Six on Saturday – 12/1/2019

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If we had a well defined winter in this country I imagine there would be months of nothing at all happening followed by a relatively quick transition into full on growth. It seems that one season starts before the last one has finished and the acceleration into full growth runs at about 0 to 60 in six months with a few misfirings along the way. I’m not really complaining, six shots of snow every week for months is not what I’m hankering for.

One.
Seed sowing. Earlier this week I sowed seeds of Actaea pachypoda ‘Silver Leaf’, Erythronium dens-canis, Primula sieboldii and Tulipa sprengeri. I’d bought them last year from Jellito, rather later than I should and when they arrived I thought I’d keep them until this season rather than sow them straight away. Jellito have excellent instructions on their website and these four items all required similar conditions, namely 18-22°C and moist for 2-4 weeks, then -4 – +4°C for 4-6 weeks followed by 5-12°C for germination. I sowed them in pots and they have bottom heat and a cover on top of them to hopefully give the 18-22°C first phase. Then they go in the fridge.

They will be the only seeds I sow this early; it’ll be February before anything else goes in and that won’t be much. Without supplementary light and heat I don’t find I gain enough from early sowing for it to be worth it. All the other pots are of things I sowed last year, notably those chunky little Impatiens that I half-inched  liberated from somewhere I shouldn’t.
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Two.
It can seem like nothing is happening in the garden but we have had very little by way of frost and there are a lot of things easing themselves into growth, but very slowly. All the Fuchsias are making new growth; bluebells, crocus, Camassia, snowdrops, tulips and other bulbs are well on.

Three.
Camellia yuhsienensis. Almost all the camellias you see about are hybrids and as in many other groups of plants the species are by comparison understated and refined. They also quite often have a sweet perfume. One reason they are not grown more is that they are comparatively tender and this one is in a pot which I can bring under protection if the weather turns nasty.

Four.
Tillandsia species. This is one of a few plants we have that have been in Sue’s life longer than I have, well over thirty years. For as long as I’ve known it it has sat like Botticelli’s Venus in its shell, no compost, occasionally watered, rarely misted and never fed. This is the first time it’s flowered, hardly a testament to it thriving on neglect, but it has survived and is attempting to procreate. I read somewhere they die after flowering; tell me that isn’t so!

Five.
I fixed my fork. Iim on trend  and have joined the make do and mend bandwagon. My digging fork had a plastic handle on top of its steel shaft and when I pulled a bit too hard on it whilst digging parsnips it broke. As it happens, I’d broken the business end of another fork a couple of years back and had made a dibber out of the handle and shaft. I was able to remove the handle and fit it to my broken one. I need some tape for the handle, which is rough, but it should see me out. I hate throwing things away and buying new, especially since so much new stuff doesn’t last five minutes.
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Six.
Geranium incanum. Or at least that’s what I bought it as, but looking at pictures online I think it’s probably something else. It has quite woody spreading stems and the silvery leaves look better now than they did all summer. I don’t remember it flowering. Any thoughts anyone?
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And that’s your lot. Awakenings will doubtless feature in other northern hemisphere musings, with contrast coming from the antipodes. The Propagator’s comments is where you need to head, gateway to SoS-land. See you on the beach.

39 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 12/1/2019

  1. The camelia is absolutely fabulous. Is it a rule that the lovelier they look the more tender they are? Equally lovely is the tillandsia, it looks just perfect in its shell. And the fork is a keeper for sure!

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    1. There are very few really hardy Camellia species, though the list gets longer as the climate warms. The few that there are have been hybridised for centuries in China and Japan and for a couple of centuries in the rest of the world. They are far removed from the wild species.

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  2. Sorry to say that your Tilly, like all Bromeliads, will die after flowering. But not immediately. If yours is simply resting in its shell (not hot-glued to something as some people do!) and doesn’t sit in water (which, as it’s still going, guess it doesn’t), the chances if it producing pups are greater. If the mother plant does produce these, usually during or after flowering, it may well remain alive for a long time whilst the pups develop. Just make sure that the eyes from which any will grow never sit in water (is there a drainage hole in the shell?). I’ve had a bromeliad parent remain alive for a couple of years whilst its offspring grew enough to risk separation though it died almost immediately afterwards. The pups may take years to flower though. I lost patience with mine and eventually gave them to a better home.

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    1. Tilly has five shoots, one currently flowering. Looking closely one of the other shoots has flowered, some time ago, the flower is dead and shrivelled but the shoot looks OK. So I’m cautiously optimistic. The risk of it sitting in water is vanishingly small.

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  3. Very sage sowing advice, Jim. As ever, a fantastic set of photos and plants. I had never heard of Tillandsia, but it looks lovely and I hope it does not snuff it. I am not sure about your Geranium, but my Ardens is certainly happier now than it was in Summer too.

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    1. A couple of people post something about seed sowing and everyone seems to think they have to follow. I’ve seen so many pictures of desperately spindly plants on social media. If I had stuff like that I’d dump it and keep quiet, not tell the world.

