Thursday 16 October 2014

Bulbine latifolia really coming good.

These have been out of danger for a few year now, it was just a waiting game until they started to live up to their potential. The original post (found here) explained that one of the reasons I love them is the constant stream of flowers.  Last year they produced their first flowers but these were small and short lived.

This year they have started to come into their own. The first plant flowered in June sending up two flower spikes. The flowers were much better but are not very long lived, they get through those flowers at an amazing rate.

The second saved itself until the end of the summer with a good flower spike starting about a month ago. This is a much stronger plant, it was probably the one kept in a warm location last winter. It has been out on the bank for the summer soaking up the sun and seems to have enjoyed it.

The plant is quite aloe like in appearance, although the leaves are a little more fleshy.

The flowers are very delicate

As if I wasn't happy enough with a good plant and flowers, it got better when looking at the plant over the weekend I noticed another flower stalk starting.

The plant was brought inside where it can be admired over winter and the new stalk has continued to grow strongely.  At kew they seem to flower constantly, I am hopig this is the sign of the things to come.  It would be great to have one plant in flower most of the year, even if swapping between the two. 

Now I just need to sort out a nice pot and pursuade the OH that they look great in front of the patio doors. Surely that is why we built the lovely bright kitchen diner with lots of glass to let the sun in.

Sunday 12 October 2014

It couldn't last forever.

Autumn is here and with it, the knowledge that the succulents need to be got ready for winter.  It has been so mild that it is tempting not to do anything yet, but this has caught people out before when a sudden cold spell appeared from nowhere.

The main succulent bed is looking great, things still in flower and everything looking like it has enjoyed the summer.  I am not going to protect much at all this year at least until forecasts confirm it will be a bad winter.

Can you spot the winter protection in the photo?  You need to look closely.  Maybe a close up.

This is one of the cloches I made a few years, back.  I can't believe how perfectly it fits there and not only that it looks like it will be bale to protect the agave parrasana for a few years yet. It is always a worry planting a new succulent bed up and getting it through the first winter.  It has been the perfect summer to get it settled so most of the plants should be fine.  If we have any cold weather forecast then I'll throw some fleece over everything, especially to keep snow off.

I have yet to decide if I am going to put the usual cold frame up, or where to put it up in the new garden.  It would be great on the patio by the kitchen wall, lots of extra heat but will be in the way.  In the mean time I have put a little greenhouse in the greenhouse. The main greenhouse is not at all insulated or warm it is mainly just to keep things dry, this will give a bit more protection.

There is still so much flowering in there it is lovely spend time cleaning up.  Currently these are plants that are either cold hardy if dry, or seeing if space will appear somewhere warmer. The lucky plants have been brought in.  It has still to be decided how to use the new bits of the house, plants wise that is.  Amazingly my lovely OH has agreed I can put this light frame up and put some more plants in front of the of the patio doors.

The lights allow me to store more echeverias inside, they tend to get leggy if not careful and the lights avoid that.  All of this looks very amateur compared to everyone else's amazing winter storage solutions and the amazing amounts they cram in your houses.

It's not to say there are not plants in the house, the windowsills are al full

One of the best things about the new build is that the windowsills are all extra deep.  This means I can get much bigger pots on them.  Mind you don't tell the OH that, not sure she would agree it was the best thing.

No doubt there will be a few changes between the different locations as the final set of plants get located.  There are always some that get missed and need more protection. Now all we need is a mild winter.

Tuesday 7 October 2014

Update on the sempervivums in the alpine rockery

The alpine section of the rockery has been planted up for a few months now, so time for an update on how the plants have been doing.  It should probably be re-named the sempervivum bed as that is pretty much all that is planted in it currently.

Semps should be fairly easy, but you never know with a new rockery and location, especially when known how hot, shaded, or dry it was going to be.  In the end it was a hot, dry summer, and the rockery is extremely quick draining.  So this should show which varieties cope best in drier locations.

First up semp virgil.

 This was the fastest grower at the old house, so I expected the same here

It has filled out and formed very tight rosettes, but not spread as much as expected.  It has gone more lilac in colour, instead of the dark purple, but still a pretty plant and hopefully will have filled that space come next year.

Many of the plants seem to have done the same

Semp 'Packardian' in June
Semp 'Packardian' in September
Sempervivum 'Red Devil' in June
Sempervivum 'Red Devil' in September
Some on the other hand have struggles to cope with the heat and lack of water. This is Sempervivum 'Apple Blossom' back in June.

I expected it to form a nice big clump, instead the rosettes shrunk right back and left a fairly ugly clump.

Sempervivum 'Rosie' did exactly the same, here back in June.

Then in September, only the main rosette seems to have suffered this time.

Then are those that have done well and started to bulk up. Sempervivum 'Lavendar and Old Lace' back in June

Then in September, both parent and pups have done well. It hasn't held it's colour though and back to a pail green.

Others that have done well, Sempervivum 'Engles' back in June

And here in September, the parent has not grown much, but the offsets have put on a fair amount of growth.

Sempervivum Othello, one of the biggest varieties and suppose to hold it's colour well.

Then in September, lots of growth, but gone a disappointing green. 

The real surprise has been sempervivum 'Titania' shown below in June

The main plant flowered last year so it was only offsets being planted and here they are in September.  Not only lots of growth but how good do they look. Not a single sign of stress, the colours have got stronger.

No guessing which is my favourite sempervivum now. It is so much happy than at the last house, I can see what all the fuss is about.

And I'm sorry Loree and others who don't like labels, they are on view so I know which plant is which in photos, but are out of sight the rest of the time and will be removed come spring once I have got plant locations sorted in my files..

