Six on Saturday: Mystery, Exotica and Miracles

I had forgotten how much I liked the colour of this hippeastrum, Red Lion, which always reminds me of red silk. This is the one I used to treat myself to each year if I hadn’t been presented with one for Christmas or my December birthday; there then came a point when I fancied a change but in recent years I have snapped up several varieties from Aldi to provide colour in the Coop in the early months of the year – the early months of the year, note, NOT April! This year, the red beast is joined by Intokazi/Happy Memory, one stem of which appeared in my Monday vase, and a still yet to flower Dancing Queen, not really exotica but making a good stab at it.

Down in the working greenhouse we find a miracle, a small one but a miracle no less – germinated cleome seeds! I have tried a few times with these but without success, even religiously following alternate heat and cold regimes as sometimes suggested. As these seeds were free from the HPS seed scheme I had nothing to lose and after a month or so on my seed sowing stand next to the Aga, I half-heartedly shoved them in the fridge and forgot about them. A couple of months later, clearing out mouldy tubs of leftovers I found them and brought the seed tray in its polybag out into the warmth of the kitchen. A few days later, not expecting anything from them and intending to dispose of the contents, I was amazed to discover several spindly seedlings! Removed to the working greenhouse, the spindliest seedlings curled up and died, leaving half a dozen less spindly ones to a more promising fate – a small miracle!

Still a mystery are the various bargain clematis I bought from Thorncroft Nurseries some weeks ago, still waiting to be identified before I decide on a place for them to be planted.  There are some clues to be had from the leaves and the rate at which the plants are growing, but I am awaiting blooms for a definitive identification; most are in bud, like the one shown below, but the buds are in no great hurry to swell and open, sticking to their own schedules. I know some of you bought some of these mystery clematis too and I will be interested to hear what landed on your doorsteps…

I am awaiting the opening of other buds too, to see who wins the race for the first rose to bloom. Last year, as it often is, it was Mme Alfred Carrière on May 10th, but she has competition in 2020, with buds on almost every rose. Even Rambling Rector has been smothered in them for a couple of weeks, building up to a very early show as he doesn’t usually make his presence felt until June. However, it looks as if the winner is likely to be the new kid on the block, Olivia Rose Austin, who arrived as a potted specimen last autumn to occupy the end of the extended shrub border – with two fat buds already showing pink, she stands a very good chance of taking the crown…and could we have roses in April even…?

Apart from a cool breeze at times, we have had another week of gloriously warm and sunny weather – great for morale but not for trays of seedlings waiting to be planted out. We are forecast rain in the coming week but of course it is not guaranteed and we often seem to miss out; however, I am going to begin planting out into the cutting beds tomorrow, regardless, and you are all my witnesses to that!

Jon the Propagator invites us to show six different things from our gardens every Saturday, so along with the exotica, the mysteries and miracle, the rose race and the waiting for rain, we have another red beast which torments us and our pristine lilies – the lily beetle. Until the lilies are ready to bloom, I keep all the pots together to make inspection easier and each day find myself squashing several of them – unlike the first one I ever encountered which was carefully removed and popped into the green waste bin, complete with lily leaf for sustenance! Devious little creatures, they were nowhere in sight when I came to take a picture, so sneaked up on a return visit to find a pair of them, one camera-shy which promptly hid under a leaf, and his friend who began to beat a similar hasty retreat as I snapped the photo…hey ho!

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45 Responses to Six on Saturday: Mystery, Exotica and Miracles

  1. bcparkison says:

    Hmm…not a fan of cleome. They reseed EVERY where …Which may be just what you want ,but it has taken me years to get they out . I am so impressed with all of your gardeners who can rattle of the names of your plants. Mine are just called pansies or daisies or day lilies. I should work on being more proper.

    • Cathy says:

      Oops! Well, I shall cross that bridge when and if I get to it – at the moment there are only THREE seedlings, so I may have been a bit premature in my excitement!

  2. janesmudgeegarden says:

    Luckily we seem not to get lily beetles here (hope I’m not speaking too soon) and I still have complete lily plants standing in the garden since last spring, when it’s now, almost time for them to reappear.
    Interesting that you keep a record of when the first rose blooms. I never thought of doing that.

