Thursday, 16 February 2017

planting and potting

The Systems Administrator kindly moved the rest of the bits of hedge sawed out of the far bottom corner in the back garden up to the utility area, and lopped the smaller shreddable side shoots off the fatter main branches destined for firewood.  I protested faintly that the side branches had been put on top of the vast pile of bits to be burned when the wind is from the east and the Systems Administrator is in the mood.  The SA said I could still shred them and nothing else would be dumped on top of them as the pile was too high, but if they were still there by the time of the bonfire they were going to be burned with the rest.  I take the SA's point that the sheer quantity of woody prunings in the meadow and around the bonfire heap is becoming almost unmanageable, but need every bag of wood chippings I can get so had better have another shredding session before the wind changes.

I finally managed to extract the last piece of landscape fabric from the corner of the ditch bed. Soil must have washed downhill and settled on it to bury it so deeply.  I really don't see how a layer of decomposed bark mulch and even twenty years of fallen leaves could have produced four inches of topsoil.  The hedge had opportunistically started to send roots out into it forming a solid mat in places, which is why it took so long to get the fabric out.  I felt rather mean chopping roots off the hedge, but told myself that it had lots of others and would respond to my root pruning by growing more.

Then, at last, I planted the ten Cyclamen hederifolium which had been sitting in a box in the sink of the downstairs cloakroom for a full week.  They were very nice plants, and Pottertons had made a neat job of bagging up the tuberts to keep the roots moist while letting the leaves breathe, but they were starting to wilt and I felt a pang that I had not managed to get them planted as soon as they arrived.  I read recently that C. hederifolium keeps its roots even when the leaves die down, and that if the plant is dried out and loses its roots the tuber can be reluctant to make new ones. That would account for them being so hit and miss if bought as dried tubers.  I don't think my plants got to the stage  of total root death and I watered them in thoroughly, so they should be OK.  I have got some home grown seedlings of Milium effusum 'Aureum', Bowles Golden Grass, to go in that corner but ferns and anything else will have to be squeezed into the gardening budget somehow.  I fancy the white flowered form of Geranium phaeum, which if it is anything like the purple flowered blotchy leaved variety 'Samobar' will seed itself about.  I do have some spare 'Samobar' seedlings in pots, but white flowers would show up better in the gloom, and charming as 'Samobar' is I already have lots further up the slope.  I only potted up the seedlings because I was replanting an area and it seemed such a waste to throw them out.

Then I planted the three extra Cyclamen cilicium with the others by the wall of the house in the front garden, improving each planting area with a generous handful of home made compost.  I peered carefully at the tubers but could not see whether the tops dipped in the centre because the leaf stalks were in the way.  Their roots appeared to grow from the upper surface of the tubers in a ring outside the leaves, leaving a bald underside with nothing growing from it at all, and definitely convex rather than concave.  So if you found yourself in possession of a tuber of C. cilicium with no idea of which way up to plant it I should say put the bare side down and the side with whiskery remains coming out of it pointing upwards.  Then pray that C. cilicium does not resent being dried out too badly.  They were all very nice healthy looking plants and hats off to Pottertons.  It is not their fault I fiddled around trying to do ten things at once instead of planting them immediately.

I potted the rest of the order and made space for them in a greenhouse case by evicting two lots of dwarf tulips and some crocus that by now are in full growth, roots coming out of the bottoms of their pots.  I stood them on the concrete where I think the new cats now patrol regularly enough that mice will not bother them.  In the greenhouse in the depths of winter they can do dreadful damage to potted bulbs.  I have lost whole trays of tulips and fritillaries, the cost of the bulbs running well into double digits, apart from the disappointment and the wasted effort.  I hope I am right about the concrete now being a fairly pest free zone, but the greenhouse is bursting at the seams.

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