside the greenhouse including my favourite from the trip: the jade vine.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Tree Fern Frond Count

I thought it would be a interesting to keep track at how many new fronds are going to be produced this year by my Dicksonia antarctica and Cyathea australis. I managed to get the Dicksonia through the winter without it losing its fronds by binding them up, filling them with oak leaves and keep them in a sheltered spot behind a curtain of bubblewrap. The Cyathea I just bought full with fronds. Apparently they often lose all their fronds in winter even with protection but it certainly doesn't seem to be the case with this exemplar. I did repot the Cyathea seeing as roots were coming out of the bottom of the pot.

At the moment the Dicksonia antarctica has 11 fronds (I am also counting the one that is unfurling at the moment)

The Cyathea australis has 17.

11 fronds

17 fronds

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Lanky Peas

Not a lot is going on at the allotment today. With the amount of sunshine we had the last week I would have expected more but not even the buds on the fruit trees have opened. The peas and broad beans I sowed in the ground are still going very very slow. I sowed some peas inside in modules as backup and these got very big very quickly. I might have waited a bit too long with planting them outside we'll see whether they survive.

There has also been a little setback with the polytent. It has the tendency to collapse when there is a bit of wind. Apparently some neighbours put it up again and added the planks. I hope this will prove a stable solution.

Settling In The Kevock Goodies (and others) pt2

Finally got some peat so I could continue planting the acid loving plants. I got both white and black peat (I don't know why exactly). First the Calceolaria Uniflora darwinii, this needs very acid very gritty mix so I mixed in a lot of grit into a combination of the two peats and also a scoop of the Mediterranean mix. The plant had a tiny tiny root system so I really hope it will work out, those flowers are really to die for.

Then the Meconopsis napaulensis, I really don't have room at the moment for a rosette a meter wide in the garden but I did have a nice wide (shallow) container laying around that might do the job. I added plenty of extra peat to the Mediterranean mix for this one as well. 

I also had to plant the Cypripedium 'Pueblo', I can't see the other orchids emerging from the ground yet so I decided for at least this year to keep it in a container. I mixed a nice airy gritty mix with some extra peat for moisture and this should work out fine. The root system on this baby was amazing, filling the whole pot with big fat healthy roots.

Update: Cypripedium Pueblo is now in flower

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Sarracenia Leucophylla Deer Park Alabama

In a slightly heated Ebay bidding war I won this Sarracenia. It has beautifully red veined white beakers but it did not grow at all in my garden. I put it in a make shift peat bog by putting a perforated bin liner in my bog iris container and covered it in peat. It did not die but neither did it thrive. The beakers were nibbled by the chickens and I pretty much expected it not to live through this harsh winter (minus 15 at least for a good stretch of time). Today I decided the Iris would probably enjoy the space and that I would remove the Sarracenia and see whether it is still alive. And lo! Exceeding expectations there are actually a good couple of healthy grow points  and I decided to pot it up out of reach of the chickies.

On the right you can see the growth points


Black and White Iris Project

If you have read this blog before I am quite partial to 'black' flowers and foliage. One of the most charming examples of black flowers are Iris chrysographes and two years ago I purchased some seed to see if I could grow them. I ended up with two seedlings who have not yet bloomed and are just coming up.

This spring I also ordered a plant from Kevock nursery. Coincidence has it that a plant I have been looking for for years then shows up in my local garden centre. So now I have 4 different plants of Iris chrysographes and at least one of them should have nice dark flowers. Now I have hatched the plan to have a a big container filled with the monochrome glory of the combination of the black chrysographes and white Siberian iris 'snow queen'.

In the meantime I will let them grow in smaller containers this season or until they bloom. I'm keeping the seed grown iris in their own container. I'm looking forward to see of any of the chrysographes will bloom this year.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Pachypodium Rosulatum

I must say growing Pachypodium Rosulatum from seed has been most fun. Within a year they form substantial seedlings and I had no trouble keeping them alive or overwintering them. Most information says to keep them completely dry during the winter but since they did not lose their leaves I kept treating them like I did the Adenium. In their first summer I decided to grow one seedling outside and the other inside the house. The main difference between these two is that the seedling grown outside had smaller more narrow leaves and a slightly larger caudex (though I'm not sure caudex is the right word in this case since the base is relatively skinny and the top is swollen). The difference in leave shape seems to have dissipated somewhat during the winter but you can still see it.

The first photo is the plant grown inside, the second outside. I planted the second seedling into a slightly larger pot to see if that would affect growth.

I can't wait to see them grow this year. They are reported to be able to bloom in the first or second year so maybe this growing season will bring flower and hopefully branching.