I’ve mitched off for a couple of weeks. But I’m back now with another Six on Saturday. Whichever way you look at it, we’re now in autumn; the days are shorter than the nights; the clocks will soon go back and allow those who without a dominant cat an extra hour in bed one night. Just means I’ll be getting up at 6am (in reality, more like 5am) for the following six months in a house that runs on Pillster-time.
Incidentally, the mitching has been sort of enforced. Apologies to anyone who has commented on an earlier post on my blog to whom I haven’t yet replied. I hope to catch up over the weekend. Once I’ve got email sorted …. It’s a long story. I’m a victim of the sudden success of my other “blog”. New internet service contract had to be arranged.
In my last contribution I mentioned that my sweet peas had been a disaster this year (and weren’t that good last year) and that I planned to replace them with a Trachleospermum. In the end, I bought two. Specifically Trachleospermum Jasminoides “Star of Toscana” *. I got two mainly because Thompson & Morgan announced an offer just as I was about to buy one from somewhere else – £19.99 for one (which was cheaper than the place I’d planned to buy from) or £20 for two. So in for a penny, as they say. They’ve arrived and are standing in the greenhouse until I finish building the supports to which they’ll be attached. I suppose they should be outside but I doubt they’d stay upright if there was a heavy breeze. They’ll be ok for a couple of days.
Number 2 is a bit of wildlife. I nearly mulched this little baby whilst cutting one of the lawns. My go-to Readers’ Digest Encyclopaedia of Lepidoptery** says this is a “yellow caterpillar with hairs and a red tail”. That encyclopaedia was a free gift with a can of bug spray, intended to allow me to identify what I’d killed to decide whether I should have killed it or not. Having never seen one of these before, I resorted to a bit of searching on the interwebs and identified it as a Pale Tussock Moth Caterpillar. So there. Maybe I’ll now see a Pale Tussock Moth at some stage. Assuming, of course, that the interwebs co-operate in identifying whatever it is I will have seen whenever I see it (or not, as the case may be).
As a tribute to our Glorious Leader, number 3 is a bit of propagation. I’ve got a lot of pinks, some alstroemeria and, out of shot, some lavender which all seem to be doing ok (which for me means at least 10% are still alive). In the background you may notice some pelargoniums. I don’t know what I’ve done wrong but these surviving cuttings have rapidly developed to a size which, in late spring, I would plant out. One has even flowered! Roots are already poking out of the bottoms of the pots. They’re growing in pure coir (which is sterile, of course) and I’m adding a young plant food to their water once a week. No rooting hormone was used, they just spent their first days of “independence” suspended in water with some cal-mag feed added and I potted them up as roots appeared.
Maybe I need to cut the cuttings back or take cuttings of them? Who knows. This is the first time I’ve tried pelargoniums by the “suspended in water” method. I probably did it too early (mid-August). I’m showing you only the successes. About three-quarters didn’t make it.
Number 4(a) is an interlude; a precursor to the real number 4. I decided to make an inroad into my want list and placed an order with Beth Chatto Gardens at about 2pm on Thursday. These boxes arrived at 10 am yesterday. Not bad, eh? Beth is remarkably sprightly for her age! I’m happy to plug the nursery – a lot cheaper than many places and the plant quality (and the packaging) makes me very happy.
But the real number 4 is what was in the boxes. Fellow Six on Saturday contributors Thomas Stone and Gill Heavens have been beavering away, adding things to the list of plants I want. That list is now a bit shorter. Kniphophia rooperi and some Geraniums (thanks Thomas), Tricyrtis and a Persicaria (thanks Gill), a few Helenium “Sahin’s Early Flowerer” and some Eryngiums (thanks somebody, not sure who) have made a small dent in the list. Of course one can’t not have a look around when buying so some more plants fell into my basket. Sorry, Burncoose, you’ll have to wait till my second mortgage gets approved.
I also discovered that “Sedum” is now “Hylotelephium” so I got one of those to see what the difference is. I’ll probably still call it “Sedum” though. I’ll keep the rest secret until a future Six, assuming they survive as they’re all deliberate “challenges”. Like the coracle (only Welsh people will get that, sorry).
Number 5 is a Bougainvillea. Well it’s a single flower of a Bougainvillea. Well it’s not really cos it’s actually a bract. This plant was cosseted indoors through last winter and returned to its nice sunny spot when the weather warmed up enough in spring. Fed, watered, nurtured, it has finally rewarded me with, yes, a single flower/bract. It’s so small I can just about see it – this photo was at the limit of my camera’s macro capability, hence the slight blur.
Number 6 is an Aster. Or, it seems, a Symphyotrichum as those responsible for deciding what plants are called seem to have decided that some Asters aren’t. Makes me think that anyone in need of a job could set themselves up as a naming committee of some sort – a self-perpetuating organism. In the interests of environmental friendliness, I’ll stick with “Aster”. It uses less ink. And fewer headache pills!
I have several Asters; this one is “Alice Haslam”. Depending on whence you source it, it’ll be Aster “Alice Haslam”, Symphyotrichum “Alice Haslam”, Aster/Symphyotrichum novi-belgii “Alice Haslam”, Aster/Symphyotrichum dumosus “Alice Haslam”, New York Aster or any one of a long list. You can also substitute a single apostrophe for any occurrence of the double-quote punctuation. Pay attention at the back of the room, please.
Having lost the will to live thanks to the variety of prefixes, I thought it would be an idea to find out who “Alice Haslam” *** was. I wish I hadn’t tried. Carefully wording my search term to remove a long list of vendors of whatever they called the plant, I came across a page that purported to set out the derivation. You can read it here (and never say I’m long-winded again, please Gill). Makes about as much sense as Boris Johnson’s explanation of why the NHS will get £350m a week after we leave the EU. Then I came across this page. Doesn’t specifically say that this is the Alice Haslam after whom the plant is named but there are at least some co-incidental “facts” – other articles mention a connection with Utah – and it makes a far more interesting story.
Well that’s my six for this week. Do pop over to The Propagator’s blog where, apart from his own contribution, the comments will include links to other posts (and pop back a few times, even into tomorrow, as more links are added). Our esteemed Head Womble has also, thoughtfully, provided a contributor’s guide so if you’re new to this, it’ll help you put your contribution together. I’ve permanently linked to the guide in my sidebar, up there ^^^ on the right.
Until next time, enjoy your garden (or “yard”, “backyard”, “plot”, “enclosure” ………)
*Or “Tuscane” or “Tuscany”, depending on where you buy it. Plant names are a recurring theme in this post!
**This is actually non-existent but maybe someone somewhere in the bowels of Readers’ Digest HQ is busily writing such an encyclopaedia. So I’m ahead of the game.
***The label on mine spells the name as “Alice Haslem”. Let’s not go there. PLEASE?