Monthly Archives: August 2013

Propagating citrus, update

Time for another look at my Calamondin propagation project, firstly, the seedling:



It’s hardly romping away, but it’s definitely growing – and it has two lead shoots even though I didn’t pinch it out, so perhaps it’s self-branching?

I photographed it in the garden but it still lives on my south-facing kitchen windowsill with a net curtain between it and the window, so it gets good but diffuse light. I’ll probably keep it there until next spring, or whenever it warms up enough to put it outside – at this rate, I don’t think it will outgrow the windowsill any time soon!

My cuttings are still all alive, but they’ve hardly moved with only two out of the seven showing signs of shooting:



The pot on the right sits on the same windowsill as the seedling, so it has good light and warmth (because of the time of year) but it’s hardly doing any more than the pot on the left which sits next to my north-facing patio door.

Am I doing something wrong, I wonder? Or is this just how they are? I really would have expected a bit more growth by now – they’ve been on the go for 4 months, so they certainly take their time! Given that there have been roots poking out the bottom of the pots for a while, I think I may just move them on into individual pots and see what happens next; growing on is always the tricky bit in my book!


What’s in bloom?

Quite a few things, as it happens!

In no particular order:

Fuchsias (all varieties)

Fuchsia "Marcus Graham

Fuchsia “Marcus Graham

Tuberous begonias

New Guinea Impatiens

New Guinea Impatiens in hanging basket

New Guinea Impatiens in hanging basket

Diascias (all varieties)

Alstroemerias (all varieties)

Alstroemerias "Sirius" and "Spitfire" with Phlox "White Admiral"

Alstroemerias “Sirius” and “Spitfire” with Phlox “White Admiral”

Lysimachia ephemera

Hemerocallis “Stella de Oro”

Clematis jackmanii (still!), Clematis texensis (can’t remember which variety!)

Clematis texensis, unknown variety

Clematis texensis, unknown variety

Roses – “Gloire de Dijon”, “Mme Alfred Carriere” and “Ballerina” (second flush)

Phlox “Prospero”, “White Admiral” and “Giant Purple Elite”

Nepeta (hanging on in there!)

Knautia macedonica

Hosta (my small-leaved variety, on its second flush)

Aster frikartii “Mönch”

Dicentra formosa “Aurora”

Lamium maculatum “White Nancy”



I’m still waiting for some of my new phlox to show willing and flower (not sure they will at this point), along with Aster “Little Pink Beauty”, which is always one of the latest plants to come into bloom.

Recent departures are my tree lilies (Picasso has finally finished), Lysimachia punctata, and, a couple of weeks ago, Hemerocallis “Lemon Bells” and “Luxury Lace”. My ten week stocks are now done – wasn’t impressed with those and won’t be growing them again – and I think I’ve also seen the last of Geranium “Buxton’s Blue”, although that is a little mysterious because it seems to be withering and dying rather than simply ceasing to flower – not sure what’s going on with that, to be honest.

But all in all, a colourful late summer picture and not too many gaping holes that need filling.

Aster frikartii “Mönch”

Late summer welcomes the first of my two asters into bloom:



I always have mixed feelings when the asters start to flower because it means that summer is definitely on its way out, but I certainly can’t deny the charm of their simple daisy forms, and the resilience that carries them all the way through to the first frosts, whenever they might arrive.

Mönch is a particular old favourite of mine with its profusion of 2-inch wide lavender blooms, but at 3 foot tall it needs support, even this year when I experimented with the “Chelsea Chop”, cutting it back by half at the end of May in an attempt to produce a more compact , better-behaved plant (didn’t work!).  Sprawling habit aside, it’s a relatively undemanding plant for a sunny spot – it does need thorough watering in dry spells, I find – that provides an excellent foil for the bright yellows, oranges and reds of late summer and early autumn, so well worth its place in my small garden.

Begonia cuttings, diascia cuttings, update

It’s taking a long, long time, but I’m seeing growth on my tuberous begonia cuttings:


I have, of course, taken the update photo (right) with the pot the wrong way round (!) but the cutting on the right (1st pic)/left (2nd pic) is developing a nice new leaf and is looking pretty good. The other cutting hasn’t shown much movement, but it is alive, so there’s hope!

