Tuesday 19 March 2013

It had to happen in the end

It was May last year that I posted my last entry on the cristate aeonium (here), not sure if anyone remembers how big it had got for that very narrow stem. That stem has always looked a bit fragile.

As usual it wasn't given great winter protection and I forgot the golden rule of keeping plants on their edge of their hardiness. That is know how they react to frosts. Some wilt then firm up, some show no initial damage and then rot, other turn to mush overnight.  With aeoniums the stem wilts. If the wilt was not been too bad, the plant recovers when it warms up.

You can guess where this is going.

Checking the plants after the last cold period I was greeted by this:

You can see how the stems have rotted where they wilted due to the frosts. I had to cut the main head off to get this photo.  Out came the scissors and exploring; some stems were firm others were rotted all the way up to the leaves.  I probably caught it just in time and had to apply a liberal dose of anti mould treatment to try and stem the rot.  The majority of the plant had to be binned, but a couple of the heads were hopefully saved.

I should be able to re-root this and start from a wider base. Who knows what this one will turn out to look like. Maybe next year I'll remember to give it proper protection. I am beginning to see how much extra warmth my old shed provided to these very marginal plants. 

Tuesday 12 March 2013

A desert in the UK?

I know it surprised me to, especially given the wettest summer on record last year with what seemed to be half the country under water. But it is true, the UK does have one official desert. Given my taste in plants it was always going to be somewhere I had to visit and got the opportunity this weekend. The drive down was WET and so there was no chance to explore on the first day. The second day however was drier and so we took a long walk along the beach to Rye, where we had a lovely lunch and walk around.  I loved this sign it was very well done.

On the walk back the tide had gone out, when it does there is some walk to get to the sea!

The place we were staying had planted a little dry bed, I think they need a bit of help:

The poor agaves did not look good:

There was only one that showed any real signs it may survive:

I am guessing they made a very simple mistake of planting directly into soil and not giving any rain shelter over this very wet winter. They could have spent a bit more on landscaping!

Anyway on the last day it we visited the desert. It is just along the coast from Rye at Dungeness and has another claim to fame with its 3 power stations.  Apparently it got the desert status due to its lack of water: despite having sea on one side and man made lakes on the other.  The last part to the drive is strangely beautiful, you have lakes surrounded an arid landscape, on the horizon lots of electricity pylons and the power stations. Then you get to the coastal road

This is the desert and it is covered in skeletons of old boats and buildings

The buildings were almost all painted black and shared the same design.  Each garden seemed to have its own boat in various stages of dis-repair. Sadly the weather had returned and it was bitterly cold, windy and snowing, so the idea of getting out of the car to wonder off to explore was ruled out by my OH who didn't seem as enamoured of the place as me. Mind you I am not sure I blame her, there are certain things that I believe: you must have a snowball fight whenever snow settles, an uncle/aunts sole job is to buy presents parents would not approve of, and deserts should be hot!

We did get out to look at the light houses though, the old one is up by one of the power stations. It seems a long way form the sea, but at least they would never run out of power. 

The new one sits in the middle of the desert, which is another strange concept.

It really is a fascinating place and one I would like to re-visit on a much warmer day!

Monday 11 March 2013

Doesn't time fly

Agave "Snow Glow"
Where did it all go, it seemed like only yesterday I thought I would take a week off and now it is March!  I wish I could say that I have have been so busy with the garden that I haven't had time to post, but I simply lost interest in the garden and the internet.  Reduced interest in plants over the winter is fairly normal, but this is the first time for total dis-interest and to not even want to turn on a computer either.

Agave "Sun Glow"
With signs of spring over the last few weeks, hibernation is finally ending; the computer is back on and plants are being moved into new parts of the house to wake them up.  I'll have to catch up on how the plants have done, a trip to the UK's only desert and a few other things over the next week.

In the mean time here are a couple of plants and one set that I have been watching grow: the agave "blue glow" group, the normal form, the white leaf variegate "snow glow" and the yellow leaf variegate "sun glow".  I have to say for me, like the weather at the moment is is all snow. You can see the difference in growth for my two plant, given that they were the same size when they arrived.

Right lots of catching up to do. Hopefully that is it for my hibernation this winter.