Monday, 24 March 2014

Plant swapping - long distance

It was Helene over at Graphicality-UK that first brought Green Plant Swap website to my attention when she posted about it last year.  In theory, it is a great idea.  Its a gardening website where you can buy, sell or swap plants.  Open to both professionals and amateurs, it could I suppose, be a great resource for new plants.  I say 'could' but not for negative reasons.  Currently there are very few members in my area that have plants listed, therefore had to look a bit further afield.  I've no doubt this will change given time, I'll just have to wait a bit longer.  There are also quite a few nurseries listing their plants, I don't do my plant shopping online though, therefore doubt I'd use their services unless it was for something really special. 

We've all exchanged plants with friends and family - I know I have.  Green Plant Swap is really just an extension of this practice.  Swapping plants with members needn't be done on a local level either, as Helene and I have just proved.  Whether you live in John O'Groats or Land's End - there are no rules to say you can't swap plants!  Providing you and the person you've arranged to swap with come to an understanding/arrangement, nothing could be simpler. 

Our long distance swap began when Helene expressed an interest in starting a new Heuchera collection.  I knew I had some cuttings and others that were in need of splitting.  A quick message via the site and the ball was rolling, so to speak!  Helene kindly offered me a couple of cuttings from her beloved climbing rose - Rosa Crimson Cascade.  We decided to wait until springtime to arrange delivery.

The package was posted in London by Helene on the Monday and I received it here in Edinburgh on the Thursday morning.  It had arrived safe and sound.  The Hermes courier delivers to my house regularly enough to know I have a safe place for him to pop the parcels in if I'm not yet up!

Here it is, exactly as it was when it left London 3 days previous.  Helene's labels had done their job!

Helene had used sacking to pack right to the top of the box, good idea.  This would ensure no movement of the contents.

Remove the sacking and as you can see everything is tightly packed.  I couldn't wait to get my mitts in there.  Especially as 2 of the plants were completely new to me.

The Roses came out first, just look at the healthy roots!  Once I had a better idea of the size, I was able to organise appropriate pots.  I was not quite ready to plant these out, had I been there would have been no issue with putting them direct into the ground.  The weather forecast was good, therefore I had no need to worry if they'd be affected by the drop in temperature between here and London.  In a normal year, this may not have been the case! 

The others all came in their own pots, complete with labels. All I had to do was unwrap.  Of course taking care not to damage the plants in my excitement. 

So what did I get:

2 x bare root Rosa ‘Crimson Cascade’

2 x Arisaema amurense (babies)

2 x Arisarum proboscideum, several plants in each pot

1 x Lamium galeobdolon ‘Hermann's Pride’

Here they all are - Their first introduction to Scotland was by way of a good long drink of our exceptionally good water!  As you can see they are all extremely health and unlike Helene, I did not find any stowaways.

They've yet to get a permanent home in the garden.  They'll be perfectly happy in the pots until I'm ready for them.  The packaging was saved and would be reused when I send Helene her plants the following Monday.  It suits Helene that packages are mailed on a Monday, that way you are almost guaranteed that they will be delivered the following few days, regardless of the carrier.

I did not take some shots of the plants as I was packing them to send south.  Most of the plants were sent bare root.  Using damp kitchen paper to keep the roots moist and wrapped in freezer bags to keep the water in.  I then cut open cardboard cylinders (aka loo roll holders) and wrap around the root system for a bit of protection.  You can see here on Helene's blog just what I mean.  Sending plants bare root reduced weight and therefore shipping costs.  Of course not all plants would be suitable for sending that way but the majority of perennials will survive just fine.

I did not use the same carrier as Helene, I used Royal Mail.  They were posted at work on Monday night and received by Helene the following day.

Swapping plants is a cost effective way of adding to the plants you grow in your garden.  It could also be a way of getting that elusive plant you are after for a while.  It could also be a way to try plants you ordinarily wouldn't think to try or had not heard of before.  Both the Arisaema and Arisaram are new plants to me, in fact, I knew nothing about them other than what I had read on Helene's blogs previously and would probably passed them by in a GC, mind you, I don't think I've ever seen these plants for sale here locally.  It could also be a great way to get rid of those impulse buys, you know the ones I mean!  You've bought a plant, got it home and after weeks of deliberating on just where you are going to grow it you find out it's just not suitable or not what you really wanted.  I know I've one or two candidates that fall into that category.  It needn't be limited to plants either - I've seen many growers offer seeds for swapping.  I know many of you grow from seed.  It might be worth a wee look just for something different!

