Wednesday, 4 April 2018

making more

I remembered to get my two pots of stratifying seeds out of the fridge after their six weeks of chilling.  Unfortunately the germination instructions for the woolly mountain lavender, Lavandula lanata, turned out to have been wide of the mark, because far from germinating slowly and erratically over the next three months following their spell of cold, they had already sprouted in the fridge.  The jar contained a sad little muddle of pale, etiolated shoots like very weedy bean sprouts, and they had started to go mouldy.  The mess was reluctant to come out of the jar, and as I surveyed it having finally dislodged it I came to the conclusion that there was no point in trying to prick any of it out.  So that's £2.94 down the drain, or rather on the compost heap.  I suppose the lesson is to keep an eye on any seeds left to stratify and check them before the full period of chilling the seed company suggests.  But I have been ill, tired, and busy, and thought I was doing pretty well making a note of the time when I was supposed to get them out of the fridge and then remembering to do so.  Never mind.  Probably the woolly lavender would have died of cold next winter or the year after anyway, and I have saved myself pointless future work in not having any.

The pot of Amsonia hubrichtii had not done anything visible, which was as it should be.  I tipped the mixture of damp vermiculite and seeds on to a pot of seed compost and put it in a propagating case, hoping for germination in due course.

Two congested pots of Tulbaghia violacea spent the winter in the greenhouse.  This is a South African member of the onion family, an affiliation that becomes obvious when you handle the leaves and are suddenly hit by a strong onion smell.  It is on the tender side, which is why my plants live in pots and come under cover for the winter, and makes gradually spreading clumps with densely matted roots.  A nurseryman who specialises in them, along with Agapanthus, came and talked to the garden society last year, and advised us that old plants did not flower so well, and that it was a good idea to split them from time to time and not just move them into a larger pot.  Certainly mine had not been flowering as generously as they used to, and they had pushed themselves upwards in their pots so that it was impossible to water them properly, and I had been planning to move them up a pot size, but instead I followed his advice and sawed each into four parts with the bread knife that has never been so sharp as the other bread knife since I used it to get Agapanthus out of their pots a few years ago.  The Tulbaghia sliced up with very little resistance, and I remembered to dust the largest wounds with yellow sulphur powder before settling each in a new pot.

The disadvantage was that space in the greenhouse was already at a premium, and where I had two pots to fit in before I now had eight.  I do not need eight Tulbaghia myself, but I daresay the spares could find takers at one of my garden clubs.  They are not the most common variety, one having plain green leaves but white flowers rather than mauve, and the other having pinkish-violet flowers but variegated leaves.  They flower for a long time in summer when they are growing well, and I am fond of them in a quiet way.

Splitting Agapanthus 'Queen Mum' was more of a struggle.  I was afraid it would be.  I marked the pots I needed to split at the end of last summer by sticking green labels in them, and 'Queen Mum' was one of them.  I can no longer remember why that particular Agapanthus needed doing and not the others, but logically it must have been that it was drying out too quickly after watering, indicating that it was getting pot bound.  Contrary to popular belief Agapanthus do not flower better for being over-crowded in their pots, on the contrary, they stop flowering.  That was my theory based on observations over several years of growing them, and was what the Agapanthus and Tulbaghia man said in his talk.  I got through the fleshy white roots using the bread knife, with a certain amount of difficulty, but splitting the base of the above ground portion defeated me, and I had to go and hunt out my old pruning saw.  Eventually 'Queen Mum' was divided into two unequal parts, the larger of which is going to stay with me, while the smaller part will be spare, once I'm sure that my bit has taken.  Plant Breeders Rights apply, so technically I should find somebody to give it to since it should not be sold, not even in aid of garden club funds.

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