it’s started

•May 14, 2013 • Comments Off on it’s started

2013 has been late again, the cold extended winter followed by another cold snap in April and then again last week.
Interspersed with that we have had hot sunny days, warmer than a normal summer, hail and freezing winds.

Happily though the Irises got going and once going they just keep on keeping on.

The newer SDB’s are well into flowering and the MTB’s are coming up fast behind.

SDB Blue Pygmy was over and gone before I noticed, not a long flowering season for this one – about 3 days!

SDB Pogo is doing better, with a few nice shaped flowers and some tantalising spikes. 2nd year in the ground so a slow starter but then it was from pretty poor stock plants!

SDB Picadie is showing off one flower but more coming behind

and the lovely MTB Clare Doodle has followed the usual line and is flowering first with oodles of stems following. Shorter stems than usual but that will be the cold shock she got last week!

RHS Plant Finder 2013-2014

•March 1, 2013 • Comments Off on RHS Plant Finder 2013-2014

Disappointingly we had to come out of the the RHS Plant Finder. The demand was to have ‘nursery details’ that would be published. We are not a public nursery, we’re a private collection, located on a locked allotment but that matters not a wit to the RHS. No publishable address, no entry.

The RHS representative told me that people needed to have an address (or PO Box) in case of fraud (!) an email and phone number is not enough. I resisted saying that an address (or PO Box) could be just as fake or pointing out that as a registered NCH I am clearly traceable should I run off with the plant money and not provide plants….Shouting at the wind as they say.

I object to publishing my home address because they are short sighted and mistrustful.

It would be wonderful if the RHS just published all the plants available through National Collections as a matter of course, directing people through the PH website (PH do not force the use of a home address!) but perhaps making rare and unusual varieties easily available is not the business of the RHS  Plant Finder.

Of course as only 2 people contacted us last year via the RHS PF and then only for further information on Irises, it’s probably not such a problem.

Bookkeeping

•February 18, 2013 • Comments Off on Bookkeeping

Did you know bookkeeping is one of the few words in the English language with three double letters in it? No? probably got better things to do!

So keeping books and records. A comment from Beth Behr on my last blog post made me think about the bookkeeping and record making I do. I’m a lazy diarist and don’t record things on a regular basis, at least I hadn’t until I became a collection holder and was suddenly REQUIRED to keep records for posterity but also because as a collection holder I am supposed to be a bit of a nerd and fascinated by all things related to my collection genus/species.

Don’t get me wrong I am slightly obsessed and probably do micro-observe their every motion, flower, stalk and fleck of disease but I am not as driven as some of my counterparts. About 3 years ago I began noting in my appointment diary sowing dates, planting dates, when things flowered, how long they flowered for and so on, not religiously but when I remembered. In May, when all things collection are at their most abundant, I found my appointments no longer had any room and forget the notes page to the side, swamped with entries about Iris performance. Not so good for business management.

So on a visit to Staples for printer ink I picked up a silvery page a day diary very cheaply, we were 5 months into the year! and started scribing in there all my noticings and comments. As Iris season died back I began to write about my other plantings, growings and cuttings, thrivings, sowings and so on. It was sporadic. Some pages would be chock full of info, neatly laid out and headed up but other page chunks lay empty. Of course something was probably going on but I simply didn’t find the time, or effort to update the notes.

Year two I found a bright orange diary ( I love bright orange in a diary) and was more fastidious. I copied in planting info from the year before a bit like copying over family birthdays for a work diary. The Iris only book emerged from this dairy as I found once I started observing there was far too much to be recorded. The orange book however did get more entries than the previous year and I learnt some things about my growing conditions, the plants I’m growing, my garden and my allotment. For example I learnt that I planted my Nicotiana way too late and potted them on even later, getting them int the ground at the last possible minute dimply did not give them enough time, in my growing conditions and last years low light, to put up a flower stalk. Lesson learnt. This year they are already in a seed tray, yes in February, and I have planned the potting on day too.

Year three is this year and following some investigation on Twitter and google to find a great gardeners diary without breaking the bank I decided to buy a nice diary from Moleskine AND a note book to match, from Sainsbury’s of all places. I’ve located both by the seed box because my own experience is that I will make notes if the book/diary is handy and forget if not. This year I’ve also taken to recording the weather (curtesy of my iPhone app) basic stuff like temperature and overall conditions. So far most of January read RAIN or SNOW, which will be good to know for next year.

I am finding the diarising and note taking a great way to keep all thoughts gardeny together in one place. To be able to explore ideas and keep good records is helping me develop not only my skills and my garden but also to bring ideas to clients and their gardens, having tried and tested it beforehand, in my own set of conditions. And knowing how things behave in your conditions helps you understand how they might behave in another set of conditions.

I expect how I use the diaries and notes will develop and morph with the years, I do hope so.

The Late Summer divide

•July 13, 2012 • 2 Comments

It’s been vile weather for Iris this year here in Blighty (what an appropriate horticultural nick name for this year!) mild with drought, drought, drought all winter followed by cool, rain, rain, rain in spring and then positively cold with yet MORE rain through summer and it is STILL raining.

Needless to say we have been challenged with leaf spot, even after spraying twice it was rife. It’s not like they crammed in together either, leaf by jowl so to speak, as it’s their first year after transplant so pretty generously spaced. But it’s not plant threatening, just ugly.

A byproduct of all this rain is prolific weed growth. A normal year would see weeding tailing off after May as the heat burns off the annuals and the perennial weeds have been hand weeded out in the main but not this year. I am still weeding at least twice a week which is a big drag!

Of course the iris are shooting up big fat glaucus fans in response to all the water, none has succumbed to rhizome rot as yet but I am expecting bad things in the winter if the wet continues.

On that jolly note (!) I have begun to acquire more plants in different classes, Standard Dwarf Bearded in the main but some Intermediates and Borders are creeping in as well as more Tall Beardeds. More to bread with is my story and I am sticking to it 😉

Hybridising this year has had mixed results, many more have failed than taken, the early season crosses took much better and I hope to have about 5 pods (crosses) to work with through the winter.

I am in desperate need of an organising and recording strategy so that I can simply plant out seeds/seedlings and record without having to rethink numbering, positioning every time. Any hybridisers out there who have a simple but effective system please PLEASE get in touch!

A month or so ago I filed inappropriately i.e. ‘lost’ my book recording all the crosses and behaviours of the iris. I was slightly frantic by week 3 of the loss, realising it really wasn’t going to ‘turn up’, not to mention the scraps of tatty paper with scribbled iris notes on, now needing a permanent home. The day I began a new note book, having resigned myself to the loss, I found it, well the dog found it actually. She was chasing a biscuit into a re-useable hessian bag with nothing in it…..except my bright pink iris ledger …GOOD DOG!

Bulging pods….

•June 4, 2012 • 1 Comment

The crosses seem to be taking, not all of them but there are a good number with bulging seed pods!

MTB Iris Maslon

•June 4, 2012 • Comments Off on MTB Iris Maslon

MTB Iris Yellow Flirt

•June 4, 2012 • Comments Off on MTB Iris Yellow Flirt