    • Cathy says:

      I don’t know how they know which gardens to target, Jane – I can distinctly remember my first one and I probably only had one pot of lilies at the time! I have kept a record of my seed sowing for about 6 years started keeping a daily record of what was happening in the garden (and the weather) last year – it’s so easy to think things are early or later than usual, but our memories play tricks…!

  3. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I hope the lily beetles never find my garden. They have been found in our state as of last summer. At least that is when I first read about them being here. All of your bedding plants look healthy. One more night of frost threat and then we should be in the clear. Here is hoping at least.

    • Cathy says:

      Fingers crossed, Lisa, but they do seem to have a knack of finding the lilies! I have been having to water the trays of seedlings and young plants at least once a day for weeks, so getting some of them into the cutting beds will be a big step but at least they will be easier to water if we don’t get rain

  4. Pauline says:

    So far, no lily beetle yet and I hope it stays that way! I have a hippeastrum which has just decided to send up a flower spike, so glad it has decided to flower at last, you have a lovely selection and I agree, your red one is super.

    • Cathy says:

      A hippeastrum inside, Pauline? So it’s not just mine then! Red Lion is such a commonplace one, but such a glorious and dense shade of red

  5. I have not seen the lily beetle yet this year but I know I will. It is interesting to see amaryllis in April as I only associate them with winter and Christmas. The red seems so rich in the spring sunlight. Of course you have thousands of seedlings you are such a busy gardener but that sure is a lot of pricking out to be done.

    • Cathy says:

      And let’s hope the pesky red things keep away from your garden as long as possible, Dorris. I know the pricking out and potting on is time consuming but I love it – it’s become one of my rituals, from when the stand I use next to the Aga comes down from the loft at the end of January to when the last things are planted out in May or so. There will be a few things sown later, and some in the autumn too, but that doesn’t seem the same somehow.

      • I do it at work and it’s thrilling to see the seedlings emerge from the dirt. It’s not quite as enjoyable as your description but it means I get to sow my seeds and bring home the spares

        • Cathy says:

          What sort of quantity do you sow in?

          • Veg and annual flowers
            How many? Trays and trays
            Any left overs get to come home with me

          • Cathy says:

            eg how many different annuals and how many trays of each are needed? Sorry for the questions – I am always interested in the little details… 😉 So do you sow anything at home, or is there no need?

          • this year I have got sunflowers, sweet peas, cosmos, two forms, dianthus, stocks, Ammi majus, Orlaya Nigella, nasturtiums, daucus, Chinese forget me not (no idea what they are like they were free ) Ragged robin,Morning glory. I tend to sow into individual module type pots as I find it easier to keep track of what is what. important as I am not there every day. I tend to to do perhaps 3 seed per module if they especially tiny and then will prick out the best two.
            of course some annuals get direct sown as well: calendula, poppies, nigella, borage, cerinthe, Californian poppies
            hope that helps!

          • Cathy says:

            Do you get a say in what is sown, or are specific things requested? How did you stop them drying out on the days you weren’t there?

          • I get full say in what is grown. In my absence other members of staff keep seedlings watered

          • then there is the veg…..

          • Cathy says:

            Not so interested in veg, Dorris! But you clearly save time with all the spares you bring home with not having to sow your own as well – or perhaps you do still sow more things of your own?

  6. Chloris says:

    The lily beetle start early here on the fritillaries. How exciting to watch the buds on your mystery clematis. Funnily enough I have never had any problems with cleome seeds until this year but the seed tray remains empty. You are going to be busy with all those seedlings.

    • Cathy says:

      Any of your fritillaries, Chloris, or just certain varieties? I did see a a single one here relatively early in the year, but I can’t rememeber where – not near my F meliagris and not in the g/h where the lilies were over winter. Interesting about your cleome experience – you don’t do the warm and cold treatment with it then?

    • Cathy says:

      Oh and yes, I am excited about the clemais mysteries as, not surprisingly, I have a few (ahem!) of them to solve…my only fear was that they would all be montanas!

