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Rachel's Journal

Rachel's Journal January 2011

Last Post 2549 days 16 hours ago


31 January 2011 17:03:59


Here's a bit of fun.

I had to re-pot this brute today.

Look at the roots on it!

Hubby said that he wouldn't have been at all surprised if it had tried to eat me. It has that kind of 'triffid-esque' feel to it.

There's only a small prize for the correct answer - a seedling of Veronica gentianoides or Pulsatilla vulgaris to be handed over at the next meeting.


30 January 2011 23:21:33
Phragmipedium pearcei

Phragmipedium pearcei

On days when I do no gardening, I plan.

On days when I do no planning, I dream.

Today I dreamed of fabulous, wonderful, amazing orchids.

Orchids with twisted shapes and fabulous colours. Orchids that trap insects (not to eat but to help with pollination). Orchids whose complex colour patterns have evolved to mesmerise their pollinators.

Orchids, which cannot be grown from seed without fungal intervention , impossible for the amateur to emulate. Orchids which are difficult to cultivate but worth every second of care that they require.

Window Sill Orchid

29 January 2011 14:14:51
Pleione formosana

Pleione formosana

I opened the fridge this morning to take out some milk (not seeds for a change) and something caught my eye.

This window sill orchid had caught my eye as it seemed particularly pink inside its plastic bag. I put it in the fridge last autumn. The fridge is their ideal over-wintering habitat as it gives them the cold they need yet isn't as unpredictable as Irish winter's have recently become.

Anyway, the orchid was looking so pink because it is full of new shoots. I was delighted and took it out and potted it up. The trick is to be very careful of the newly emerging shoots because if you damage them at this stage you'll get no flowers this year.

I potted the Pleione up in a mix of 2 parts orchid bark, 1 part John Innes no. 3. I put polystyrene in the base of the pot for drainage and only buried the bulbs two thirds of the way.

These are such easy orchids. They bulk up easily. They take no space over winter (except a tiny spot in the fridge) and the flowers are lovely. In summer, after flowering, they stand in a corner of the greenhouse. I think I will be on the look out for other varieties.

Moving Things

28 January 2011 16:21:51
Aucuba japonica

Aucuba japonica

As per my last journal, I had a great day in the garden today and feel like I got lots achieved, even though I didn't do the things I set out to.

Besides potting up the two Polyanthus roses that I dug up, I also potted up this big Aucuba japonica.

This Aucuba is more than ten years old as I had it in a pot in our previous garden and it came with us when we moved. It was considerably pot bound when I eventually put it in the ground about nine years ago and it did nothing for a long time. I forgot about it because as my Abutilon vitifolium grew up and out, it hid the Aucuba from view. Only this year and last, when the Abutilon lost most of its leaves, did the Aucuba come into view.

So today I dug up the Aucuba. It had looked small beside the Abutilon but it's actually a really decent size. I will enjoy finding a new home for it.

Clearing Up

28 January 2011 16:08:38
Clearing Up

Clearing Up

There was really no excuse for not gardening today. It was a beautiful, clear, bright day with not a breath of wind. I ran out of excuses so out I went.

My intention was to do a bit of marking out and to dig up the Polyanthus roses, whose bed is about to become a path. They were hard to dig up, with their long tap roots, so soon I was huffing and puffing. I decided that I really should prune them first as it would make them easier to handle. It was a good excuse for a rest from digging. Soon one thing led to another and I had pruned all the roses in the garden but only dug two up.

I then started weeding and clearing back in my hellebore bed and discovered loads of flower buds. It is hard to explain the irrational type of joy this discovery gave me. But I don't think I'm the only one to feel this way about spring bulbs.

So, one thing lead on to others and I ended up clearing four beds. They were small ones, mind, but a bed is a bed in my book! I didn't cut back any grasses or Penstemon as I thought it was a bit early.


27 January 2011 22:45:49
Protea subvestita

Protea subvestita

I started my seed sowing today. Such fun.

Actually, the way it happened was fun and the laugh was on me. You may recall that I recently put all my seeds into a spreadsheet so I could work out which ones should be sown first and keep good tabs on them. Now, after that much work wouldn't you think I'd have consulted the spreadsheet? But no!