My complete collection of diascia cuttings looks like this:all-diascia-cuttings-august-26th

Reading right to left (since I appear to be doing everything backwards today!) 1. the first batch of 3 cuttings (rose pink), 2. second batch of cuttings (orange),  3. second batch of cuttings (pale pink), 4. third batch of cuttings taken from the first batch (rose pink).

They all look good except the pale pink (number 3) which seem strangely washed-out in comparison to the others – no idea why, I’m afraid! They’ve all had pretty much the same treatment (feeding, watering, location), so perhaps that’s just how they are?

As it’s almost September, I don’t think any of them will be advanced enough to risk putting them into the ground over winter – I’m not even sure the parent plants will survive outdoors, to be honest – so I guess I’ll have some indoors on my windowsills and some out in the cold frame as an experiment to see if they’re hardy enough to stay alive.

Hopefully lots of plants to enjoy for next year, though!

Alstroemeria “Cahors”

Not the best photo as I over-exposed it, but anyway:


This is the last of my five new alstroemerias to come into bloom, and it’s another winner in my book. The flower stalks, which appear in succession from mid-summer, eventually  rise to about 18 inches tall and are sturdy enough to be self-supporting, whilst the flowers themselves, which last for weeks, are an appealing shade of rich salmony-orange (they show a lot pinker in my photo than they are in real life).

As long as I can keep them through winter, I think these alstroemerias are probably the best addition to my garden in a long time. In their first season they’ve ticked most of  the boxes for a small-garden-friendly plant: compact, healthy, easy-care, vigorous without being unruly, long-flowering and, of course, beautiful!

The one thing they lack is scent, which is a pity, but considering all their other virtues, I’ll gladly give them a pass.

I’ve grown them as container specimens this year, and they’ve performed extremely well in that situation; I’m good at watering, feeding and generally pampering plants in containers, so they’ve had it easy really. Next year, however, I’ll be moving them out into the borders, so it will be interesting to see how they do there. For one thing, I suspect that I’ll have a much harder time protecting them from slugs and snails, and for another, they’ll also have to contend with my rather unlovely soil and somewhat unfocused border watering and feeding regime, so things will definitely be different!

Diascia cuttings – update

Time for another look at these.

Firstly a side-by-side of the original 3 cuttings after being pinched out and now:


It’s taken a while, but they’ve really bushed out. They’re now in a sunny spot at the end of the garden, where they’ll stay as long as they look okay (not wilting).

And this is my second batch of cuttings, first the orange:


…and the pale pink, which I haven’t potted on yet:


All doing very well – not one single failure, so they must take extremely easily!

I can’t say I’ve noticed much preference for rooting/growing on medium either, though possibly the growth has been best with a 50:50 mix of multipurpose compost and John Innes #2.

The second batch of cuttings were still in the coldframe this morning, but I’ve now removed the potted on orange-flowered variety to a spot that gets afternoon sun as they should be well enough settled to cope with it now – if they show signs of wilting, I will of course move them.

My third batch of cuttings, which are cuttings off the first cuttings(!), are still in the covered tray in the coldframe. I think they’re rooting, but it seems slower now, possibly because the nights aren’t as warm as they were during the hot spell in July. I guess that tells me that if I want to propagate them without any aids, the earlier in the season I can do it, the better.

Alstroemeria “Spitfire”

This is the one I’ve been most looking forward to:



With its variegated foliage and vibrant red-orange and yellow flowers, this truly is an all-singing, all-dancing variety; I’m just not sure I actually like it!

For one thing, it’s a little hard to place in my garden where the predominant colours tend towards the pinks and mauves, and for another, it’s almost too striking for a small garden where excessive attention-hoggers can be a bit overwhelming. I’m trying to visualise a large clump of this, and I think I’d need sunglasses to look at it no matter what the weather!

I’ll have to give it some thought: perhaps a pocket of “hot” plants (purples, yellows, oranges, reds) in a sunny spot would accommodate it well enough?

Anyway, it’s a nice mid-sized plant about 2 foot tall, needs a bit of supporting, and is later to come into bloom than some of the others. I imagine the flowers will persist for several weeks in typical alstroemeria fashion, so I suppose I’d better get used to them!

Daily ramblings

Things are a-changing in the borders.

The last Hemerocallis “Egyptian Ibis” flower came out today, so with Georgette Belden having finished a couple of days ago, that’s my large-flowered day lilies done for this season.

