The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is upon us, and with it come squashes, pumpkins and gourds in all shapes and sizes…. I mean, look at this extraordinary creature –
We looked briefly at hardy annuals (sown, flower and die in a year) again this week. Hardy annuals can be sown now – up until the clocks go back – and then in March/April next year. Examples are: scabious, marigolds (Calendula officinalis), ammis, sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus), wild carrot (Daucus carota), cornflowers (Centaurea cyanus), Californian poppies (Eschscholzia californica), false fennel (Ridolfia segetum), corncockles (Agrostemma githago) and the white lace flower (Orlaya grandiflora).
H.a. seeds need a warm place to germinate, so, once sown in modules or pots, a small electric propagator is an ideal environment for them. At Garden House we put seeds in the greenhouse on a heated mat (see below), but you can try them indoors on a sunny window-sill.
They need light to grow; once the seedlings have been potted on and hardened off, a cold frame is perfect for overwintering – open in the day for ventilation, but closed at night for protection. (Its worse than looking after children.) The seedlings’ growth slows as winter takes hold, but, come next year, these autumn-sown plants will be bigger, stronger and garden-ready earlier than their spring-sown counterparts. It is possible to direct-sow some hardy annual seeds successfully into autumn’s still-warm soil, (e.g. nigella, marigolds and cornflowers) but for better control, we tend to opt for protected sowing.
The tender perennial cuttings (such as Plectranthus argentatus), taken at the end of September, have already started rooting, thanks to the gentle heat provided by the soil warming cables in the greenhouse. They must be kept frost-free if they are to survive the winter – maybe in an insulated greenhouse, a conservatory or perhaps in a cold bedroom. The cuttings will be potted on into FP9 pots using a 50:50 mix of compost and perlite. Topping with horticultural grit helps with drainage, reduces weed growth and acts as a deterrent to slugs and snails. Looks nice too.
Can’t see any horticultural grit topping here though……
These indoor beauties can be propagated from leaf cuttings. It’s a miracle!
Mid-rib method: Take one healthy leaf. Place face down on a board. Using a very sharp knife, run the blade down either side of the rib which runs from top to bottom. Take out the mid-rib completely – and two lengths of leaf remain. Place them upright (on edge with cut side down) into a 50:50 mix of compost and perlite. Firm in and water. Each vein should produce an offset, which will eventually become a new plant. Place somewhere warm (in a propagator or on a sunny window-sill with a clear covering over). Try a plastic shower cap, if you’re feeling funky.
Lateral vein method: Take another healthy leaf. Place face down on board. (So far so similar.) Using a very sharp knife, cut laterally across the leaf; depending on the length of the leaf, you can get about four cuttings. Place upright into the compost mix, remembering to put the cut edge downwards. Firm in. Water. One offset should grow from each cutting.
Mid-rib cuttings at top; lateral vein cuttings below
Fingers crossed – and let’s hope they’re green fingers too.
This week’s ident. looked at autumn delights such as these astonishing
A surprising colour at this time of year, these plants originate from South Africa and come in shades of pale and dark pink as well as white. They love to bake in full sun and do well near south-facing walls; they should be planted with their top halves proud of the soil. Bulbs can remain permanently in the ground once planted, as they can withstand freezing temperatures. They do need good drainage, however, and don’t like to be disturbed.
Also looking magnificent in the garden now is the ubiquitous, but nonetheless valuable
and one from the back, please…
Also known as the false castor oil plant, Fatsia japonica is a handsome, evergreen shrub, noted for its beautiful, architectural leaves – dark, glossy green on the front contrasting with matt, soft green on the underside. Fatsias thrive in a shady position and respond well to being cut back and shaped as required – they grow back easily. Any yellow/ brown/ blackened leaves can just be removed. Odd, creamy-white flowers appear at this time of year, reminiscent of those produced by ivy. Also good in large containers.
The evergreen leatherleaf viburnum gives year-round colour and interest in the garden. A tough, drought-tolerant plant, producing red fruit at this time of year, and small, fragrant white flowers in the spring. It has striking, deep-green, corrugated leaves. Plant in full sun.
This is a vigorous, deciduous shrub whose starry, white flowers, produced in the summer, are highly fragrant. They are followed by amazing metallic turquoise-blue berries held in crimson calyces – an arresting sight. When crushed, the leaves of this shrub are said to smell of peanut butter. Grow in full sun or partial shade.
Snowberry’s white, waxy berries look well in mixed shrub borders in the autumn and early winter months. They are preceded by small, pink flowers in the summer. A suckering, deciduous shrub from the honeysuckle family, snowberry can be grown in both full sun and partial shade – plus it tolerates exposed sites, pollution and poor soils. One tough customer. There are varieties with beautiful pink berries. Sought after by florists – and definitely a good bet for gardeners who don’t have green fingers..
Jobs for the week:
Sow broad beans, calendula and stipa tenuissima in modules
Empty the compost heap and fill two of the raised beds
Re-think the planting in various beds
She’s obviously come to a decision.
And she’s hard at it
Propagate streptocarpus plants by taking midrib and lateral vein cuttings. Place in greenhouse; water
Lateral and midrib cuttings. Nicely done. Where do they go?
In the greenhouse. Excellent. And have you watered them?
Oh, she’s good.
Prune Hedera helix “Goldheart”. Remove reversions and take cuttings
One for the Health and Safety training manual
Remove current occupants from alpine sinks
Out you come
Take out Pennisetum macrourum grass and replant elsewhere
Autumn lawn care – scarifying, spiking, weeding and edging
What a team!
That’s Friday Group for you.