Tuesday 31 August 2010

Birthday Girl

My photo today is of the Regal Pelargonium Birthday Girl - perhaps inspired because I have just had a birthday over the weekend!  
Birthday Girl
I have to admit I am not a great fan of Regal Pelargoniums, but this one caught my eye when I visited The National Collection of Pelargoniums at Fibrex Nursery earlier this year. The flowers are a very pretty delicate pink with ruffled petals and a paler throat.  The plant is short jointed and has a compact growth.   Hybridised by Mr Geoff Morf of Australia and introduced in 1968.

After a dull and fairly wet August, this week looks to be set fair.  We have high pressure over the country and it has been quite warm today.  The nights are, however, turning chilly and I have been turning the heated propagators on over night.

Noticed the poorly butterfly with bent wings has disappeared.  I hope it has managed to fly away, but I doubt it.

Friday 27 August 2010

Mr Wren

Mr Wren

Today's photo is of the zonal pelargonium, Mr Wren.   Another firm favourite of mine.  Mr Wren grows fast and tall - a bit like Jack's beanstalk, but much prettier!  It is not easy to train him into a bushy plant, so I just let mine grow.  He has been growing in a 6" pot outside the greenhouse door and he has been flowering all summer.   Apparently this plant was originally found in the garden of a Mr Wren in California.

We did the grocery shopping today and this afternoon I was hoping to get some more cuttings taken, but we found we had to go into town and were out for most of the afternoon. Maybe tomorrow?

Thursday 26 August 2010

Beautiful Warrain and pots

Warrain growing in the greenhouse
Warrain growing outside

My pictures today are of a basic zonal named Warrain.  I first saw this beautiful plant at the South Australian Pelargonium Society Annual show in Adelaide about four years ago when I was visiting my family there.   I made a note of the name it was shown under - Warrancy - and decided that I would check it out when I got home.   After much searching I found it's proper name is Warrain.   It is an Australian bred plant, and was introduced in 1989 by Georyl Pelargoniums, Victoria, Australia.  I have been in contact with Beryl Stockton, owner of Georyl Pelargoniums and she does not know where it came from.  What I  have discovered is that there is a town named Warrain near Melbourne, so maybe someone named it after a place of significance for them.  To further confuse matters, I found the plant is available here in the UK with either the name Warrin, or Warrion.   However, I can confirm that it is definitely named Warrain.  I love this plant!  It has gorgeous pretty mauve pink semi double flowers.  The leaves are a beautiful lime green with a darker zone.  I have been growing this in a pot outside this summer and it is stunning!   The light has made the leaves really bright, the dark zone has become a reddish colour and the whole sets off the flowers wonderfully.    I have also been picking the flowers and putting them in a small vase indoors and they last for ages.

Pots - lots of dirty ones!   They have accumulated over the summer and, as can I see that some of the cuttings I took earlier this month are beginning to show roots, I decided that I should get a move on and clean at least some of them.  It does not take long and I really don't know why I put it off.  A large bucket of water, a dash of Jeyes Fluid  an old washing up brush, plus Marigolds, and they are soon ready to be stacked away on the shelf in the shed.  

Clean pots!

Wednesday 25 August 2010

Silly me!

We have friends coming for supper tonight, so I've hardly been to the greenhouses as I've been doing the usual house tidying and cooking.  However, when vacuuming the window ledge in the conservatory, I absentmindedly vacuumed two of the cuttings out of their plugs!   We have a new vacuum cleaner which  is very powerful and the cuttings were no where to be seen.   So, I did pop out to the greenhouse to take two more cuttings.

Since Sunday we have been nurturing a disabled cabbage white butterfly in the conservatory.  It has bent wings and is unable to fly. Why I am doing this I do not know since cabbage whites, or rather their offspring the caterpillers, are the bane of my life on the brasicas in the kitchen garden.   I have been giving it drops of sugar water - I don't know if this is right or not, but it seems to enjoy it.   One thing it does not seem to like is the scented pelargonium, but is quite happy on a basic zonal.

Tuesday 24 August 2010

Super Nova and Prim

Super Nova

This cheerful stellar is one of my favourite pelargoniums - Super Nova was hybridised by Frances Hartsook in the USA and introduced in 1982.  Narrow petals curving inwards, and a lilac pink in colour with a white 'eye' on a dwarf plant.


I bought this plant at Sulman's sale in June and thought it looked similar to Super NovaPrim is also a dwarf stella pelargonuim with white and pale pink petals.  They are growing side by side in the greenhouse and, I think, compliment each other.

I took fifty-four zonal pelargonium cuttings this afternoon.   We also had a visit from Surrey County Council with a huge and very noisy vehicle.  They had come to clear the roots out from the land drains outside on the highway.   We hope this has solved the flooding problem we have experienced for the last couple of winters - last year I had 4" of water in one greenhouse and had to empty it completely of plants.  These all went into the other greenhouse and it all got very muddly in there.  It did the trick though and most plants came through the winter.


