Six on Saturday – 5/9/2020

Where do the weeks go, it’s scary how little time seems to have lapsed since last week. I’m in full on project mode in the garden, sorting out the glasshouse that I used to call my propagation house. It’s still essentially a sideshow to moving the tunnel but it needs doing so I have somewhere to put some of the stuff in the tunnel.

The garden has slipped into a state of slowly decaying lushness. It seems inappropriate to do over much tidying this late in the season so there are things flopping over the paths and collapsing in the beds and if they still have a bit of colour that’s where they stay. And there’s plenty of colour, meaning most of the paths are all but impassable.

This being Six on Saturday I must pluck six items from the melee; these are the chosen ones.

One.
Hedychium ‘Tara’. I don’t think this has fully recovered from the stress of growing amongst the roots of the conifer I felled last year. It may be that the newly planted clump on the other side of the garden, which is still in bud, will do better. This was another Tony Schilling collection, as seed in November 1972 in the Kathmandu Valley. The seeds were germinated and grown on at Wakehurst Place and when it flowered it was identified as an unusual form of Hedychium coccineum. It is now thought to be a hybrid between H. coccineum and H. gardnerianum. It proved vigorous and very hardy. It was awarded the RHS Award of Gardemn Merit in 1993.

Two.
Elephant Hawk moth caterpillar. Two weeks back I included a video of Peacock butterfly caterpillars and a couple of days ago I found a chrysalis dangling from a lettuce leaf on a plant I’d brought home so I was going to include that. However, I was cutting concrete blocks with my angle grinder yesterday and spotted this beauty munching away about a foot from where I was working. He’s a bit dusty, but we had rain later so he’s had a shower. He’s at least three inches long. Later on, Sue called me down to deal with a large moth that was flying around downstairs. It was too lively to photograph but was a Convolvulus Hawk moth. It will have had a wing span over 3 inches and when I released it outside it flew off looking like a small bat.

Three.
Viola cornuta. These were grown from Alpine Garden Society seed sown back in April. They’re a very pretty shade of blue and have been flowering for weeks. Hopefully next year they’ll come back and be even better.

Four.
Begonia luxurians. I’d have sworn I’d done this recently but it’s been a year. This is the second year I’ve planted a couple of these Begonias out into a shady spot in the garden. They love it and perform so much better than being in a pot. This one is around four feet tall and flowering, not that the blooms add anything useful to the overall effect. They will get lifted and brought under cover for the winter, but not yet.

Five.
Miscanthus nepalensis. Last year I put this in very late, in December, by which time the flower heads had gone fluffy. They start off looking like they’ve been exquisitely created in metal, or perhaps sprayed gold for Christmas decorations. In early morning light it really is gorgeous.

Six.
The glasshouse project. I’m going to impart a bit of free advice. Ordinarily I take the view that free advice is a bad thing; you should be glad to pay for good advice and bad advice is not worth having. All the same and for what little it’s worth, you should build the foundations of your greenhouse before you put it up, not after.
The prop house went up in May 2013, set on top of a brick built, 6 foot square pond. It was fixed down to the brickwork but overhung by four feet, so there I used the ground anchors and set them in concrete. The plan was to be able to grow things in a soil bed within the greenhouse. Then it was given over to the mist system, so nothing was grown in the soil. Now the mist system has gone and I want to pave the floor, for which I need a solid base and that needs to be contained by something solid. Hence I am now building a block foundation under part of the existing glasshouse. It’s not a pretty sight, you can have a before picture and when it’s all done I’ll do an after picture. I’m not going to expose my building skills to public ridicule, what I am prepared to show you is bad enough.

The strip of soil at the back was to be used for crops but that never happened.
The half finished glasshouse in 2013. I filled in the pond after building it, I like to make things difficult. I take comfort from the fact it’s still standing after seven years, in a very windy spot where the wind whistles round the corner of the house.

The sun is shining, I have much to do and must crack on. It’s a beautiful day for almost anything other than shunting various forms of concrete about, but that’s what beckons. Our leader, the Propagator, is out plant shopping and I’m not the least envious. I’m not. Well, a bit maybe. His six, and links to the rest are here.

34 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 5/9/2020

  1. Hmm, I thought my plans for today were quite enough and that is
    *make the curry
    *mow the lawns
    *clean the kitchen floor.
    Not quite as energetic and ambitious as you.
    Anyway, what unusual, colourful plants again. Number 1 is particularly pretty. Interesting Six-on-Saturday.

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  2. Lovely photo of the Large Elephant. Such a spectacular caterpillar, almost don’t begrudge him a bit of Fuchsia. Lucky you, never seen a Convolvulus hawk, Perhaps you should grow some bindweed for him?? Good news of the Peacock pupa.

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    1. I took the Convolvulus hawk outside, shutting the door behind me, he worked his wings for a few seconds, checking everything was in order, took off and did a couple of wide circles to get his bearings then took off at warp speed. Sparrowhawk in our tree today, being buzzed by a jackdaw, It’s all happening.

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  3. An interesting SIx as ever Jim. I’m interested in the background to the Hedychium. I’ve featured a pic of a similar one I saw at Glendurgan last year which was a similar deep orange. I assumed it was gardnerianum but maybe not…

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  4. Violets of any species are so pretty in other gardens. I do not know what species mine are, but I wish I had never brought them in. I thought I would like the white flowers, but violets really should be violet, . . . or blue, or more colorful than white. White violets look like bird poop.

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    1. We were given viola labradorica by a neighbour years ago and I’ve trying to get rid of it ever since and we have another wild weedy thing that’s as bad. I wouldn’t care what colour they were, I’d still hate them. They seed everywhere and are near impossible to pull out.

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  5. Wow! That Elephant Hawk Moth caterpillar is impressive! When you compare the size of its head to its body…..it is certainly eating a LOT!!! The little viola flower looks very dainty, and would look great in the shade. I do like grass and sedges in the garden for the contrasting foliage and form they provide. Good luck with the greenhouse project! It looks complicated!

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  6. After seeing your Begonia luxurians I have promised mine that I will let it out of its pot next year. I did plant out H gardnerianum and it has grown really well. I’m not sure that it will go back in a pot for the winter but , sadly, there’s no sign of a flower.

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    1. I just read the entry for H. gardnerianum in my Gingers book and he says it is hardy, (to -10°C) though deciduous, in the UK. I’ve only ever seen it in gardens far to the west of here, in west Cornwall. He says it flowers in September, so don’t give up hope yet. Needs a bright, sunny and sheltered spot. Perhaps I should be trying to grow it myself. I wonder if James Treseder has it in stock. You won’t be able to leave Begonia luxurians out.

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  7. More good advice, based on learning from bad practice. Even if you have solis glasshouse foundation, and if the said glasshouse is being set in concrete on said foundation, be SURE to fit roof glass first. It’s the easiest way to be sure the glasshouse is squared off. Maybe not the easiest, come to think of it. My glasshouse is off-square. Hence some learning from a bum project back in 2008.

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    1. So true. It’s a mistake I made with the one I’ve just been underpinning and when I did the more recent glasshouse I didn’t start putting glass in until I’d got the corners pretty much perfectly square. It’s worth taking the time, it was relatively plain sailing from there on in. The older glasshouse still has one section of beading that I haven’t managed to get in properly.

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