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More Seed Sowing

August 26, 2018

Now that the climbing beans have all finished there are newly emerging gaps on the allotment. So this weekend two rows of Wild Rocket, a row of Italian flat-leaf parsley and a further row of coriander were sown. The seeds of the latter came from a clump of coriander that had gone to flower and was found in amongst the lettuces. The seeds were still green rather than dry brown so I will report back on whether they germinate.

The courgettes have produced fruit very steadily for the last eight weeks and there appear to be many more slowly emerging. But in order to prolong the crop two seeds were sown six weeks ago and planted out three weeks later when still small plants. They are doing well so I hope to see flowers soon and if a crop follows then next year the diary will have a reminder to repeat the practice again. The diary will also get a reminder to sow Dwarf French Beans in early July since these have been a great crop and we are now on our sixth picking with more to come.

I am familiar with several London gardens that have lost box plants both to blight and the box caterpillar in the last two years.  In design terms my garden is hugely dependent on box (Buxus sempervirens) in the form of parterres, box balls and pyramids. So I regularly remind myself to check all these plants for suspicious damage or lurking caterpillars and so far so good.

It’s also necessary to keep an eye out for interesting planting schemes in case disaster strikes when a re-design might be necessary. Bristol University has some very lovely and imaginative low maintenance beds to inspire.

This one is planted with Stipa gigantea, Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’, Sedum matrona and Stipa tenuissima and it’s looked stunning for months and especially so this week. I could happily live with that collection of plants if needs be. But no re-design required just yet and with that in mind dividing up perennials and taking cuttings is the order of the day to ensure infill planting at low-cost for Spring 2019.

This Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ was long-flowering and looked good near the grey leaves of Santolina chamaecyparissus. So to increase the stock I lifted three geum plants and carefully cut through the roots and re-potted all six to over Winter to replant in Spring. I lifted out four fennel plants from a pot of herbs and cut them back to 20 cm. These were eased apart at the roots to double up to eight plants. I fancy seeing fennel mingling with Verbena bonariensis in the first parterre next Summer: airy, tall and elegant.  To propagate the verbena side shoots were gently taken off the main stems (see image below) by gently pulling them down the stem and dipping in hormone rooting powder. They were placed around the edge of a 1 litre pot filled with potting compost with a plastic bag over the top. This will be left on for several weeks until new leaves appear at the base of each cutting.

There are pockets of colour in the garden but not as much as I need to fill a vase every week. The flowers of honeysuckle Lonicera ‘Henryi’ had put out a second flush and these were bulked out with the very last hydrangea flowers (rescued from another vase) to fill a small jug  handsomely.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 27, 2018 3:59 pm

    With regard to the box – check very carefully anything that looks like spider webs; the caterpillars spin webs to protect themselves from predators and I was fooled when I was checking my plants. Well done for being ahead of the game with second sowings, I managed it with cucumbers this year but often it is so hot and I don’t have anywhere to germinate seeds where they wouldn’t just cook!

  2. August 27, 2018 6:48 pm

    Thanks Christina – I had a friend staying last week who said much the same about the webs. She had lost all her box in london to the caterpillar and I guess until it happens to you it’s difficult to know what to look out for. I will be vigilant.

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