Now that Chelsea's over I've started moving the tender stuff out of the greenhouse. Frost is theoretically possible in our part of the world until the end of May, and while from the forecast and the pattern of weather it looked unlikely still it would have been sad to have the new growth of my laboriously overwintered plants nipped by a sudden plunge in night temperatures. But I think I'm clear now. I want the space in the greenhouse for other things, and the plants destined for bedding out or grouping in containers might as well get into their final quarters so that they can start spreading their roots.
I did plant up one container before Chelsea, the Systems Administrator's conical pot in an iron stand, a vintage 1960s design inherited from the SA's mother. When she died his brothers were unanimous that we should have the pot, and in truth it looked better outside our 1960s house than it would in front of a Kent weatherboarded or Northampton sandstone cottage, though I think the main reason we got it was that I was the keenest gardener, since I got the garden books and the collection of 1960s RHS magazines as well. Last year the ancestral pot had Calibrachoa, a trailing plant like a miniature petunia, in coordinating shades of orange and dark yellow, and this year it has a mixture of Calibrachoa and trailing verbena in red and raspberry pink, since I have decided to go for a pink and purple colour scheme outside the front door. But it was only one pot, and I told myself that if the thermometer was due to drop too far overnight I could always move it under cover.
I am trying not to do too many temporary summer pots. I do the pots of bulbs for the spring, and they use a lot of compost. I have got some Cosmos seedlings in the greenhouse, after the success of last year's Cosmos pots, but I'm concentrating on perennials that will last for years, with a modicum of greenhouse heating. In a cold winter I have to run the fan heater rather a lot and start wondering if it wouldn't be more economical just to buy new geraniums next year, but most years I don't need to use it more than a handful of times.
So out are coming the geraniums, the dwarf pomegranates (grown from seed), the broad leaved evergreen Agapanthus, a plain green leaved and a variegated Tulbaghia, silver leaved Plectranthus (also from seed), the tender purple flowered Salvia I bought at the Dixter plant fair, an unusual Lobelia I divided last year with remarkably rejuvenating results, some yellow flowered Argyranthemum and the Puya. Plus the dahlias, that will spend a few more weeks growing on on the concrete before being hauled down to the back garden. And a couple of Canna, though I saw to my irritation that their curled up leaves had been eaten through by snails which will leave a series of holes as they uncurl. And some Eucomis. Plus a pot of silver leaved Lotus berthelottii which has been producing more of its burnt orange flowers in the greenhouse than it ever did outside last summer.
Once that lot is out of the greenhouse it should free up space for the tomato growbags, and to start off the pots of Cosmos (white and pink for one scheme and yellow for the other) plus some Zinnia grown from a packet of seeds that came free with a magazine. And to pot on and spread out the fuchsia plugs which have all been doing very nicely crammed in on the greenhouse bench behind a propagating case. And with any luck to strike some cuttings of Penstemon and perennial wallflower. The real puzzle will come in the autumn, when I have to work out how to fit all of it, including the expanded fuchsia collection, back into the greenhouse.