Helen's Garden Renovation Project

Friday 28 March 2008

How to upset a magnolia

Filed under: Magnolia,Progress — Helen @ 3:08 pm

Here is a picture of the magnolia soulangeana that I cruelly dug up and viciously pruned last year. Doesn’t it look really fed up?

Magnolia in pot flowering its hat off

A gardening expert has kindly told me that magnolias hate being pruned and stuck in pots, and that the reason it is flowering is that it is just about to give up the ghost and that it hopes that if it has lots of children someone will be nicer to them than I was. Sadly, I realise this may be true. So I am making sure that I look at it lots of times in case this is the last spring it ever sees.

My tool store arrived just under two weeks ago, but I haven’t assembled it yet because the instructions say that it wants to be painted at least once and preferably twice with decorative wood finish before it is put together. I might have done that this morning, except that it rained heavily from about half past five until about midday. I shall have to wait for a clear day so it has a chance to dry after being painted. I think I shall probably also have to buy some more wood paint.


Saturday 8 March 2008

All seeds germinated and ready to grow

Filed under: Progress — Helen @ 3:15 pm

On Friday morning I checked my propagators again, and found that the salvia and antirrhinums had got going, so that means all types of seed have started to germinate in under six days. So much for the 14-28 days on the packets. Another time I may do some experiments to see if I can get a seed to wait for 14 days before germinating, just to see if it is possible. Maybe the instructions on the packets were written by the same people who claim that their printer prints 20 pages per minute.


Wednesday 5 March 2008

More germination

Filed under: Progress — Helen @ 11:05 am

I am now the proud owner of 33 baby dahlias. I had thought dahlias would be tricky, because the flowers look so complicated, but they certainly seem to be very easy to germinate. According to the packet, there were only about 40 seeds, so that is an 82.5% germination rate, which I would never complain about, especially for 59p a packet. The petunias have started to germinate too, so they managed it in under 4 days. I am not sure whether the incredibly fast germination rate is due to the temperature of the room. The window is south facing, so it gets a lot of sun, and I keep the radiator on all the time because this is the room I use to dry my washing. But if temperature makes germination faster without any other penalties, why doesn’t the seed packet say this? I just hope that they don’t all die of growing up too fast.


Tuesday 4 March 2008

Germination competition

Filed under: Progress — Helen @ 8:27 am

I am somewhat surprised to report that two dahlias have germinated, less than 72 hours after I sowed the seeds. Nothing else has done anything yet. It’s possible that the room temperature is higher than the 15-20 degrees centigrade requested on the packet, but it wouldn’t be much more. I shall be keeping a close eye on the seed trays from now on, given that the seeds obviously haven’t read the instructions.


Sunday 2 March 2008

The March of progress

Filed under: Progress — Helen @ 10:01 am

The weather has been a lot more suitable for gardening recently, with not much rain and a slight amount of warmth. I have actually got a few things done. Firstly, I have bought a tool store. I decided in the end that it would be better to buy two that were not quite ideal than to go to the expense of getting one specially made. Delivery takes 28 days, so I should get it in March some time, and then it should be warm enough for me to put it together without getting frozen fingers. It is only a cheap thing, and it says it wants wood treatment applied every year. Realistically, I don’t think it is going to get that, but at least treating it should be an easy job, with no fiddly bits or windows to worry about, unlike a greenhouse. When I have put some things in it, I shall see what is left over and then work out whether I want to buy another tool store to put next to it, and if so, what its dimensions need to be.

Also I went to Wilkinson’s and bought four packets of half-hardy annuals. That is, two of them (dahlia and antirrhinum) think they are perennials, but in practice they are probably going to be annuals, given that the seeds only cost 59p for the dahlias and 39p for the antirrhinum. (Wilkinson’s seed offer this year wasn’t as good as last year’s, at “3 for 2” instead of “2 for 1”, but their seeds are still cracking good value). The other two are salvia “blaze of fire” and petunia. The annuals want to be kept at 18-24 degrees for germination, so I have put them in the heated propagator that I haven’t used for years. The perennials are happy with 15-20 degrees so I have just put them in ordinary trays with plastic lids on. I will be interested to see which one germinates first, given that the petunia says that it takes 14-25 days to germinate, and all the others say 14-28 days. I sowed them on Saturday 1 March, so I shall be expecting something to happen on 15 March.

I also bought a tray of 10 primulas “Calypso mixed” at £4.99. Although seeds are cheaper, I don’t have a very high success rate with primulas, despite following all the prescribed rituals, like putting the pots in the fridge in plastic bags. However, once I get the primulas outside, they seem to do very well, and I definitely have more than I started with, so I think they are happily producing children without any help from me. If I only get three plants from a packet of seeds costing £2, it certainly makes sense to buy small plants at 50p each. I want to keep the primulas outside in pots with the rest of the portable herbaceous border, but I think it will be too much of a shock for them if I put them outside now, so I am keeping them in the coldest room in the house, and I will put them out during the day as soon as we get a warm spell.

I am still looking for celandines. I found a couple in one of my pots, and sprayed them yesterday. But apart from that, they are nowhere to be seen. I can’t believe that I have actually got rid of them, so I will wait another four weeks before I celebrate. Also, I discovered a creamy-white daffodil at the bottom of my garden. I think they are much classier than the yellow varieties.