Monthly Archives: January 2012
The weather this winter has been very kind to us fortunately for our project in the field behind the nursery. Since the last post we have worked at getting the rabbit netting in to stop our precious plants from becoming a gourmet meal for the resident rabbits. We did have one interruption to our schedule due to the strong winds of last week breaking a sheet in our glasshouse. One sheet does not sound a lot but unfortunately it required several sheets having to be taken out to replace it. Because it is old glass it carries the problems of being very brittle so in the process three more sheets were broken. Eventually after about five hours we completed the job.
By Wednesday morning we were back to the fencing and the end was in sight. Our site manager was busy keeping an eye on us making sure that all health and safety measures were being observed and that we were doing the job properly as can be seen from the following photographs!
Karan my wife and her farther getting gateway ready.
The fencing is now finished and all that needs doing it putting the plough on and turning the furrow back in on the bottom of the wire. Job done!
Those of you that are following me on Twitter will know that we also keep a few chickens and quite often one group that we have named The Nomads feature quite regularly in my tweets. I thought I would introduce them into the blog. The nomads are mainly Auracana chickens which is a breed originating from Chile. There are several different colour forms to this breed and we have the lavender and black varieties. Zorro is our main cockerel and he has a nice little harem as can be seen from the photograph.
If you are considering keeping chickens they are quite a good breed to consider as they are good layers and I have found they are quite amicable. Why The Nomads? Because they love to wander despite the fact they live in a ten acre field where do I keep finding them? In my garden! As a result they are about to lose their liberty We have plenty of wire and stakes left so we are building a pen round their coop. They will not be very pleased needless to say! We also keep a few bantams as well which have been home bred. One of these is a real oddity and looks like a fluffy toy. Something in her genes has produced a chicken that looks furry rather than feathery.
Last night on twitter the subject of peat free compost came up and lots of suggestions were put forward but I was picking up on the fact that some of these alternatives are less than satisfactory. I will confess that we use peat based compost for a lot of our plants mainly for consistent results as well as a weight issue. Weight is important with us because we travel to a lot of plant fairs and need to conserve fuel. Weight also is an important factor with plants when sending by mail order as courier prices are calculated on weight and size. We would prefer to go peat free but presently are peat reduced. The best peat free alternative that we have come across which we sometimes use is made of sheeps wool and bracken. So far we have been very impressed with it but it is not cheap at £5.50 for a 30 litre bag. It does have excellent moisture retaining qualities and keeps a nice open texture and we have managed to germinate and sustain seeds in it. If you are interested in trying it contact http://www.dalefootcomposts.co.uk/ for details of stockists in your area. Be warned not many nurseries and garden centres are stocking it probably because of price. We have one customer who comes from Milton Keynes to get it!
Finally I thought I would finish off this post with a few pictures the lovely sunset we had this evening.
Here we are in January and still getting away with a mild winter. Today is a bit windy and wet but this time last year we were smothered in snow and frost and temperatures not much above -4 degrees Centigrade. One thing about this milder spell has meant that some plants in the garden have kept valiantly growing and flowering so I decided to get out with the camera yesterday and take a pictorial record. Of course an advantage of digital photography is that photographs are date and time stamped to in a few years time I will I will be able to compare with plants in a future season..
As the title suggests this will be a post about plants so no more prevaricating here we go! The photographs can be enlarged by clicking on them.
Asplenium scolopendrium crispum is a variant on the common Harts tongue fern and this example has just sent a new load of fronds out as can be seen from the glossy appearance of it. Most ferns in this group are tough as old boots and will work in most shade areas including dry. I have seen these growing in sunny beds but inevitably they end up looking a bit black and crispy on the edges when it gets hot and dry. Another variant is Cristatum which has crested ends on the fronds as in the photograph below.
Another fern in the garden that seems to be thriving isBlechnum novae zelandiae or Gully fern this is an evergreen fern from New Zealand although last year not! In fact I did not expect it to have survived last winter as it is considered to be semi hardy.
My Teterapanax ‘Rex’ is looking particularly colourful at the moment with its Autumn colours. Last year this plant decided to flower and was really clobbered and as a result I lost all the stems on this plant but was rewarded by lots of offshoots which in Spring were promptly dug up and potted for selling this year. As can be seen from the photograph the couple of shoots that were left made quite a bit of growth despite the horrendous drought we had last year.
Just a short distance away my aliums are just starting to flower extremely early but I could not resist including a picture. The variety is Allium triquetrum.
My eye wanders across the way and is caught by a Fatsia ‘Spiders Web’ which is just coming to the end of a flowering.
Some people do not like variegated plants but ones that have visited the garden and have said this and seen this plant doing its thing in a shady area have usually gone away from the nursery with one! I do have two other varieties of variegated Fatsia in the garden but this is probably my favourite.
Another variegated plant which is steadily spreading nicely is the Cyclamen hederifolium which is looking really nice at the moment.
I am quite pleased to see the above Begonia still above ground giving a splash of unexpected colour in another shade area of the garden. This was sold to me as being hardy and so far has proved to be so much to my delight. It normally has died back by now and does not show itself again until about June but in the polytunnel stays evergreen so providing nothing too harsh comes along weatherwise may prove to be evergreen outside.
My Musa Basjoo which I do not protect is also looking reasonably healthy. I know that if I wrap it I will get a sizable plant but where it is I am quite content for it to do its annual 2-3 foot.
Yet another variegated plant! This is looking a picture at the moment as you will probably agree. This is considered as semi hardy but up to last winter had survived for me. It fortunately is easy to propagate from cuttings so I did have an insurance plant to replace it after last winter.
Finally my Mahonia oiwakensis – BSWJ3660 has got 1 bit of flower on it hopefully this will produce some seed fingers crossed. This Mahonia has beautifully long leaves and a densely packed flower head when mature with a beautiful scent.
Yet another plant ahead of itself I normally do not see this flowering until the end of January middle of February but as you can see full-out! Yesterday it looked fantastic in the sunlight.
Still valiantly chucking the odd flower out was this Cirsium although this flower is coming to and end the plant is still sending more buds up.
I then went to the polytunnel to see what I could find there and was amazed by this Bouvardia ternifolia still flowering! THis plant has been constantly in flower since July and according to Bob Brown from where I obtained it is hardy. After last winter I was unwilling to try so this is chugging away in the poly for this winter perhaps it may go in the ground this Spring!
A few other poly tunnel plants which caught my eye.
Way too early for this chap!
Arisarum proboscideum or mousetail plant a delightful woodlander whose flowers resemble mice burrowing into the ground hence the common name. I was prompted to see how they were coming along in the garden and found them just starting to emerge!
This morning (Jan 3rd) like the rest of the country I woke up to absolute grott as far as the weather was concerned so plans of carrying on with the Winter project went out of the window and with the way the wind was are probably in the North Sea now! A revised plan was then made and it involved retail therapy. We went to the wholesalers and picked up some bare root Dicentra, rhubarb and Agapanthus for potting on for Spring sales. We then went to a wholesale grower in the area to replenish our stocks of some really nice German bred Hellebores. They are not cheap plants but they have never disappointed us with the amount of flower they produce as well as flowering period. THey are part of the Gold collection and the varieties we picked up today are pictured below.
I am not a big fan of pulmonaria but was tempted by the following so may have to rethink my views on this group of plants!
I hope that you have enjoyed my ramblings and the plants. Do not hesitate to leave a comment if you have!