Monday 23 August 2010

Another species and watering pots

P. abrotanifolium pictured at Wisley on Saturday - a shrubby species with slightly scented short feathery leaves which can be seen in the background.  This plant can be found widely in South Africa, often on rocky outcrops.  The flowers are small, and can be pink, white or mauve and in the wild the plant can grow to one metre.   I had this growing in a pot, and it never grew more than about three inches high.

Before it rained yesterday I watered the pots, wall and hanging baskets outside in the garden.  However, whilst watering I found the first signs of the dreaded botrytis on some the lower leaves in the pots.  This is not surprising as we have had several days recently with drizzle and mild temperatures - ideal conditions for this disease.  Botrytis can be recognised as a powdery grey dust on dying leaves.  It spreads very quickly and many of the leaves on my plants had already rotted.  In view of the weather forecast all I could do was remove as many of the affected leaves as possible and I will keep an eye on the pots and baskets over the next few weeks.   Fortunately, I only found this on the plants growing outside.

I have not been into the greenhouses much today - we looked after our four years old grandson this morning.  We took him to the garden centre as I wanted to get a few more clay pots in the sale.  This afternoon B and I went into town.   I have put some Fertiss plugs in their trays to soak so that I can take cuttings tomorrow afternoon.

Sunday 22 August 2010

A day at Wisley

Yesterday I met my cousin and her daughter at Wisley.  I am lucky that I live fairly near to Wisley and as a member of the RHS am able to visit often throughout the year.  Pat and her daughter Sarah came down by coach from the Midlands. 

In the glasshouse was a display of fuchsias, and several local fuchsia societies also had displays there.  An ideal opportunity for them to enrol more members.

It is quite sad that the glasshouse does not have more pelargoniums in the arrid section - I can only ever find three of the species: P. abrotanifolium, P. tetragonum and P.stipulaceum

Pelargonium tetragonum

I took this photo of P. tetragonum in the glasshouse.  This is one of my favourite species which is found naturally growing in rocky areas of southern South Africa.  The plant is a succulent type - the leaves being small and spaced well apart on the square stems. The flowers are unusual in that they only have four petals instead of five.   In the wild it sprawls through other plants and can reach a height of up to 2 metres.   My own plant has been outside all summer and has enjoyed the fine weather we have had this year.  I keep it in check by cutting it back periodically.        . 

Friday 20 August 2010

A Special Day

Not a lot happening today - it is my wedding anniversary and B and I have been out for a pub lunch!

Robin's Unique

My photo today is of another plant that is flowering profusely in the conservatory at the moment, and has been for most of the summer.   She seems to love the heat and bright light.

Uniques are mostly tall and shrubby plants, ideally suited to growing outside in the summer.  Robin's Unique is much smaller and suited to a windowsill, or a small hanging pot, since it is a low and spreading plant.   The flowers are small and dark red/pink with attractive veining on the two upper petals. It is quite difficult to take cuttings of this one because every stem has a flower.  Diana Hull hybridised this in about 1980.  The leaves have a faint scent, said to be of almonds, but I can't detect that myself!   This plant is sometimes listed as 'Robin'.

Thursday 19 August 2010

A Perfect Pelargonium

Jip's Freda Burgess

Pictured is Jip's Freda Burgess - a newly introduced basic zonal having semi double bright pink flowers with pale pink to white 'eye', and light green butterfly leaves.   Hybridised by Tony Burgess, one of our new and talented hybridisers.   This beautiful plant is flowering now in the conservatory and has been flowering for most of the summer.  

In the greenhouses today I have watered all the plants.  Watering needs to be done very carefully at this time of year.  It is so easy to over water, and with the cooler nights, botritis and black leg can easily occur.

Wednesday 18 August 2010

The start of a Pelargonium Year

Where do you start with a blog?  My parents would say "start at the beginning" - so I start this blog with what I am doing with my favourite plants at this time of year.   And this time of year is really the beginning of the year for a pelargonium grower.   It is the time to take cuttings.  I have made a start with about 50 cuttings, mainly stellars, but some scented and one zonal.   I don't have a posh propagator, just two small and two large basic heated propagators.    The small ones are in the conservatory and the larger ones in one of my two greenhouses.  So far I have filled both the smaller ones with Fertiss plugs and cuttings.   One of the conservatory propagators is housed within a super little light construction - using just a shaving strip light - made for me by my husband. Just a frame with a 'roof' on top which is lined with silver foil, to deflect the light down, and housing the shaving light. I know this is not a proper growing light, but it works for me and allows me to take cuttings of precious plants in the midst of winter when the days are short.   Here are pictures of cuttings taken to date.