Snowdrops in July? My summary of garden plants and activities this week includes snowdrops. I also report progress on the new pond and show you some unusual plants, grown from seed. Firstly to the greenhouse though.
These are stunning greenhouse or conservatory plants that were number one on my list to grow when I was planning a new greenhouse. With their unusual tropical form, I assumed they’d be tricky to grow but treated like any other summer flowering bulb, they are surprisingly easy. I planted several of the finger-length fleshy tuburs bought from GeeTee Bulb Company into a pot and up they came. These two are the first to flower but several other stems are snaking their way up wires. The passiflora marijke, written about here is intermingling with the glory lily so this will be an exotic vine jungle in a few weeks.
Two weeks after I told you all about my new pond project (click here for digger pics if you’re partial to that kind of thing), and I thought an update is in order.
The shape of the new tank is now visible. The first walls, made out of block-work, weren’t quite right so the contractor started again using brick, which was then covered in cement. You can just see the pattern of the brickwork showing through the cement. The cement layer contained a waterproofing additive and next week what is being described as a ‘waterproof slurry’ will be coated on. Then the coping stoned will be added around the edge using old stones rescued from the original feature here.
It’s looking promising.
As I put a pond in, so my neighbour is filling one in, to make way for an extension. Their pond was lovely but was allot of work. I call it a pond but it was actually a huge outdoor fish tank, built by the previous owner as a home for Koi carp. The fish have been found a new home and my neighbour has given me some of the marginal plants that edged the side of the tank, hanging from the coping on large metal frames.
There are two type of Iris here, a tall yellow one and a smaller variegated purple one. I’ll be splitting the yellow Irises and will construct a low wall in two places at the sides of my tank, on which I can place baskets of marginals such as these. It was a kind gift from my neighbours and I’m sure they’ll add a stately presence at the edge of my pond.
This is a most unusual plant. In fact I’d go so far as to say it’s the strangest plant I have every grown from seed. Pictures of this plant caught my eye Mike’s Rare Plants facebook page, where he periodically sells the excess seed collected from his incredible collection or tropical and ornamental species.
I’m growing this as an ornamental plant, as its leaves are shapely, its colouring a lovely slatey green, veined heavily in the richest purple, and covered in downy spines which harden as the leaf grows into evil purple thorns.
Originating in Central and South America, the suffix quitoense means ‘coming from Quito’ – the capital city of Ecuador. This plant is probably not to everyone’s taste but its fruits may well be. I’ve read online that the common name for this plant is naranjillo, meaning ‘little orange’ in Spanish and indeed it does produce fruits – small orange ones that look like cherry tomatoes but are said to taste like a cross between rhubarb and lime. I wonder if I’ll get fruit?
Snowdrops in July
Some of you will recall my friendship with Mr Snowdrop, who lived in my village and who had a wonderful collection of snowdrops growing in the ground and in pots sunk into the soil all around the edge of his garden. I featured close up photographs of just some of his collection in this post back in February and described how we had visited the Alpine Garden Society’s Snowdrop Day. At this snowdrop day I added my name to the list of Glen Chantry snowdrop nursery.
Mr Snowdrop was good friends with the owners of Glen Chantry nursery – Wol and Sue Staines – and recommended I consider buying bulbs from them in July. I was confused. Everything I have ever read about snowdrops was that they are best planted growing ‘in the green’ (that is dug up and replanted just after flowering, with the green leaves still attached). Bought as bulbs they are less likely to thrive as they can be dessicated.
“Ah yes” said Mr Snowdrop, “but bought from a specialist nursery they will be in tip top condition”. Specialist nurseries will grow the snowdrops until just dormant, clean and check the bulb and send straight out to their new owners for immediate planting.
This week my snow drop bulbs arrived and they are indeed in tip top condition. Wol evened phoned me to check that I was going to be around to plant them and not too busy or going away on holiday. Perfectly packed in plastic envelopes with vermiculite the bulbs are firm, have a perfect sheen and haven’t a blemish on them.
I’ve potted them up in terracotta pots and sunk them into sand in an old plastic cold frame where they should remain dormant, not too dry and not too wet, until next winter.
Finally, a view of this border, which is looking beautiful at the moment. Running alongside our parking area, it’s a joy to see every time we arrive home. Last autumn I planted a series of perennials saved from this area when the drive and greenhouse building works were going on. The colour combination is therefore fairly random as some plants were used which maybe shouldn’t have been and yet somehow the combination of oranges, blues and purples, with the odd hint of yellow and white really works for me.
This is the same border which was tulip central three months ago. Here’s a reminder of what it looked like then.
This seasonal diary is part of a weekly link-up of garden bloggers from around the world, called Six on Saturday. For more information and links to other blogs crammed with gardening activity, check the blog of host The Propagator.