What happened was that I needed something to cheer me up so I decided to sow some seeds. I couldn't be bothered going to the computer to check out what to sow. Where's the spontaneity in that?  Instead I much preferred to rummage through my seed box and sow what grabbed my fancy. So, that's what I did!

So here's where my spontaneity led today :  Aristolochia chilensis, Leontochir ovallei, Roscoea 'Blackbird', Strobilanthes atropurpurea, Wahlenbergia 'Snow-Cap', Paradisea lusitanica, Francoa 'Pink Giant' and Pastithea coerulea. And I soaked my Musa 'Tiger Stripes' and Rhodophilia seed. I did do a good bit of research on the net, trying to find the best way to germinate all of these (not wanting to trust the advice on the packet completely). So, if anyone has experience of growing any of these seeds, I'd love to compare notes.

I also decided to sow into pots, rather than seed trays. The reason for this was to take up less space initially and, besides, many seed types offered me fewer than 24 seeds (the number needed to fill a propagating tray). I'll just have to do more potting on.

I checked the number of seedling trays I currently have on the go as I have sown a lot of 'cold seeds' since last autumn in the greenhouse. The number is 50 pots/trays on the go!!! It feels good to be back in the saddle!

This was supposed to be fun...

26 January 2011 21:29:01
Andean Choice Bulbs

Andean Choice Bulbs

I decided this evening to raise my spirits by sowing the first of my seeds. I chose something fun, something different, something exciting. I chose my Andean Choice Bulbs from seed.

But, oh my god! First problem was that I was provided with a pack of mixed seeds and a list of contents. But there was no way to know what seed relates to what name. I was very annoyed at this. Obviously you can't sow 12 different species in the same way. And, they don't guarantee that all 12 species are included!

The first thing I did was sort the seeds into different types (as best I could). I have (possibly) 10 different types of seed. I found sowing instructions for 2 types (Leucocoryne & Rhodophiala) in my encyclopaedia but no way to know which seeds these were.

I then went to work on google and after some hours I think that the large flat seeds are Rhodophiala. I am potentially supposed to have five different species of Rhodophiala but I'm guessing that the seeds might all look similar, although they don't all necessarily take the same stratification period!

I am tentatively sure that the 3 large black seeds in the photo are Pasithea coerulea.

Small, black, slightly oblong seeds are Tristagma sessile but I have 4 groups of small, black, slightly oblong seeds so...

No idea which are Fortunata biflora, Leucocoryne conquionbensis (a mistake for coquimbensis surely?), Phycella andina, Placea ornata & Zephyra eleganta (a mistake for elegans surely?). If indeed I was given all of these five.

I think I am in danger of loosing my mind. Time for bed.

Abandoned Plans

26 January 2011 14:47:51
Magnolia soulangiana 'Superba'

Magnolia soulangiana 'Superba'

I had several plans for today.

I was supposed to mark out new beds and do a bit of preparation for my latest project.

A bed of roses needs to be dug up and put in pots.

A hedge or Rosa rugosa needs to go on the tip.

But nothing happened in the end : (

Blue Monday

24 January 2011 16:29:11
Drosera capensis 'Alba'

Drosera capensis 'Alba'

It's cold, wet, dark and dreary here.

I reshuffled my plants to afford best light and fed some orchids.

Nothing else done.

Blue Monday. What more need I say?

January Sale

23 January 2011 17:21:48
Hamamelis intermedia 'Feuerzauber'

Hamamelis intermedia 'Feuerzauber'

My hubby must have been wondering today why I volunteered to drive our son over to his friend's house. The real reason was that a nearby Garden Centre was having a 30% discount sale on all plants and today was the last day.

Although I didn't get as long as I would have liked to look around, I am well pleased with my purchases :

Viburnum 'Davidii'

Hamamelis intermedia 'Feuerzauber'

Sambucus nigra 'Black Lace'

Note to self : get your arse in gear this year and propagate the numerous black elders that you now own. I could do with more and they can't be hard to propagate.

Oh, and I picked up two orchids, that had finished flowering, for €3 each. They are some type of Oncidium/Cambria but are different from each other so it will be a nice surprise to see the colours when they eventually flower again.

Orchids in Flower

23 January 2011 13:54:48
Orchids in Flower

Orchids in Flower

I noticed this morning that my white Cymbidium is just going over but the Ludisia and others are in good flower at the moment.

