Six on Saturday: Surprises

Having somehow lost the photos I was going to use, I nearly didn’t post today – but guessing they might have been accidentally deleted I managed to find them in the recycling bin and restore them…whew!

Today’s six are all surprises in one way or another, although now that spring has sprung there are all sorts of things popping up in the garden and perhaps surprises should be expected. Nevertheless. I am ashamed to say that I almost missed Rhodendron ‘Cheers’ (above), green and shiny one day, then green and shiny and covered in pink blooms the next! Even knowing it is there I can still miss it on my rambles around the garden because the different routes that can be taken all seem to bypass it, which sounds daft in what is not a huge garden. Worth a special ramble just to see it though!

The Winter Sunshine sweet peas have been growing steadily since they were planted out in the border in the working greenhouse and I was anticipating the first buds sometime around now, and they haven’t disappointed me this year so are not really a surprise. It is unlikely any will open within the next week so there will be no sweet peas in March, but it won’t be much longer. And before you exclaim at their earliness, let me remind you that they are a variety bred to flower at lower light levels, but must (in the UK) be grown in the greenhouse. They have proved to very reliable and will keep flowering into June and beyond, although they will get cleared in time to plant out the greenhouse tomatoes.

In the Coop, I finally have a hippeastrum in bloom, but only after bringing it and its friends into the warmth of the house to give them a boost – next time I think I will start them off inside instead of allowing them a long growing season just in the Coop. An additional surprise is that it is not what was expected from its ‘Lemon Star’ label!

Should we really be seeing buds on our allium in March? Perhaps I just forget how many allium are late spring rather than summer bloomers…

I stopped to observe the emerging foliage in the four square pots on the paved area during the week, and was very puzzled at what was clearly going to be a hyacinth; these pots are invariably planted with tulips so was it just a single interloper, or were there others? A bit of brain-wracking ensued until I remembered that in the absence of tulips in Aldi to boost my Peter Nyssen purchases, I had reluctantly bought some mixed bulbs instead, although ‘mixed’ as in ‘curated collection’. I am not hugely confident, mainly because of the potential for different flowering times, but nevertheless the result will be interesting to see in due course.

Jon the Propagator who kindly hosts this meme may be particularly interested to hear about the last of my six. It is most definitely a surprise and, for me, a very exciting one…there will be some galanthophiles amongst you who will know what the picture shows, but for others, let me explain:

A few weeks ago, as the snowdrop season was beginning to tail off, I looked over my named snowdrop border and lifted any potted ‘no-shows’ to establish whether there was anything left of the bulbs in the pots. Without being specific about numbers, there were a couple that could possibly be rescued, some with nothing and four with manky partial bulbs remaining. In the past I might have repotted the latter category and crossed my fingers but have learned it’s not worth the compost; however, rather than composting them and therefore with nothing to lose, I thought I would have a try at ‘twin-scaling’ or ‘chipping’, a means of bulb propagation. Bearing in mind (a) they were not healthy bulbs, (b) it’s not the time of year to do it and (c) I didn’t sterilise anything as perceived wisdom and snowdrop experts recommend, but just cut them into pieces and bunged them into plastic bags in damp vermiculite, the result in just a few weeks was a very unexpected surprise indeed! Look at those teeny bulbils on this scrap of bulb…!

Please note, this is most definitely not a recommended way of going about the process, but perhaps more of an acknowledgement that it is something an amateur can achieve – and very exciting too!

This entry was posted in bulbs, corms and tubers, Gardening, Gardens, greenhouse, Six on Saturday, snowdrops, Spring and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Six on Saturday: Surprises

  1. That is a load of surprises! I’m in awe about your snowdrop propagation! Do you know how long before they may bloom?

    • Cathy says:

      It would be at least a couple of years, Chris, and more likely three – they have to grow into full size bulbs first

  2. Cathy says:

    That is interesting about the snowdrop bulb Cathy. I have never heard of that. And your rhododendron is really lovely, and so early too. We used to see them at Sandringham on the way to Norfolk in the Spring bank holiday week…..(mid/end of May?)

    • Cathy says:

      It is an early rhododendron (sometimes listed as Christmas Cheers) and mine flowers any time from November to April

  3. Pauline says:

    Your R. Cheers is looking beautiful and your hippeastrum must have been a surprise when you look at its name, lovely though! Hope your snowdrop chitting is successful, something I’ve never tried.

    • Cathy says:

      R Cheers is always gorgeous whenever it chooses to flower – such a pretty shade of pink. I bought a collection of 4 hippeastrum and am waiting to see if the labels got mixed up, although I am fairly sure it wouldn’t have been by me! The chitting is an intriguing experiment – I did try once before, but must have missed the instruction about damp vermiculite and keeping them in the dark…it was not successful!

  4. Your post for Saturday was so aptly name! What lovely surprises. The beautiful Rhododendron and Hippeastrum are lovely. I too found the snowdrop propagation very interesting.

    • Cathy says:

      Chitting is the way growers build up their stock, like when you see a single bulb newly discovered that has been sold for a huge price. They have to have to generate a lot of bulbs to justify the initial outlay. It will be 2 or 3 years until the bulbils get to flowering size, so there is a long way to go yet!

  5. Rosie Amber says:

    What a great idea re the propagation.

    • Cathy says:

      It was worth a try, and I am astonished it was successful, given the conditions – although of course there is a long way to go before they grow into flowering size bulbs!

  6. Heyjude says:

    A lot of my alliums are in bud too. I don’t think they are particularly early. What fun with the snowdrop bulb!

    • Cathy says:

      You are probably right about the alliums and I probably forget how early they do bloom because the seedheads hang around for so long afterwards. I have just dug up a healthy bulb and am trying with that as well, while I am on a roll!

  7. Noelle says:

    Those bulbils just want to grow. I think we all want an update each year now. It may be that you will rescue it and start to propagate more.

    • Cathy says:

      I have just reminded myself what that snowdrop would actually look like, as it was a fairly new one and probably had not flowered since the year I bought it. It will be a few years before these babies reach flowering size and I will have plenty of opportunity to kill them off before then! I will certainly have a go at chitting others now πŸ˜‰

  8. Going Batty in Wales says:

    I am intrigued by your snowdrop propagation – just shows that sometimes it is worth having a go even if the books are sceptical.

    • Cathy says:

      The books aren’t sceptical though Sue, but they do tell you to sterilise everything – knife, cutting surface, original bulb and to wear gloves so you don’t infect them…! πŸ˜‰ Sounds like a lot of faff to me!

  9. tonytomeo says:

    Oh gee, that allium is . . . interesting. I just got my first two alliums from Tangly Cottage Gardening, and do not know what to expect. I had been wanting to try them for a long time, but also delaying doing so. I now have no excuse.

    • Cathy says:

      Oh good luck with the alliums Tony, I hope they don’t disappoint 😊

      • tonytomeo says:

        Oh, I do not believe that they could disappoint. I am skeptical that they could actually be reliably perennial in such a mild climate, so even if they bloom only once, I will be pleased. I will be even more pleased if they bloom for a few years, and even MORE pleased if the multiply!

  10. Wow, interesting results with the snowdrop bulbils! I’ve only dug them up one time, but I have a patch that needs some winnowing. I’ll read up on the proper timing and procedures. πŸ˜‰ Your blooms are glorious!

    • Cathy says:

      With the natives I just dig up part of a clump and move it elsewhere when I am thinning them with no special care at all, just bunging them in a new hole

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