Sowing seeds indoors. Bringing new plants into life!

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Acer seed wing.

One of my favourite horticultural tasks during the winter months is sowing seeds giving a helping hand in bringing new plants into life!

Seeds come packaged by nature with their own food supply in the form of endosperm so the first thing to remember is that the compost mix needs to be low nutrient. A good universal seed germinating mix could consist of 50 % coir & 50% perlite or vermiculite to maintain an open structure & to increase water holding capacity in the compost. You could also add in some composted bark for extra structure.

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Overfill your seed tray or container & then tamp down. Next soak your seed tray full of compost in water. Label with the date & plant being sown – in this case Acer tree seeds.

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Sow your seeds thinly to ensure even distribution in your container & then cover with a layer of vermiculite to stop a thin crust forming on the compost surface & to protect them from moving around during subsequent watering.
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Cover the entire pot with a polythene bag to increase humidity & prevent them from drying out & place them on a propagator bench for bottom heat. Some seeds germinate in about 10 days whilst others make take 3 months or even longer!

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Looking Fabulous right now: Hamamelis mollis & Viburnum bodnantense ‘Charles Lamont’.

Nothing quite matches the delicate graceful scents of these two beautiful winter shrubs.

Get up close & personal & breathe it in!

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Hamamelis mollis. Get up close & personal & breathe it in!
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. Hamamelis mollis with its strongly fragrant striking sulphur yellow papery flowers delight in winter.
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Pure delight – Clusters of scented pink flowers  of  Viburnum bodnantense ‘Charles Lamont’.
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Viburnum bodnantense ‘Charles Lamont’ has dark purple shoots bearing fat buds bursting with floral wonderment.

 

 

Seed Cleaning.

The task – to extract seeds from their protective capsules so that they can be stored in a fridge slowing down their respiration rate & thus prolong viability for sowing in the New Year. The experience of doing this simple task required mindful patience that revealed a profoundly remarkable sense of how sophisticated seeds truly are. Seemingly specks of dust are cosmic ‘micro chips’ ‘powerhouses’ of growth technology encased in sophisticated capsules that man can only try to imitate.

Reminding me of William Shakespeare’s quote –

In Nature’s infinite book of secrecy, a little I can read.

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Seeds from the Zingiberaceae family.
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Aeschynanthus seeds from the Gesneriaceae family.

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Lycopodiaceae spores on a leaf from the Club Moss family.

 

Propagation part 2: Potting up Penstemon ‘Alice Hindley’ rooted cuttings!

You may recall approx 4 weeks ago I gathered cuttings from half hardy plants. They have successfully rooted so now is the time to pot them up.

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Lovely healthy rooted cuttings.
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The potting mix is 2-part John Innes No.1 & 1-part multi purpose compost.
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Healthy rooted cutting ready to pot up.img_0663
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Pinch out the top part of the plant to halt flower growth for now. Pinching out at this stage will also encourage bushy plant growth.

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Baby penstemon plant with newly formed roots potted up.

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Looking fabulous right now: Ugni molinae aka Chilean guava.

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I was introduced to these fine berries this week & have not stopped munching on them – they are simply delicious! The plant makes a perfect small winter shrub with densely leafy evergreen foliage, clouds of strawberry fragrance as you pass it by & edible cranberry sized berries when left to ripen till late autumn/early winter taste like guava fruit. A real unexpected treat! The berries can be eaten raw or made into preserves & even Chilean guava muffins.

Protecting Tender plants over winter.

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Echeveria peacockii is a non-hardy succulent so is brought in under glass for the winter to protect it from potential frost but mostly from heavy rain in Scotland to stop the plant rotting.
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Lifted from display beds & packed in closely into fishing containers to be stored in the glasshouse.
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Ensete ventricosum‘Maurelii’ dug up from display bed.
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Tucked in for winter in its own raised bed placed in a poly tunnel.

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Gorgeous lush green & red hued foliage.

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Aeonium arboreum ‘Atropurpureum’ & other Aeoniums dug up & brought into the glasshouses for protection over winter.

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Aeonium arborium.

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Aeonium sunburst.
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Preparing Butia capitata for encasing.
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Butia capitata encased protected for winter against rain & frost.

 

Looking fabulous right now: Nerine Bowdenii

IMG_0374.JPGPretty summer dormant perennial bulbs from South Africa.

Nerines grow best when two third of the bulb is above the ground.

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IMG_0377.JPGThe bulbs also like to be planted closely together & that in turn helps to create a vibrant swathe of pink in autumn.