Thursday, 31 May 2012

Two More Newbies

Besides the Agaves and Epiphyllum these are two other notable plants that we picked up at the all night market. This Dicentra 'Burning Heart'. I don't dislike your regular Dicentra but this one has such fantastic foliage. It blueish and silverish and contrasts really nicely with the dark red flowers.

This is more of a sun lover compared to other Dicentras as you can tell by the foliage. I am keeping them in their pots for now because I really would not know where to put them yet.

This is the other find. A nice little Protea, Leucospermum 'Volcano'. I saw some beautiful Protea on the Chelsea Flower Show broadcast on the BBC and wanted to grow something similar.

I like just how weird these flowers are all pincushiony and hairy. We'll see whether I can coax some more flowers from it.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Dividing Primula Auricula

Now Primula Auricula Karen Cordrey is finished flowering it is time to divide it up so I will have more plants next year. Not only that but supposedly it also grows better divided each year.

It came out of the pot easily and as you can see it has formed a nice full root system.

First thing I did was basically tear it in half. That was pretty easy, did not even need a knife.

One of the rosettes broke off without any roots but I figure with a bit of luck it should root anyways.

I am not dividing it into singly rosettes because I just don't have that many pots right now. I just look at where it would be easy to divide an cut through.

From one nicely filled pot of Auricula Karen Cordrey to five pots! I wonder is all of them will flower this year. The potting mix I used is pretty simple, just potting soil mixed with gravel. To test how much gravel I squeezed the soil. If it forms a ball it needs more gravel. If it falls apart again it is about right.

I bought this Primula auricula 'Black Jack' at the garden centre. It is a double auricula with nice dark red flowers. I thought it would be fun to try and cross this with Karen Cordrey next year.

This plant is not as big yet as Karen Cordrey but I should be able to get at least three plants from it.

Three plants it is.

These are a couple of mixed Primula Auricula that I grew from seed last year. They have been slightly mistreated and thus haven't grown much but with a repot and some more water they should be fine.

So now I have 12 pots with Primula Auricula. I am going to put them in a sunny position and water them on the same schedule as the Adeniums. This means watering them every three days or less if its cold and wet. After the summer they are going under the rain protection and watered only very very sporadically. Spring should be filled with flowers.

Corydalis Craigton Blue

I have been waiting for this Corydalis Craigton Blue to flower since I ordered it last year from Kevock. It did not flower that year but now it finally has. When the first flower opened I was a bit disappointed the flower seemed small and not very impact full. But now there is a big bunch of them it is actually really nice.

The way the newer flowers start out with a bit of purple and then fading to a sky blue gives them a pleasing iridescence. I keep this one in one of the shadow containers with the acid soil. It looks quite happy and if it ever outgrows the container I will probably divide and plant some out into the garden as well. For now I'm quite happy seeing this flower and look forward for the other couple of flower stalks that are still developing.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Trying Out Some Agaves

At the yearly all night plant market in Haarlem the bulk of the stalls are filled with auction fodder. You can certainly get your fill of hanging baskets, small olive tries and fuchsias. But there are one or two passionate growers who will have some interesting things for sale. One of these was a guy with a stall chock full of agaves. I have zero experience with these plants but thought it would be cool to try a couple out and see how they grow for me. I basically picked out three that I thought looked interesting.

This little one is labelled Dasy hidalgensis. Now Internet was not very helpful in figuring out what plant it is. I am asuming it is an agave because so were all the other plants in this stall. There is an Agave dasylirioides, and also an Agave hidalgensis. But I can't find any results for Agave dasylirioides hidalgensis. Maybe I should be going by the assumption that it is a dasyliriodes found in Hidalgo Mexico.

This is the well known (although not to me) Agave victoria reginae. I chose it for the cool white variegation and had no idea how cool it could look when fully grown. Though I'm not sure I will ever see it in its spherical glory because it grows so slowly but it is nonetheless a neat looking plant.

 This was a bit of a wildcard and a bit more expensive than the other two but I could not resist. It is a Agave titanota hybrid with red colouration named 'Red Catweasel'. It is from tissue culture and I can't wait to see how it grows up.

In a side stall there were also these Epiphyllum cuttings. They were all named but my memory deserts me once again. I know of the three Epiphyllum there are one white and one red one. I might have also gotten the traditional 'Queen of the Night' as well. The other two are not Epiphyllum but something else that escapes me at the moment. They still have to dry off for a week before I plant them.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Ferns, Ferns, Ferns

I've decided to make a bit of a fern corner on top of the horribly ugly plastic construction meant to keep the cushions dry. The location means that the foliage gets quite a bit of sun but the pots are in shade. I already had the two tree ferns (Dicksonia Antarctica and Cyathea Australis) up there and thought it would be fun to have some additional ferns to fill up the gap. The Dicksonia is doing very well the new fronds just keep coming. I have removed two of the older fronds that had some frostbite and wrapped them around the base to help increase moisture and to help me keep count for the frond count.

The Cyathea is finally recovering from the horrible shock of not being mollycoddled in a greenhouse. All the old fronds have some degree of damage. It does not look pretty but taking them out would only serve to weaken the plant. On a positive note it has now finally started unfurling some new fronds so it should start to look better.

This little Dryopteris erythrosora caught my eye with its lovely new fronds which have a lovely orange hue. 

I like this one as well I think it might be a  Polystichum acrostichoides or Christmas fern but I am not sure.

Similarly I don't know what this one is either it came as a NOID from the fern bench at the garden centre. But all in all I think they make quite a handsome foursome. Though I don't doubt they may have some new company pretty soon.

