Sunday 22 July 2012

Something pretty

After the less attractive photos yesterday and to celebrate the return of the sun, I thought I would post some of the cacti flowers form this year.  I only started growing them last year and was not sure how they would cope over the winter and if they would ever flower again.  I needn't have worried, and there has been a constant stream of flowers.

First to flower was also one of the best, gymnocalycium baldianum. Not the most prolific of flowerers  but very pretty flowers, which lasted for a few days.

I kept leaving taking the photo until the evening, which is my normal photo time, only to find they had closed up for the night. Whenever I see the next photo it reminds me of an owl. Sadly lost the label for this one

The more prolific flowerers are the rebutias.  This one is rebutia x aylostera 'Bo Jangles'. You get one set of flowers like this:

Then once those has all died back you sect a second flush.  Sadly not all of them flower that dramatically.  One of my favourites for the rest of the year is mammillaria bombycina, which looks amazing but has very disappointing flowers:

The latest to flower is another gymnocalycium this one with pink flowers:

There are plenty more in buds on different plants, so there will more more to come.

Saturday 21 July 2012

They announce a drought

and we get three months of solid rain. There I was thinking how having a succulent garden was going to be great when you are not allowed to water. Now I am just pleased that they didn't drown. The plants have mainly coped with all the rain without problems, but there has been one garden issue with the sodden summer: SLUGS!

Yes it has been a bumper slug year, I have never seen anything like it.  I don't like to use the old slug pellets as our little dog has a tendency to eat anything that looks food like.  Instead I go out after every rain fall and collect them and dispose of them in the front.  In normal years I would expect to find 5 or 6, this year I am collecting pots of 20 - 30 and if I go back out an hour later I can do the same again.

Slugs in my garden seem to have very expensive taste, they started eating all the new leaves on my Schefflera taiwaniana,

then moved onto tasting some of the new fronds on the cycads

Maybe a little agave

Finally settled on the echeverias

It is not all bad news as today we actually had no rain! The reports are that the jet stream has finally moved back to where it should be and we should start to get some sun again. 

Tuesday 10 July 2012

It's a squashed spider

That was not quite the response I was looking for when I showed my OH the first ever flower on one of my manfredas.  I must admit that having waited so long for something more unusual to flower it is not the most dramatic flower ever. Being outside has probably not helped and it only have 4 or 5 buds.

The flowers themselves are quite interesting though, I love the dark colour with the yellow centres. This one has only just opened so I thought I would get a photo in while it was still fresh.

I did have grand ideas of getting some pollen off one of the agaves that various friends have flowering. The flower has opened much quicker than expected though so I will have to get a move on.  What would work well crossed with manfreda chocolate chips.

Friday 6 July 2012

A little flushed

Cycads are a great group of plants that go really well with dry beds.  One of my favourite things about them is when they flush, putting out all their fronds in one go.  Getting them to flush is a bit of a trick, mainly involving lots of high nitrogen food and LOTS of water.  This summer we have not had to fake monsoon conditions as we are having so much rain.  As watering has not been required they have been fed less than usual so the big one (shown flushing this time last year) is having a rest.

I pleased that the smallest of my three is flushing again. This is the first time I have managed it in consecutive years . They seem a bit later this year, given that the first photo was taken exactly this time last year, they were already quite advanced, compared to the current flush.

As mine stay outside all year the main problem is frost damage to the young leaves.  Given how later these are I will pamper them a bit this winter, who knows maybe even move them into some sort of winter shelter (assuming I have one sorted).

The other problem I am going to have is that you can't move a flushing cycad otherwise the new fronds twist to re-orientate themselves. Not great to have two flushing when you are about to move house.  I am going to have to figure out some way of preserving the orientation of the pots to the sun, maybe using a marker in the pot to point due north, or to the sun at mid-day. No doubt I will post an update when I know what I am going to do.


The other one flushing is one that lost its last set of fronds over the winter and has been moved somewhere while it recovers. I go this one a couple of years ago with the idea of have them planted as a group. With the new garden I may actually finally manage it!

Now all we need is some sun, to ensure good strong growth and that they harden off quickly.

Sunday 1 July 2012

Second trough

Rain stopped just long enough to dig up some more of the small plants in the dry bed.  Have finished with the echeverias and it is onto the alpines.  I have built up a nice collection of sempervivums over the last couple of years.  I am going to have to decide if I take some from each variety or only those that have proved themselves.  I have used pups off some of the more prolific forms to fill gaps in the rest of the bed.

One more of these and I should have most of the varieties I am interested in and then it is just mopping up the odd plant that I have missed.