Miltoniopsis, Dendrobium, Laeliocattleya and various Phalaenopsis are in spike and to come.

Anyone looking for my orchid album will need to look to the 11th row of albums in my photos folder.

I started that album quite a while back,  in autumn 2009, so it is not at the end of the photos folder like the other current photo albums are ; )


23 January 2011 10:56:09
Pulsatilla vulgaris

Pulsatilla vulgaris

Linda gave me some fresh Pulsatilla seed last summer.

Unfortunately I lost the first batch, through bad compost, but had enough seed to sow a second tray.

This is the second tray and it's doing well.

When temperatures went below -2, I brought the seedlings indoors.

They are still nt big enough for potting on but they'll get there.

Get Together Reminder

22 January 2011 14:41:29
SA plants

SA plants

Just a reminder that our spring get-together will be at 1pm on Saturday 5th March in Johnstown Garden Centre. Please let me know if you are coming.

By the way, this afternoon when Brian Cowen's resignation was announced there was a spontaneous outburst of applause in the Johnstown cafe. It really says it all.

We have 27 confirmed to date and two maybes...

itAlainn 1
Bruno 1
Clara 1
Drumanagh 1
Fran 1
Gismo 1
Gracedieu Lass 2
HeadGardener 1
Hosta 1
Ingrida 1
Jacinta 2
Kate & Graham 1
Keego 1
LindaB 1
Maureen 1
Myrtle 1
Orchid 1
Periwinkle? 1
Rachel 1
SeamusC? 1
TheH 2
Violeta 1
Liga 1
Wellie 3

Enough Already

21 January 2011 14:11:00
Enough Already

Enough Already


As they used to say in Friends... 'enough already'.

It's bitterly cold here today.

And a heavy fog is down too.

More icy photos in my January album.

Castor Oil Plant

21 January 2011 13:31:49
Ricinus communis 'Zanzibariensis'

Ricinus communis 'Zanzibariensis'

I am very please, however, with the number of Castor Oil, Ricinus communis, seeds I got.

I did not have to buy any of this seed this year. And just as well, as they are a bit pricy.

Unfortunately I got few seeds from the purple varieties but if all these green Ricinus grow for me I will be well pleased.

Sorting the Wheat from the Chaff

21 January 2011 13:27:02
Sorting the Wheat from the Chaff

Sorting the Wheat from the Chaff

I decided to sort out the seed I collected last autumn.

Here I am separating Callistephus chinensis 'Siam' from its dried foliage.

I am not going to offer seed to anyone this year, however, as there were a few experimental collections - like Pennisetum 'Cream Falls' where I'm not sure of the viability of the seed at all.

But, you have to try these things to get better at them.

Slug Attack

21 January 2011 07:53:47
orange blossom

orange blossom

Late last night I was in the kitchen and glanced over at my Laelocattleya orchid. It has a grand, firmly developing bud so I regularly take a glance.

And there, shinnying up the flower spike, almost at the bud was... a slug! In the house! Where had that little *** been all winter. He's out in the frost now, I can tell you. No mercy. I seem to have caught him in before he did damage.

It was a cold one though last night. My outdoor thermometer has stopped working so all I can say with certainty is that it was -4.1 in the greenhouse last night. The thermometer is a bit like Lidl freezer bags. They work well at room temperature but when they freeze, they burst and you get frozen apple all over the bottom of the freezer.

Clare's Wallfower

20 January 2011 18:55:17
Clare's Wallfower

Clare's Wallfower

Clare dug up a piece of her perennial wallflower for me recently. It was only afterwards that I realised what a big deal that was - in this freezing weather. So, thank you so much, Clare.

I adore this colour. It is somewhere between orange and yellow. It's my kind of colour. And the audacity of it to be in flower now! It must be milder round your way, Clare.

Propagation & Children

20 January 2011 13:33:54

Hand of Death

19 January 2011 12:49:56
Acer palmatum 'Sango-kaku'

Acer palmatum 'Sango-kaku'

It was very cold here last night (about -6) and this morning there is a heavy frost.

I expect we will loose a lot of plants this year. Plants that had been lulled into regrowth, in the recent warm spell, will now be knocked for six.

