One of my favourite activities at this time of year is to take the dog for a walk around some local woods. Not only does it give me some exercise, it’s the ultimate de-stressor.
There was so much to see today despite being in the thick of winter. I’ve been granted special permission to bend the rules of the Six on Saturday meme by The Propagator himself. This will give me some time to tidy my garden and find something, or six somethings, to post for another week.
I love the Spindle Tree. The bright pink fruit casings are incongruous in the more subtle colours of a winter woodland.
I have Acer palmatum in pots in my garden but the bright yellow leaves of the native Field Maple hold for a long time and give a really bright glow.
It’s easy to get confused by all the native umbellifers. This one has a lovely pink tinge to its oldest petals.
There’s a hedge I pass on the way to the woods where the top growth always has big fat white berries. This makes it look like a heavy snowfall is sitting on top of the hedge and makes me smile every year.
This is my favourite fern. The mid-green sheeny leaves are awesome.
The moulds growing on the trunk of this Beech Tree match the colour of the turning Euonymus leaves.
So that’s my first Six on Saturday. Please join in to mark the changes in your garden over the year.
Making more Pelargonium plants: How to take Pelargonium cuttings
As part of the new houseplants that I have recently taken on, one was a white Pelargonium, which needed some TLC. It came out of its pot with not much by way of roots. I’m not sure how well this will cope, or even survive, with this transplant. So, I have taken some cuttings in order to increase my chance of keeping this plant alive.
There’s a lot of confusion about the naming, or nomenclature, of Pelargoniums. They are commonly called Geraniums, partly because they do belong to the Geraniaceae family, but also because of some confusion when they were brought to the UK. Apparently, one plant writer used the incorrect term and was more famous than the chap who was doing it correctly. What’s silly is that the true Geraniums get called ‘Hardy Geraniums’.
The Geraniums I’m talking about are the Pelargoniums, which come from South Africa, and are frost-tender and have a more succulent appearance.
Taking Pelargonium Cuttings
I chose some short side-shoots from the main plant for my cuttings material. The standard advice with all succulent cutting material is to allow it to dry and slightly callus before putting it into the potting media. This way there is less chance of the cutting rotting before it has the chance to root. The other difference from standard soft wood or semi-ripe cuttings is that you don’t enclose the tops in a plastic bag to increase humidity. The extra humidity can also cause the cuttings to rot so they are instead left out and dry.
I cut below a node, strip excess leaves from the stem, and remove large leaves to reduce water loss. Then I leave them to sit on a dry bench to callus.
The first time I took pelargonium cuttings I did enclose them in a plastic bag and didn’t leave them time to callus. They took anyway, which was probably luck, but just goes to show how keen they are to take.
Aftercare of Pelargonium Cuttings
Once you’ve taken the cuttings, and they’ve had some time to dry a little at the ends, put them in a gritty potting mix. I have some new (old) terracotta pots that I find work really well for cuttings. You don’t need terracotta pots, however, as cuttings will work in most containers. Where excess moisture is particularly dangerous to cuttings, exactly like it is to Pelargonium cuttings and other succulent cuttings, the porous nature of the terracotta helps.
I water them in and then leave them in a bright, dry area of the greenhouse. It will take a couple of weeks for them to root. I wait until there are plenty of roots coming from the bottom of the pot and some sign of new growth before potting on. If space is tight you can leave them, rooted, in the pots over winter before potting on in Spring.
Joining a popular garden bloggers meme and sharing the flowers blooming in my garden each month.
Every 15th of the month garden bloggers around the month share what’s happening in their gardens by photographing what’s in flower on their plot on that day. I last joined in this event in April 2014 and thought it might be fun to come out to play again. I’m looking forward to connecting with more garden bloggers through this.
Carol at May Dreams Gardens hosts this very popular meme and you can find out more about her blog here.
With the help of this useful map my garden would be in the USDA plant hardiness Zone 9a.