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  4. That is a RAD spading fork! No one repairs their tools anymore. I think people stopped doing that decades ago. My mother still uses her father’s hatchet and her grandfather in-law’s hatchet (that belonged to my father’s paternal grandfather) to split kindling. She hauls her firewood in my old Radio Flyer wagon. I retired my great grandfather’s pitchfork just because I would rather keep it intact than replace the old handle.
    Anyway, I do not know if tillandsias are monocarpic because I have never grown them. I have noticed though that many plants that are described as monocarpic really are not. Yucca whipplei is monocarpic, but produces a herd of new pups as the main rosette dies. By the time it is dead and rotten, It is already replaced by several of its own pups. I would guess that after bloom, the rosette (of the tillandsia) that bloomed would die, but that the other rosettes would survive.

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    1. I suppose the fact that our local farm supplies place sells tool handles means that at least some people still fix things. Tools always seem to break just when they’ve become comfortable and worn in; about 20 years after you bought them. The Tillandsia doesn’t look like it will die, I haven’t sent for the priest.

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      1. Availability to replacement parts helps. They are so rarely available. I suppose that many are available online. I do not look because I so rarely break tools that are worth repairing. I broke another shovel just this week, but it is no made to be repaired.

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      2. Well, at least we can live the lifestyles we choose. My garden and home are still outfitted with the furnishings and tools that I acquired from my parents, grandparents and great grandparents. Some of it was made to last a lifetime. Some of it was cheap and disposable a century ago, but somehow lasts better than contemporary good quality. I still have my first car, which I got when I was sixteen, and I am only the second owner. My Pa is making arrangements for me to acquire his Model A Ford pickup, and I would be only the fourth owner. (Each owner kept it for a very long time. He got it from his father in law, who got it from his uncle.) I have nothing against China, but choose not to support it any more than I support the disgustingly consumptive modern society.

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      3. I would need to do more than fix a few forks to catch up with you. My first car (a Hillman Minx bought for £50, 49 years ago) only lasted a few months before the block cracked and it was scrapped. I’m not as big a consumer as some but no doubt in global terms am a lot nearer the top than the bottom. I make all the excuses everyone does to make myself feel better about it.

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      4. I do not think that we need excuses. Modern technology really does make things easier, and is sometimes necessary. I would like to live without most modern technology, but because land here is so very expensive, I must work at a job that requires modern technology. My cars are very old, but I do drive them nonetheless, and I use gasoline, and I am on the internet right now. It is hard to believe that just a century ago, there were still people in America who were able to sustain their simple lifestyles on a little spot of land that they actually owned. They grew or produced enough excess to sell for resources to purchase what they could not produce.

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      5. I’ve not long since finished reading Wallace Stegner’s “Wolf Willow”. He talks about his childhood in some of the last parts of America to be settled by Europeans in the early days of the twentieth century. As you say, it seems extraordinary that it was so recent. In some measure it explains why nostalgia for the frontier lifestyle, man against the elements, is an important part of the American psyche. It’s a largely alien concept to us, with a stone built church in every parish that predates the founding of America by centuries. I’m expressing myself badly I don’t doubt, but you will get my drift. In Britain we have a similar nostalgia for the war years, even though most of the people who lived through it are dead, and they were terrible; it was a massive event in recent history that touched everyone directly in a way that politics or royalty don’t. It isn’t too surprising that it informs peoples lives for generations afterwards. If you ever come to Cornwall, we should continue this conversation over a few beers.

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    1. All the pictures of incanum show finer leaves, and much less silvery. It’s not one of the scented pelargoniums either, it’s about what you’d expect a hybrid between Geranium and Pelargonium to turn out, should there be such a thing.

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  5. Lovely fork. I have an old one that has no handle now. I keep looking at it and wondering whether to renovate it because I was given a replacement a year or so ago. I tend to sow seeds rather late since we are often away in early March and I don’t want to leave too many for our neighbour to water. Interesting Six again.

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    1. That’s an interesting suggestion. G. x antipodean is a hybrid between G. sessiliflorum and G. traversii and I’ve been looking at pictures of both parents and the hybrid. I don’t think it’s right, my plant is more divided and silvery, though some pictures of traversii come quite close.

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  6. Your repair of your trusty fork reminds me of the “Only Fools and horses” episode where Trigger tells Del and Rodney he has only ever had one broom in his career as a road sweeper but it has had 17 heads and 14 new handles over the years!

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  7. Goodness, Jim. Germinating those seeds seems quite a challenge and not for the faint hearted. I think my hubby would have a blue fit if I put a seed tray in the fridge. 🙂 I look forward to following their progress.

    I like the interesting colour of the ‘geranium’ leaves. I wonder what they are?

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    1. I had a good search online and suspect the geranium might be harveyi. I put it on Twitter but nobody has confirmed it. Regarding seeds, people don’t realise that most commercial seed varieties have had any dormancy requirement bred out of them. Wild or near wild plants can be a real challenge to get going.

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  8. Am on the second handle for my go-to fork. It’s nothing special, probably from John Lewis. I am guilty of leaving it outside quite often so the rain gets in to the join and eventually the wood rots. Still, handles are not costly. I am trying to restrain myself from sowing anything much, just the odd thing indoors or under lights in the GH. I think I have a. Pachypodia seeds coming to me at some point soon, either rhs or hps. Not long to wait now…

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