Friday 29 May 2015

Tracking change

Many garden bloggers seem to track the progress of their garden if not individual plants, often posting photos of plants in previous years.  It is definitely a simple way to record the growth of plants, one I use a lot.

Sedeveria letizia July 2014
Sedeveria letizia May 2015
Sadly not all plants show a lot of change between photos and so other methods of recording growth have to be used.  It is sad how geeky I get over this.

So the first method is a simple ruler.

Arenaria aurea May2015
This works fine for plants that actually get bigger, but the agaves were the plants that kept frustrating me.  I started thinking about marking the latest leaf, at first using nail polish on the terminal spine.  For a while we had quite a few very bright terminal spines.

In the end I found the solution on one of the plant forums, in which someone placed washers over the terminal spine. So simple.

Now I simply place the washer on the newest leaf at the start of spring and at the end of summer, even if there was no obvious growth, it's possible to see how many new leaves there are.

There have been a few questions about the washers, but a lot less than about the neon nail polish. Does anyone else have strange methods to track the progress of their plants?

Wednesday 27 May 2015

Why wont you sprial ............

Aloe polyphylla is one of the ore cold tolerant aloes and also one of nicest.  They are really sort after in the UK mainly as pot specimen, although they look amazing as part of a rockery.  So when no surpise it was given a prime spot when planting up the succulent rockery.

They like more water than many aloes, so tend to like being in the ground. Mine romped away and there is no complaining about the growth rate.  But let's face it, we grow this plant for the spiral, which gives it such a structural look.  Not mine.

The brown tips show I have not been watering it enough, we are in the UK surely it shouldn't need watering.  Anyway, no spiral, not even the start of one.  I am sure I have seen much smaller ones than this with a good spiral.

When I try to focus and see any signs, I can someties convince myself that it is starting to spiral to the left and maybe this is what is slowing it down.  Most seem to spiral to the right.  In truth, I am kidding myself, it just doesn't want to play ball.

It is being fed and watered to keep it in better condition, and it better show some appreciation or it is going.  Ok, maybe not going, it is still the nicest aloe for the warmer parts of the UK. But it will at very least get a strong talking to.

Saturday 23 May 2015

The succulent flower part 2.

Both in and out of the greenhouse the succulents are flowering away. 

The crassula budhas temple is fully open now

Close-up you can see all the individual little flowers

The echeverias are in good form as well, although not all their flowers are that good to look at.  Some of the better ones are e. ramillette, which has larger flowers and lots of them.

E. setosa blue, which has a stronger colour to the flowers.

As if the echeveria flowers weren't leggy enough soe of the haworthias are even worse. This one is taking it to the extreme and sending out flower stalks in each direction.

The flowers themselves are very pretty but tiny.

Outside isn;t much different.  The river of echeveria elegans is now a river of flowers.

The e. agavoides types all have weak flowers, the plants may be great which is good as you don't grow the for the flowers.

In the background is one of my own hybrids echeveria 'Adonis Blue' ( which is e. pulidonis x e. rosea)  It tends to flower quite well.

The final plant in this set is my favourite sedeveria letizia

The flower stalks are a bit longer this time which is a shame, but it still has the white flowers.

There are still a few yet to flower so I am sure there will be a part 3.

Thursday 21 May 2015

Yucca and cordyline get in on the act

It is great at this time of the year, everything seems to be sending out new offsets or splitting. So it great that even the larger plants are at it.

One of the yuccas that seems to be getting more popular in the UK, is yucca aloifolia purpurea. The opinion on hardiness seems to vary, so far it has not done too badly and has settled into the succulent rockery.

Seems to hold its colour well, although will turn green if kept in the shade for any period of time.

Back in March I noticed an offset poking it's head above the gravel.  It has grown at a good rate and been joined by a second in the last couple of weeks.  The oldest now has a few leaves and is starting to develop the distinctive purple colour, the new one is just getting going.

If it carries on like this, it's gong to be a pest like the normal form.  Can't be digging up the offsets all the time.

The only cordyline currently in the garden is the more unusual cordyline karo kiri. Another of the test plants. The last one didn't do well in a pot over winter, this one in the ground was fine for this mild winter.

Please forgive the photo which makes it look like the cycad is growing out the top.

Photos on the internet show it as a clustering plant and someone in the UK has one which was damaged and sent out side shoots.  In fact when the original plant died, it sent out a few new shoots from the base. In the Uk you usually see them as solitary plants.

It needs to offset as with on one stem it's starting to look a little leggy, and in this garden that only ends one way: with the plant being cut up.  So was please to see that there are a few offsets / new shots forming form the base.

Lots of new shoots there to give a nice bushy plant. I am going to have to make sure I water and feed it over the first part of the summer to get some good growth, then consider what to do come winter.

All these new babies in the garden, it should be a much fuller rockery by the end of the summer. If it every stops raining that is.

