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Rachel's Journal

Rachel's Journal February 2010

Last Post 2918 days 17 hours ago


28 February 2010 19:43:28


Sowed 3 more trays of Cosmos this evening and the six Bat Plant sees that Bill sent me (thanks, Bill. Fingers crossed!).

I now have 31 trays of seed on the go and a few additional pots, with the likes of Ricinus, Bat Plant etc.

As each tray contains 24 cells, that makes 744 plants : )


27 February 2010 18:01:43
Lycoris radiata (photo from net)

Lycoris radiata (photo from net)

I was delighted to see something different among the Lidl summer bulbs.

I found a Lycoris 'Aurea' bulb and, of course, had to buy it although I had never heard of it before.

Once I got home I looked up my faithful reference books - Anna Pavord's 'Bulb' and Anne Swithinbank's 'The Greenhouse Gardener' but found no entry for Lycoris. I did find it, however, in my RHS Encyclopaedia.

Of course, I did a few googles too and learned a little about this Asian bulb, sometimes known as the spider or hurricane lily. It is often grown at the edges of paddy fields in Japan, for colour, and in China it is associated with graveyards where it flowers around the autumnal equinox. In Chinese mythology Lycoris is supposed to guide the dead to the next reincarnation.

In terms of practical information, I discovered that Lycoris are seldom hardy in this part of the world and need a lot of sun to bloom. They also prefer a slightly acid soil.

Today I potted up my Lycoris in a 5.5" pot, using Brown Gold and a couple of handfuls of grit. Lets see what comes of it.

Pennisetum & Other Seeds

26 February 2010 17:37:53
Zinnia elegans Envy Double (photo from net)

Zinnia elegans Envy Double (photo from net)

I weakened today and sent hubby to buy another set of Aldi shelving - 4 tier this time. The two sets in my kitchen are full. If I turned all 3 sideways I reckon I could fit them beside the patio doors!

In anticipation I sowed 3 more trays of seeds...

Zinnia elegans Envy Double (pictured)

Impatiens tinctoria

Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum'

I would like to say that since collecting the Pennisetum seed, I have since read some interesting discussion on various gardening internet sites.  There is some suspicion that this plant may actually be sterile. However, the seeds are for sale on some sites and another report claimed that they could grow from self-seeding. So, for anyone to whom I gave Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum' seeds, you may want to wait and see how I do, before bothering to sow yours.

More Hedge & Glory Lily

26 February 2010 13:07:04
nepenthes leaf

nepenthes leaf

I got another nine privet plants down this morning. Maybe nine is my limit as this seems to be the number I put down each day. More like that nine is the number that fits in my car.

Hubby dug the extra holes for the recesses, where benches will go, in the hedge. There was a fair bit of cursing with the first recess as the ground was like a rock. Thankfully the second one went easier. And more thankfully still - the digger dug a trench for the vast majority of the hedge! We wouldn't have been able to dig it ourselves at all. This is because the hedge is along the edge of a rocky cliff, with the emphasis on rocky!

The soil is really sticky out there and, before long, my gardening clogs were twice their normal weight with all the extra mud I was walking round. Very glad to be indoors again. I'm all our of ordinary compost and chicken pellets.

So, once in, I decided to take the good advice I gave Bill on planting his Gloriosa superba root asap. Last year my Glory Lily took 68 days from planting until the first shoot appeared. After that it was more than two months to flowering so... best get it done now.

I took a trip to the greenhouse to check on last year's root which had been over-wintered out there, wrapped in fleece. The news was not good. It was completely rotten. Five minutes irrational upset and I was back on form. This year I have bought 3 Gloriosa superba roots which I am planting in a large 12" pot. That is done now and I even found a suitable place for the pot in the house. So onwards and upwards.

Grass Baby

26 February 2010 09:02:39
Grass Baby

Grass Baby

It was a very busy day yesterday with little time for gardening.

But I did pick myself up a good lot of Dahlias, and a few other tubers, from Lidl.

Late last evening, it was considered time to cut the hair of the little Grass Baby from Clara. Here is "Baba" after his new hair cut.

Heads Up

25 February 2010 09:05:15
Gloriosa superba 'Rothschildiana'

Gloriosa superba 'Rothschildiana'

I know many of you are planning on buying some summer bulbs at Aldi today. Me too.

I would advise getting in there early to get first pick.

The €2.99 ones are of particular interest to me. Obviously they have a great selection of Dahlias but do look out for the rarer ones too. Last year they had Ornithogalum, Eucomis and, as pictured, Glory Lily. The in in the photo flowered for me on 10th of July and was a real beauty.

12:37 Correction

The good bulbs/tubers are in Lidl today.

Johnstown Order

24 February 2010 21:31:16
Johnstown Order

Johnstown Order

Myself and Linda recently ordered a load of plants and bulbs from Johnstown Garden Centre. The postage is a fixed €10 so, between the two of us, that was certainly more cost effective than trooping up to Dublin. The order arrived today.

Of course plants are still dormant so don't look their best, but I am very pleased. We also received 2 free gifts and some plant food samples. My plants were...

