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Rachel's Journal

Rachel's Journal February 2014

Last Post 1359 days 8 hours ago

Blue Seed & Purple Crocus

28 February 2014 18:09:10
Crocus 'King of Striped'

Crocus 'King of Striped'

I did a few bits today but not too much as my son was home sick. I seem to have a blue theme in the seeds I am sowing this year, which is odd as I'm not mad about blue at all. But today ageratum, clitoria and heliotropium got sown.

And, I had the first result from the smoke treated seeds, when the Australian Black Boy Grass Tree germinated!

I potted up some dahlias and tender calla lilies in the greenhouse and noticed that the crocuses in pots are in flower.

Hoping that the sunshine will continue.

Complete Surprise

27 February 2014 17:14:06
Clianthus

Clianthus

I spent a while this morning treating scale insect on plants. One Nerium oleander in the greenhouse has a bad infestation. I dragged it outside, where it will stay, and treated with a mixture of ground mustard seed, water and soap. I chose this treatment over paraffin as I was a nervous of using paraffin on plants. I am sure I will have to do several more applications.

So after all that messing, imagine my delight to find clianthus in flower in the garden. Yes, clianthus in flower in February in my garden!

I dismissed it when I saw the buds in autumn because I knew I would loose them but wind rock has made the tree lean and this branch is sheltered behind some other shrubs now. The buds on the exposed branches shrivelled but not this branch!

More Pruning

26 February 2014 16:12:46
More Pruning

More Pruning

We had a lovely sunny day here so it was more pruning for me. I now have heaps of wood around the garden, waiting to be shredded.

The tree lupins needed a lot of pruning after wind damage and there are many plants that now need stakes. I planted two shrubs to replace the buddleias recently lost to wind.

I noticed some dahlias had worked their way to the soil surface and were exposed. So they had to be dug up and buried deeper. That was quite a job and unfortunately some got sliced in the process.

But mostly the pruning was what I did and my muscles are telling me about it now. The photo is from yesterday.

White

25 February 2014 19:55:52
White

White

The spring pot display in the greenhouse is beginning to prove its worth.

Ornithogallum fimbriatum 'Oreanda' is in full flower. This is a bulb that was originally collected by the Latvian breeder Ruksans and, by chance, I was just reading about it in one of his books when I realised I'd bought that very bulb last autumn! It's a keeper.

The Primula 'Rosanna White' is earning her keep this season too.

Thank you, Joan

25 February 2014 19:45:55
Primula marginata 'Nancy Lucy'

Primula marginata 'Nancy Lucy'

I adore this little auricula-type primula, which Joan gave me at the Dublin Alpine Show last year.

Just look how gorgeous it is and it isn't even in flower yet!

This little beauty is covered in powdery farina, which makes the foliage really attractive. I have to be careful not to spill water on the leaves and wash it off when I water.

So, a great big thank you from me, Joan. I remember you and that great day at the show whenever I see this little fellow and it always brings a smile to my face.

Yarn Bombing

25 February 2014 18:22:17
Yarn Bombing

Yarn Bombing

For those of you who remember my previous journal about knitting, here is the progress I've made.

I'm knitting jackets/socks for the trunks of some of my trees for this summer's Open Day.

The two knits on the top right were knitted by my boys in school - more garter than sock but they will have to have a special position.

It is nice to have something to do in the evening that you don't have to think about!

Just like topiary, yarn bombing brings an element of fun to the garden!

Pruning & The Old Bench

25 February 2014 13:42:15

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I managed an hour in the garden this morning before the rain came, focusing on pruning.

I have a lot of sambucus, largely because I've been propagating them, and it is the time of year to prune them.

While I was out I noticed Rhododendron 'Christmas Cheer' in flower. But I also noticed that this old bench will not see another season.

The bench has been bad for a while and I kept it only for appearance (painting it each year) and the fact that it shaded my erythroniums nicely.

Last Open Day I had to put up a sign, warning people not to sit on it otherwise they would end up in the border! Anyway, time to bite the bullet!

Day of Two Halves

24 February 2014 19:16:24
Epidendrum radicans

Epidendrum radicans

The morning was reasonable here so I got out to do a bit of clearing.

Cutting back the Stipa giganea always makes an enormous difference - what a messy plant in winter but lovely at other times.

Then the rain came and now it's raining again and the wind is howling.

More Pleiones

23 February 2014 20:09:26

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Here are a few more pleione photos, a bit better than the last ones taken.

More in the album...

My Orchids 2014

Oh No, Not Again!

22 February 2014 22:42:56

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It seems that everyone is heading to the Botanic Gardens this weather so, not to be outdone, I was up there today.

The journal title is surely what you will say when you hear that there has been yet another Botanic visit !

There was a lecture, organised by the Irish Orchid Society, so that was the first excuse. And the chance to meet up with my daughter and good friend, Liga, also ranked highly.

Liga was there with her family and it would seem that Little Niki has made a friend ;-) But Jemo shouldn't worry because it seems he is very much her favourite too!

It was a hurried visit, interspersed with chat and catch up but a really lovely day.

