Six on Saturday – 5/1/2019

If you wanted the clearest possible indication that not a lot is happening in the garden it’s the fact that I’ve spent most of the last week decorating. Hanging wallpaper and painting. The last few days have been cold though we’ve mostly escaped frost. Nevertheless I scurried round on Wednesday afternoon tucking things up, then after two above zero nights, went scurrying around yesterday un-tucking them. We had no power most of the day yesterday and when I got to check the forecast it had changed from the morning to be for frost again. So out I went in the dark to do another partial tucking up.
Why don’t I bring it in and leave it in, you might reasonably ask. Lack of space; it’s OK to cram stuff in for a day or two, but much longer and not being able to get at anything starts to take its toll. It also starts things into early flowering or growth. Some things I just cram together outdoors, then they need spacing before they go mouldy.

It was a struggle to find six things this week, scraping the barrel so I was.

One.
Camellia ‘Koto-no-kaori’. OK, I included this just last week but I wanted to do it again in case the frost gets it. I’ve put a couple of canes either side of it and draped a cloth over the top. It might help. Even below 3°C this morning it had a bit of scent, which was a surprise.

Two.
Primroses. A gardening friend has primroses of many colours around her garden, which last year I admired. They were immediately offered, so I marked some and dug them in early autumn, divided them into single crowns and potted them. Now I’m ever so slightly harbouring reservations because I have lots of plain yellow primroses in the garden and don’t really want them taken over by coloured forms or hybrids. This dusky mauve is very nice though, so a place for it will have to be found. The yellows have been flowering for a while but are being eaten.

Three.
All the definitely frost tender plants have been under cover for a few weeks but camellias I only protect if it looks like we might get a hard enough frost to freeze the pots. Yesterday, for the second time, I pulled these young plants in 9cm pots away from the tunnel wall and covered them with a couple of layers of fabric. Poly-tunnels don’t provide much frost protection, polythene being transparent to infra red, ie heat. Glass will trap infra red to an extent (the greenhouse effect) as will some of the newer polythene films now available. The bigger plants I had crammed together under a tree, then put bags of bamboo prunings against the pots for further protection. Yesterday I thought the danger had passed and spaced them out again. My thermometer tells me it dipped to -0.8 overnight, not cold enough or sustained long enough to cause problems.

Four
Helleborus foetidus. Another plant making a second appearance. It had just started flowering when I included it 2 months ago. It’s one of those plants that dies after a couple of years then comes up somewhere else from seed. Never very many of them.

Five.
I took some hardwood cuttings of my one plant of blackcurrant Titania. I love blackcurrants, I eat them fresh, juice them, freeze them, make cassis. I have a few bushes of Big Ben and a couple of Ben Connan, just one of Titania, which turned out to be the sweetest, at least when the fruit was left to ripen. I probably shouldn’t base my judgment solely on the summer of 2018 either. Anyhow, there are roots appearing, after three months. I shall plant them in late winter where I want them to grow; probably offer some to other plot-holders too. I did some gooseberries too; no sign of root on them yet.

Six.
When I was rummaging around in the greenhouse getting out the cuttings for the picture above, I noticed the buds on two plants of Fuchsia juntacensis. When I say noticed, I knew they had buds because I managed to snap the top off one a few weeks back, with several buds on it, trying to crouch down to get at something and sticking my bum out too far. No, what I noticed was that they were sticking their tongues out. I don’t know at what stage they become receptive to pollen but this is presumably a mechanism to ensure cross pollination. If the flowers ever make it to opening fully you will see them here. Perhaps I should daub some pollen on them, maybe some of the blue stuff from F. colensoi.
sos806

Phew, made it to the end. I can save “my six favourite horticultural references from 1970’s songs” for another week. Pop over to The Propagator to see if other contributors have pulled off similar tricks.

34 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 5/1/2019

  1. Glad it’s not just me lingering indoors. Am about to start decorating my daughter’s bedroom as if I don’t do it now in January the garden will take over.
    I’m with you on preferring plain yellow primroses, although mine are also looking a bit sorry for themselves.

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  2. Why didn’t you have power? works? operator restrictions in winter?…
    Your camellia is always a delight!
    You took some cuttings of your blackcurrants, I dug some up last Thursday so much I have … but I admit that they are tasty…

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  3. Not a great time of year to switch the power off! Hope you have a wood burner! I have a camellia in a pot. Last year when it got very cold I brought it into the conservatory where it flowered beautifully. So far it is still outdoors, and I don’t think we have had any frost here, though it is cold. Should I be wrapping it up?