Sprekelia - Jacobean Lily X 2

Canna Wyoming - Indian Shot X 2

Pleione formosana - Hardy Orchid 

Albizia Summer Chocolate - Silk Tree

Cornus kousa - Chinese Dogwood

Coronilla glauca Valentina (free gift)

The only fault was the packaging, which wasn't great, but thankfully none of our order was damaged. Even the tall Cornus, which had been bent to fit the box, was intact.

So, this evening it was time to pot up my Canna, Sprekelia and Pleione. All these looked in good nick and the Cannas even had shoots already. I would normally have a good look at any bulbs/tubers/roots I buy to ensure they are firm and have signs of growth. Obviously I hadn't been able to in this instance so I was pleased to find they were all good.

And finally I sowed another tray of Schizanthus and two of Cosmos. I am hoping the Cosmos will germinate at room temperature as I have no spare heat mats but feel I need to be getting on with sowing.


23 February 2010 17:56:54
Ricinus communis Zanzibarensis (Photo from net)

Ricinus communis Zanzibarensis (Photo from net)

I'm just rushing off to bring the lads to music lessons but had just enough time to sow another tray of seeds.

I have grown fed up with my Eustoma, as it refuses to germinate, so it's come off the heat. There's always one, isn't there?

In its place, on went a tray of Canna warscewiczii and Cobaea scadens (ordinary colour).

Yesterday's tray was equally exciting as I sowed Ricinus communis Zanzibaransis. I am quite excitied about this Ricinus as it seems to grow bigger than the other purple ones. It's green in colour and hey... if my Tetrapanax rex doesn't live up to expectation, maybe this annual will do the trick!

Follie of a Hedge

23 February 2010 12:31:41
Follie of a Hedge (photo from net)

Follie of a Hedge (photo from net)

It was bitingly cold this morning but I managed to get the remaining nine privet plants down before the snow started falling. The hedging is definitely better off in the ground than in bags, even if I did my best to close the bags over. Now I need to make another trip to Pat's to bick up the next instalment : )

After the plants were in, I went to put the hose on them but couldn't work out why the water wouldn't come out. It was frozen!

I am getting quite excited about this hedge now. It is not going to be an ordinary hedge. Oh no. I have already marked  out where two alcoves will go. Each will hold a bench in its recess and will be a great secluded place to sit, maybe with a little red flame creeper running through the hedge around the bench. And there will be buttresses and windows too!

I found this great photo on the internet. Although my plans aren't nearly this elaborate, wouldn't it be great?

Does anybody want...

22 February 2010 13:45:29
18 bags of J artichokes for freezing

18 bags of J artichokes for freezing

Jerusalem artichoke tubers for planting?

Just let me know. I have lots.

Out & About

21 February 2010 18:51:37
green privet hedge being watered

green privet hedge being watered

This morning I took a trip down to Pat's to pick up the privet hedging he has kindly offered me. Luckily there was no snow, or even ice, around my way today.

Pat's garden was amazing, as usual, with the scented Daphne in full flower and the higher 'contemplation garden' looking almost as good as it had done in summer! Hubby was very impressed and has come away a long wish list.

Pat and Barbara were in fine form and there was evidence of much work already done. It was great having a chat and a cuppa and we did not leave empty handed. Half the privet hedging (which is really tall) was already in bags but we could only fit about half of that in the car. Indeed, on the way back I even had two plants in the front so it was lucky there were no sudden stops! Pat also gave me a mass of RHS magazines which I am now getting my teeth firmly into.

Back home again and we realised that the mini digger, with the key in it, should not go unused. This time we didn't consult our kids and just got on with removing another bump (or should I say feature) from our garden. This lesser bump was called "Gordon's Hill" (after the Thomas the Tank Engine character) by my boys. It is no more. And Sammy even walked over it later in the day and didn't notice it was gone so I think we've gotten away with that!

After a cup of tea, I was out again. I felt like Liz M did in her last journal. It was a beautiful sunny day and before long my many layers were being jettisoned. This time I was out to plant some of the new hedging. In fact I got 9 plants down and watered before hubby had the dinner ready. I was amazed how many plants were in the bags. Thank you so much, Pat. This is great - a ready made mature hedge. Quite a good day's work all in all.

Isoplexis, Aphids, Orchids & Frost

20 February 2010 22:39:47
Odontocidium 'Hansueli Isler'

Odontocidium 'Hansueli Isler'

This morning was spent in feeding and watering my orchids and re-potting a Cymbidium. It is great to see all the new growth. But I was reminded of the real reason why I love orchids when I went to spray my bananas again. The real reason why I love orchids is that aphids do not. And as I am an aphid magnet, any plant that is not troubled by them is okay by me!

This evening I asked my daughter to choose which seeds I should sow and she chose Isoplexis isabelliana. I now have a tray of these Canary Island beauties on the heated mats : )

I took a trip down last year's gardening journal this evening and noted that on 27 February last year, I put hardy annual seedlings into the greenhouse to overnight. The night time minimum was 5 degrees then. It did drop to -2 on 3rd March last year but I took all my seedlings into the house the night before. They were soon out again into the greenhouse and following by half hardy annuals. However, this would be inconcevable this year as the temperatures are just too dreadfully low.  I think spring will come later this year. I'm glad I invested in the second set of shelving for the kitchen for my seedlings.

