Several plants have burst into bloom during the last week, some more of a surprise than others – how I could have missed the conversion from bulging bud to utmost perfection of Camellia japonica ‘Nobilissima’ I do not know, but isn’t she beautiful? So pure and white and unsullied – and with 6 or 7 younger siblings to follow. She was only planted twelve months ago so is obviously happy where she is – hurrah!
In the same hedge border bed, under the dwarf plum ‘Czar’ (also planted this time last year) the white Anemone blanda (top left) are pushing their way through with an odd flower bud evident here and there. I envisage a bank of them here in due course, recalling a visit to Birmingham Botanical Gardens some years ago when I first noticed the impact of a dense planting of them, albeit in mixed colours. There are other colours in the garden, a few supposedly pink (bottom left) under the magnolia, some blue (top right) in the blue & white border (disturbed by various upheavals at that end of the garden, and of course that enchanting carpet of Anemone nemerosa (bottom right) in the woodland. The latter has been spreading since the originals were planted way back in 2000, but now they are well established the rate of growth is much quicker. I don’t know how quickly the new blanda will spread as the pink and blue are only odd singletons, but at least their emergence rate looks promising.
The two baskets at the front of the house are usually filled with blue pansies and some sort of dwarf narcissus over winter, but Aldi had some very pretty baskets of violas in the autumn so I used the contents of these instead along with some bronze carex. Realising I had not ordered any narcissi for the baskets I bought some half price iris (‘Harmony’?) from our local garden centre to include instead, but on finding a pot of what was labelled as ‘Pencrobar’, last year’s narcissus offering, I squeezed them in as well.
That was back in November, and now we have a very mixed bag: viola only recently picking up again after looking bedraggled for several months, and not all the expected pretty ‘sorbet’ colour, the iris looking perky and pleased with themselves, the carex is looking… well, bronze and sedgy….. and the narcissi are looking like….. muscari….! Meanwhile, there is another pot of unlabelled bulbs looking suspiciously like narcissi of some sort – no doubt last year’s ‘Pencrobar’ – the moral of this being to label all bulbs retained for another year. Life is full of lessons, is it not?
The pot size dilemma I mentioned a few days ago was quickly resolved, partly by helpful bloggers (as I knew it would) and also by the realisation that the potting tray which supposedly held 20 10cm pots was mislabelled, with the pots actually being 3″ or around 7cm and therefore only fractionally bigger than the other potting trays. Why I hadn’t twigged that before I don’t know, as they are so very obviously not 10cm or the 4″ equivalent – hey ho!
All the seedlings requiring pricking out have now been pricked out and the RHS seeds have been sown, other than the few that required chilling or stratification. The staging in the bigger greenhouse is crammed full of seedlings and space will become an even greater issue once those germinating inside have popped their noses above soil level (sometimes within only a day or two – so exciting!!) – a higher level narrow shelf is rapidly becoming a necessity! Although the half greenhouse has remained just about frost free without any heating it is not as warm during the day, presumably because the sun isn’t quite high enough to get to it behind its bigger brother, so I don’t want to move seedlings there too early.
Although it will probably be a couple of months before any of them are ready to be planted out it is still not to early to think about the cutting beds where some of them will be going. The two beds beside the greenhouse (bottom left) will have this change of use, whereas the bigger bed behind the wall (right) will be retained for some of the few edibles that will still be grown and the corner bed with the rhubarb could possibly have some ornamentals for cutting as well. I began using the former for ‘nursery beds’ last year to settle in various irresistable plant offers, so the process of finding a home for the occupants will need to start soon so the beds can be prepared – both of them have been giving up a regular offering of pebbles over the last few years which could do with being removed before anything else is done. And I now have my copy of Wellywoman’s book ‘The Cut Flower Patch’ to give me more guidance on growing specifically for cutting – do look out for it yourselves.
I relieved several trays of their contents yesterday, pricking the seedlings out into trays of little pots or multicell trays – not stopping at the larger seedlings but also pricking out some of the smaller ones like the Dahlia ‘Bishop’s Children’ at the back of the picture below. Having started on the aquilegia I was surprised at how extensive the roots were even of the tiniest seedlings, so will continue with the rest of them. This is the stage I have tended to miss out in the past, so I’m looking forward to seeing how much of a difference it makes. I am also dithering over the different pot sizes so would be interested to know what others think – Bishop’s Children are in a tray of 10cm pots but I also have trays of 40 6cm pots – is this adequate for most seedlings or not?
For those not in the UK the title might not mean anything, but indeed ‘Simples!’ has officially entered the English language following its use as a catchphrase in a comparison website advert which features either irritating or endearing Russian meerkat characters, depending on your viewpoint. The contents of the vase as well as the title actually came to me just after I had completed last week’s vase and was returning the previous week’s cornus stems to a pot on the windowsill. The pot also contained reusable twisted hazel – and a number of snowdrops inadvertently dug out without the bulbs when I was transplanting clumps. Ahah, I thought – Simples!
And simple it is, a handful of snowdrops and several very useful twigs of twisted hazel in a vintage creamware pot against a background of a piece of blackwork embroidery – no Meerkat Toy as a prop though, but some tactile flint picked up on Skegness beach. The twisted hazel is proving to be a very useful tool for the vases, adding structure and form but also providing useful twists and turns to hold delicate flowers without the use of Oasis or pins – and the ability to be reused over and over again.
So there we have it, a simple arrangement in a vase on Monday – the arrangement may be simple, but finding appropriate props to support the contents adds a twist to the challenge for me. Not a mandatory twist I hasten to add for anyone who wants to join in – that’s just a matter of finding something from your own garden or thereabouts and displaying it in a vase (or not) on a Monday – then leave a link from your post to this and vice versa. Tagging it ‘in a vase on Monday’ will also help others to find you so we can share in the pleasures of bringing the outside in. Indeed, the joys of last week’s hellebores are still with me, all but one of the floating flowers still looking as fresh as the day they were picked.
That batch of seeds I showed yesterday has duly been sown (although the RHS ones are still unsorted), leaving me with a bit of a housing crisis. Despite mostly only sowing half-packets, for the first time realising the sense in not raising more plants than I need, I am now down to the last couple of half trays and a few quarter trays. Clearly I am going to have to rehouse some of the more established seedlings, potting-on not being something I have made a habit of in previous years – although the few seeds I did transplant last year did lead to stronger plants, so I now know it makes sense.
The autumn sown aquilegia will definitely be on the rehousing agenda as there are several trays of those, not all as established as the ‘Black Magic Mix (left), and the cerinthe (already thinned a little) and perennial malva (mallow) from a free packet of seeds are perhaps ready to move on as well. I am not sure where I will put more than 2 or 3 fully grown mallows though!
Already successfully rehomed, however, are the two ‘surplus’ urns, one in a more central part of the woodland edge border and the other at the end of a path between one of the main herbaceous borders and the clematis colonnade. The latter is indeed the perfect spot and one I should have thought of before as the path narrows almost to an apex and finishes against the fence, making the urn an ideal full stop. Both urns now look as if they have always lived in these locations!