ONE SEASON ENDS AND ANOTHER BEGINS
Snow has arrived in Scotland, frost threatens so we assume the summer flowers will be finished. However on looking around my outdoor fuchsia Mrs Popple is still in full flower, the cosmos is at it’s best, the roses and geraniums are far from over and I am still picking plenty of chrysanthemums for the house.
Going into the greenhouse the Alicante tomatoes are still growing and fruiting. My plans to plant up winter salad leaves in the greenhouse once the tomatoes are finished and pulled out will have to be put on hold. Back amongst the fruit crops all the apples are harvested and now in store but I am still getting some nice Autumn Bliss raspberries to add to my muesli in the morning.
Over on the allotment the winter vegetables are having a field day. The last courgette has been picked and is heading into the kitchen for the next vegetable bake.
I await a few frosty nights to help to sweeten up my parsnips, swedes, brussels sprouts, leeks and winter cabbage. In the meantime the mild autumn has allowed plenty growth on my late summer lettuce and salad leaves as well as my new trial of mooli radish. The latter have been very successful in producing large pure white carrot sized roots. However in the kitchen the mooli are giving off an extremely strong turnip smell which is a major downside.
Our thoughts now turn to 2015 and the spring flowers. This is the time to be planting our wallflower, polyanthus, tulips, crocus, daffodils, and hyacinths, but before that the summer flowers must be cleared out of the flower beds, tubs, and hanging baskets. This is the last chance to take geranium and bizzie lizzie cuttings to provide stock for next summer. I usually take geranium cuttings 3 – 4 inches long and place them around the perimeter of a shallow flower pot, in well drained compost. These are placed on a windowsill of a warm room, but not in full sun. The bizzie lizzies are placed in a narrow glass jar filled up to the top with water with about four cuttings in each jar. These will root after about two months and can then be potted up into compost.
Back in the garden, now is the time to lift the gladioli that finished flowering several weeks ago. Cut back the old stems 3 inches above ground level, lift them up, shake off the soil and store in a cool frost-free shed or greenhouse until they dry off. Once they dry off, they can be cleaned up and stored in boxes. Remove all the small bulbils but retain the biggest of these as these can be grown on to produce a flowering plant in a couple of years.
Once all the early flowering chrysanthemums have finished, they can also be carefully lifted, labelled, and boxed up in good soil, and kept in a cold greenhouse over winter.
Tuberous begonias put on a fantastic show this year but have now come to the end of their season. These can be lifted up and placed in trays in a frost-free airy greenhouse, shed, or garage to dry out. Once they are completely dry, they can be boxed up for over wintering in frost-free conditions. Autumn which is now upon us is a great time to take shrub cuttings for those special plants that you wish to propagate such as Cotinus, Cistus, Cornus from hardwood cuttings. The best time for successful rooting is usually between two weeks before and two weeks after leaf fall.
Back in the garden the autumn gales have arrived, and the leaves are coming down from the trees rapidly. These need sweeping up and are very useful taken to the compost heap.
Plant of the week
Coleus blumei used to be a very popular house plant 30 years ago but had been replaced by more fashionable house plants. However they’re having a resurgence of popularity. They are available in a large number of very brightly coloured leaves. They are very easy to grow, requiring moderate feeding but are not frost-hardy so are only suitable for indoor decoration. The plant grows fast, but if it gets too big it is simply a matter of taking some more cuttings to start new plants. They root very easily from softwood cuttings.