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

Thursday 30 May 2019

Zonal Pelargonium "Carmel" - and my method of taking cuttings

"Carmel" zonal pelargonium
 There are two zonal pelargoniums named "Carmel" in the International Pelargonium Register. This one was introduced by Schmidt in the USA before 1939 and is a sport from 'Alice of Vincennes'.  The single white flowers are edged in cherry red, making this a most attractive and distinctive flower.

I have been a bit busy this past month.  I did not cut back all of my pelargoniums in the autumn, so I have been catching up now. This does mean I will miss out on some early flowers this year, but they should catch up later in the year. 

So having cut back the plants means I have also been taking cuttings and I wanted to show you what
I have been using quite successfully for the past year. 

The cutting medium I use is more or less 50/50 coir and vermiculite.  I use a coir brick which I soak in water and when it has soaked up the water and looks just dampish I add vermiculite and mix to together.  If I don't use it all and it dries out I can reconstitute it easily with some more water.

The containers I use are 2" Net Pots - mainly used for hydroponics or aquatics. The pots are very cheap and easy to obtain on eBay.   I find these easy to fill and they come with a tray to hold them in the propagator.  The advantage for me is that I can see when the cuttings are rooted.  If you look at the photo you can see the roots that are searching for water.

Whether I use any hormone on the cutting really depends on what I am taking a cutting of, and time of year.   In summer for zonals I rarely use anything - just pop them in the pots.  I sometimes use Clonex, but most often I use White Willow Bark Powder, which can be ordered online.

Please let me know in the comments your own tried and tested method of taking cuttings.

Tuesday 23 April 2019

Regal Pelargonium "Anne Hoystead"

The dark red upper petals and slightly deeper red lower petals of regal pelargonium "Anne Hoystead" look stunning with the sun shining on them.     "Anne Hoystead" was raised in Australia in 1982 by the late Des Saddington.

I've been potting on rooted cuttings and taking more cuttings.   Time ran out for me at the end of last summer and I didn't cut back as many plants as I should have.  So, I am ashamed to say I have a lot, yes a lot, of very leggy plants. So these are the ones I have been taking cuttings from.   I might get flowers on them later in the year.   I'll let you now.

Tuesday 9 April 2019

Gold leaf Stellar Pelargonium "Staplers"

Gold leaf Stellar pelargonium "Staplers"

My friend Anne in Sweden gave me this a couple of years ago and it flowered for the first time last year.   It really is very attractive.  Raised by Brian West, Staplers is across between "Sandown" and "Golden Glitter" and was introduced by Warrenorth Nursery.

I have been busy potting on the cuttings I took late last year and some I took earlier this year.   This is the time of year I always feel I should get another greenhouse (I have two).  Plants are packed far too closely and I long for warmer days when I can put some of them outside or into one or both of the small plastic greenhouses.

Also, I have been putting edging around one of the vegetable beds.  The previous edging rotted away and needed replacing.    I find I have far too much soil in these two beds so I have been slowly distributing around the rest of the garden.   I am looking forward to growing vegetables this year now that the dreaded Leylandii are gone.

Sunday 17 March 2019

Scented Pelargonium "Welling" and trip to Sweden

"Welling" Scented leaf pelargonium
I grow "Welling" in a large pot outside in the summer.   As she grows quite large she is ideally suited to this with her large cerise-pink flowers with dark feathering on the upper petals.  The leaves have a dark blotch and have an unusual scent which is not unpleasant.     Raised in the UK by Mrs Popperwell.

A couple of weeks ago I went to Sweden with Ursula Key-Davis, of  Fibrex Nurseries and President of The Pelargonium & GeraniumSociety    We had been invited by our friend Anne to stay for the weekend and to visit the Sune Trygg nursery.   Sune Trygg is a large pelargonium nursery in Sweden and is open early in the year especially for members of the Swedish pelargonium societies and groups.   After making our purchases at the nursery, we visited another pelargonium enthusiast who had invited local pelargonium society members for a light lunch.  She also had some plants for sale,

Sadly we had to leave early afternoon on the Sunday, but Ursula and I had a wonderful time.  All our purchases arrived home in good condition and are now growing away in our greenhouses.

Note:  At the present time it is perfectly permissible to freely carry plants between all European borders.  However, this is likely to change after the UK leaves the European Union. 

Sales area - just look at all those "Excaliburs" - 

Sales area

Growing area

First Love
Growing area

Growing area

Growing area