Friday 3 October 2014

One of my favourite variegated agaves.

Taking photos of the plants means there will probably be a few posts in a row with some of my favourite plants, today it is one of the agaves. There are several forms of agave filifera: the compact, the plain green and the variegates.  I got the agave filifera variegata as a small plant and have been carefully growing it on for the last few years. 

Has good stable variegation, this one has two colours but there is one with three. Last year it produced it's first pup and at the time I couldn't decide if I was going to leave it to clump or split it. By this spring two more pups had appeared and so it was potted into a much bigger pot in the hope of separating them out a bit.

It has been sitting on the patio wall all summer where it can be admired and has flourished. The offsets have grown into nice plants in their own right and the clump as a whole looks great.

I would imagine winter wise it would be quite hardy.  The other filiferas all have excellent cold hardiness, the normal forming being planted out unprotected. However given it is one of my prized plants it is another one that gets brought inside and put somewhere good. Without water it can be placed somewhere on view without needing to worry about it getting leggy.

I can't wait to see what it looks like this time next year, at that point I may need to decide if I want to pot it up again into a really large bowl as a real feature.

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Euphorbia pugniformis ready for winter

It is getting to that time of year when the plants have to be packed up and moved to winter locations.  Ii is a good opportunity for a clean up and quick health check.

One of the plants that always stands out is the euphorbia pugniformis, one of the medusa forms.

They are surprisingly quick growth wise, at least in growing out, the trunk is much much slower to form. While interesting form the top, the best view is form the side where you can see the trunk.

I must admit to trimming it, which many people will think is a cardinal sin. When each branch (what do you call them?) grows beyond a certain length they hang down obscuring the trunk. It also gives the plant a more messy look.  So I trim the lower set fairly close to the trunk, a few weeks later the remaining bit has dried off and can be removed to give a nice clean trunk. It is a shame they are so hard to root, otherwise I would have lots of them by now. 

I have never really thought about hardiness, it's far to good a plant to be risked anywhere but inside over-winter.  It will be brought in in the next week or so and placed somewhere it can be admired.

Saturday 27 September 2014

Look what I found

I got to spend some time in the garden today and look what I found dropped the other side of the garden gate.

It appears that the fox carried it around for a bit before deciding it wasn't edible.  Amy commented on the last post asking why foxes would take plants, and I have no idea. I would guess that the digging up is to get at worms, but why they would take plants, or even just carry them in their mouths for a bit is a total mystery. Maybe it got spoked and ran off before it could drop the plant.

So while the plant is not quite what it was, at least the two largest are still around and stand some chance of surviving to form new clumps.

Friday 26 September 2014

RIP orostachys fimbriata

You may remember a little while ago my post on orostachys fimbriata (found here). It has gone from strength to strength since the photo was taken. Until last night that is.  I went outside this morning to find a hole where the plant used to be and soil scatted all over the ground.

A fox had dug it up.

We have a real problem with urban foxes in London, and there is one around here that likes to dig. It doesn't seem to mind where it digs, empty flower beds, or into gravel or through plants themselves. 

So where my lovely little orostachys fimbriata once was, just a hole. Careful sorting through the gravel did turn up to tiny offsets so fingers crossed I can grow these on, but it is not exactly the best time to be removing offsets.

So in memory of this lovely little cluster of plants here is the original photo as a reminder.

RIP orostachys fimbriata, and foxes beware this means war!

Monday 22 September 2014

How do you know your plants have taken to their new homes.

It has been a couple of months since the succulent rockery was planted up. It's been interesting watching which plants settled straight in and which have taken they time. There are two obvious signs that the plants are happy. Firstly they offset.

The largest agave bracteosa has pupped prolifically, so much so I have to remove most of them or they will take over.

The other sign is they flower.

The campanula carpatica alba have continued to flower all year.

They offset

Aloe Aristrata
and they flower

Drosanthemum hispidum
If they are not offsetting, they are sending out new stems / branches

Aloe striatula sending out lots of new stems

And yes they flower.
The cacti not wanting to be left out

And offset

And flower

Lampranthus roseus, is going to need taming if it survives the winter
Even the last few plants in pots have been getting in on the act, you have to love the determination some agaves show,

This agave parryi is sending out pups through the holes in the bottom of the pot.

So far so good then with the main rockery, although the real test is going to be the first winter.

Saturday 20 September 2014

Echeveria afterglow is my favourite plant in the garden this week.

There always seems to be at least one echeveria in the garden looking good.  This one has to be up there with the most luminous of the lot. 

The leaves are covered in a fine bloom, which gives the leaves a blue colour. Unlike some of the blue / white plants this one has a pink edge to the leaves and when sun catches the leaves the plant glows.

It is a really fast grower and forms rosettes of 30 - 50cm across.  I had been looking for this plant for a couple of years when I visited a friends house to find he was using them as bedding plants all around his garden.   It turns out he dug up two plants each autumn, potted them up and then cut the tops off. By spring each of the bases had formed 4 - 6 offsets, which he split and managed to grow to around 40cm by the end of the summer and starting again. After that I started doing the same and worrying a lot less about them and the plants dig much better.

It warrants favourite plant this week as it is flowering nicely.  For echeverias, e. afterglow has larger flowers which are covered in the same bloom as the leaves. 

Sadly it is right on the verge of being hardy for me, surviving down to -6C (20F), this really challenges it, so if we have a cold winter it dies. Kept dry though it has coped with -9C without too many problems.  Being such a quick grower, if if does get damaged new growth soon replaces the old leaves. 

So there you have echeveria afterglow my favourite plant in the garden this week. Head over Danger Garden to see what others have selected.