Mutiny on Babies' Hill

20 February 2010 15:38:32
Josh, victorious, on Babies Hill

Josh, victorious, on Babies Hill

I mentioned in passing yesterday that, as we had the equipment in, we should do all three outstanding gardening jobs at once.

One of these is to level the bumpy ground in front of 'Daffodil Hill'. My boys call it 'Babies' Hill' because they used to play on it when they were babies.

When I mentioned this, there was war!

A great winging and protest arose and I was beaten into submission.

So, Babies' Hill has been given a reprieve : )

In the photo Josh is on Babies' Hill. Daffodil Hill is the bump with the bamboo on it (and lots of Daffodils) and the cliff is behind. To the left of Babies' Hill is a raised bed, ending in a dry stone wall, with fencing at the back. I grew sweet pea on this fencing last year (the brown twigs in the photo) to hide Babies' Hill.


20 February 2010 15:25:23


I think I might need more than Pat's 30-35 hedging plants. Whaddya reckon?

That orange speck at the top of the photo is my Sam. He is at the top of the trench at the top of the cliff. The camera is at the bottom.

The pile on the right is bark chip and behind the shed. To the left are the veg beds.

We didn't dig the trench right up against the cliff because it will need to be trimmed so someone will need to get out there.

The contour of the cliff meant the trench/hedge will not be straight.

Work in Progress

19 February 2010 23:14:59
work in progress

work in progress

Today it was great watching a load of work get done.

Diggers are brilliant!!!

The pile of rubble on top of our cliff has been a thorn in my side since we moved in here in 2001 and now, finally, it is gone. And best of all there is now a lovely long trench dug all along the top of the cliff, just waiting for a hedge to be planted.

You are supposed to dig a trench to plant a hedge but whenever I had to, I always dug individual holes instead. I mean, why dig double the amount you can get away with? But this time it is being done properly.

I had a lot of other non-gardening things to do today but did pick up another Aldi greenhouse for €17.99. I need it to hold my trays of seedlings in the kitchen as the first one, with four shelves, is now at capacity.

And finally I sowed some more seeds - 2 trays of Coleus and one of Angelica 'Ebony'.

It Begins

19 February 2010 10:26:54
It Begins

It Begins

Work has started on one of my 'problem areas'.

I have piles of rocks at the the top edge of my cliff.

The digger is lifting and removing them. Then it will dig a nice little trench for my new Privet hedge, courtesy of Pat : )

The big digger below is guarding against falling rocks and receiving the scooped earth, which will then be removed. I am always amazed at how someone who knows what they are doing goes about a job!

Pity about my dirty window!

Orchid Opens

18 February 2010 23:11:42
Odontocidium 'Hansueli Isler' (left)

Odontocidium 'Hansueli Isler' (left)

Unfortunately I haven't been able to do a lot of gardening this week as I have other things on.

However, today I did manage to pick up some more propagating trays - 6 insets to be precise. And this was just as well because when I got home another postal seed order was waiting for me.

I had half an hour to spare so this was just enough time to pot on my Cobaea and Brugmansia seedlings. They desperately needed it.

But today's surprise was that my Odontocidium Orchid has finally graced me with a flower.


17 February 2010 13:47:36


Hubby harvested the Jerusalem artichokes today.

There was a whole wheelbarrow full!

They will be washed, par boiled and frozen now to add to stews later on. I think they are tastier than potatoes but they do make you fart!

Jerusalem artichokes are a tuber, not to be confused with real artichokes which are grown for their fruit.

Joshua's Map of His Garden

16 February 2010 22:23:15
Joshua's Map of my Garden

Joshua's Map of my Garden

I'm so excited about the map of my garden that Joshua, my 9 year old, did.

Isn't it just brilliant? There is a bigger picture in the album marked Joshua's Map.

Note the salient features - swing, pond, hedge, greenhouse, cliff, veg beds (dad prompted), house, car,  Snuggles' grave (our cat who died recently), babies' hill (daffodil hill), shed, lawn mower.

Not a single flower bed merits a mention. Is he trying to tell me something?

It's so interesting what kids think interesting.

Cracking Day

16 February 2010 17:47:17
daffodil hill

daffodil hill

It was a cracking spring day here.

Freezing but sunny.

I spotted some more signs of life in the garden - daffodils, tulips, irises, sedums and day lilies are all poking up.

I added a handful of photos to my February album.

Coronilla glauca

15 February 2010 20:34:30
Coronilla glauca 'Valentina'

Coronilla glauca 'Valentina'

Let me tell you a lovely story about how I got a plant I'd been looking for for ages.

I have been looking for Coronilla glauca since last autumn when I saw pictures of it at a gardening talk given by Frances McDonald. It is a beautiful, scented evergreen shrub that flowers its heart out.

Eventually I found it in the Johnstown Garden Centre on-line catalogue and I determined that I really wanted the 'Valentina' variety as opposed to the 'Citrina'. So, as I wanted a few other things and so did my friend Linda, we decided to place a joint on-line order and split the delivery charge of €10.

