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.