Saturday, 11 January 2020

Dwarf Zonal Pelargonium "Diane Louise"

Raised by the late well known Brian West, Diane Louise was introduced in the UK by Denmead Nurseries.  I cannot find which year.  This is across between Holly West, a zonal,  and Golden Glitter, a stellar.   When I met Brian West in 2005 he told me that he named this for a little girl who lived locally to him and who had died in a road accident.   Brian very kindly gave me another zonal that he said was from the same seed as Diane Louise.   The flowers are double and deep pink with a paler reverse.  I have not given it an official name, but call it Diane Louise Pink.

Not a lot going on in the greenhouse just now.   I am hoping to sow some seed shortly and also take some cuttings.    Due to the continuous rain we had in December I have had to battle botrytis in one of the greenhouses.  Oddly the other greenhouse seems to be more or less clear of it.   It has also been extraordinarily mild this winter, and I have not yet had to use the heaters.  A couple of nights when the temperature dipped to freezing I spread fleece over the plants, which keeps them warm.

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Zonal Pelargonium "Sammi Brougham"

Sammi Brougham

This is another superb pelargonium raised by the late BrianWest.   "Sammi Brougham" is a silver bi-coloured leaf single pelargonium with red and white speckled and splashed petals.  It is across between "Chelsea Star" and "Quest" and was released through Fibrex Nurseries.    Unfortunately, I do not have a date for when it was released.

David Taylor trained "Sammi Brougham" into a Standard which won Best in Show when he entered it in the 2018 Pelargonium & Geranium Society National Pelargonium Show at Fibrex Nurseries

The Greenhouses have now been bubble-wrapped, apart from the very top, which I will leave for a few weeks to see if the weather turns very cold.  This usually happens after Christmas here in the UK, so I like to leave as much light through into the greenhouse for as long as possible.    We have had a couple of light frosts, and I just covered the plants over with fleece for the night.   

The cuttings are OK so far, but I find they usually are until we get the cold weather.   I have lost two or three to botrytis.   Most of the seedlings are indoors in the spare bedroom. 

It is nearly the winter solstice when the sun is at its lowest here.  After that, there will be an 'oh so slow' return to more daylight hours.  We have had such a lot of rain here this past six weeks or so - almost every day it has rained, or been damp and dull.  We do need some bright crisp days before spring.

I will wish you all a very happy Christmas and all good wishes for a peaceful year in 2020.

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Species pelargonium P. mutans

P. mutans

One unusual pelargonium I have is P. mutans.  It is a sprawling plant, but quite mannerly.  The flowers are palest pink to cream and quite small.  The leaves are light green with a tan coloured zone and have an odd peppery scent.  Indeed, the plant is sometimes called "Pepper".  The plant can be propagated by cuttings or seed.

Diana Miller, in her book "Pelargoniums" says that the plant was sold and grown incorrectly for many years as P. grandiflorum and was once included within the species P. alchemilloides.  She goes on to say that it is not certain how it came to be in cultivation in Europe, but it was grown in European gardens for many years before it was collected in the wild in northern Natal in 1987 and accepted as a distinct species.

I have now completed the bubble-wrapping of my greenhouses.   Each one takes almost a day to complete as I remove all the plants, sweep through and wash down the benches before putting up the bubblewrap and replacing the plants.  This does take longer than it should because I tend to spend a lot of time grooming the plants.  I also take the opportunity to throw out any plants that do not look their best.  At this time of year I don't do the very top of the greenhouses or the fronts.   I keep the bubblewrap to hand ready to put up as soon as the weather turns much colder and hard frosts are forecast. 

The Uniques that are growing in large pots outside the conservatory all summer have now been taken inside the greenhouse.  I have about fifteen largish pots, but this year I have only kept four in the greenhouse. They have been in the pots for a couple of years now and were looking quite woody.   I have taken cuttings from all of them.  Hopefully I can grow the cuttings on to replace the woody ones.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Miniature tri-coloured pelargonium "Excalibur" & seedlings update.