I placed our joint order a few nights ago but - disappointment - the Coronilla glauca 'Valentina' was  out of stock!!! I placed the order anyway, without it.

Afterwards I got to thinking that perhaps I should have asked. They might have had one plant stuck away somewhere if only I had asked...

Anyway, as chance would have it Head Gardener was heading out Johnstown way on February 14th and I asked him to see if he could find my Coronilla for me.

The irony of asking poor Bill to look for a plant named 'Valentina' on Valentine's Day was not lost on me and I hope not on Bill either ;-)

But Head Gardener could not find Coronilla glauca 'Valentina' anywhere in Johnstown. I gave up on finding it.

Then I got a mail from Johnstown today to say that my order would be despatched next week. While I was in communication with them I chanced to ask when they might be getting a Coronilla 'Valentina' back in. And guess what?

The kindly horticulturist found a single remaining specimen. He is adding it into our order as the free gift. Each on-line order over €30 gets a free gift. Isn't that brilliant??? So, Linda, this is my roundabout way of saying I want the free gift : )


15 February 2010 17:29:05


I had a look at my journals for this time last year and noticed that I had already pruned the roses and was about to start the big clean-up at this time last year.

I also saw that on 15 February last year, hubby gave the grass its first cut. I mentioned this to himself and lo and behold...

I also potted on my 10 Rhipsalidopsis plants, which I had been meaning to do for a long time.


15 February 2010 09:49:35
my garden in foreground

my garden in foreground

This morning I noted a definite sign of spring.

The farmers are ploughing the fields.

I watched as the field, across the road from my front garden, gradually turned from greyish white to a lovely rich and fertile brown.

The tractor passed in horizontal lines as it converted from winter to spring.

The furthest away portion became brown first and it was like the tractor was gradually bringing spring closer to my garden!


14 February 2010 18:40:37
Arisaema speciosum

Arisaema speciosum

What a lovely Valentine's surprise!

5 of my 10 Arisaema speciosum seeds germinated and 3 Hedychium forrestii!

Some of the Arisaema seeds are sitting on top of the compost with roots coming out from the top.

I was slightly concerned about this but then read that the tubers grow their roots from the top. So maybe the seeds do the same. I expect they will sort out which way is up before long!

Tagetes v Calendula

13 February 2010 20:53:19
Tagetes 'Colossus' bigger than a golf ball

Tagetes 'Colossus' bigger than a golf ball

Just a little note to anyone to whom I have sent Marigold 'Colossus' seeds.

I incorrectly labelled the seeds as Calendula 'Colossus' when in fact they should be Tagetes 'Colossus' .

They are indeed French marigolds and I used them last year for my companion planting in the greenhouse. And boy what a companion planting that was! Why use boring flowers when you can use showstoppers, the size of a golf ball?

Amazing Annual 2 (Rachel)

13 February 2010 20:17:07
Calendula 'Candyman Orange'

Calendula 'Candyman Orange'

I don't want to bore everyone, banging on about annuals. I know some people think that growing them is a waste of time. But for those who love annuals, I thought I would tell you about a 2nd discovery I made last year.

We all know marigolds, love marigolds, get bored with marigolds.  But there are lots of different types and it's important not to dismiss them outright. Of course, it helps if you love orange as much as I do : )

Anyway, last year I grew Calendula 'Candyman Orange'. It's a pot marigold and T & M say the following about it..."The longest flowering and best double flowered Calendula we have ever seen on T&M's trials".

I can certainly second that. I thought it was an absolute cracker.

But Calendula (Pot Marigold) is not to be confused with the genus Tagetes (French Marigold), which is the one you want for your tomato companion planting.

Flour Seeds

13 February 2010 18:43:31
3 hippeastrum bulbs in pot - 1 in flower

3 hippeastrum bulbs in pot - 1 in flower

I got around to doing a few bits and pieces today.

First on my list was to repot last year's Datura seedlings in brown gold. I also added some fish blood/bone although no iron! Hopefully they'll just take off now.

I spent some time in the greenhouse too but I'm trying to be upbeat...

Anyway, I decided to sow two new trays of seeds. The first one was mixed Salpiglossis. I already sowed a tray of Salpiglossis 'Kew Blue' form T & M and the 24 measly seeds they gave me only half germinated so I have a very gappy tray as a result. It kind of put me off.

But this time I was sowing Salpiglossis from the Estonian seed company and I am very well disposed towards them because - at last, a decent number of seeds : ) I sowed one tray, with a decent pinch in each cell (tiny seeds so you need a proper number) and have enough seed over for another tray. That's more like it!

Second tray was to hold Coleus. I bought Coleus from T & M and Seedaholic this year but the T & M ones have only half the seed numbers of Seedaholic.

Anyway, I decided to sow two types of T & M Coleus in a 24 cell tray. First up was the Kong mixture. The seeds were tiny and white and, when I lifted the first one, I felt powder in my hand. I thought that was strange but put it down to the disposale gloves I had been wearing with powder on the inside and thought there must be still some on my fingers. So I tried again with the second seed - same thing. I ended with a tiny lump of powder between my fingers. It was the seeds - they just crumbled on contact!?!

