I seem to have had a permanent To Do list in recent months, either buzzing around in my head or periodically written down – mostly garden related tasks, although I did finally manage to complete two summer dresses, just as we were waving goodbye to summer… Thirteen jars of tomato have been made, which should see me through next year, and after having given away an apple mountain I eventually got round to freezing some for our own consumption, enjoying my favourite apple cake recipe during the process. If I am completely honest with myself it is highly likely that the ever-increasing To Do list is an avoidance strategy for planting the bulbs which arrived from Peter Nyssen nearly a month ago. Yes, I know, it should be on the list as well but I can’t seem to remember how to spell p-l-a-n-t-b-u-l-b-s…
So, what I have been doing instead? Well, looking inside the smaller greenhouse you will see that it is pretty full – of seedlings and cuttings and as yet ungerminated seeds. I was rather tardy with my autumn sowings, and sowed wallflowers and sweet williams far later than I meant to do, and it may be that the only thing ready for planting out before winter will be cornflowers – and although I couldn’t bring myself to plant any hardy annuals out last autumn I really did intend to do so this year, if only to save on space and maintenance and encourage early flowering next year. Hey ho! Along with the usual annuals and winter flowering violas are several perennials, which I am quite excited about, as I have grown only a few of these from seed before. Hopefully it will provide plants for my own garden but also lots of spares for plant sales at my open garden next year. Of the perennials, so far lychnis, oriental poppy and pheasant’s tail grass have been pricked out.
Having rarely propagated from cuttings before, I have been thrilled with the results so far, particularly with starting so late in the season. Stem cuttings of penstemon, salvia and diascia have rooted well with few failures, and root cuttings of phlox are coming on steadily too. The leaf cuttings of sedum, one of which was shown on Wordless Wednesday, took less than a fortnight to start producing their tiny progeny – and these cuttings were only taken on the spur of the moment towards the end of September. I rather wish I had realised earlier how easy the process was – so many salvias could have been rescued!
In due course many of these cuttings and seedlings will take their place in the temporary ‘spares’ lodgings, purpose (aka Golfer) made staging set up in the fruit cage where they will be out of the way till needed for the open day – so far I am up to 98 potted and labelled plants, with several other divisions bulking up for my own use.
As space begins running out in the smaller greenhouse, the prospect of being able to swing a cat or two in the larger greenhouse has become more attractive, so on a whim today I cut all the trusses of ripening tomatoes from the plants on the left (and will spread them out to continue the process), allowing me to cut down the plants and remove the stakes to regain access to the staging so plants other than tomatoes can once more be nurtured. When bulb planting starts, some of the bulbs will be planted in pots in the greenhouse so once again the space will be most welcome – perhaps this will prompt me to get started…?
Meanwhile, I am beginning to reassess all the borders with a view to reducing their overall hotchpotchness – none of them have been ‘planned’ as such, and although loosely colour themed it has still been very much a case of acquiring a plant and then finding space for it in an appropriate border. Sometimes it has worked, in an unplanned sort of way, and sometimes it hasn’t – and then there are the gaps – and where there are gaps, plants are more likely flop without the support of another one to lend a shoulder to lean on… I had already taken photographs of the borders to help in this review, but this week took pencil to paper and drew up rough plans of what was already there – this first one shows the four main herbaceous borders, bottom to top on the plan shows the beds from right to left on the photograph below.
It is quite clear from the plans where the gaps are, especially at the exposed edges of the borders, but the exercise has also thrown up where heights are not compatible and where some internal shifting around would be beneficial. Removal of dross too! Together with autumn plant housekeeping, sensible planning over the winter and early 2017 plant purchases should bring some big improvements to cohesion here and the same process will take place in the other borders in due course. Yes, lots To Do!