Seedlings and snowdrops romping ahead

It may be snowing today, but the previous mild weather has made the garden romp ahead. The show of snowdrops is weeks ahead of last year. Although I don’t know much about the varieties I grow – a mix of singles and doubles, tall ones and short ones – they thrive here and each year I have many more of them.  Last year I divided the clumps and redistributed them and it has really paid off.  It is looking so pretty, I must indulge in a snowdrop montage:

Or maybe two snowdrop montages!

snowdrop montageAll these shots were taken today (18th Feb) – the alternating heavy snow and brilliant sun was more mad March than February!

Until today – isn’t always winter at the weekend? – it has been beautiful gardening weather. Shame I’ve been deskbound and not able to partake.

I’ve gone seed sowing crazy!

The one indoor job that is easy to fit round the day job is seed sowing.  Lulled by the mild weather, every window sill is already a propagation production line. Space is going to be tight be late April!

The usual over-ordering of seed is complete.  For the first time I have bought a lot of my seed from Nickys Nursery.  I haven;t used them before, but I was particularly keen to grow Stevia and they were on of the few suppliers.  As it turned out they have a really interesting range of stuff and I bought a lot of herbs and pretty things.  The seed and instructions are nice and clear and I’ve been impressed so far.

I’m probably unlikely to succeed with Stevia – even Basil finds my windowsills too chilly – but a sugar substitute herb with no calories….  You have to try, right?  I shall indulge it with heat like a rare orchid!

I have refined quite an efficient little system of seed germination. The hot progator gets things started.  Then they move to the cool propagator, which helps them onwards gently so they don’t die of shock in my freezing house.  Then they move onto the windowsills.

I find that on the hot propagator, plastic bags (especially sandwich bags) – rather than the tray lids that came with the propagator – are ideal for keeping the humidity and temperature right.  The seed tray lids seem to result in the germinated seeds cooking to a crisp, whereas there is rarely a loss with in the sandwich bags!

No doubt I have over ordered the seed and have probably started sowing too early (the first batches started last week in January) but it makes me happy!  And right now the all seedlings are looking pretty happy too.   Growing nicely so far:

  • Sweet peas (loads of varieties, especially scented ones)
  • Chillies
  • Diasca
  • Training pansy
  • Stevia
  • Geranium
  • Salvia
  • Basil  (goodness knows why, it never thrives & I end up buying plants from the supermarket)
  • Perennial cornflowers

And as soon as one lot move off the hot propagator, that makes space for something else!  My challenge is never at the seedling stage, it is in the finding space where they get enough light during the hardening off process.  Any tips?

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Rays of hope in the winter garden

Through the gloom of the miserly 6 hours of gardening daylight (not to mention the never ending rain) there shines hope!  Just enough, I think, to propel me damply into February.  first snowdropFor the first snowdrop is here, spotted on the 6th January – a full month ahead of last year.

This is always a major moment in my gardening year – like the first Swift returning.  It signals to me that whatever the extent of my incompetence or neglect, or however much it feels the elements have all unfairly conspired against me, it is going to be OK.  Things are still growing.  My mistakes are of minuscule significance on the scale of things. And, heck, it takes more than a few feet of rain to deter these tough little Galanthus guys.  The flowers aren’t open yet, most are still just pushing their way through – but who cares?  It means life goes on!

There are actually abundant signs of life all over the garden, so it is probably silly to burden the little snowdrop with so much sentimental symbolism.  cyclamenThe cyclamen hederifolium, for example, has been glowing in its slowly expanding clump for many weeks.  As hardy as anything, I would have more by now, had I not managed to plant all my expensive new coums upside down a few years back.  Fortunately, this particular specimen was bought already in flower, so it was somewhat easier to figure out which way was up!

I’ve been far too ashamed to buy any more coums since my debacle. Happily plenty of the seed I have collected over the last few years has germinated, so there are lots of baby cyclamen bulking up in pots.  But I’ll only plant them out once they look big enough to stand up to the thuggish blackbirds and vine weevil they will have to contend with.

Another plant putting on a heroic show is the Christmas box, Sarcococca Confusa. Sarcococca ConfusaI have propagated loads of little plants from this parent shrub and it just takes it all in its stride, smelling heavenly and glowing away.  It is perhaps a little too glowing (a touch of yellow compared to previous years?), which makes me think it will need a good feed come Spring.  I may even plant it into the garden (it lives in a pot at present) and create a little area of shady hedging.

So with spirits soaring after a relatively not-that-wet-or-cold-compared-to-usual Sunday in the garden, I felt justified, nay, compelled to drink wine and order seeds.  Unfortunately in that order.  I now have a LOT of seeds en route to Inverness – but that is another post entirely!

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Dividing snowdrops in the green

Seeing adverts in the back of the gardening magazines recently for snowdrops in the green has made me covet even more of these cheerful. little flowers.  They make me feel so happy when they break through in late January or February, it seems impossible to imagine having too many.

Snowdrops

Right now there are clumps of singles and doubles all around the garden, most of which I bought in the green a few years back.  They’re just starting to go over their prime, though they still look great.  But there are plenty of spots that would benefit by being brightened up by these bulbs.

But rather than buy more, I decided to divide up the ones I have, especially where the clumps have become dense and crowded.  It was incredible to discover just have many “free” new plants I gained myself.  In some of the densest clumps, there were 20 or more bulbs in just a fist size ball.

Last night I was out after work dividing snowdrops until nearly 7pm (it was almost dark).  And it isn’t even officially spring yet.  I imagine I will have got myself at least 300 or 400 hundred extra snowdrops out of it, so pretty productive for an evenings work!