Of course I've contacted T & M for my money back and I am sure they will give it.

After all - I wanted flower seeds, not FLOUR seeds : )

My Amazing Annual

12 February 2010 21:20:33
Hordeum jubatum (squirrel grass)

Hordeum jubatum (squirrel grass)

As a follow up to Deborah's last journal on annuals, I would like to make mention of my last year's star annual. It is Hordeum jubatum (squirrel grass).

I must admit that I was slightly skeptical when Head Gardener gave me some squirrel grass seed last spring. I mean, imagine going to the trouble of growing an annual grass!!! But I decided to give it a try.

The squirrel grass germinated and grew easily and I ended up with 24 plants which I planted outdoors in one clump in the annuals border I have in front of my greenhouse.

They were amazing. There was something about the way the light caught the plants and made them sparkle. Another dimension was the movement this swaying grass added to my quite pretty but still border.

In fact I can honestly say that the squirrel grass was the most asked after plant in my garden last year. I would bring guests over to the annuals border, teaming with sunflowers, helychrysum, dahlias, cosmos, marigolds and corn flowers and what would they ask about? Yes, the Hordeum jubatum! So I'll be growing that one again this year ; )


12 February 2010 10:30:26


I took an early spring walk around the garden yesterday to assess the living and the dead. I was also taking a look out for signs of spring.

The unopened crocuses in the photo are the most cheerful thing I could find. We'll pretend we don't notice the moss.

My hellebores are beginning to grow flowers but are a way off from flowering. The camellias, magnolia and rhododendrons have buds. I see daffodils peeping up, especially on the hill I have covered in them. My tulips in pots and some in the ground are poking but no sign of the ones mass planted in the large circular bed.I but a few photos in the "Feb 2010" and "Frost Damage" albums.

My one clump of snowdrops are not yet open but are choked in a clump of grass. They were dug up from someone else's garden two years ago and I had them in a pot last year. It looks like I've inherited someone else's problem. Not sure whether I should just pull the lot up and dump it!

Spring is thinking about coming in my garden but is unwilling to commit just yet.

A moment's Silence (2)

11 February 2010 19:48:10
A moment's Silence (2)

A moment's Silence (2)

Here is the same tree today.

Quite dead.

That is the last post I'm making on plants killed by frost this year.

It's time to move on : )

A Moment's Silence (1)

11 February 2010 19:46:26
A Moment's Silence (1)

A Moment's Silence (1)


Here is a picture of my beautiful Acacia (either dealbata or baileyana), taken on 2nd October 2009.


11 February 2010 12:43:30
Brugmansia & Cobaea

Brugmansia & Cobaea

I few more seeds have germinated...

Schizanthus (Poor Man's Orchid), germinated a few days ago without heat, a nice 24 cell tray full - will have to cull soon (planted 2-3 per cell)

Pelargonium Black Magic, erratic germination, 8 seedlings doing well, 2 withered and 4 haven't germinated (14 in pack)

Cobaea alba, 2 seedlings up this morning, 2 haven't germinated yet (only 4 in pack)

Grass Baby

10 February 2010 16:17:20
Grass Baby

Grass Baby

The postman rang on the door today and delivered me a lovely package. As I wasn't expecting anything, I was very pleased. So I opened it up and found the lovely little grass baby that Clara said she would send me. I had completely forgotten about it.

Thank you so much, Clara. It is so cute.

The boys were delighted when they came in from school and gave their baby a good 15 minutes soak upside down to get his hair growing. They really wanted to put him on their bedroom window sill but I thought we should keep grass baby in the kitchen for the moment anyway to keep an eye on him.

Anyone with kids doing transition year should take note. I think that making these grass babies would be a great mini company project for transition year. They would be cheap to make but people would gladly pay a few quid to get such an adorable little thing for their kids. Thanks once again, Clara, from all of us here : )

Bog Garden

10 February 2010 00:27:22
Bog Garden

Bog Garden

My mind did briefly divert from orchids recently for long enough to check out planters for a bog garden.

I want to make a bog garden this year to house my sarracenia collection.

I don't want to use the traditional wooden barrel but have something more contemporary in mind.

The planter will be lined on the inside with pond liner. I will put it in a sheltered postion somewhere central.

I saw some nice oval planters in the Arboretum, Carlow - about 4ft wide - but they cost an atrocious €99 each. I might need two so the price completely eliminates them from the equation. The photo shows the planters I saw in the Arboretum.

The idea is still in gestation stage...

Extending Orchid Flowering

09 February 2010 12:51:16
5. new flower spikes

5. new flower spikes

It is a wet day here in Wexford and although I have a million other things to do, my attention turns to my orchids.

I thought I would post up a little tip on orchid maintenance for anyone who is interested. If not, then there are many other journals on theis site for your perusal ; )

If you prune your Phalaenopsis orchids properly you can extend your flowering season by months. Phals will already flower for about two months at a stretch so, with this tip, you can keep them flowering for half the year.