Garden Bloggers Bloom Day June 2017
This guy can get to over 6ft in the border – I’ve sown more seeds this year to see if I can get a few more dotted through the sunny border in the far garden.
I love, love, love this plant and I can’t wait for it to produce seeds so I can get a drift going. The leaves feel exactly the same as our chocolate labrador’s ears. He passed away last year and it’s lovely to sit and stroke them.
The best smelling climbing rose; its bright pink (bordering on Barbie) is tolerated for the scent.
I’ve taken out clumps of this from around the garden as the coarse strap leaves and muddy flowers are easily out-performed with something else in the space.
I know I planted this one 3 years ago but it’s the only rose not to have its label kept in the ‘label bag’. Lightly scented and closer to the colour pallet we’re aiming for in this part of the garden. It tones down Gertrude Jekyll.
The greenhouse isn’t even built yet but I’m already getting carried away with what I could use it for. Without having had anywhere to get a successful crop I haven’t grown chillies, tomatoes or peppers for a number of years now. However, with 2014 bringing good changes in the garden I am going to make the most of it. (I was going to throw in a pun about being given a “green(house) light” but we’re both better than that).
I have been living vicariously through the internet and books – imagining what I could grow if only I had the space (not an activity that achieves much other than envy but harmless fantasising nonetheless). So I had a pretty good idea of where to go to get my seeds. I’ve always loved the ethos of The Real Seed Catalogue; heritage varieties, home seed-saving, local provenance, and developing your own lineages that over short years can become adapted to local growing conditions or even selected for qualities important to the grower.
It makes so much sense that natural variation means plants crop at slightly different times so your harvest is staggered rather than too much of a glut. I also don’t need perfectly blemish-free and uniform crops in order to enjoy them. Any variety that needs controlled commercial conditions from growers on the continent are not going to be as happy in my ramshackle and unheated greenhouse with my sporadic attentions. So why make life hard? Additionally, where along the line did we forget about taste? It’s time for a change.
So my modest collection of Real Seeds arrived 2 days after ordering in a nice neat envelope in beautiful packaging and so much written information to help me get success. I’d love to have ordered oodles more varieties in order to do trials of my own – but I need to be realistic. I don’t have the time or space to undertake such an endeavour so I’ll trust in the work of Ben and Kate and the team at Real Seeds who have done the hard work for me.
Time for a revolution?
I’ve also been intrigued by James Wong and his homegrown revolution. Why not try the lesser-known edibles that are enjoyed around the world? And if they’re as easy to grow as he claims we’d all be stupid not to try. His seed collection is available through Suttons Seeds.
But I’ve hit a snag – space. So I’ve hatched a cunning plan. I have two friends who I have pulled in 2 Secret Santa rings who are also into gardening. They both have more space than me so I’ve decided to give them some James Wong seeds. This is not entirely altruistic as they are both generous friends and it’s only a matter of time before I’m invited to try the crops. (It’s tough being an evil green-fingered and greedy mastermind)
I know it’s not the done thing, after all ‘Beanz Meanz No Friendz’, but after reading thegardensmallholder‘s recent post I had to confess.
Where did it all start?
The earliest memory of gardening I have is seeing a runner bean germinate. It was primary school, and I’m sat in front of a jam jar filled with a moist green hand towel. Stuck to the inside is a large runner bean seed with its thick white root racing to the bottom of the jar and the green shoot just lifting its head towards the top. The excitement of that time is still with me every time I see something germinate. It’s not surprising to me that a plant with a big fat seed that I can squish into damp compost will always make me happier than scattering dust-like seeds into oblivion: I’m never sure whether they end up in the right place.
Give me a beautiful, shiny, smooth and substantial bean any day. It’s the main reason I persist in trying to get Ricinus to germinate for me. The beetle-like seeds make its stubbornness to get beyond the stage of poking tantalisingly through the compost worthwhile. Runner beans are much more obliging; what’s better than a sturdy, turgid seedling with huge leaves? They look so eager to get going and growing, almost grateful, and as a thank you for getting them started they put in as much effort as they can.