I still have a couple of buds left on Luxury Lace, and a scattering on Lemon Bells, but they will soon be gone too.

Stella de Oro will keep the hemerocallis flag flying for a while longer, though; it disdains to spend its effort in one glorious, three-week blaze preferring to eke out the display at a much more sedate pace throughout summer. I’ve spotted four or five more flower stalks on their way, so I’ll be enjoying those for a few weeks yet.

I’m also starting to say goodbye to my tree lilies (they are scent-sational while they last!), so it’s a good job that other players will soon be along to fill the stage, including Aster frikartii “Monch”, Aster “Little Pink Beauty” and several of my newly-purchased phloxes and pinks.

I potted on part of my second batch of diascia cuttings today, the unimaginatively named “orange”. I took 7 cuttings and all have rooted, so I’m going to be overrun with diascias before too long! If they grow quickly enough, I suppose there might be a sliver of a chance that they could be planted out in sheltered ground in late summer and left to overwinter, but probably not. I’m somewhat doubtful that even the parent plants will be hardy enough to withstand outdoor UK winter conditions, let alone new young plants with fledgling root systems. I expect I’ll keep some in the coldfame and some indoors – hedging my bets as usual!

My tuberous begonia cuttings, taken a week ago, still look healthy. It’s too early for them to have started rooting, but even knowing that, I still can’t help wanting to give them a gentle tweak in passing, just to be sure, ya know? Patience is not one of my virtues.

I’m continuing to harvest the odd french bean, but the plants are getting seriously devoured by slugs and snails now: if you step outside at night you’re almost deafened by the steady rasping of the little blighters in every corner of the garden. I’ve put some pellets down tonight, but they’ll probably get ignored in favour of my tasty beans. Grrrr…

Daily ramblings

First post for August!

Thought I should do an update on what’s in bloom now:

Geranium “Buxton’s Blue”

Lysimachia punctata (just! the clump in the shadiest, dampest spot seems to have lasted longest)

Lysimachia ephemerum

Knautia macedonica

Clematis jackmanii (still full of bloom and looking a picture)

Lilies, my 3 Oriental Tree varieties

Hemerocallis (Lemon Bells is on its last legs, as is Egyptian Ibis, Georgette Belden and Luxury Lace. Stella de Oro is still throwing up new flower stalks, though!)

Alstroemeria (Sirius is fully in flower, Uranus and Sedna have a couple of flower stalks, Spitfire just opened today, Cahors is still to come)

Ten week stocks

Sun diascias

Phlox (Prospero still in full flower, Giant Elite Purple just starting. Waiting for all the others…)

Nepeta (such a good doer – and the bees love it!)


New Guinea Impatiens

Tuberous begonias

Rose “Flower Carpet”

Rose “New Dawn”

Lots to enjoy, then, along with lots to ponder,  for instance, the difference in flowering periods when a plant is grown in several locations within the same garden.

My Lysimachia punctata grows in three places, and by far the most successful appears to be in an open but shaded spot where it’s been getting a fair bit of water whilst I’m watering other plants. In sunnier spots where the watering has been more infrequent, the plants looked a tad unhappy and stopped flowering a couple of weeks ago. Lesson learnt!

I continue to be impressed by my alstroemeria. They’ve been slow to flower – I guess that has a lot to do with the lateness of spring/summer – but once those blooms are out, they take so long to fade you almost wish they would! I’m not a huge fan of denuding the garden display  to provide flowers for the house, but I have to say that I’m tempted to pull a couple of stalks to see if the vase life is equally good.

My various cuttings all seem to be coming along fine. Probably time I moved on the second batch of diascias  from their shared pots into individual ones, but apart from that, there’s nothing much to do at the moment.

Indoors, my citrus cuttings are still looking good with one or two beginning to show signs of side-shooting from the leaf axils: getting them to root may well prove to have been the easy bit compared to the aftercare required to grow them on!  I’ll have to decide as I go along when to move them to individual pots, what medium to pot them into and when/if to move them to a lighter situation. Get those things wrong and it might still have been an awful lot of waiting for nothing (hope not!)

One last thing: my Phlox “Giant Purple Elite”, which has just started flowering, has turned out to be neither giant nor purple. Had they called it “Magenta Dwarf” they would have been much more on the money…