Friday 15 May 2015

A mixed bag

Last weekend it was the first plant fair of the year, this one at Savil Gardens.  I try and go every year, meeting up with friends who normally laugh at my complaints that the only plants to buy are sempervivums.  This year with the new sections in the garden there was actually an opportunity to buy different plants.  Sadly I forgot my camera, so only have photos of the plants once safely back in the garden.

Typically what was the first stall there, a succulent one!  They have never been there before and had a great selection. I really wasn't looking for any more non-hardy plants but couldn't resist these three miniature haworthias.

The main part of the fair was more traiditonal plants, usually specialist forms which make the trip worth while. One of the best purchases was mahonia soft caress.

A friend had recomended it for a corner in the shade garden.  It is under my OHs studio window, so there were strict instruction that any plants were not to obscure the light.  This should get up to sill height, or maybe just wave the tips of its delicate leaves in view without worry of it getting bigger. This was on my list of plants to look for, I almost missed it, thankfully the same friend pointed them out before we left.

Then there were the random buys like this veronica gentianoides.

The blue is much more defined than in the picture, which makes up for the slightly boring leaves. That corner gets a bit more sun than the rest of the section, so should be fine there. It is definitely lighting up the space at the moment.

I'm still very much finding my way with the non spikie plants, buying them the same way I buy succulents: just because I like the look of them. No doubt there is going to be a lot of re-planting in the shade areas to make it more interesting year round.

Back onto something I am more confident about, the alpines.  The usual stall was there and instead of just going for sempervivums which I have enough of at the moment, there was a great range of other interesting plants.  My favourite mounding plant was there scleranthus biflorus. I have tried this a couple of times in pots and have been looking for it to go in alpines rockery.

It was also an opportunity to ask where I had been going wrong.  The consensus was lack of water in the height of summer.  So the area was dug out a bit and more soil added in the hope of stopping it drying out too quickly.

I also picked up a cotula hispida, although haven't decided where this one is going yet.

A total suprise find was this crassula sarcocaulis.

I've been looking for a bonsai tree style alpine for years, hoping this will fit the bill.  A few pieces have already been taken to propagate and once settled in it may be trimmed to get a better shape.   I should have bought a few to experiment with.  Hopefully now I know the name, I'll be able to find more online.

The alpine bed is now filling up, and the shade area is well underway although still lots of space for new plants as well. 

Tuesday 12 May 2015

Finally plucked up the courage

Back in August aloe purple flush was my favourite plant of the week. (Post can be found here). I mentioned at the time that the only problem with the plant was that it doesn't produce many offsets.  During the 6 or more years since purchase, it has only produced one.

I have been avoiding splitting it, one of those times when you know it is going to be fine, but worry anyway.  A couple of professional gardeners / friends came over on Saturday (Note to self, think about the state of the garden before spontaneously inviting people like this over). The succulent fan among them loved this plant as well and agreed that potting up may produce more offsets.  Yesterday evening it was time to re-pot it and to see if it could be split.  The pot turned out to pretty much pure root, so it took longer than expected to tease out the roots. Once that was done it was quite easy to pry them apart.

As part of the new aim to keep into of the watering and feeding this one should do well. Sadly it will be mixed blessings as if looked after better it will loose that amazing colour.

Now they have more space, hopefully there will be a few more offsets.

Monday 4 May 2015

Time for some flowers

It is that time of year and the succulents are starting to put on a show.  This year is is a real variety of acts.

There's the mass flowers: Delosperma garnet

The mini flowers:  mammillaria snowcap

The dramatic flowers

Worth a close-up

Finally the wierd flower: crassula 'Buddha's temple'

A first for me, and just strange.

I wonder what will be next act in the show.

Sunday 3 May 2015

Another slippery slope.

I have mentioned my search for hand made plant pots before, here and here. With nothing turning up in garden centres and shows, the search moved to the internet in the hope of finally finding something to use in this springs potting up.

It seems there are lots of hand made pots, but very few made for succulents in the UK.  The first round of searching finally led to The Cats' Pyjamas, on Folksy. They had one little pot which looked like a good starting place.

So it turned up, very well packed, time to decide on what to put in it. Being small there were limited options, the plant needs to be slow growing and able to cope in very shallow pot.  A few options

Agave albopilosa

May work, but will grow and need to be re-potted, so that one is out.

Something softer perhaps, echeveria galaxy hybrid.

To big already and will only continue to grow.

Something that will clump and then when it fills the pot do something interesting, abromeitiella chlorantha.

On the right track, maybe the pot is a little too clean for that one. This plant needs something more rugged.

That's when aloe haworthioides x descoingsii took the top spot. It is small and fairly slow growing. Clump forming and it will be interesting to see what it does when the pot is full. Wont need re-potting. It is softer than the abromeitiella with a very similar look. Plus the colour is great.

This is one of my favourite aloes, so it seems fit it ended up with the first posh pot. 

I say first as having started the search it seems rude not to continue it.  There are a couple more things in the pipeline so watch this space. Needless to say I now need a special pot for lots of my plants, it seems plant pot shopping is almost as addictive as plant buying.