I have done a small photo album to go with this journal, called 'Pruning Phal Orchids 9.2.10'. It has a photo for each of the steps below...

1) This tip applies only to Phalaenopsis orchids. Phalaenopsis orchids have broad leaves, come in various colours and are known as 'moth orchids'.

2) When your Phal is in, or has just finished, flower, you can notice little notches at intervals along the flowering spike.

3) At each notch there is a disturbance and a slight swelling. Each of these notches has the potential to form a new bud and a new flower spike. Once all flowers have faded, you can encourage new growth by cutting your flower spike one inch above the highest notch/bud point.

4) Once the flowering spike is cut, a new spike will grow out from the first.

5) The new flowering spike will continue to grow and will eventually produce flowers. Please note that in this photo, the cut has been made too close to the top bud point - 1 inch is advised.  Sometimes the plant will spontaneously produce these flower spikes, as it has done with the lower spike in the photo.

Hope this is helpful.

More Orchids

08 February 2010 14:24:32
cambria orchid

cambria orchid

Last night we took a trip up to Dublin to see my daughter in the Broadway Musical at the Mill Theatre, Dundrum. The Froebel College, where she is studying, has staged this show. Last show is tonight! Anyway, en route I dropped in to Myrtle's to pick up some orchids she had for me. It seems that every time I go up to Dublin lately, I come back with at least two new orchids : ) I have put a nice photo of all three Dendrobium 'Berry Oda' together in my orchid album. They make a lovely purple haze. Thanks once again, Myrtle.

And today, I took a trip down to Lidl to check out their orchids. Needless to say I did not come home empty handed. I came away with a lovely big-faced and delicately flecked  Miltoniopsis (orchid album) and quite an understated hybrid (pictured), which I think is very special. I've no idea what kind of a cross this one is as the label just said 'cambria' so if anyone has any ideas...They cost €7.99 each - very good value!

Datura v Brugmansia

07 February 2010 12:52:23
Datura 'Double Blackcurrant Swirl' seedlings

Datura 'Double Blackcurrant Swirl' seedlings

I am growing both Datura and Brugmansia at the moment so thought I would post a few notes on the difference between the two. They are both very popular and many seed companies are selling both seeds.

Both plants have similar needs and appearance. Both are highly poisonous but can be beautifully scented. The differences are subtle but the differences I found most relevant are...

Datura is a much shorter lived plant than Brugmansia. It is generally smaller and its flowers tend to point up. Traditionally Datura is known as Devils' Trumpets as the flowers look upwards to heaven.

Brugmansia is a long lived, large perennial with downward facing trumpet flowers. It is known as Angels' Trumpets because its flowers look down to where the devils reside.

I am extremely pleased with the double white Brugmansia I grew from a root two years ago. Last year it reached about 4 ft and flowered its little heart out from summer into autumn with the most intoxicatingly scented flowers. I have to laugh as the poor plant is even now forming a few more blossoms.

On the down side, it is big and I dared not put it outdoors at all last year in case the wind made mince meat of it. I overwintered mine indoors.

This year I am growing Brugmansia sanguinea from seed and the first one germinated this morning. This is a red flower. Last year I grew Datura 'Double Blackcurrant Swirl' from seed.

I did have to wait a long time to get the Datura to germinate and in the end I got three plants from 5-6 seeds. One died from dampening off (or some such) but I still have the two remaining seedlings.

The Datura seedlings just don't seem to be doing much - like they're in suspended animation. I noticed that the leaves are slightly pale too so have been giving them tomato feed. Their pot is big enough and they are on a south facing window sill. Any thoughts, folks???

Myrtle's Keiki

07 February 2010 12:04:44
hippeastrum & dendrobium keiki

hippeastrum & dendrobium keiki

When Olga, Dorothy and Myrtle visited me last August 14th, Myrtle was kind enough to bring me a little Orchid. It was the child of Myrtle's Dendrobium Berry Oda. Berry Oda is a lovely hybrid from Dendrobium kinganum x mini pear.

Orchid babies, which are made by aerial division, are called keikis. It is a Hawaiian word.

I've done my best to take good care of my little Berry Oda and was encouraged in mid December by the appearance of what seemed like flower spikes. They were indeed flower spikes and yesterday the first flower opened. Thank you very much, Myrtle, for this lovely Orchid.

Unfortunately, it is hard to get a photo in focus of such a delicate little flower. The photo in this journal, with the Orchid in front of the Hippeastrum to channel the focus, is the best I could do at the minute.

And for anyone who betted on the Dendrobium keiki opening before the Odontocidium, a few journal entries ago, you were right : )

Tree Lily

06 February 2010 16:39:11
Tree Lily

Tree Lily

I had to go to Carlow today for a few bits and pieces.

True to my word though, I stopped off en route in Lidl to pick up two bags of seed compost, more Cosmos seeds and a Hamamelis intermedia 'Arnold Promise'. I was getting jealous of all the Witch Hazel doing the rounds on this site and me with none!

After a trip to the toy shop to spend birthday money, I decided that I deserved a little visit to the Arboretum in Carlow. In truth, I had received their newsletter, saying the summer bulbs were in and since I've been looking for  Lilium nepalanse...

