For the second year running, I placed an order in November for all the bedding plants* needed to fill all the pots, troughs and baskets for the following year. Trying to plan and choose in advance was really hard, and equally so on the second occasion as some of the previous combinations hadn’t been especially successful, but it was worth the effort to avoid ad hoc purchases in spring and early summer – and even more so in the current circumstances with garden centres being forced to shut.
I have bought from Brookside Nursery in recent years and like the way you can choose which week your plants will be ready; an added bonus is that it is only about five miles from here and local purchasers can collect directly from the nursery, absolving the plants from spending time in transit. I had arranged for mine to be available from Monday of this week, but COVID-19 restrictions led me to ask for delivery instead. Fortunately, the plants were dispatched on Monday and arrived the next day, fresh as the proverbial daisies, but in an alarming number of boxes – three big boxes but each with little boxes inside!
I can’t fault the packaging though (normally when I collect the plants would just be loose in their trays) as the condition of everything was perfect, and when all the boxes were emptied of their contents the prospect of potting them up didn’t look quite as daunting – huge, but no longer daunting.
Fortunately, I had stocked up on decent compost before the garden centres closed (it took almost a full bag), and a couple of hours later everything was potted up (the larger plugs in 6 cell trays, the smaller in 12s) and space found for them in the greenhouse. In recent days I have been moving as much as I can outside to harden off, in readiness for this week, as the greenhouse is rapidly approaching saturation point as seeds get pricked out and potted on. The plug plants now occupy nearly one third of the main staging, all of the top shelf and just over one level of a freestanding unit I use for peak growth periods.
Just outside the greenhouse, I used some of the cornus prunings from earlier in the week to embellish the beanpoles for the outdoor sweet peas creating, in my humble opinion, attractive and functional supports. If they do indeed prove to be successful and fit for purpose I suspect this will become another of my annual rituals: prune the cornus, erect supports for the sweet peas. The promise of warm and sunny weather in the coming days encouraged me to make use them straight away, planting out the first batch of hardened off sweet peas. Sadly, I also know we are not due any rain, so will need to be prepared to water them regularly. For the first time in a while, these are January rather than autumn sown sweet peas, largely because a later planting of a trial variety last year seemed to give superior results; this batch consists of two varieties, Gwendoline and King George VI, a pink and red colour combination I had admired elsewhere last year.
Inside the greenhouse, now naked after shedding its bubble wrap in anticipation of the coming warmer days, the indoor early sweet peas (Winter Sunshine) continue to press ahead and, as I suggested last week, are on target to flower towards the end of April – now producing buds to prove the point:
Gardens are exciting places in April, and I am sure everyone else who is contributing to Jon the Propagator’s Six on Saturday meme today will have something exciting to share with us – do check out Jon’s blog to see what this is.
* petunia, verbena, calibrachoa, Busy Lizzie, argyanthemum, lobelia, pelargonium, etc