I needn't tell you just how exciting it is to receive new plants, even better for the fact it has cost very little.  The Roses alone would have cost me in excess of £20.  It's a win/win situation in so far as I can see!

All that is left for me to say is thank you Helene for the plants and introducing me to Green Plant Swap.  I will be looking forward to seeing my plants and yours growing in our respective gardens.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day March 2014

By comparison the garden this year is of to a flying start!  This time last year saw the entire garden stuck in limbo and the only plants that were blooming here last March was Hellebores, Snowdrops and Iris reticulata.    Not forgetting the couple of inches of snow we had just prior to my Bloom Day Post.

Bloom Day March 2013

What a difference a mild winter really makes.  I'm a tad apprehensive about acknowledging Spring's arrival.  I generally don't mark spring until we change the clocks at the end of the month knowing full well things can always take a turn for the worse at the drop of a hat!

Join me for a wee walk around and admire what's flowering today

Those same Iris reticulata flowering right on cue minus the snow!  These were from a packet of multi coloured bulbs bought from a budget store a few years ago.  I've tried comparing other's I've seen for an id but had no luck doing so yet.
Unknown Iris reticulata

A couple of tiny pots with left over viola plugs.  Bought in autumn, the ones in larger pots have thrived and multiplied, they have filled out the little pots just nicely.  A cheap and cheerful way to add some colour.
 Also growing in a container - Ophiopogon.  Is under planted with Iris reticulata Harmony, which has now gone over.  Making way for Chionodoxa forbesii Pink Giant.  After 3 years in this container, I think it's time they found a permanent home in the ground - time for another experiment!
Ophiopogon and Chionodoxa forbesii Pink Giant

Hellebores continue to nod their heads gracefully when the wind gets up.  Most of my Hellebores are now of a reasonable size - they make quite a statement where ever you are standing in the garden.

This, I think is Helleborus lividus, purchased Spring 2013, I then found out they are possibly not hardy enough to grow here.  I was so confident it wouldn't make it through a normal winter, I tossed the label!
The oriental hybrids have been flowering for a few weeks now.

The next group of Hellebores are all new to the garden 2014.

Gearing up with it's first couple of flowers is a new addition to the garden this spring, a momento of my trip to Dunblane - Helleborus x sternii Silver Dollar, don't you just love those serrated leaves? It might be tiny but it won't stay like that forever!

Helleborus x sternii Silver Dollar

I've finally chosen a spot to plant Helleborus x ericsmithii Pirouette.  I bought this charming Hellebore weeks ago - it's found a home in the new woodland bed.  I hope it likes it there!
Helleborus x ericsmithii Pirouette

I commented to Helene over at Graphicality UK only last week that I did not have any white Hellebores in my garden and asked her to put my name on any seedlings she has with white flowers.  I could not believe my luck when I visited a garden centre on my day out last weekend.  I found this beauty marked down by 50%! 
Helleborus White Beauty
A little spring colour under the variegated pagoda dogwood - we've got Corydalis and Crocus.  Dwarf white narcissus and blue muscari will take over in a few weeks.
Corydalis malkensis and Corydalis Solida Beth Evans
The yellow of Narcissus Tete a Tete picked up in the eye of Primula vulgaris Drumcliffe - an Irish bred Primula blooming for St. Patrick's weekend!
Narcissus Tete a Tete
Primula vulgaris Drumcliffe
Just out of shot - Crocus x cultorum Jeanne D'arc, or what's left of them that is!  The cats seem to have taken a dislike to these and keep trampling them to the ground!
Crocus x cultorum Jeanne D'arc

More Tete a Tete in the little spring bed outside the kitchen door - partnered in this bed with a very pretty unnamed Primula and more of the same edging the side path. 
Narcissus Tete a Tete

Primula Don Keefe and Primula Mrs Marjory Banks
Even in the miniature garden things are coming along nicely.  I got the first glimpse of Saxifraga burseriana Gloria full of buds last week, what a difference a few days make.  Joined now by Crocus chrysanthus Blue Pearl and over the next few days Saxifraga x boydilacina Pink Star (top right) will be in full bloom.


