Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Starting Cyclamen from Seed

The ripe fruit capsules of Cyclamen are best planted when ripe, although even seed such as these which have ben stored for several months have a high ratio of germination.

Cyclamen seed on damp paper towel, fold the paper over and then put them in a sealed plastic sandwich box.

Leave the box in a cool dark place ( a cool corner of the basement works for me). Check them every now and again and you'll find that in about two weeks the seed will start to sprout a little corm with roots and the beginnings of a leaf stem.

I then transfer them to soil, making sure they have good contact with the surface and then I sprinkle some fine gravel ( I use Turface ) until they are just covered.

In a few weeks you'll see the leaves break through the gravel.

Keep them in the pot for at least two years, in that time you will have identified your favourites which you can pot up or plant out in the garden ( the best time for this is late July just before they come out of summer dormancy).

Although plants may take up to three or four years to bloom, every one has unique foliage that can be enjoyed in the years that they mature.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Under Glass

This has been an unusually mild Winter, but under glass it is even milder and already many plants are beginning to bloom.

These Narcissus romieuxii enjoy the cool atmosphere of the greenhouse and even though they are eventually pollinated and set seed, the flowers seem to last for weeks.

In the greenhouse the Cyclamen coum are just beginning to bloom.

This a promising sight, a large number of buds have been set on thee seven year old plants.

The buds have been sitting close to the soil for months and now triggered by lengthening days they are starting to raise above the leaves and open.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Agaves in Winter

In the Summer I keep all my Agaves on a series of shelves on the third floor deck, I call it my Agave Theatre. Here they can enjoy the great outdoors from late April to late October. If there is a touch of frost at the extremes of this period, I cover them at night and so far they have not suffered from the sudden drop in temperature. They are surprisingly resiliant and in fact a few have survived being left out in the snow. In the Winter the small Agaves go downstairs and are kept under lights, but the larger plants stay on the upstairs in a bright cool window.

Many of my Agaves are unidentified, often they are rescue plants from florists and the dreaded killing fields of the houseplant department of Home Depot.

This is one I can identify, as I found it as a sport offset of Agave angustifolia.

I wish I could identify this one, I bought it in very poor condition from a garden centre and over time I have been rewarded as it grew in vigor into this lovely form.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Roller-coaster

The graph of the fourteen day local weather forecast looks like a roller-coaster. This weekend the temperature was a frigid -12C with a heavy snowfall. Yesterday it bounced up to+3C and over the next few days it is supposed to reach +6C with a steady rain that has already washed away the weekends snow.
Because of this, it has been difficult to post images that show the current state of the garden, it's been cold enough to bring out the intense colour on the Abies koreana Aurea , but warm enough for my witch hazel Hamamelis x intermedia "Jelena' to burst into bloom. For a short time we had enough snow to transform the appearance of plants and objects, but now that has washed away, for the time being anyway. More snow is forecast for the end of the week!

This is not an unusual sight in January, the witch hazel is always ready to take advantage of any mild weather that comes its way. When its mild the flowers unfurl only to fold up again when the temperature drops.

This little Abies koreana is colourful year round, but is at its best in the Winter when its foliage ranges from lemon yellow to lime.

This Molinia caerulea is not one of those grasses that provides vertical interest in the winter garden, in fact it seems to collapse way before it's hit by heavy snow falls, for that reason I gave it a severe haircut this Fall and I have been rewarded with this spiky transformation.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ancient Yews

One of the most impressive sights we saw on our trip to Wales this Fall were the ancient Yew trees that we found in a number of places. The largest of these were in church yards that were allowed to grow into great towers that threw the cemetery into deep shade.
But others found in gardens were carefully groomed, but with age, had taken on an asymmetry that followed the wishes of Nature rather than that of the gardener.

These old yews in Powys Castle were not the largest or even the oldest, but they date back to at least 1743 when they were included in a drawing of the castle and gardens.

This is the trunk of one of the yews that makes up the yew tunnel at Aberglasney Gardens and this too is thought to be planted in the eighteenth century.

This shows how a row of Yew was bent over and trained into a tunnel.

This is one of the Yews surrounding Capel-Y-Ffin which has been described as 'squatting like a stout grey owl among its seven great black yews'.

In this picture my friend Vicky helps give some sense of the scale of this Yew in Nevern Church in Dyfed.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Seed Starting Update

"Planting Out" a linocut by Clare Curtis.
I found this to be a great inspiration to get started

Back on 7th December I posted this image of Pelargonium seed that I collected in the Fall. At that time I also planted some Geranium and Salvia greggii seed. It was an early start, but since all these are tender perennials, I figured they could be grown on indoors for some time ( although I know they will much prefer the Summer sunshine when they are eventually moved outside).

The nice thing about Geranianaceae and Salvia is that they germinate very quickly and you get instant gratification at a time of the year when you most need to see something growing.

This is a Geranium sanguineum seedling emerging after only ten days or so.

I have four Salvia greggii seedlings from seed taken from a hot pink form.

These are Geranium and Pelargonium seedlings. They were collected in a hurry and are unidentified, and should lead to some interesting surprises as they mature.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Entrances and exits mark the beginning and the end of your journey through a garden. Like the cover of a book, they inevitably give you some hint of what to expect when you walk through to the space beyond.

Sometimes they invite you in...

Other times they say "keep out".

This substantial door in the wall of a kitchen garden had a sign that said "Please keep the door closed as rabbits can enter this way".

This gate was intriguing, but I'm not sure if it's saying "Keep Out".

This gate has a story, David and I visited Powys Castle twice in the course of the last few years and twice found that we had arrived on the the one day of the week when it was closed to the public. David( who hadn't visited before) could only look longingly up at the Castle and gardens from the wrong side of the gate.

Fortunately on the second visit, we had time to come back the following day when the castle reopened.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Years Day at the JBM

I was in Montreal for the New Year's celebrations and had the opportunity to visit the Montreal Botanic Garden, which turned out to be a good way to start 2012.
The glasshouse displays were terrific, although sadly, thir excellent Begonia collection had not yet been planted out.
Since I'm not terribly knowledgeable about tropical plants, I decided to focus my camera on colour and texture.
This is something of what I saw, please don't ask me to identify any of these plants in any detail.