One fern I would really like is Athyrium niponicum var. pictum or Japanese painted fern. I actually bought one in mail order from Baldur but it did not show up this spring. The whole Baldur thing has been a bit of a disaster anyhow. I also bought some hardy orchids and upon arrival I checked their roots (autumn). The roots were either non existent or completely dried out. I mailed their customer service and quickly got a response. If my plants did not grow in spring I would get replacements. So I emailed them this spring that the plants were indeed not viable but I have yet to have a response. It has been months and I have sent them numerous emails but I get complete radio silence. I would say do not get any plants at Baldur their service is horrible and so is the quality of their plants.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Cypripedium Kentucky In Flower

It took a while but the flowers on Cypripedium Kentucky have finally opened up. I am pleasantly surprised really. These flowers are really big with the pouch looking like a creme coloured egg (it is about that size too). The maroon petals provide a really nice contrast. It is a shame the plant is a bit floppy. This is probably due to the fact that it grew in a greenhouse before coming home with me. Providing it survives I expect the growth to be more sturdy next year. Cypripedium Pueblo has now finished flowering and Cypripedium Reginae is just starting growth so with a bit of luck I will able to admire Cypripedium blooms for some time to come.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Fun Mutation In Aquilegia Black Barlow

As some of you know I have a couple of Aquilegia Black Barlow growing in my garden. I grew these from seed last spring and had some spares I put into my grandmother's garden. To my delight one of them has a really cool mutation. Instead of the full double flowers this one has a single row of ten petals. It really does look like a clematis flower.

Here is one exhibiting the normal form as you can see the mutation is also much larger.  I really like the big single flower and will definitely get seed from that plant to see whether some of the seedlings will exhibit the same form. I know Aquilegia is very variable by nature but I am sure happy it turned out this way.

The flowers are really nice and dark and because of their form even more 'gothic' than the normal form. The plant itself is strong with only marginally less flower stalks than its neighbours.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Aloe Plicatilis Seedling Growing Nicely

There is both good and bad news about the Aloe Plicatilis seedlings. The good news is that all five seeds germinated, the bad that two of them  did not make it. The last one to germinate got a case of damp off. I was a bit concerned about how wet the substrate was anyway so I took the container out of the propagator and onto the plant table so it could dry out a little.

 Unfortunately the smallest of the left over seedlings did not like the dryer environment one bit and dried out in what felt like a matter of minutes. So now there are only three left. I am still a bit antsy about how much moisture they would like and am getting anxious to repot. However I will try not to be tempted until they are a lot bigger.

 As you can see the biggest of the seedlings is starting to form the second leaf. I can also see the roots of this one hitting the bottom. I am still keeping them on the plant table and not in the incubator and keep a good eye on the moisture level of the substrate.

Update; I have potted them on into individual pots

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Aeonium Frost Damage Has Benefits

As documented in this post the Aeonium 'Velour' suffered a bit of spring frost damage. I thought it was just some damage of the outer leaves. However the rosette of the central stem shrivelled up and died. But much to my surprise two little rosettes grew to replace the old one. This should provide some interesting branching. The growth habit of this Aeonium is funny anyhow.

The central stem keeps on producing new rosettes in the leaf axles. This should mean it branches out wildly.

However in the mature side branches there is no branching. This may be a matter of time, we shall see.

It is also quite amazing just how dark it got. It is almost as dark as the Zwartkop but it does have more green in the rosette.
 This is the Aeonium 'Zwartkop', which is darkening nicely. I really hope this gets to grow a bit faster now the temperature has gone up a bit. I hope if it grows enough I can take a cutting and get it to branch out more.

Monday, 21 May 2012

A Lot Ment

A lot of things going on at the allotment site. The weeds are teeming and it certainly is more work than I thought it would be. But slowly but surely it is starting to look like something, lets have a look.

This is the patch that was first sown. The radishes have been harvested in the middle bit (reseeded now) but the lettuce is doing nicely and there are some carrots growing through them as well.

The broad beans are in flower and growing nicely. And what flowers! Beautiful black and white flowers and in a couple of weeks lovely beans.

The peas are doing well, some are in flower already. The rocket on the other hand looks a bit straggly but it is good to eat.

Red leaf lettuce growing underneath the cherry tree and looking strong and healthy. Bottom right you can see the germinated chives and on the left some endive and I think beets.

Some of the cabbages are being eaten by something. Here the purple cauliflower looks quite beaten up. I hope it pulls through because the normal bigger cauliflowers are quite happy.

Here they are looking robust.

Asparagus is finally piercing through. I am not sure how old this bed is so I am only taking from one half of the bed.

Early potatoes are doing well, I have earthed them up about three times now so that should be enough.

Jerusalem artichokes are growing quickly, I love these so I hope they produce lots.

The poor strawberries that were ploughed over and only turned right way up again in late winter are going marvellously. In a couple weeks I can stuff my face with juicy strawberries.

Cherry tree has taken well to the transplant and is absolutely full with fruit. Let us hope the birds don't eat them before we do.

In the hope of getting mega pumpkins I covered the manure heap with a couple of bags of potting soil and then a layer of landscaping fabric. This should keep it warm and moist. In it I  planted a selection of pumpkins and courgette and aubergine.

Some left over pumpkins are joining their traditional 'three sisters' partners of the newly planted out runner beans and corn.

Today's harvest were some test carrots (are they big yet?) asparagus spears, rocket and lettuce.

And as a bonus a bunch of wildflowers growing on the margins.