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  4. I nearly included some flowering primroses but decided they were far too nibbled. Yours are looking far more photogenic and unmunched.

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  5. Black currants and other currants are new for me. I only started to see them in nurseries as bare root stock a few years ago. I got them just because I wanted to try them sooner than later. Our native currant is pretty in bloom, but not productive with fruit. The black currant grew very well in its first year, and even made some unexpected fruit. It will likely do quite will this year. The red currant is not quite as happy. I don’t really know what to do with the fruit, but I suppose I can figure that out as I go along.

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      1. That is what others tell me. I figure they know about such things because they actually grow currants. I never did. If they really are that bland, then the white ones would be even more bland! Oh well. It will not stop me from trying them. I sort of think that the preferred black currants taste rather fowl, like small wine grapes that are starting to go bad on the vine. Yet, I can not argue with the experts.

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      2. Blackcurrants have a very strong flavour, a little goes a long way. The leaves and stems smell very strongly, somewhat catty, and a little of that quality comes over to the fruit. I’ve just been pruning some, my hands stink of them.

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      3. That is probably why they are not used in large quantities. They might be added to muffins, but are not eaten straight away like other fruits are. In that regard, the less popular red currant might be good for jelly and such. The milder flavor might be an advantage. They are new to me. There are so many fruits that make good jelly, but really, how much jelly is too much?

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      4. I can remember going out to the woods with my parents as quite a small child to collect crab apples to make jelly. That’ll have been in the 1950’s so probably a habit developed in the war. I can’t remember whether we ate it as bread and jam or had it as sauce with meat of some sort. Was mint jelly a thing? I have a hunch it was.

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      5. Well, mint jelly is for lamb, which I really detest. I don’t know why it goes with lamb. . . because I don’t eat it.
        I don’t know why crabapple jelly would have been popularized after a war. It was probably always good for jelly. I use the big (fruiting) crabapples for pectin extract. It gets mixed with soft fruits like peach and apricot the following summer to make peach and apricot (etc.) jam. I only make plain crabapple jelly if I happen to get access to the small fruited types with rich flavor. I find that the tiny fruits of the flowering crabapples make exquisite jelly! It takes a lot more work, but the flavor is so rich that it does not need to be mixed with other fruit. I do not eat much jelly, but if I did, I would experiment with it more, and mix fruits that I have not mixed yet, such as crabapple and rhubarb!

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      6. We used to eat some funny things back then, things made from bits of animals that you probably wouldn’t feed to your dog these days. The crab apples would have been our native species, Malus sylvestris. I would imagine there’s been some cross pollination with ornamental and fruiting varieties down the years but I don’t know to what extent. There’s one in a car park 200 yards from here, it always seems a shame that it’s fruits go to waste. I should collect some and mix it with other fruits, though Sue’s reaction is that it’s easier to buy sugar with pectin added.

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  6. Jim, an interesting six. I don’t think you were scraping the barrel at all 🙂 Your camelia is lovely so fingers crossed the flowers survive the cold. I have been surprised to see, considering the cold weather, the number of bloggers who have still fuschias in flower

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  7. You’ve enlightened me on something, Jim. I thought camellias were frost hardy, but mine that I had in a very large pot outside died. I guess it was the frost that caused its demise as I didn’t cover it up in any way. Lovely to have so many blackcurrants that you can even make cassis!

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  8. My nibbled Primrose photo makes yours look really good! I had an allotment in a previous life and inherited a couple of red currant bushes. They look so beautiful on the plant but I didn’t know what to do with them. I used to make quite a lot of wine back then and one year combined them with elderberries and the shoes that had been used for sloe gin. Best wine I ever made.

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    1. Now that is a perfect miss-typing or auto-correct. The shoes that had been used for sloe gin. So much nicer than bare feet. I’ve tried steeping redcurrants in vodka, not great, though I managed to drink it rather than pour it down the sink.

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  9. Great blackcurrant cuttings there. I’m a huge fan of the humble blackcurrant (I too have Ben Connan) and also gooseberries. I always have too many gooseberry plants as I find the branches flop onto the soil and layer themselves so I’m sure yours will root soon.

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    1. The plan originally was to grow the gooseberries as cordons but they got away from me. I wanted more Hinomaki Red because it seems much less popular with sawfly than the other two I have. I’ve given them some bottom heat, hurry them along a bit.

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