Last and most certainly not least, Camellia x williamsii Jury's Yellow producing the first flowers of the year.  At least 4 weeks ahead of a normal year.  This plant has been a really battler in my garden.  I suffered greatly when builders spilt cement over it 7 years ago.  I've nurtured it back to health and this year it has produced the most amount of buds it ever has since that event!
Camellia x williamsii Jury's Yellow
Camellia x williamsii Jury's Yellow
Wishing you all a wonderful Bloom Day - I've grabbed a comfortable chair, cold drink and a bag of Jelly Babies and I'm popping over to May Dream Gardens to see what the rest of you have going on in your gardens.  You are more than welcome to join many garden bloggers who join in on the 15th of every month and share with the world what's blooming in their garden. 

Saturday, 8 March 2014

When not to move?

THE never ending question. Right?  From what I have picked up over the short time I have been blogging is that gardeners all have their own gardening regime - What works for some will not work for others.  When is the best time to move and when is the wrong time to move?  Can or should it be moved?  Some times the answer is with the gods!

As a general rule, I tend not too read too many gardening books, in fact very few.  I've often taken to the web for a wee bit of advice and find some of the terminology way too technical - I just can't get my head around it.  I'm more of a do first, ask question later kind girl!  I find I learn better that way.  It's all trial and error in my garden.

Here's a classic example of how I do things - imagine taking stock of the garden and how things have changed over the last 3 months.  Lots of my sun lovers are now stuck behind the shed getting no sun at all.  I took it in hand to remedy this in so far as one of my Clematis was concerned.  I had already move my Coral Bark Maple, a Sambucus Black Lace and one or two others.  None seemed to have suffered and are all budding up nicely, this gave me the confidence I needed.  Anyway, back to the Clematis - Clematis Ville de Lyon as far as I can remember.  It was planted way before I took an interest in the garden, 6 years ago this summer, therefore, label lost!

Old picture Clematis Ville de Lyon
Armed with 2 spades and 1 fork - I worked around the whole plant attempting to take as big a root ball as I could possibly manage.  What I didn't consider was just how big the root ball would turn out to be.  Had I had to foresight to take the camera up the garden with me - you'd have a similar idea.  You'll just have to trust was huge!  Much time was spent head scratching as no one else, especially Big Strong Boy, was at home.  I needed to figure out this all on my own.  I have learned enough to know I couldn't afford to leave it out of the ground too long if it was to stand even the remotest chance of survival.  Luckily I had thought a wee bit ahead and dug the hole into which I was too offer, this is always best practice it but I did have to go back to make adjustments, serious adjustments.  I had way underestimated just how big it would be.  I also dug in lots of soil improver and some added bonemeal to help encourage the roots.  Once manoeuvred onto a large sheet of plastic, I began to haul it from one end of the garden to the other.  Stopping many times to catch my breath.   

The receiving hole was a good bit deeper by this time and once I struggled to hoist and drop the plant into the hole - it was by that time a good 5 or 6 inches deeper that it had previously been.  Isn't that always the planting instructions when planting Clematis when bought from a nursery/GC?  Not that it mattered.  There was no way I was getting it back out, so it had to stay there.  The root ball was moist enough, all those orangey noodle like roots were remained in a complete ball.  It had held together well despite all the huffing and heaving.  All was good, I said with my fingers crossed.  Back filled and given a thorough soaking - I finished of it's spring prune.  Did I mention it had just started breaking bud? 

Once this task was over, it was time to shower.  I had an appointment with the nurse, bloods etc - just as the doc ordered.  I think I'm reaching that age!  I hadn't long to wait until I was seen.  She had a selection of vials sitting on her desk - I don't mind having blood taken, especially if it's going to get to the root of my problem.  Enough said, no need in going into details here!

I'll just check your blood pressure she said - Have you ever had problems with it?  No, I replied.  I need perfect blood pressure to be able to drive airside at my work - it's checked yearly for our medical.  In so far as I can remember there has never been an issue.  Until now that is!!  My blood pressure was way too high!  I knew what was coming - take more exercise, loose weight, stop smoking (yes, I do smoke - don't give me that look, please).   I gave her the look after she told me about the ceasation classes - informed her that I do enjoy my cigarettes.  It was then she told me she wasn't going to lecture me.  I happened to mention what I had been doing just prior to me attending - she said she hoped I had just over exerted myself but I'd need to go back in a month to be rechecked and too lay of the heavy work before I go!

There you have it - the answer to my question.  When not to move a Clematis?  Certainly not 1 hour before you are due to attend a Doctor's appointment, knowing full well your blood pressure will be checked!  Both myself and the Clematis need to wait now for signs of recovery!

