Monday, 28 October 2013

Munch, munch.

When digging up my succulents a few weeks ago I found that the Echeveria came up a lot easier that it should, it just popped out of the ground.
"Uh oh" thought I. Yup, damned vine weevil grubs had munched through all the roots and one was making its way right up the centre of the stem.

She is no more. 

The top of the plant has been potted up in gritty compost and should re root. 
They're a bit of a problem, Fuchsia, Primula and Heuchera have all been chewed through this year. Luckily all were saved in the nick of time.
By the way, did you know that all vine weevils are female? Able to reproduce without any intervention from the less fair sex. They're triploids too, having an extra set of chromosomes than us humans who only have two, this gives them a slight advantage in that they are more robust and hardier to extremes in temperature and difficult environmental pressures. Kind like super bugs
They're not native to the UK or Ireland either, originally being found in only in one small area of central Europe. Modern horticulture has helped their dispersion, causing problems for gardeners world wide.

Horrible little feckers.

Sorry if all that has put you off your lunch. ;-)

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Autumn dig.

Its that time of year when succulents that I'd bedded out in the garden for the summer must be lifted.
My location is normally very mild, with -3C being an exceptional low during winter. I won't mention the bad year, its still to raw and painful to dwell on the losses sustained. Let's just day it was a damned sight colder than normal.
The problem isn't the cold, it's the combined conditions of both wet and shade that will cause many succulents to turn to a gooey mush. Very few things in the garden smell worse than the exhumed corpse of a rotting Agave.
So, to avoid this I plant them out around April/May and dig them up again come September or early October.
Planting them in the soil, which provides relatively rich conditions causes these plants to grow lush and full, a look I enjoy for the planting schemes I envision. But with such rank growth also comes a loss of frost hardiness so up they need to come.
A dry day is necessary before work can commence as you don't want them being potted up while sodden. Dry roots are the key for successful winter storage. Terracotta pots are best as they won't hold on to moisture, and the recently acquisition of thirty or so antique Irish pots came in handy at this point. They were bought off Gumtree without a clue as to what I'd use them for but the price and their rustic beauty meant that it was too good an opportunity to pass them up.
When dug up and some of the soil shaken from their roots they were potted into almost pure grit, which will hopefully make it easier to keep them dry until spring.

Hail stones when I was away on holidays damaged the leaves of many of succulents, leaving them with unsightly brown marks, like on the Aeonium 'Compton Carousel' below. But they'll grow out of this again by next year.

They're all safely tucked up in my cold greenhouse, so providing things don't get too cold this winter all should be good come spring.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Tiger Lily

I love it when Lilium lancifolium 'Supebum' starts to colour up in late August every year, and will point it out to anyone who is interested, and frankly anyone who isn't, cos hey, it's too good not to show off.
It's not a fancy hybrid, it isn't scented, and it ain't rare, but it's a good 'dooer'
So, here it is, firstly in bud.

Looking like so many little hanging orangeish chillies, starting almost red at the base and getting progressively lighter towards the tip and contrasting nicely with the dark slightly pubescent stems.

When the buds open they're pretty much an 'in yer face' orange, so I grow it with plenty of green around to provide a bit of relief, but it'd look cool with some more zingy colours too.

It's a prolific spreader via the load of bulbils that it produces in its leaf axils. I try to remove them before they detach and drop to the ground nowadays as I've more than enough of it at this stage. They fall and grow around the base of the plant so it's not going to spread all over the garden but just be aware so that you're not over run! 

It's an Asiatic, so like most of the rest is pretty easy to grow, and pretty hardy to cold. For those of you who gauge how cold a plant can get before deciding to cark it using the USDA system I've seen Zone 3a quoted, which it a pretty chilly -39.9C or -40C. That's damned cold. (Incidentally, how on earth do I do the little degrees sign, you know, that little circle between the temperature and the C or F?)
Bought as one bulb, three, possibly four years ago it has quickly increased to something like seven six foot high flowering stems.  

Incidentally, does anyone have any idea why they're commonly known as Tiger Lilies? Cos Tigers have stripes, not spots.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Colour in the autumn garden

In Ireland, on a windy and wet autumn day like today it's easy to believe that there's no chance of any more good weather at this stage, the concept seems like a dim and distant hopeful dream.  But it looks like the weekend is going to be dry and sunny, so the late show of colour in the garden should hopefully continue for a few weeks yet.
The Dahlias are still flowering away, if anything they're getting better as they were late started off this spring, subsequently taking quite a while to get going, especially with the cold early summer holding them back. 

Here's a few that are looking good right now, and each one very different to the next.

'Halo' I picked up in France last year while on holidays as a shriveled tuber that was being sold off cheap, a lovely single pink.

'Purple Haze' is a stunner, deep plummy purple with an almost black reverse to the central petals.

'Blue Bayou', well obviously not blue is it? Wishful thinking on behalf of the breeder methinks, blue being a colour not found in Dahlia. Colour aside this unusual Dahlia (Anemone flowered group) seems to draw most comment from anyone who has seen it. I still haven't entirely made up my mind about it, I'm giving it an 80% liking rating. ;-)

Lastly the shocking coral pink Dahlia 'Karma Fuchsiana'. It's a difficult colour to place in the garden but a spot in front of Canna 'Durban' seems to work well, the pink flower picking up the stripes in the leaf behind. The flowers produced vary in their doubleness, some having more petals giving a fuller look, but this one looks no worse for exposing more of its yellow centre.