Six on Saturday – 6/2/2021

Throughout the winter I have struggled to find six things going on in the garden and have toyed with different angles, six gardening books, six tools, six views from a window, six types of rain. Now that the days are lengthening and things are waking up and starting to do their thing, I’m thinking of the sixes I might have done. This set falls into that category. There are crocuses flowering, shoots on the clematis, tulips coming up; they’ll keep. Seeds is this weeks theme. Seeing seeds come up is a source of wonder, as much now as it ever was. As time goes on and I learn more of what is really going on in plants at the cellular, molecular, even quantum level, it becomes ever more of a wonder.

One.
Camellia parvilimba. This came from the Rhododendron, Camellia and Magnolia Group seed distribution and I cannot remember who the donor was. Having ordered it online, I have no copy of the list and I didn’t make a note of it at the time. It won’t have been wild collected but will have come from a garden or nursery. I have four seedlings, three with green leaves and this one. I only just got around to looking up what it does. It makes a shrub to one metre, very small for a camellia, and has white flowers opening from red flushed buds. The leaves are very small. It is supposedly hardy and tolerant of wet soil; it will need to be both to thrive here. As a forest understory plant it will want a degree of shade.

Camellia parvilimba

Two.
Cyclamen hederifolium. This self sows quite well for me but the seedlings all seem to come up on and around the parent plant. The seeds are supposed to be dispersed by ants but that doesn’t seem to be happening. Collecting and sowing seed is easy, the pods ripen and open around July-August and sown straight away germinate freely. Collecting seed also means you can select seed from the best forms to bulk up. That means the best for flower colour and foliage patterning, or both. Noelle very kindly sent me seed from some of her silver leaved forms last year. They were sown 16/7/2020 and when they go dormant I shall space them in trays and grow them on for another year before planting them out. I space sowed two seed trays of my own seed in 2019 and will plant them in the ground in summer, before they start into growth again. I’d be happy to have the whole garden covered with them, between everything else.

Cyclamen hederifolium ex Noelle

Three.
From a little further afield, Fred in France sent me seed of Hesperaloe parviflora. I’m not sure I’d ever heard of it before he offered me seed but I was easily persuaded to give it a try. They germinated readily enough and I have seven young plants. I don’t know how long it will be before they are big enough to flower but it looks like it will be worth the wait. I will keep a couple in pots and plant the others out if I can find a small patch of Texas in Cornwall.

Hesperaloe parviflora from Fred

Four.
Much further afield in California Amaryllis belladonna sounds to be almost a weed, self sowing with gay abandon. I don’t know if ever sets seed in this country, the two forms I have are probably single clones and they flower at different times, so it may be lack of pollination, or it may be lack of heat, but I’ve never had a seed. Tony sent me enough to set up a cut flower farm. I sowed zillions as soon as I got them, then gave a pile away. I was still left with around 50 in a zippy bag on my desk where they started to grow, completely without water, for exactly two months, when I relented and potted them (they were now small plants) into yet another pot. I then shoved them out into my barely frost free glasshouse where they have continued to grow quite happily. I’m sure I read somewhere that they were a bit tricky. The bulbs in the garden are currently sporting lush clumps of leaves but whether that will translate into a good flower display later is anybody’s guess.

Amaryllis belladonna from Tony

Five.
Some seeds need stratifying before they will germinate. In simple terms, they don’t want to grow before winter so have a requirement for a certain amount of cold before they will germinate. All the seeds which had such a requirement got put outside under a plastic propagator which keeps them from drowning or being eaten by mice. I have a seedling germinating in a pot labelled Tulipa sprengeri, but it doesn’t look like a tulip and will probably turn out to be a weed. I also have one seedling of Asphodelus albus coming up. It’s a start.

Albuca, Romulea, Disporum, Paeonia, Asphodelus, Camassia, Lilium, Maianthemum, Aquilegia etc.

Six.
I feel I should include a picture of something in flower somehow, however tenuous the link. I have a pot of what I bought as Habranthus brachyandrus; I think it’s possibly H. robustus, which sets lots of seeds, is easy to grow from those seeds, and is beautiful. Give me a seedlist including similar species, like Zephyranthes macrosiphon Hidalgo form (I think Habranthus robustus is now Zephyranthes robustus, they’re closely related) and there’s little chance of me resisting. The seed was from the Hardy Plant Society list in 2019. Looking back at what I got from them, 20 packets of seed, 8 never grew, 2 grew and were subsequently dumped, the rest are still with me in one way or another. 50% success on a minimal outlay is fine by me.