But I was disappointed with the bulb selection at the Arboretum and wondered if the lack of selection was a sign of the recession. No Lilium nepalense and very little that would tempt me to buy now rather than hold out for the Aldi bulbs specials. Thankfully one of the staff let me know that the full bulb shipment is not in yet so there is still hope...

But I did pick up two "Lavon Lily Tree" bulbs. Has anyone grown these? They are suppose to reach 4t in year one, 6ft in year two and 8ft in year three, with stems you can lean a bike against and 24 + scented blooms per bulb. Sounds good. Now lets see if it's true!

And then coffee, fizzy drinks and cake for me and the boys at the Mulberry Restaurant. Not a bad day all round.

More Seeds

05 February 2010 17:34:50
Red Cleome & Petunia Srawberry Sundae

Red Cleome & Petunia Srawberry Sundae

I discarded two trays of seedlings from the greenhouse today - Honesty (Flitters' seeds) and Forget Me Not. The seedlings had been destroyed by frost and I need their propagators.

I also discarded my seed tray of Cimifuga. I sowed this on 23 March 2009 and, as I've had no sign of life to date despite alternate cold and warm treatment, it's time to move on.

So I sowed two new trays of seeds - Red Cleome and Petunia Strawberry Sundae : )


05 February 2010 14:47:17


I made several cuttings last year. The large batches - Penstemon, Sedum, Crambe & Rita D's 2 rose cuttings - stayed in the greenhouse uncovered and their fate is not yet known.

However, all other odd cuttings were put in a large plastic box and covered in several layers of fleece. The box stayed in the greenhouse until -8.4 degrees, when I brought it indoors. It is still in my bedroom.

At first I thought that everything was okay but then, cuttings began to die. However, I think at this stage that whatever is still alive is going to survive. And it's not a bad list. After all, cuttings are free plants that we usually get from kind friends and are a bonus.


Fuchsia Royal Mosaic (although the parent plants seem dead)

Fuchsia Brutus & Prosperity (Myrtle)

Fuchsia from my aunt

Arctotis Hannah (from Myrtle)

Pelargonium (1 from Linda)

Stachys (lamb's ear)



Died (although I won't chuck then just yet in case they re-sprout)

Salvia - 2 types

Eucomis bicolor leaf cuttings

Physalis peruviana (edible Cape Gooseberry - seem to have lost the parent plant too)

Olives & Pelargoniums

04 February 2010 16:55:29
hippeastrum again

hippeastrum again

Not a lot to report today.

Obviously I dealt with my Dendrobium nobile as priority. Treatment was to wash affected areas with clean, tepid water. With the mould on the stem, I had to remove the leaf above and strip back the stem sheath to expose the fungus and wipe that away too. Amazingly all the black came away with a simple wipe.I now need to keep that Orchid dryish for a while and keep an eye on it.

Orchids can suffer from fungal diseases in winter but this does not usually result in death. Poor air circulation, high humidity and cold temperatures would be the reason for my Orchid's problem. Since the latter two are desirable, I need to focus on increasing my air circulation. But I think buying a ceiling fan may be going a bit too far : )

I spent some time cutting back in the greenhouse too. I think now that all my Pelargoniums (including the one my son won last year for politeness in school), Physalis peruvianan (Cape Gooseberry) and Osteospermum are gone so thank goodness for those cuttings Liga gave me in the Arboretum last autumn : )

I now also fear the worst for my Olive Tree. It has lost every single leaf. As you may recall, this tree (Olea europaea) is several years old and was growing outdoors. I think the frost may have killed it. Well, an outdoor Olive Tree in Wexford... not very surprising really : (

Comparison Web Shopping

04 February 2010 10:19:05
Cleome spinosa 'Helen Campbell'

Cleome spinosa 'Helen Campbell'

Experience has shown me that it is best to sow 2-3 seeds per seed tray cell. This is because I want to be sure that every seed tray I sow is filled to capacity i.e. has one seedling per cell by the time I've culled the excess. From my point of view, each seed tray takes as much care as the other so I really resent having to manage trays which are only half full of seedlings.

Obviously with very precious seeds, which are sold by the half dozen, we apply different rules.

Last year I was very impressed with Thomson and Morgan seeds. Although I usually sowed 2-3 per cell, the germination rate was near on 100% so there was a fair bit of wastage. Although T & M provide a low number of seeds, if the germination rate is high then the cost works out about the same as other seed companies (if you don't plant 2-3 seeds per cell).

This year I wanted to grow Cleome hassleriana (or spinosa - they are synonyms). I bought a packet of Cleome spinosa 'Helen Campbell' from T & M for £1.99. I received 50 seeds and sowed them one per cell in two trays. I did this because I want about 50 Cleome and I remembered how successful last year's T & M germination rate was. The results are pitiful. I have about 16 seedlings in total in my 48 cells.

Obviously I will transfer all the seedlings to the one tray but I still don't have a complete tray of 24 Cleome spinosa 'Helen Campbell'. Incidentally, the same thing has happened me this year with T & M Salpiglossis seeds. I will buy more seed but the lesson for me is to stick to my original idea and sow 2-3 seeds per cell as I really don't want this hassle.

