Looking fabulous right now: Galanthus nivalis.

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Galanthus nivalis make a great early spring flowering bulbous perennial especially in woodland areas.
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Plenty of nodding flowers coming through here.
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White flowers that are often honey-scented suit several locations including flower borders & beds, underplanting of roses & shrubs, cottage & Informal Garden Rock Garden as well as Wildflower meadows.
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Sacred Lotus aka Nelumbo nucifera seed propagation.

I love Nelumbo nucifera for a multitude of reasons. Not only is its statuesque form truly iconic but it is a staple edible with a large geographical range from Asia, Iran eastwards to China, Japan and Australia. It is known for its myriad medicinal properties, natural chemicals & removing pollutants from water.

My enchantment with the Sacred Lotus feels very much  a coming together, an intertwining of Dhamma & Horticulture. For the Sacred Lotus has many connections with ancient religions too (including Hinduism & Buddhism). Furnishing them with symbols for the mother goddess, purification & reincarnation. It is a preternatural plant yet as I have read relatively easy to grow so was delighted when some seeds were gifted to me by my sister Anju enabling me to experiment growing my very first Sacred Lotus.

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Nelumbo nucifera seeds.
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Nelumbo nucifera seeds are held up high above the water in iconic conical shaped fruiting receptacles.

IMG_1181.JPGLotus seeds have an extremely thick seed coat that keeps water out enabling them to stay viable for hundreds if not thousands of years. One case in point being Sacred Lotus plants grown from 3,000-year-old seed found in a Jomon – era excavation in Japan.

The act of wearing down the seed coat to allow water in is called scarification. Because the seed coat is particularly thick for Nelumbo nucifera seeds I used a metal file (& a lot of elbow grease!) to get through the 3 layers before getting to the yellow embryo.

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Quite a bit of elbow grease required to scarify a Sacred Lotus seed!

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Three seed coat layers filed down to yellowish embryo.

Place the scarified seeds into a bowl of water so that they swell & start to sprout. The water gets pretty cloudy so it is important to change the water daily to reduce risk of infections.

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Nelumbo nucifera is unusual in that the stem sprouts first before the roots.  This particular seed took 7 days to sprout but some can take longer.
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Once the seed has sprouted I planted it up in a small container with a rich loam & lightly spread some horticultural grit on top to help settle the loam ready to be submerged into a container of water & kept at a minimum temperature of 25°C (77°F).

Now for patience & daily caring to nurture growth into flowering – so watch this space. In the meantime, I would love to hear from fellow Nelumbo nucifera enthusiasts out there – do get in touch.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

The Peace of Wild Things.

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Peace & Good will to all life. Wishing you all healthy, happy & fruitful transitions into 2017 & beyond.

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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.