Saturday, 20 May 2017

finishing a half done job

Today I finally finished washing the conservatory windows, a task which has been sitting half done since last weekend.  In the meantime it was not possible to sit in there, or very easy to move around to do the watering, because I had moved so many of the pots in order to get at the glass.  It was a slow and fiddly job, shuffling things over to make space to put the step ladder up, climbing up and down with my damp cloth and finally rinsing the windows with the hose, all the while trying not to snap any stems or break off any fat emerging shoots.

In order to get at the outside of the windows in the shadiest corner I had to lift all the shade loving plants out of the way, except for the big Fatsia japonica which I tried to shuffle to one side.  Its pot had been broken and glued back together at some point in the past, and without thinking I pulled on a glued piece, which came off in my hand.  I looked at the triangle of exposed root ball, pushed the broken piece back into the space, looked at it some more while I calculated that there was no way I could glue it in place while the plant was in its pot, and the loose triangle fell out of the pot and smashed into half a dozen small bits.

That answered that question.  I was going to have to repot the Fatsia, which added to the length and complication of the proceedings as I had to go and hunt in the pot shed to see what I had that was suitable, and fetch down some compost from the greenhouse.  I ended up using a large egg pot that previously held one of the Hamamelis, before I settled on classic Italianate orange pots for them.  The egg pot was quite handsome, with a pattern of delicate horizontal ribs, but as I found out with the Hamamelis was not ideal for long term shrub plantings, because the fattest point of the pot is just below the rim and the root ball will not slide out when you want it to for repotting. But I already had the egg pot and didn't want to have to go out and buy another large container. They went through a period of being fashionable several years ago and then fell out of fashion so that when half the Hamamelis pots disintegrated in a hard winter and I had to replace them I found it was impossible to buy any more in the same style.  It was at that point that I discovered how difficult it is to remove a mature shrub from an egg pot that has not already broken apart.

It was a fiddle getting at the Fatsia, as the deck outside the conservatory was cluttered with the smaller shade loving plants I'd moved to get at the window, plus the succulents that are brought out for the summer which I'd just moved to make space inside to move the ginger lilies away from the glass, plus a Geranium maderense that is flowering on a stem so lopsided it has to be propped up on its neighbours.

Eventually it was all done.  The orange Clivia that I bought at a Plant Heritage meeting and the brilliant red Clianthus grown from seed, that are both in full flower, can now bloom against a backdrop of sparkling windows (at least when the sun doesn't shine directly through them and show up the smears) and swept and tidy floor.  The Eriobotrya jaonica 'Coppertone' has been relieved of its tatty spent flowers so that you can admire the soft bronze and grey of the emerging leaves.  The two Regal pelargoniums are making lots of bushy growth since I fed them, making me think I had better do that oftener.  The purple flowered Tibouchina is starting to produce new shoots from the bases of some of the older and fatter stems, confirming that it is alive, though I think it was a close-run thing.

Both of the triphylla fuchsias that overwintered in there are stone dead, never a sign of a single new shoot since the weather warmed up.  It must have been critically too cold for them at some point.  I lost a plant of the purple flowered Fuchsia arborescens in similar fashion a few years back. A souvenir of a visit to Powis Castle, it was doing pretty well and grew quite a lot, then after one cold night every leaf fell off, never to reappear.

Tomorrow we can have tea in there.  We were going to today, but I hadn't finished tidying up, and anyway Mr Cool had bagged one chair and Our Ginger the other, and they didn't look as though they wanted to move.

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