So, if I'm not totally enamoured with T & M germination rates, here is some interesting price comparison...

T & M - Cleome spinosa 'Helen Campbell' - 50 seeds, £1.99

Seedaholic - Cleome hassleriana 'Helen Campbell' (same as spinosa) - 100 seeds €1.06

Seemnemaailm - Cleome spinosa mixed (Helen Campbell not available) - 0.3g (looks like over 100 seeds to me)  0.45C

It pays to shop around. Web addresses for these sites...





03 February 2010 17:14:43


I was shocked to discover what looks like botrytis on one of my Orchids today.

Botrytis can affect Phalaenopsis, Cattleya and Dendrobium Orchids and usually manifests itself as black spots on the blooms. My black spots are under two leaves on my Dendrobium nobile.

Although I don't mist it directly, my Dendrobiumm may have suffered as a result of misting overhead plants.

I've isolated the plant and I don't think any of the others are affected. But I'm not quite sure what to do now as conventional advice is to remove affected flowers but I don't really want to strip off my Dendrobium's leaves.

I've made a post on a specialist forum and am awaiting a reply. Has anyone any experience of products to kill botrytis?

Taking Orchid Bets

03 February 2010 00:04:12
Odontocidium & Dendrobium

Odontocidium & Dendrobium

Both my Odontocidium and Debrobium Keiki Orchids are about to flower.

I can't work out which one will flower first.

I got the Dendrobium baby (right) as a present from Myrtle last summer and the Odontocidium (left) I have had for a while.

Keiki is a Hawaiian word for baby and is applied to baby Orchids, produced from aerial division. I think it is a lovely word for my little plant and I am very pleased to see it is making flowers so early.

I've been watching them both for some weeks now with bated breath.

What do you think? Which one will open first?

3 Feb 08.53

I've just seen that Lidl are doing assorted Orchids for €7.99 on 8 February...



02 February 2010 15:51:33
pomegranate thinks it's spring

pomegranate thinks it's spring

In spring the constant scrounge for saucers begins. Without something under indoor pots, my wooden window sills and floors soon begin to show water damage. In fact, the wooden kitchen floor, under where my plants usually go, is fairly wrecked.

I start out using only purpose-made plant saucers, progress to using empty tins, margarine tubs etc. and end up by using every dessert plate and bowl in my kitchen cupboard. This upsets hubby greatly because he likes to be able to use a bowl every now and again : (

I started my first scrounge of the season today as I wanted to re-arrange the plants I rescued from the greenhouse at -8.4. They are still in the bath. But, as they don't get a lot of light there, it's time to find them a more appropriate place. As I did the job, I cut back most dead foliage. My poor large Agave americana is no longer large! But I'm just glad it's alive, to tell the truth. And there is good news, my mini Pomegranate tree is showing signs of life : )

And finally I rigged up the tin foil reflector on the greenhouse in the kitchen. Hopefully all my seedlings will grow straight now (photos in 'seeds' album).

Incubation Area

01 February 2010 20:06:49
Incubation Area

Incubation Area

I thought I would post this journal to give you all a laugh!

Here is my set-up for germinating seeds.

This is my bedroom and the window you see in the photo is north facing. On the top shelf of the Aldi greenhouse (minus the plastic cover) is a large box containing hubby's giant African snail. This box has a heated reptile mat under it and a second one over it. I have two seed trays on top of the top mat.

The lower shelf has two heated mats on it and I have put three propagators on top of these.

You can see that the lowest shelf has been removed. I put it into the Aldi shelving in the kitchen earlier today, giving that greenhouse four shelves. I use the kitchen one for seedlings which have germinated, as per my journal below.

The heated reptile mats produce a temperature of around 25 degrees inside the propagators. At this time of year, the bottle neck is in this incubation area because it can only take five propagators.

A Few Little Jobs

01 February 2010 16:17:47
seedlings in the kitchen

seedlings in the kitchen

It was a cold night again here in Wexford. Maybe spring is having second thoughts about coming!

But it wasn't a total waste for my garden. We did a bit of a re-shuffle of the Aldi greenhouse/staging, adding an extra shelf to the set-up I have in the kitchen. I don't need that extra space yet but I'm planning... I took out my tin foil to set up a light reflector, like Krista's, but found I was out of foil. That job will have to wait until tomorrow when I get some more foil.

My Pennisetum and a second type of Chili have germinated so they are now in the kitchen and I potted on my three biggest Ricinis. The Cleome seeds are doing better since I popped them on the heated mats so I think I may get a reasonable germination rate from them in the end. The Eustoma is still asleep! I also sowed my single, precious Mutisia linearifolia seed and left it on the window sill. It needs a low hear (20) but I won't hold my breath...

And finally I potted on the 5 Hyacinths I was given yesterday and left them in the greenhouse. I still have two bowls of Hyacinths out there so working int he greenhouse this spring will be very pleasant.

I have put a few new photos in my 'Seeds' and 'House Plants' albums. 'House Plants' because my pinky orange Hippeastrum has opened up : )


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