 

Altamont Snowdrops

19 February 2014 17:56:37

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Finally made it to Altamont Gardens to see this year's snowdrops. It wasn't a bad morning for it either and, despite large portions of the garden being closed from wind damage, I never saw the place looking so well.

Two observations : there seemed to be more snowflakes than I remembered and, as for the snowdrops, the petals of the common type were very reflexed, almost like erythroniums. I never saw that before. I wonder was it due to the winds. In any case it was very attractive.

Didn't buy anything.

I'll put my album up tomorrow morning for those who are interested.

Hellebore Oddments

18 February 2014 16:52:42

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My hellebores are not yet at their best and the Hellebore Bed doesn't look anything special at the moment.

At the back of the Hardy Orchid Bed, I also have hellebores. The standard white ones have been in flower for a while but the fancy doubles are only coming. It is hard to photograph in that bed as I'm not prepared to trample on everything for the sake of getting a close-up photo.

But, inspired by other people's lovely photos, I decided to 'turn up' the ones I have in flower in the Hellebore Bed and was able to take some decent photos.

The first hellebore is really gorgeous but, as of yet, I cannot recommend it as a good garden plant. It has not bulked well since I bought it last year and the blooms are hidden.

The second hellebore has been mixed up with euphorbia foliage by the wind and is looking quite interesting.

The third hellebore is one of Guy de Schrijver's and, although only its seond year, is looking promising.

Douentza, Feb 2014

Sunshine & Destruction

18 February 2014 15:11:24

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Today I noticed that the irises were at their best and, by a stroke of god luck, the sun came out. So, take a trip to my February album if you want to see some iris photos.

I really cannot recommend these miniature little beauties enough. I find them really reliable but you do have to make sure you have cleared all the dead foliage from around them before they flower otherwise you won't see them.

The recent winds had caused little damage in the garden, whcih was very surprising. But today I noticed that two of the large buddleias had been half uprooted!

I considered replanting them but instead decided to scrap them. I have two much nicer shrubs in waiting and, although the buddleia height will be missed for a few seasons, this is a good opportunity to replace something with something better. So up they came!

Douentza, Feb 2014

More Pleiones

17 February 2014 16:30:50
More Pleiones

More Pleiones

I love these little beauties, not least of all because they are no trouble at all.

And also, they flower in spring, at the beginning of everything, like a little taster of the delights ahead of us.

Although orchids, pleiones are also alpines and need a cold winter, somewhere between 0 and 5 degrees. As they are deciduous, I pop my bulbs in the fridge and only pot them up in spring when I see them beginning to grow.

Pleione Britannia 'Doreen' opened for me today and you can see photos in my orchid album.

My Orchids 2014

1 of 9

16 February 2014 12:14:34
Laeliocattleya C.G. Roebling 'Sentinel'

Laeliocattleya C.G. Roebling 'Sentinel'

You may recall the nine cattleya orchids that I posted about before Christmas. Well, they are still opening, all in their own sweet time.

This is the latest one to open, Laeliocattleya C.G. Roebling 'Sentinel', and, although just barely in sheath when I put up my original post, it has outstripped others like Voila, Bob Betts and Coastal Sunrise. It just goes to show. Well, I'm not sure what it goes to show...

Anyway, this one is a gem, perhaps my favourite and the first of four flower spikes has just opened. I will post again when in full flower.

High Tech

15 February 2014 12:09:02
High Tech

High Tech

I have devised an ingenious and high-tech solution for bathing vanda orchids.

I am sure you will all approve ;-)

Pleiones

15 February 2014 11:40:19

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Here are the first of my pleiones to come into flower.

The top one is Pleione Steve James 'Plum Perfection', bred and registered by the man himself. Isn't it a gem?

The bottom one is Pleione Leo, which was only registered last year by Steve James, the RHS acceptance being from the last few months and therefore hot off the press.

STILL ALIVE!!!

14 February 2014 16:43:11

Hail

11 February 2014 14:53:07
Euphorbia characias subsp. Wulfenii ''Tasmanian Tiger'

Euphorbia characias subsp. Wulfenii ''Tasmanian Tiger'

Like Jacinta, chased indoors by hail.

At least I got a chunk of clearing done first.

And at least we've no snow, like in Meath where they have a blanket of the stuff!

Douentza, Feb 2014

Seeds etc

10 February 2014 22:28:16
Hermodactylus tuberosa

Hermodactylus tuberosa

I sowed a few trays of annuals and potted up some more pleiones today.

It was bitterly cold. I couldn't be outdoors for very long.

I also worked with the SA seeds, rubbing off the outer shells of the leucospermum that had been soaking in paroxide and moving them to smoke primer liquid.

I was surprised by blooms on this funny green and black iris in the greenhouse, Hermodactylus tuberosa. It is really a novelty plant for me. I think it would be lost if I planted it out so it'll stay in pots.

Anyone for Tea?

10 February 2014 19:04:06

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I seem to have a bit of a thing for begonias at the moment.

I picked up these four little house plants yesterday and think they are just gorgeous.

They came without names so if anyone knows which they are, please let me know.

Look What I Got!

10 February 2014 17:10:14
Look What I Got!

Look What I Got!