Today dawned bright and frosty, though it doesn’t look to be a hard one. Much worse to come before it warms up again mid week. Fortunately it’s still too early for much risk of damage, says he, with fingers firmly crossed. It’s not conducive to getting much done though.
Links to other sixes are as ever, on Jon’s six. Lots of optimistic signs of spring hopefully, with a few summer heights from the Antipodes, just the ticket on a cold winter’s day.

37 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 6/2/2021

  1. Lovely stuff – some really interesting plants there! The Hesperaloe looks like one to look forward to.

    I have lots of veg seedlings for the allotment that I got a bit too enthusiastic about and now am struggling to find places to put them. With cold weather due over the next few days, I’m reluctant to put them in the greenhouse (which I keep quite cold over the winter). I’m running out of windowsills!

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  2. The Hesperaloe parviflora looks good Jim! Mine are double in size, sown 1 or 2 years ago. But the growth is so slow that we’ll have to wait years to see them bloom, I guess.
    # 6 is a pretty flower that I didn’t know until now

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  3. I didn’t notice any problems with your Six-on-Saturday during the winter – at least you didn’t resort to including your gardening shoes. 🙂 I’m a bit frustrated due to having run out of compost to put my seeds in. I have had my first vaccination so will venture out to B&Q to buy some in a week or so because it is so expensive on line. Your seedlings look very healthy.

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    1. I don’t think the world is ready for pictures of my feet, even in gardening shoes. I think I got compost on the first day of this lockdown, before anyone caught on. I bought loads, just in case (of something).

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  4. What a beautiful mix of seedlings coming on this spring. The Cyclamen are particularly nice, and the first photo of a Camellia seedling. Its foliage is lovely. I saved Lycoris seeds this autumn and direct sowed them as soon as they ripened. I hope to have as much luck as you have had with your A. belladonna.

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      1. Jim, the best bulb folks in our area are Brent and Becky Heath in Gloucester. They grow, dig, package and ship Lycoris radiata from their Gloucester property. Find them here: https://brentandbeckysbulbs.com/category/spring-planted-bulbs/lycoris-spring-planted-bulbs/?v=7516fd43adaa
        My seeds are from some bulbs that established here more than 5 years ago, but it is the first time I’ve tried saving seed. They were particularly productive this year and produced over a long time. Fingers crossed that I can grow the seed on to bloom in a few years’ time. Thanks for the link to sweetgumandpines. I’ll enjoy having a look.

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      2. I couldn’t find anything about exporting on their website, but I don’t think I need to go so far afield anyway. There didn’t used to be a problem with getting bulbs from Holland until we shot ourselves in the foot with Brexit. Looks like an interesting website though, I must explore it further.

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      3. Hi Jim, this is a new, or newly redesigned website, and I couldn’t find shipping information, either. I believe that they shipped internationally in past years. But yes, it will surely be easier and more economical to get your Lycoris locally. I’ve been interested to see a wider range of colors available in recent years, but I still grow the standard scarlet. Brent Heath gives excellent programs and is wonderfully knowledgeable about a variety of gardening topics. It is always a treat to attend one of his lectures. Next time you cross the pond, you might consider putting Gloucester on your itinerary.

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      4. It would be nice to think that the business of zoom talks and their ilk will carry on into more normal times, not that I’m going to sign up to many at $250 a pop. I’m pretty much resolved not to fly again, so it’s unlikely I’ll get to America again. Shame in a way, there’s a lot of places I’d have liked to have visited.

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      5. Well Jim, I won’t use Zoom. There are too many security issues with the software for me to download it to my devices. But most of the talks I want to see get recorded, and I view them later. Brent spoke to one of my associations last week and I enjoyed seeing his talk that afternoon. Interesting that you aren’t planning to fly again- I’m undecided. I have tentative plans to visit family on the West Coast in the fall, and I hope it is safe enough to travel by then. Maybe in a year or so we’ll all feel safer venturing out into the world again.