But there's nothing to be done about it so I went out this morning and took some nice photos of the frost in the sunshine.

The garden was eerie. There was low fog and steam rising, coupled with bright sunshine and long shadows. The frost crystals looked fabulous too.

Sago Palm

19 January 2011 12:37:31
Cycas revoluta

Cycas revoluta

Here is my sago palm.

I think it's time to call it on this one.

It got very cold last winter in the greenhouse and I had to cut off all its foliage.

It did nothing all summer and then, just when I was about to give up on it, it started sprouting new leaves.

The leaves seemed fine at first but they're not. They aren't green and they're soft whereas the sago palm usually has quite scratchy fronds.

It was a beautiful plant though so I will be looking out to buy a new one.

The List

18 January 2011 14:34:31
Disanthus, Mount Usher, 16.10.10

Disanthus, Mount Usher, 16.10.10

Does anybody else go around with a list in their coat pocket? A list of plants that you are looking out for? Well I do.

Over Christmas the list in my pocket got a bit buried under the kids' Santy letters and various toy lists but it resurfaced again today.

I took a trip down to Coolaught Nurseries and came back with three trees from the list...

Disanthus cercidifolius

Decaisnea fargesii

Cornus alternifolia 'Argentea'

The photo shows a beautiful Disanthus that I snapped last October in Mount Usher Gardens, when it was added to the list.

Get Together

17 January 2011 12:02:37
Get Together

Get Together

Further to our Christmas get-together being snowed off, we should reschedule. I think there are a lot of us who would like to meet up.

The agreed location, previously, was Johnstown Garden Centre. 

I propose our next get-together for either Saturday 5th or 12th March at Johnstown at 1pm.

How many would be interested and for which date?

More Orchids

16 January 2011 22:24:37


When I was feeding my orchids this morning I noticed that a particular Dendrobium was not looking well. Specifically the new growth was drooping and, on inspection, the new cane was soft. I am not sure what happened to it. Maybe I knocked it! I have now cut the rotten cane back but the very base is still left, attached to a heathy cane. Maybe Liga is around to give advice?

It was an orchid sort of day because I got a message from Claire to say she would meet me in Gorey. Claire had two beautiful white Phalaenopsis for me and a big division of her perennial wallflower (even with a single outrageous flower - at this time of year!). Claire had been kind enough to snap up the orchids at a bargain price, thinking of me. I cut the spoilt flowers back on the orchids to the next buds. I can look forward to new flowers soon. Thank you, Claire.

Sweet Box

16 January 2011 16:04:54
Sarcococca confusa

Sarcococca confusa

My sweet box is now in flower.

The little flowers are very like witch hazel but beautifully scented.

The scent hit me when I opened the greenhouse door today.

Squirrel Grass

16 January 2011 16:02:56
Hordeum jubatum

Hordeum jubatum

I would just like to set the record straight.

Squirrel grass, Hordeum jubatum, is not an annual.

It is not a tender perennial.

It is, in fact, a fully hardy perennial.

This is the second year that my squirrel grass has come back in exactly the same spot as it was in last year.  I do not find that it self sows at all. Later on I will move these plants out of the Annual Border and use them elsewhere.

This is really good news because it is a fabulous grass.

Arnold Promise

16 January 2011 13:42:50
Hamamelis intermedia 'Arnold Promise'

Hamamelis intermedia 'Arnold Promise'

I know that my Witch Hazel is only barely in flower but I was so excited to see it I decided to put up a journal anyway.

I was down at the front of the garden, in my robe, trying to get a close up when a neighbour went by and started taking 'witch hazel'.

Boy did I feel like an eejit in my pyjamas, in January, trying to take a photo of the tiniest of flowers!

What's eating my Michelia?

16 January 2011 13:32:22
Michelia yunnanensis

Michelia yunnanensis

I opened up the greenhouse this morning for a good airing.

Things are looking good in there. I think I've lost my Pelargoniums again but it's okay because I brought about half indoors so at least I have them.

I noticed that something is eating the buds off my Michelia, near the top of the plant. A few leaves are munched to. Could it be slugs?

Actually, I recall Martin saying that the problem with protecting plants with straw is that it hides slugs. But, no 'I told you so' please, Martin!

I wonder what I should do. It seems a bit early to remove the straw. Where can I put the slug pellets?