I am like the cat that got the cream. Look what I picked up for a song yesterday!

I'm not saying where though as I hope to claim its twin soon.

It's a display model orchid shelving, slightly damaged.

I'm thinking pelargoniums and outside in summer!

It took half an hour for hubbie to dismantle and get it in the car but I am absolutely delighted with it :)

Really Big

08 February 2014 19:46:06

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I was really surprised by the size of the flower on this Streptocarpus 'Pink Leyla' today.

It flowered for the first time about a month ago but the flower was normal size. I guess the plant was settling in. It is only a plug, after all. I think I have good things to look forward to.

And here's Begonia 'Escargot' again as it's always photogenic.

Paroxide

07 February 2014 15:45:06
Paroxide

Paroxide

Round two of sowing the South African seeds was today.

I made up a big batch of sand, ericaceous and perlite (2,2,1) and potted up the seeds that had been soaking. They will stay in the greenhouse now until they germinate. A free draining, acid compost is very important.

Then I made up a solution with hydrogen paroxide to soak leucospermum seeds in. Once their hard outer shell is removed, I'll give them the smoke primer treatment and pot them up.

While I was in the greenhouse I followed the urge to sow some trays of nasturtiums and marigolds and left them there to germinate.

I sowed both calendula and tagetes but now I'm realising that I'd better rescue the tagetes and put them in a warmer place or they'll never get going.

The sight of seed trays in the greenhouse is such a lovely spring one. Brings a smile to my face :)

Blue

06 February 2014 19:13:00
Ascocenda Princess Mikasa Blue

Ascocenda Princess Mikasa Blue

Here is a true blue orchid, not like the phalaeonopsis you can sometimes buy in garden centres, which have been fed dye.

This is an ascocenda, which is similar to vanda orchids. Both ascocenda and vanda, like this, have ocurrences of naturally blue flowers.

This is a first flowering, for me, of a very time-consuming orchid. But I'm pleased.

Rocks & Pooling

05 February 2014 15:50:35
Rocks & Pooling

Rocks & Pooling

Like most of the country, it's been apallingly wet and windy here.

I double checked the rocks in front of my greenhouse door last night after seeing what happened to Poor Hazel's. This morning there was plenty of water pooling in the bubblewrap on the inside so I had to free it with the broom handle.

Despite the weather, double hellebores and more Iris reticulata have decided it a good moment to open.

Bought hydrogen paroxide and ericaceous compost for round two with my SA seeds. And picked up Dahlia 'Natal'.

Here's an orchid photo from yesterday.

Smoke Priming

04 February 2014 15:32:03

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My plan is to have a protea collection. The flowers are amazing and the plants can overwinter in a cold greenhouse. I was given a selection of nine types of protea seed for Christmas by my son. Proteas are South African plants that need bush fires, as a trigger for their seeds to germinate.

As it's not really the weather for a barbecue, I used smoke priming paper to give the seeds the chemicals they need for germination.

The paper was dissolved in water first and then the seeds were put to soak for 24 hours, each type in a small recepticle with a little of the liquid. I'll sow them tomorrow.

Wasn't Sammy clever to remember to buy me some smoke primer when he was getting the seeds :)

More from Last Summer

04 February 2014 13:06:19

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You may have noticed the Merriment Garden photos going up. This is a beautiful garden, near Great Dixter and Sissinghurst, which holds its own against those two horticultural giants. I visited last summer with my good friends Kristina, Debroah and Fran.

Kristina, and especially Fran, kept saying that we should visit Merriments every time we discussed the itinerary. They had both been before but myself and Deborah were not 100% convinced as the other two gardens are far better known. I had never even heard of Merriments before.

Anyway, Fran and Kristina got their way and, as we walked through an orange-clad tunnel to a view of floral joy and gay abandon, I just remember Fran's face. I think he fairly wagged the I-told-you-so finger at us. The garden was just magnificent and in a quite simple way, that made is all the more refreshing. That first view, lined with nasturtiums, made my inner child want to laugh out loud!

Anyway, you get the idea. Lovely garden. Enjoy the photos!

 

Last Summer

03 February 2014 15:21:06

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As it was a miserable day I decided to buck up my spirits by upload photos from Sissinghurst last summer.

The gardens were magnificent although I must confess being a teensy bit underwhelmed by the famous White Garden.

I think Kristina thought these gardens were the best we saw on our trip. She might have a point.

Enjoy.

Sunshine & Seeds

02 February 2014 16:39:15

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The sun came out this morning and I was out with the camera like a shot.

Other than that, I sowed some brugmansia seeds and packaged up a couple of orders of seeds, one for a member in Tipperary. Because it is late in the season and it they were large order, I put a number of bonus packets in there.

Happy sowing to you all!

Potting On

01 February 2014 20:58:04
Cymbidium & Ludisia

Cymbidium & Ludisia

Wet and windy today.

I took the urge to pot on the streptocarpus babies I got from propagating leaves last September. These plants are all 'Harlequin Lace'.

Next time I think I would leave them a little longer before disturbing. I may sell these plants, along with a few others, at this year's Open Day.

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