Friday 25th February 2022

Sunshine at last! And all sorts of bulbs are presenting themselves for our appreciation – and to form the basis of this week’s

Plant Ident.

Hyacinth ‘Woodstock’

The fabulous beetroot colour combines with a knockout scent to make this one of the season’s must-have bulbs. The ones in flower right now are the forced bulbs which have been kept in a cool, dark place for 10 weeks before being brought into gentle warmth and light. After flowering, they can be dead-headed (but don’t remove the leaves) and then planted out in the garden. Regular Hyacinth bulbs can also be grown in the garden, but they won’t flower until April. So grow both! At Garden House the presence of H. ‘Woodstock’ amongst the pink stems of Rhubarb creates a very effective colour combo.

More to come!

Iris reticulata

There are many different cultivars of these delightful little bulbs, ‘Pauline’, ‘Harmony’, ‘George’ and ‘Katharine Hodgkin’ to name but a few. Cheap and joyful, there is no reason not to buy them in quantity and plant them in bowls or beds to enjoy now. They like a sunny site in well-drained soil, and need to be planted deeply (around 10 – 15 cms down). This will help them to flower well. Plant bulbs in the autumn. You’ll regret it if you don’t.

Narcissus ‘Grand Soleil d’Or’

Another forced bulb making its sunny, fragrant presence felt indoors. Long upright stems are topped by multiple, bi-coloured, scented flowers. A good cultivar for forcing, but it can also be successfully grown outside in a rockery. Good as a cut flower.

Narcissus ‘Avalanche’

Clusters of exquisite, small, white flowers emerge over narrow leaves of greenest green. The petals (perianth segments, don’t y’know) surround a pale golden cup, and the flowers are sweetly fragrant. Excellent as a cut flower it’s perfect for indoor forcing, or for naturalising in lawns. A perennial bulb, said to be deer and rabbit resistant, it holds an A.G.M.

Puschkinia scilloides

The Russian Snowdrop. A dwarf bulbous perennial related to Chionodoxas and Scillas. This petite little darling has silvery blue star-shaped flowers with a faint blue line along the length of each petal. About 6 cms tall when it draws itself up to its full height. Easy to grow, likes well-drained soil in full sun/partial shade.

Topic of the Week

Potting on seedlings. It’s a technique worth perfecting. Bridge demonstrated using tomato plant seedlings: the aptly named ‘Gardener’s Delight’. Once your seeds have gone from this –

– to this –

and have developed two true leaves (not their seed leaves), then the seedlings need to be gradually potted on into ever larger pots. Use FP7s to begin with. Take a clean pot and overfill it with a mix of peat free multi-purpose compost together with the priceless stuff made at Garden House (sieved). Strike off the excess and tap the pot firmly to settle the contents. The pot should be full to the top. Holding the seedling carefully by a leaf, make a hole in the centre of the compost with a dibber, and gently drop the seedling in so that its roots go right down and the seed leaves are just resting on the surface of the compost. The stems of the tomato plants will develop roots all the way along them. Clever things.

Keep in a sheltered, light position – a greenhouse or conservatory would be perfect, or a bright kitchen window sill.

In a few weeks time (by May) they will need potting on again into FP9s. Eventually all this work will result in a triumphant trugful of Tomatoes.

Sometimes seedlings can get very long and leggy (‘etiolated’), in which case you need to adopt the ‘nip and tuck’ method. Cosmetic surgery for tomato plants, if you will. It’s a delicate operation. Lay the stem of the seedling on the compost, bend the stem gently, pressing it down into the hole. A dipper should suffice – you won’t need forceps. Then tuck the roots in down behind the stem.

Jobs for the Week

Pot on seedlings

A lucky duo win places in the greenhouse. They love pottering and potting. Today they are dealing with Tomato seedlings, but need to check on the progress of the Chillies and Cobaea too.

The Cobaea scandens seedlings are romping away

Roses

Continue the ongoing project to label, name and number every Rose in the garden. There are 68 of them. Rosa de Rescht is one that requires a new metal label.

Several David Austin Roses have arrived and these will need heeling for the time being. And which Roses have we plumped for?

Aha!

And by tomorrow, there will be another new arrival – a granddaughter, baby Ella! Many congratulations to all.

Irises

Cut dead leaves off the Irises in the bed near the espalier Apples. Feed with organic, pelleted chicken manure.

Rockery/pond beds

Cut back Epimedium leaves to expose the flowers to come. Cut back dead plant material in the pond area. Weed.

Anyone got the time?

Just gone midday? Good grief, it’s time for….

Recipes please!

The Pond

The top part of the pond is rather messy and needs taking in hand. Six of the best Friday Groupers were allocated to this task.

However.

They decide instead to embark on some serious training for the World Aquatics Championships. Their dedication knows no bounds. Five coaches and one swimmer.

Plenty of Health and Safety equipment. At least one fishing net.

Go, go, go

More pace, more pace!

Phew! She arises from the water!

Style 10, Speed 9, Degree of Difficulty 11. And who knew that bobble hats were de rigueur swimwear these days?

Well, that was eventful.

Auriculas

There are plans afoot for these to be centre stage in April and May – they’re even having a theatre purpose built for them. Pot on new plantlets into compost with really good drainage and feed with diluted liquid from the wormery. Feed every 2-3 weeks until they come into flower.

We’ll be enjoying them in all their genteel glory by mid to late spring

If your estate isn’t large enough to accommodate livestock such as deer, Shorthorned cattle or Sussex Saddleback pigs, why not consider worms? Wiggly Wigglers are a good source of composting worms, wormeries and advice on all things wriggly. Just be careful not to muddle up your home-made apple juice with that recently decanted worm wee.

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