A friend has since sent me this from her Raymond Evison book Clematis for Everyone:

The replanting of an established garden clematis is always a challenge but with care and a bit of luck it may be achieved. The only time when success can reasonably be expected is during the months of very early Spring before bud break when the plant is in its dormant period, or at least just coming out of dormancy.
The plant should be planted 5cm deeper than in its previous position. The large-flowered cultivars are the safest plants to re-establish, the fibrous-rooted species the most difficult as their very fine roots drop away as they are being moved and with very little root being retained re-establishment is generally not possible.

I'm hoping luck is on my side.

I know technically this is really not a Garden Lessons Learned - but it's a lesson learned in the garden this winter none the less.  Therefore I hope Beth over at PlantPostings forgives me my take on gardening lessons learned this season. 

Friday, 7 March 2014

Just a few flowers

Work on the garden renovations and Project Privacy continues.  I've encountered a wee bit of a problem sinking one of the posts for the last two sections of trellis.  An absolutely humungous lump of concrete!  Buried about 6 inches below the surface and it's bang spank in the middle of where I need to dig!  These things are sent to try us - I will not be beaten!  I will find a solution - I just need to sleep on it!  Digging it out will certainly not be practical - the solution will involve a trip to the timber merchant at some point no doubt.

Meanwhile, the garden is slowly coming to life.  The Crocus and Snowdrops will be gone before the Bloom Day post.  I got the camera out to distract me - I just needed to take my mind off that lump of concrete.

Two of the three clumps of snowdrops flowering in the side garden have turned out to be doubles.  This was not intentional.  The Snowdrops I rescued last year were split and divided and planted around the garden.  I'll move the clump of singles and keep the doubles in the same spot. 
Snowdrops in the side garden

The snowdrops behind the pond cope well in so much shade.  The get no direct sunlight whatsoever.  I also note that a crown of a Drumstick Primula has appreared.  Although they are said to prefer a sunny site - I have tried a white one in this shady spot as a bit of an experiment.
Snowdrops behind the pond

We are still experiencing some windy days (and nights) but rainfall has still been at a minimum.  We had a couple of hail showers and about 2 minutes of snow fall this afternoon.  Luckily I managed to get a couple of shots of the Crocus yesterday - they've been fairly battered by the hail.  As plants have been moved around the garden - I am inadvertently taking bulbs with them  This is obvious from the fact that I'm finding little clumps in various spots - of course, creatures could also be doing this!

Old faithful, The Kilmarnock Willow, hasn't flinched one iota being moved!  It was still dormant at time of moving.  It's just putting out Catkins now.  Tough as old boots these plants and so long as I keep drenching it - it will be fine.  The Cherry Laurels at the back are being taken off my hands by a neighbour.  They are one of those plants I just should never have bought!

Camellia japonica Brushfield's Yellow and Skimmia japonica Snow White are gearing up to do their stuff! 

No winter garden would be complete without a selection of Hellebores - I bought a selection of Hellebore plugs when I first started planting out this garden.  They were red and white spotted.  They are now decent sized and are now making a bit of an impact in the garden.
Some of my Hellebores
The Crocus and Iris Reticulata growing beneath my Silver Pagoda Dogwood may be over, Corydalis wait to take their place.  I love these tiny spring beauties.  I just wish they'd spread themselves around more!
Corydalis solida Beth Evans

Corydalis Malkensis
This pot of Ophiopogon is underplanted with Iris reticulata Harmony and will be followed in a few weeks with Chionodoxa forbesii Pink Giant.  This pot was a bit of an experiment 3 years ago - it seems to have worked and adds a bit of colour in springtime when the Ophiopogon can look a bit flat.

As I walk around the garden, I can see that the majority of the spring flowering Primula are budding up nicely.  Last spring, March 2013 - I bought myself a tiny little 7cm pot of Primula Marjory Banks, it's grown really well this last 12 months.  It now makes a clump with a diameter of more than 30cm.  It must be happy!  There is little information available on this plant other than mentioned on Kevock Garden's website as a Juliana hybrid and the RHS have described it as 'tentatively accepted name on RHS Horticultural Database'.....what ever that means!  It's not difficult too see where this plant now needs dividing as no flowers are forming in the central area.
Primula Mrs Marjory Banks
In the cold frame Primula Elizabeth Killeylay is just about to do her thing.  This poor plant was divide to within an inch of it's life last year.  Not recommended, and is only just now coming back into full health.  She'll be planted back out into the garden soon.