Hit the Ground Running

15 January 2011 16:17:47
Ludisia discolor 'Dawsoniana'

Ludisia discolor 'Dawsoniana'

My intention is to start sowing seed at the end of January, like I did last year. I am focusing on hardy perennials this year.

For my Annual Border it will be a simpler arrangement because this year I am sowing only five different types of annuals. I still need about 600 plants but fewer types.

I went through my seeds today as I had a quiet two hours alone in the house, threw out the old ones and input everything on a spreadsheet. It will now be much easier to decide on what to sow in what order. I don't have to go rummaging through tins from the fridge before making my selection. And, hopefully, I can hit the ground running at the end of January.

Talk, Monday 17th, Bunclody

14 January 2011 22:36:31
Talk, Monday 17th, Bunclody

Talk, Monday 17th, Bunclody

I was just contacted by a garden.ie member who had seen the notice in local papers about my talk on Monday 17th January.

The title of the talk is 'Plant an Annual Border' and it will take place at 8pm in Redmond's, Bunclody. Although not clear from the paper, the talk is actually open to the public.

So, in case anyone local is interested in attending (I really should have asked Gerry to put it in the last Irish Garden), I would be glad to see you there.


14 January 2011 14:49:02


Here is our first cup of tea from home grown plants, Camellia sinensis.

It will taste better in spring when we can harvest fresh young leaves.

But, where Winston Churchill failed, we have succeeded ; )

Planning Next Year's Annual Border

13 January 2011 00:47:37
Planning Next Year's Annual Border

Planning Next Year's Annual Border

I've been planning my next year's annual border. I plant the large border in front of my greenhouse with self-grown annuals each year. It takes about 600 of them.

This year I am going to work with some planting suggestions I got in one of Christopher Lloyd's books.

The front level of the border will be planted with Salvia coccinea 'Lady in Red' mixed with Verbena rigida. When I saw this combination in the book I just had to try it. I adore the bright red and purple. I will use slightly more purple than is in this photo though.

The tall, back layer in the border is going to be a red leaved Amaranthus (probably 'Hopi Red Dye') mixed with pale yellow Patrinia scabiosaefolia. Again, this is a Lloyd copied scheme. I would never normally give that eggy yellow colour a second glance after spring but it looks fab with the Amaranthus!

And, to break up the large blocks of very strong colours, front and back, I thought that Pennisetum villosum would go well in between. It is light and fluffy and tactile and will add an element of movement.

I mocked up how I think it might look and, yes, I will go with that.

I have sourced the seed and ordered the Verbena rigida tonight. I am still calculating quantities of seed I will need for the other plants. Exciting!

Bath Time

11 January 2011 22:06:35
Canna & Cypripedium

Canna & Cypripedium

I have nothing to share today but thought I would upload this photo for a laugh.

These are my Cannas.

Actually, it's not all my Cannas. The duplicates are in the greenhouse trying to make it through to spring. But, if the ones in the greenhouse die, I will at least have these ones as back up.

The only problem with the back-up plan was that I ran out of space so these are overwintering in the bath.

Santy was clued in this year and didn't bring fancy bubble baths as presents because, well, who wants Cannas int heir bath!

Oh, and my two Cypripediums are there too. Taking the photo reminded me that they were there. They need to go back to the green house. I whimped out when it got really cold and brought them indoors although they should be completely cold hardy.

Snow Collapsed Polytunnel

11 January 2011 00:55:10
web picture

web picture

Today I came across a second large polytunnel, in a garden centre, collapsed by the weight of snow.

This is the second garden centre in Wexford I have seen it happened to. The metal posts buckled under the weight and the whole thing fell in. The two polytunnels were really big ones, notsmall things like the one in this photo!

I asked in the garden centre how it happened and they said they were up until 3am one night trying to get the snow off the top of the thing. They lost a lot of plants with the collapse too - expensive Japanese maples.

Something I wouldn't have considered before. But after seeing the first instance, you can bet I let no weight of snow sit on my glasshouse roof.

New Tree

10 January 2011 17:00:17
Acer griseum and Trachcarpus fortunei

Acer griseum and Trachcarpus fortunei

I went looking for bargains today but found none. As I drew into a certain Garden Centre I was encouraged by the 50% discount signs but soon found that they only related to Christmas decorations. Disappointing.