  7. Hasn’t the sun been amazing for roses? Most of ours in bud but our Madame Alfred Carriere is in shade so takes a bit longer.

    • Cathy says:

      Our Mme AC clambers is the tallest of our roses – so nearer the sun than any of the others! Oh, except Rambling Rector of course

  8. Hippeastrum “Red Lion” has an impressive red color, I love it: this year everyone has agreed to bloom in April, things of Nature. Congratulations on your sprouted cleome seeds, I’m so glad. Who will be the mysterious clematis? Not yet known, but enchanting the clematis with its buds. Which rose will bloom first? Olivia Rose Austin looks like she will be the winner: Please Cathy, when she blooms, post a photo of her flower. I witness that you are going to plant the seedling trays on the cutting beds, I love it. They will grow and bear divine flowers. So that’s the lily beetle. It will not have black dots on top. If they do, I must have a huge plague in the lodge, unless snow and ice killed them this winter. Cathy thank you very much for the magnificent photos of your flowers: they have made me smile and cheered me up. Take good care of yourself and your husband. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita.

  9. tonytomeo says:

    I am amazed by how some seed that should not be expected to remain viable for long can survive for many years. I tried to use up my old stash this year. Some of the vegetable seed were sown extra thick, with the expectation that they would not be viable, or that few would be viable. Some came up as thickly as they were planted. Others were about right. For example, about 75% of one batch of chard seed was no longer viable, but because I sowed it four times a densely as I should have, it is about right.

  10. A magical mystery tour! (great idea to cluster the lilies, those red beetles are a real pain). I’ll look forward to seeing your clematis!

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, sometimes the garden does seem a bit like that! I have been finding the beetles in pairs this year Phao, so am perfecting the knack of capturing and squashing two at a time 😁

  11. That Red Lion Amaryllis looks huge! Good luck with the planting this week!

  12. Heyjude says:

    I thought I’d binned all my lilies last year after another disappointing season where the flowers got badly nibbled. Not by the lily beetle but the usual suspects (S&S) but I have found some growing in a pot that seems to contain a bit of everything! I wonder if they will flower! I have seen rose buds on some of my roses too and one little patio rose (unnamed) has already opened.

    • Cathy says:

      Hope you do do get an off flower or two from them – and without holey leaves! Mine are almost all Asiatic lilies which seem to be a bit tougher than some. Hurrah for your little rose!

      • Heyjude says:

        Mine were Asiatic too and I had them for years in pots and they have been fabulous until here. The leaves were fine, just the flower buds were eaten! Maybe I will try new bulbs next year.

        • Cathy says:

          Doh! Bloomin’ slugs! The Cornish ones must be especially voracious!Doh! Bloomin’ slugs! The Cornish ones must be especially voracious ps my last reply was meant to say ‘odd’ not ‘off’ flower!

  13. cavershamjj says:

    I planted one of my mystery clematis, I think it is a jackmanii type, judging solely by the leaves, we shall see. one other is going great guns in its pot, doesn’t look like a montana, covered in buds so we’ll soon see. the other remains a total mystery and is growing more slowly. exciting. I wonder if they have any more?

    • Cathy says:

      I have a slower growing one too which I think will turn out to be one of the herbaceous ones like Arabella – can’t believe how excited I am about the uncertainty/surprise element of it all! If you held back with the number you bought before then then I would definitely see if they have any more – but personally I didn’t with my second batch so will not be doing so!! Max 5 at a time though, or it was then

  14. Cathy says:

    So much going on in your garden… everything seems a bit earlier than usual – here too. Good luck with the Cleome Cathy! I had some lovely plants grown from seed years ago but since then have also had virtually no success. Either no germination or spindly sickly seedlings that then give up the ghost! I do have seedlings this year too, as I am determined not to be beaten… we will see! 😉

    • Cathy says:

      I think many things do seem earlier, but I have checked back on April’s EOMV from last year and in fact things look pretty similar. Good luck with your cleome – I am aware that it is very early days with mine but the few seedlings that there are are beginning to produce their first true leaves, so that’s progress!

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