Six on Saturday – 9/2/2019

I’m hoping for enough of a break between weather events this morning to meet with a young couple who are going to take on half of one of my two allotments. I don’t really need two whole plots but one isn’t quite enough either. They’re new to veg growing and both work full time, so a half plot is as much as they want to take on. At the moment it’s hosing it down. A clearing shower perhaps.

One.
Carnage in the conservatory. I spent a couple of hours yesterday wiping the leaves of my potted Camellia grijsii which was infested with scale. These are cottony, or brown scale. There were several on the underside of just about every leaf. They suck the sap and deposit sticky goo onto the leaves below, which then go black as it gets colonised by mould. When I’d finished that I turned to a poorly looking Camellia ‘Ariel’s Song’, which had aphids and tortrix moth. I squashed the aphids and pulled apart any webbed bits to find and kill the tortrix caterpillars. I suppose I should be grateful it didn’t have scale as well.


Two.
I didn’t want to make three items out of three pests, too depressing. I planted two flavours of Crocus tomasinianus a few months back and I’m pleased to see them all up and performing. ‘Barr’s Purple’ are flowering now, ‘Ruby Giant’ look to be a couple of weeks behind. Some sun, to open the flowers, would be appreciated. Parkers Wholesale was the supplier, should anyone be interested.
SOS857

Three.
Every year I get a few snowdrops up and start despairing that there are so few left. Then more appear and I’m happy again. I have a few singles that come early, and lots of doubles which are a bit later. They seem to be popping up in a lot of different places this year, which I’m very happy about.
SOS852

Four.
Yet another where I’m late to the party is hellebores. I have some seedling orientalis types and they don’t like our garden a lot. Still, I’m not going to complain too much about anything that flowers in February.
SOS858

Five.
I was pretty surprised to see a flower out on one of my Epimediums. This is ‘Akebono’, which seems to be well ahead of any others that I have. It did spur me into cutting the old leaves off ‘Froehnleiten’, in the course of which I saw one or two shots starting to grow.
SOS859

Six.
There are other things beginning to stir, which is cause for celebration in the sense that they’ve survived and have started to grow but cause for concern in that I’m never sure which will survive a bit of frost and which I need to be prepared to protect. The only way to find out is to leave them to take their chances but while some things will produce a new crop of shoots if the first lot are trashed, not everything does. I think I learned too late last year that Disporum cantoniense ‘Green Giant’ only does one flush but of course I didn’t make a written note so now I’m not sure. Podophyllum ‘Spotty Dotty’ had its first flush killed but bounced back last year but even so I can’t think that it was the better for it.


I think between now and next weekend I shall sow some seeds. When Twitter gets to about 50:50 between the “I have just sown’s” and the “it’s too early to sow’s” is about right. Forget the phases of the moon, never mind the date or the weather, just aim to be Mr ‘In the Middle’, that’s me.
There’s a world of gardeners out there, all saving up six things to do on a Saturday so they can tell the world about it. Mr “Six is a Magic Number” Propagator is the host. Please join in, you can peer over my fence if I can peer over yours.

34 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 9/2/2019

  1. That photo of the crocus is impressive. I hope you win the battle against the beasties. I’m not having much luck with snow drops – they’re certainly not multiplying.

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      1. I do the same. Every Spring I say I’m going to mark where the bulbs are so that I don’t dig them up. I never do.

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    1. The aphids are only on a couple of Camellias, don’t seem interested in anything else, and they’ve been there all winter in small numbers, in my unheated tunnel. Aphidius will turn up at some point and parasitize them, an appropriately unpleasant death.

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  2. Ugh! I hate scale insects. Had to get rid of several houseplants a few years back because I just could not get rid of it. Hope it hasn’t spread to any other plants. My snowdrops (planted last year in the green) haven’t done much yet, though I think there are some leaves appearing so hopefully not all is lost. I keep checking on the Epimedium I have but no sign of flowers yet – when is the normal time? I appear to have lost my species tulips under the hazel tree. I though the snow interrupted them last year, but no sign at all of them this.

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    1. Snowdrop bulbs are very small and dry out readily, hence the recommendation to plant “in the green”. They still take a serious check when dug in full leaf. I might not buy dormant bulbs but in the garden I’d only move them after the foliage had died down. Epimediums are spring flowering but it’s very early for them to be flowering. I have a clump of tulips coming up and no recollection of planting them. They usually fail for me.

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  3. I’ve got a few pest problems too Jim so you have my commiserations. I spent a good while brushing aphids off my Jacaranda in the greenhouse this week. I love you Crocus shots – they look like soldiers on parage. I’ve got some big drifts of these now in my garden and they really lift the spirits. Ants spread them, I understand.

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    1. I have used spraying oil on scale insects, but even two applications at maximum rate hasn’t killed all of them and I suspect it’s what has caused most of the leaves to drop on one plant. That’s not available to amateur gardeners either. Most aphid populations have at least some resistance to the few chemicals still available and I find that if I squash or wash off most of them it reduces the damage to acceptable levels without killing parasitic wasps or predators which when they turn up and wipe out aphids quickly and effectively. Aphidius always turns up sooner or later and the aphids are gone soon after. Tortrix caterpillars web themselves into cocoons of leaves so you can’t hit them with sprays and it’s only contact insecticides that are even partially effective. There are bacterial sprays that would control them but they’re not available to amateurs and come in expensive commercial sized packs.

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    1. It’s ubiquitous on outdoor camellias but at levels that are rarely a problem. Very occasionally you see plants that are black with sooty mould but it only seems to be bad perhaps one year in ten. Like Camellia flower blight, you have to learn to live with it because there’s very little you can do to fight it.

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    1. I like to do it just before they start to send up new leaves; that way I can do it quickly with shears. I usually leave it too late and end up doing it one leaf at a time with secateurs. It looks like the new growth may be a bit earlier than usual this year. You don’t have to cut them at all but as the old leaves go scraggy they do somewhat detract from the beauty of the new leaves and for ‘Froehnleiten’ and some others, it’s one of its best features.

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    1. It’s that carpet look I want, which probably requires thousands of bulbs. I’m trying to work out where I have bare ground now that will fill in with shrubs or perennials while the crocus are dormant. Fuchsias and Dahlias work quite well, so long as they’re left in to avoid disturbance. Perhaps I should try and collect seed from the ones I’ve got.

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