Friday 10th January 2020

New year, new decade.  It seems ages since we were last here, but we’re back and good to go 

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Well, once we get our dose of caffeine, we’ll be good to go

Won’t we?

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Of course!

So, without further ado, it’s straight onto the…

Plant ident:   

And what’s in the garden now? Bulbs are starting to come through… 

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…and there are lots of other things to enjoy

Vinca major

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This is a lovely form, believed to be Vinca major.  This has been flowering every week of the year – and the present week is no exception.  Upright in form, with a delicate blue flower, the glossy green leaves display marked veining.  A delight, and an excellent choice for ground cover.

Arum italicum subsp ‘Marmoratum’

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Its stunning arrow-shaped, variegated leaves are beautiful in their own right; in summer, creamy-white spathes (the flowers) emerge, giving way to a cluster of green berries which turn a vivid orange/red in autumn.

Iris unguicularis

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The Algerian Iris – a tough little performer.  The rhizomes are happiest at the base of a sunny, south-facing wall.  A real beauty, which flowers from November through to the end of February, and its lavender-blue flowers are scented.  Very undemanding, it thrives on poor soil, dry conditions and neglect. The renowned gardener E. Bowles commented that, “the older a clump gets, the better it flowers”.  Plant alongside drought tolerant shrubs and bulbs.

Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’

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A winter-flowering variety, which can take its time to get established.  But well worth giving it a go – just look at the results! Now is a good time to plant it.  From the Ranunculaceae family – the same as Hellebores

Cyclamen coum

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Perfect small white flowers contrast with rounded, dark green leaves in the plant shown above, but a wide range of colours and foliage is available.  Delicate loveliness, but don’t be fooled, this is a tough little perennial, flowering away in winter and early spring. Interesting fact number 5,193.  Did you know that the seeds of these Cyclamen are actually distributed by ants and bees? (I know!) Apparently, the stems curl, bringing the seed pod down to the ground.  The seeds are collected by ants and bees which eat the sticky seed coat, but leave the seeds themselves!   

One other must-have for this time of year is a Daphne.  If you haven’t got one, rectify the situation immediately.  Either Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ or Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’. Scentsational! 

Jobs for the week:

It may be gloomy and cold out there, but there’s plenty to do.  

Compost control and management

First remove composted material

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Easier said than done

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Then on to the amber bay

Churn and turn 

Apply newly retrieved compost to flower beds

Remove rose prunings (aka squirrel deterrents) from flower beds.  They failed.  Order cannons.  This is war.  Apply compost to improve soil structure and appearance.

Pot on Ranunculus ‘Pauline Violet’ seedlings

No problem!

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Seed sowing

This time of year is when heated mats and electric propagators come into their own; just gives seeds a head start.  We are sowing: Nicotiana mutabilis, Cobaea scandens, Cleome, Swiss chard, Spinach, Giant Red Mustard, Antirrhinums, Coriander, Parsley (soak the seeds in warm water prior to sowing). And Rue. Phew!

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Better crack on, there’s a lot to do

Prune the hybrid tea roses and apply feed to all roses

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Research materials – check

Tools for the job – check

Workers – where are the workers?

They checked out

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Ah! That’s where they’ve got to   

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Back to it

Prick out seedlings

Here we have les amies des Ammis doing une tâche splendide.  Friday Group aims to be trilingual by the end of the year.  English, French and Latin

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Yes! Oui! Ita vero!

These are Eschscholzia ‘Ivory Castle’.  They are hardy annuals, so can be left outside through the winter – but keep an eye on them, they won’t like sitting in pools of water indefinitely.  Would you?

img-20200115-wa0008And thick and fast they came at last

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More and more seedlings.  All looking good.

General potting-on work

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Generally pottering on with potting on

Work on Little Dixter

Remove all existing pots.  Tidy and clean shelving. Set out pots of Iris and Narcissi. New year, new term, new start.

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Work in progress

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Well, that’s a lovely job

Simple, elegant, refined

Pelargonium Palace

Deadheading as required; water the pots – but don’t soak them; tidy the greenhouse and sweep through

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Taking them out for an airing?

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Pelargoniums on parade

Cut back perennials in the top garden

Remove as much wild garlic as possible from the bed

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Now, I don’t mean to be funny, but I could be here until 2030 doing that….

Weed and tidy the bed outside the shelter

Remove the green-leaved Celandine (Ranunculus).  They tend to take over… these poor Cyclamen are being throttled

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 Leave R. ‘Brazen Hussy’

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A dark form of the common celandine with shiny bronze/black foliage.  Best not to make any jokes about brazen hussies.  

Sort through seed boxes and organise

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I’m sorting

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And I’m organising

Order restored, it’s time to leave

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Garden House 10th January 2020

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