I went to this particular Garden Centre because I had seen a find specimen of Acer griseum there before Christmas. I thought it might be discounted now but, when it wasn't, I bought it anyway.

I am pleased with the peeling bark effect already visible on this beautiful tree. Slow growing Acer griseum is sold for its bark but I have seen ones for sale with ordinary bark. One time I even saw one grafted at 4ft. What is the point in that? People want nice bark below the 4ft mark too!

I think Headgardener will add to this conversation too as he has had a disappointing experience with this tree.

I do already have an Acer griseum which I got cheap because it is small and, I think, has a broken leader. But it seems to be going nowhere fast so I got fed up waiting for it and have bought this fine 6ft one.

The photo shows my new Acer in the greenhouse beside a Trachycarpus fortunei that I bought the wrong end of the summer so am overwintering in the greenhouse and will plant in spring.


10 January 2011 16:49:23
Heucherella 'Spotlight'

Heucherella 'Spotlight'

I thought I would put up a photo of the only plant I got for Christmas.

It is a Heucherella 'Spotlight' and my youngest two gave it to me.

Actually I chose and bought it myself but they boys never knew that I knew what they'd gotten me (if you follow!)

Excuse the gross yellow pot!

Cleopatra Eat Your Heart Out

09 January 2011 20:23:54
phalaenopsis hybrid, small

phalaenopsis hybrid, small

Inspired by the shininess of Claire E's orchid leaves in her recent journal, I gave mine a 'milk bath' today.

Of course I never actually submerged my orchids in milk, like the famous Cleopatra did with her body. I just wiped them with a tissue dipped in milk. And then I dried them with another tissue.

Just as well I had such intimate contact with them because I noticed aphids on my newly-sprouted Cattleya spike. A quick spray ensued. Orchids don't normally suffer from aphids but, if left unchecked, they can distort the shape of new leaves so I wasn't having that.

And, I didn't do all my orchids - just the Phalaenopsis, Cattleya and currently flowering ones. I do have a lot of orchids, you see, and can't deal with them all in one day.

I must say, the leaves do look lovely and shiny now.

The photo shows a small phalaenopsis which opened today. miniatures aren't normally my thing but I do have this one and it has just opened so here it is!

For Dick

09 January 2011 20:10:24
Dick's Dendrobium keiki

Dick's Dendrobium keiki

Dick, you recently listed your orchids and I noted that you don't have a Dendrobium.

An orchid collector like you needs a Dendrobium! Especially if you, like me, have the luxury of a colder indoor temperature.

The picture shows a Dendrobium hybrid, which I got from Myrtle. We think it is the cultivar 'Berri Oda'. Dendrobiums produce canes and this one produces small scented, purple flowers. 

Originally Myrtle provided me with a 'keiki' from her plant. Dendrobiums can produce babies aerially and, although not a particularly healthy sign for the adult plant, the babies can be potted up to produce healthy orchids.

In the summer of 2009 Myrtle gave me a single keiki. I did not find it very hard to make flower but it was a joy to behold. Liga now has that keiki because Myrtle was generous enough to gift me about a half dozen 'Berri Oda' plants, which make a lovely display when in flower, all in the one pot.

But, I have noticed that my plants have produced a single keiki themselves. There are no others on the horizon but this little plantlet has your name on it. I will bring it to the next get-together that you are attending.

Look what you made me do!

09 January 2011 03:59:13
Aristolochia chilensis

Aristolochia chilensis

I blame you lot. There's been no one on the site tonight to chat with so I've only gone and placed my first seed order for this year.

This year I am growing a lot more hardy perennials but I will have to grow for my large annuals bed too. Tonight I just thought 'perennial'. Of course there were a few mad choices in there - seed for 'Andean choice bulbs' and Aristolochia chilensis. But isn't that all part of the fun! And if it wasn't fun, then why would we bother? So excited now.

My order is...





Hardy Perennials
























08 January 2011 20:42:38


My succulents seem to be keeping well.

I gave them a bit of a watering today.

Despite being on a south facing window sill, the Aeoniums loose their black colour from lack of light in winter but soon blacken up again spring.

I will need to pot a few of these on in spring.

