Sunday, 6 March 2016

SPRING IS ARRIVING



SPRING IS ARRIVING

At long last the rains have stopped and the soil surface is beginning to dry out. The last week of February was a real bonus with dry sunny days and just a slight frost over night to firm up the soil surface. Winter digging has now been completed, and all my entire compost heap used up, but the beginning of the new one has got a start. Kitchen waste is always available, and grass cutting has now begun. Add to this the wood shredding from the prunings of all the roses, raspberries, currants, saskatoons, gooseberries, brambles and grape vines. Our allotment site shredder is having a busy time just now, and the shreddings are perfect for the compost heap or as a mulch under some fruit bushes. They are also useful on paths to keep weeds down for the season.
Iris reticulata
The sunny days brought on the spring flowering bulbs and although the aconites and snowdrops are past their best, the crocus are now taking centre stage. A small batch of Iris reticulata planted a few years ago is now beginning to form a strong drift of colour that will thicken up each year. Anemone blanda planted about ten years ago is now appearing in many different borders, probably from seed mixed in with the old leaves and collected for the compost heap, which then gets spread all over the garden. This plant is not invasive so we just let it grow where ever it wishes and the drifts of bright blue flowers at the end of February and into March are always a welcome sight. My ground cover yellow saxifrage is now in flower as soon as it senses
Primulas ready to plant
spring is approaching.
Outdoor plant tubs and hanging baskets are always liable to plant losses especially as the winter has been so wet, but garden centres and many other outlets are just full of spring bedding flowers at very reasonable prices, so go for some of these and top up the tubs and baskets and find a few extras for gaps in borders. Primroses, polyanthus and pansies are all looking great at point of sales as most of them will have spent winter under glass or in the protection of poly tunnels.
Garden centres and numerous supermarkets are now stocking fruit trees and bushes as we head into spring. I have seen a lot of plants for sale in Dundee that are just not suitable for our climate. Scotland is colder, wetter and has less sun than the south of the UK, so some plants that are just fine in the south are just not suited to a cooler climate.  Always check out the variety before you buy.
Saxifrage
My new bramble (blackberry) Reuben gets brilliant reviews with immense sweet berries so I thought I must try out this primocane type. This means it gets cut down to the base every year and fruits at the end of the new shoots produced in the same season. Planted a year ago and cut down to a few inches it soon produced a couple of shoots. However these did not flower till November so I had little chance of seeing any berries. Last year was a rotten year so too early to judge. This year the winter has been very mild so my bramble has been growing for a few weeks, only to get the young soft shoots frosted by a couple of degrees of frost. Still too early to judge.
Seed potatoes for the allotment are now all boxed up for chitting and placed in a cool but frost free room near the window. Hopefully the young shoots will emerge but remain stocky and be ready for planting out towards the end of March or early April depending on weather at that time.
White Orchid
Rhubarb crowns are now all swelling up and looking very promising. The mild wet winter seems to have done them no harm at all.
My cold greenhouse is rapidly filling up as plants get transferred from windowsills and other seeds get sown. Begonias are still at home but will need to go out in a few weeks time.
Indoors, the white Phalaenopsis orchid is in full flower. They are great value as they last for weeks.

Wee jobs to do this week
Geraniums grown from cuttings last autumn as well as stock plants dug up and potted into large pots are now all putting on a lot of growth. Some are getting too big for windowsills. I have transferred the strongest looking ones to my cold greenhouse to harden off, but to keep them short jointed remove the tops and use these as a batch of cuttings. They root easy but need warm conditions indoors on a shady windowsill.

 END

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