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      6. It wasn’t the safety of travelling that I was bothered about. We have a five year old grand-daughter in Australia and I am unable to reconcile flying over to see her with trashing the planet she gets to inherit in the process. It’s a no-win. The one Zoom talk I saw here was to an association miles away, who presumably paid his fee, then threw it open to anyone to watch for around £4.

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      7. Jim, that is an interesting perspective on flying. I have been flying cross country once a year to see my daughter and granddaughter on the West Coast. It is hard having family so far away. So many metrics are showing tremendous improvement in Earth’s atmosphere for 2020, based on less travel. It is irrefutable that we can each have a positive impact on the planet simply by staying at home. Moderation in all things is my credo, and there is much value in building relationships with the next generation, too. It is a tough call, but I hope to make the trip later this year after missing them in 2020. I am also counting on a return to professional and association gatherings later this year, and have agreed to give a presentation to a local group in November. I am hoping for the best this year ❤

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      8. It’s very hard to see how the aviation industry can significantly reduce its carbon footprint in the short term and equally hard to see people willing to give up widespread travel. There are no votes for politicians in curbing it either. Tricky one.

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  5. I had to google the hesperaloe, looks very interesting! A good proportion of silver leaves in your cyclamen seedlings, they will really shine out in a gloomy corner. No frost here this morning, just damp and gloomy, same old, same old ……

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Whatever makes you think I might have gloomy corners? Of course I have, the cyclamen will have their work cut out. Just a grass frost here, which was just as well as I’d left out several things I shouldn’t.

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  6. These are such happy-looking plants. They’re all so neatly organized and well spaced out. How did you learn to get seeds to grow so successfully? My soil always seems to get too compact early on.

    Good luck with all the blooms you’ll have in spring!

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    1. I sow almost nothing directly into the ground, I’m assuming when you say your soil compacts you mean the soil in the garden not compost in pots. My main problem is pests going for the seedlings before they’re big enough to survive it. The best way to get a high success rate with seeds is to sow easy plants; get into weird and wonderful stuff and you’re going to get a fair few failures and usually you don’t have a clue why, beyond either the seed was dead or you failed to provide the right conditions. It’s what makes the successes sweeter.

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  7. The red color on the new camellia leaves and the silvery surface of the cyclamen are quite lovely. Allow me to put in a good word for the hesperaloe. I planted 2 last year. The one I planted earlier bloomed continuously for months. So far, these plants have been undaunted by drought, deluge, or frost. And I love their spiky, yucca like leaves. I predict that these will make a good addition to your garden.

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  8. It is still gratifying to see that the Amaryllis belladonna are in a good home. Hesperaloe parviflora is more interesting. For a while, I had all but one of the known species of Yucca, but avoided the Hesperaloe parviflora, even though some consider it to be the ‘red yucca’. It is one of the more popular yuccas here. Only the overly common Yucca elephantipes is more popular. Even the ‘rare’ ‘yellow’ red yucca is not so rare. There is good reason for its popularity. It needs no supplemental irrigation here. It does very well in chaparral and desert climates, but is prettier with a bit of irrigation in deserts. It also does well here where the weather is cooler and not so dry.

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    1. That’s the second enthusiastic endorsement that Hesperaloe has received, which bodes well. The weather here is certainly “cooler and not so dry”, but the word “relatively” needs to get spliced in somewhere.

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      1. Yes, . . . and I really know nothing about the dampness of the weather there, or about how much dampness the red yucca will tolerate. They do well on the coast and right down to the beach here, and in San Francisco, so certainly tolerate significant fog. They also do well in generously irrigated landscapes. I also noticed them in regions that get quite cool, such as Northern Texas. The only situation that I noticed them not performing well was near here, where they were a bit too shaded. The only reason that I did not add them to my former garden is that they do not look much like the other Yucca to me (and they are technically another genus).

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  9. That’s a lovely seed selection, Jim. I too like the magic of new plant life.
    I’m struck by your lovely idea to stratify outside. Seems the perfect place. I’m informed the top shelf of the frisge door is for jam!

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    1. I have used the fridge in the past, it worked quite well with seeds in ziplock bags with damp filter paper, not so good with seeds sown in pots. It’s not like I’m desperate for everything to germinate, better all round if a lot don’t, just nature saving me from myself.

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