This tri-colour miniature zonal pelargonium was raised by Stan Rawlings and introduced several years ago.  The salmon coloured single flowers are almost primitive in appearance, but the foliage more than makes up for the flowers.   It is a popular plant on the show benches where flowers do not count for many points in the coloured leaf section.   One of the odd things about Excalibur is the lack of flowers.  From my own experience with this, it will flower in its first year, then it seems to stop flowering. 

When I went to Sweden earlier this year to the Pelargonium Nursery there was a bench there with lots of Exaliburs for sale.  Needless to say, two found their way into my basket!

Update on my seedlings - They are doing well so far.  I do need to thin some of the species out - I have far too many of them and I think they will all be the same as they all look very similar.  I will just keep the strongest looking ones, although they all look pretty healthy.

These look like 'keepers' - but of course, the proof will be in the flowering.

A lot of these are succulent species types and will be thinned out.

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Angel Pelargonium "Sarah Don" and gathering pelargonium seed.

"Sarah Don" Angel pelargonium
 I have just replaced this in my collection.  It was one I had several years ago and lost, but I spotted it at Fibrex Nurseries earlier this year.  Although I now have few Angel Pelargoniums, this was one I wanted to add again to my collection.

"Sarah Don" is named for the wife of the well-known and popular TV Presenter of the UK's Gardener's World.  It was raised by David Clark when he ran Oakleigh Nurseries, near Winchester, Hampshire. This nursery is now a trees and shrubs nursery.    I love the flowers, which look like little faces looking up from the really stunning green and gold variegated foliage.

I've been away from this blog for a bit, but hopefully, I can update the blog a bit more regularly now life is a bit easier.

My pelargoniums have not been neglected, although keeping up with the watering this year has been difficult at times.    I've taken a lot of cuttings and I am finding the net pots I wrote about here to be very good. 

I've also tried a bit of crossing and have some seeds which I will sow next year.  I have also sown seed from this year's bee crosses, and some of the seedlings look quite interesting. 

Seedlings just potted on

Seedlings waiting to be potted on

I used to put a small piece of micropore medical tape around the beak of the seedhead.  This was to prevent the seed popping and flying away.   My friend Anne from Sweden suggested I use small gauze bags to cover the flower head with seeds. These are sold online for wedding/party favours. This is a much more successful method.  I can leave the bag over the seeds until they have all popped and then just take the entire stem away and open it up in a secure environment (the kitchen!) where they won't blow away.  Using the tape was very fiddly and sometimes it was not easy to get at the seeds.

Gauze bag over seedheads

If you look closely at this you can see the seed has ripened and is safely trapped in the gauze bag.

They don't look too unsightly in the greenhouse - adds interest for visitors!

Friday, 26 July 2019

PAGS Annual Show 2019

PAGS Annual Show 2019

My friend Anne, from Sweden, and I were invited to stay for the weekend at Fibrex Nurseries, where the Pelargonium & Geranium Society (PAGS) were once again holding their Annual National Show.  Anne arrived here on a Wednesday evening, and we travelled up to Fibrex together the next day.  We spent Friday helping the staff at the nursery get ready for the show - setting up tables and chairs, sweeping out glasshouses, and trying not to get in the way.

I had 'volunteered' Anne to Steward at the show.  This is something I like to do and as we were short of Stewards, I volunteered her.  She was very happy to do this and as I thought, felt it was a great experience to see how the judges here judge the plants.  So very early - 8.15 am - we were both in the show tent ready for the judging to start at 8.30.  Basically, a Steward, usually two, goes around with a judge to assist and to take the award tickets to the Show Secretary's desk for the marks to be collated.  I find it very interesting.  You can learn a lot from the judge and I have certainly gained a lot from the experience over the years.

This is Hardy Geranium Orkney Rose which won Best in Show and was exhibited by Robert Barclay and Tom Kirkland

Anne Hammarqvist from Sweden stewarding for the Judge (David Newman)

Anne with two visitors from Norway - Eli and Heidi