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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.