Primula Elizabeth Killeylay

Two more Primula currently residing in the cold frame and like Elizabeth are destined for the garden are new additions.  Bought at the show in Dunblane.  The first is a rather curious Petiolarid Primula that is reportedly supposed to smell of fish (yuk!) - thankfully I can't smell it!  A native of Bhutan, P. calderiana - I fell for it's colour.  The flowers are just about to go over but there is another crown emerging from the base.
Primula calderiana subsp calderiana
To add to my collection of dark leaved Primula vulgaris - Primula garryarde Guinivere - is from the Garryarde collection dating back to the 1920/30s.  It has the benefit of being awarded an AGM by the RHS.  It is hardy down to -20 and will remain semi evergreen in a mild winter.
Primula garryarde Guinivere
Of course, I've saved the best till last, you'd expect no less I'm sure.  This tiny little plant is producing an amazing amount of flowers for it's size.  A mere 2 inches in diameter it has around 30 buds just waiting to open.  This white flowers will rise from the base of the plant on red stems.  Saxifraga burseriana Gloria grows in my miniature garden.  It was added to my collection winter 2012/13.  It maybe tiny but of all the plants flowering today, this is by far my favourite. 
Saxifraga burseriana Gloria
All that leaves me to do now is to wish you all a great weekend.  Gardeners World starts back on TV tonight, it's time to get a drink of something cold - sit down and relax.  Enjoy you weekend, whatever you have planned.  I'm back to Dunblane to visit Dr Stewart's garden The Linns for the Snowdrop festival!  I did say I was going to get there come hell or high water!  I suspect I'll have lots of photos to share too.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

End of Month View February 2014

My end of month view this February, still as it was last month, is pretty much a work in progress.  Although we were lucky here to have escaped the horrific weather other parts of the UK have experienced, when it has rained it's been pretty heavy.  Weather not conducive to me traipsing my muckle welly boots around the garden. 

End of Jan 2014
It may not look like I've done much but I'm pretty please with what I've achieved so far.  Just for comparison - here's how the area looked at the end of January.  One thing that did surprise me was just how good the soil is up here.  Despite the fact it has been under the cover of the shed for the last 7 year - it was relatively easy to dig, when it wasn't to wet that is!  I'm digging over and adding bags of soil improver as I go along.  It may not be the correct way to do things but it's making it far less a chore to do it in smaller sections like this.

On the tier to the back - Sambucus Black Lace takes centre stage and Cotinus coggygria Golden Spirit will make a lovely contrast in the corner.   Planted as fence cover is Viburnum sargentii Onondaga, Deutzia Strawberry Fields and Hydrangea paniculata Pinky Winky.  When I look back on last month's post - I had hoped to have the border marked out and at the very least, manouvered the stones for the edge into place.  I failed in that respect.  I'm on annual leave next week and should be able to get lots done, weather permitting that is.  The trouble with having such good weather, it leads us into a false sense of security, I keep having to remind myself we are still in Winter and things could take a turn for the worse anytime between now and May.  Please note, I am not starving the birds - the feeders are indoors having their weekly wash.

End of February 2014

As a centre piece (or what ever real gardeners call it) I've gone down the ornamental conifer route, rather than fill it out with herbaceous perennials and such likes.  My plant of choice - Abies koreana Silberlocke.  As described on one website it's "a stunning small evergreen with amazing year-long color; distinctive red cones are eye-catching in spring; needles are held in whorls which displays the prominent silver bands"  This will be taking centre stage in my next End of Month post. 

I've underplanted the Cotinus with Iris reticulata Pauline and the Sambucus with some yellow Crocus - Crocus chrysanthus Romance - pale yellow on the outside and a darker golden colour on the inside.  I've a few dwarf flowering Narcissus else where in the garden that will be moved up here at an appropriate time.  

While my work at the top end of the garden may be slow, I've been extremely busy elsewhere and although not part of my End of Month View for 2014, work on the trellis (aka Project Privacy) that will divide the entire garden is well underway.  Hampered only by the number of trellis etc. I can carry in the car at the one time!  You can see the view through the trellis - there's still lots to do!

This may well be only my second End of Month View post, already I am feeling encouraged to stick to my plans.  There really is nothing like knowing that others are looking in to keep you on track.  My promise to break the habit of planting first - think second has not been broken yet! Thus far I've resisted the urge to 'plonk'.  So if you feel you need a prod in the right direction - join in with this meme, kindly hosted by Helen over at The Patient Gardeners Weblog.  It's up to you how you interpret 'End of Month View' - the idea is to cover the same subject matter on the last day of each month - simples!

As usual a great big thanks for reading, your thoughts and comments truly are appreciated.