Demise of the Lotus

08 January 2011 20:39:43
Lotus bertholii (I think)

Lotus bertholii (I think)

Unfortunately my Lotus plant looks like it is on the way out.

I'm really not sure what the problem is.

I brought it indoors before any danger of frost, kept it in good light and watered sparingly yet it is gradually going downhill without a paddle.

I also tried cuttings when it was still in good health but they didn't strike. Bill (Headgardener's wife) had been particularly enamoured by it so I wanted to surprise her with a plant. So, I have no back-up.

I think it is Lotus bertholii. If anyone has any knowledge of this plant please advise although I think it is probably too late to do anything.


08 January 2011 15:54:22
Sarcococca confusa

Sarcococca confusa

I'm feeling the need for some retail therapy and some good bargains. Maybe in the coming weeks...

I took a walk around the garden this afternoon. It started out as a stroll but, with the intense cold, soon turned into a brisk march!

There are buds to be seen - Rhododendron, Magnolia, Exechorda, Cammelia, Michelia and Sarcococca. But nothing is actually looking well. The two autumn crocuses, that I saw about to flower previously, have shrivelled instead.

Roll on spring.

Jacinta's Orchid

07 January 2011 19:42:06
Oncidium hybrid

Oncidium hybrid

We arrived home at 3am last night. But we were so glad that the weather hadn't turned bad and we weren't hampered by snow and ice that the late hour didn't matter so much.

As I opened the front door, the most fabulous scent hit me. A bit like Deborah's recent journal but in reverse : )

I couldn't, for the life of me, think what it was and then I realised that all my Hyacinths were in full flower. It's funny how, when you live with a smell,  you often don't notice it any more!

But I had another surprise waiting for me at home. At our Christmas 2009 get-together Jacinta gave me a number of orchids which were discounted in her place of work and in bad shape. I was delighted to get them and determined to bring them back to health. This is the first of Jacinta's orchids to flower.

It's such a pretty little thing - like a young girl in a party frock. Thank you very much, Jacinta.

Dick and Alison, the orchids I gave you are from the same series, although the ones I gave you two were more advanced than this one. Hopefully they will flower for you this year but there are never any guarantees with plants.

Back from Disneyland

07 January 2011 19:28:41
Gratuitous Wookie Shot

Gratuitous Wookie Shot

I am just back from a few days in Disneyland with the family.

We had a fabulous time but, boy was it cold!

My two youngest wore a vest, 3 long sleeved tops, 2 jumpers and a coat, together with long-johns, trousers, 2 pairs of socks, hat and gloves each. Josh, whose a redhead, suffered from sore, raised skin on his face as a result of the cold and, having flown 'no-liquid class', I had no cream to sooth him. But the kids had a ball regardless and were as good as gold.

Gardening? Becasue this is a gardening site after all! Well I had been looking forward to seeing how the winter display there would be, given that no expense is probably spared.The bedding had been fabulous when we were here before in September.

There were a lot of Rhododendrons and Viburnum, edged with box, which looked good and green.

On day four, when it started raining, I saw them bring out bedding of heather and pansies to plant. They were replacing the previous heather and pansies that had been scorched by the frost. Right, I thought. If that's the best there is in terms of winter bedding, I'm glad I don't bother.


02 January 2011 22:52:45
my niece's aloe

my niece's aloe

Aloe ... or should I say 'good bye ah'!

See what I did there? They rhyme. Well nearly.

I will be incommunicado for a few days but will post again soon.

The photo shows the aloe my niece gave me last year when she emigrated. I took the photo to show her how it was doing. It recovered gradually from having brown tips and is now fine.

New Year's Resolutions

01 January 2011 19:01:07
long border

long border

1) Mulch/feed : I will be mulching most of my beds in spring. I will be using cocoa bark this year. Free bark (which I got last year from my brother in law) is all very well but when you have to pay for it, it's best to buy a mulch that feeds.

2) Pot on more quickly : It's hard when you have hundrds of seedlings on the go at once but it always pays to pot on as soon as plants need it.

3) Don't be lazy : It's very easy, when planting out, to not bother with important ingredients. Sometimes it's too much trouble to walk back up to the house to get the bone meal, for example. Next year I resolve to always take the time to use the proper ingredients when planting.


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