My garden this weekend is soggy and blustery which is fine as I have the start of a cold and as I have next week off as annual leave I have decided to give in to the cold in the hope that it goes quickly.
So there has been no gardening – instead there has been photography as I have a new camera which I am surprisingly thrilled with. I broke my beloved original Fujifilm camera two years ago replacing it with another Fujifilm point and click which was good but has broken twice now and I never really thought the close ups were as good as the old camera. Anyway, when the camera refused to hold a charge last week despite trying numerous different batteries and chargers I decided to start again. As ever with anything technical as soon as I start researching the options my brain goes blank just as it used to when I was at school learning fractions. There is too much choice and I don’t understand all the technical camera jargon; well I understand it for about 5 minutes and
then it leaves my brain. I looked at SLRs – don’t want to be lugging one around, I looked at bridge cameras – again they are cumbersome and don’t fit in a bag easily. I tried to find my original camera no joy. Fed up! I then remembered that when I bought the last camera the guy in PC World had explained to me that all the zoom information was irrelevant if I wanted to do close ups – a step forward. After reading a few more reviews I decided to buy another Fujifilm but to go for a cheap option with a view to researching something better for the summer. I can’t cope without a camera available, more so than not having access to the internet so a quick purchase was needed. I bought a Fujifilm FinePix T500 which is the smallest camera I have ever had and it really is simple – there is a zoom and a macro feature and that is more or less it. However, this post shows the quality of the photos and I think it is pretty good. The next challenge will be to see how it does when I go to Rome in May.
Yesterday was the monthly meeting of the HPS Western Counties group, my favourite garden club. Needless to say there were a few plant purchases but I was surprised to only find one Epimedium for sale despite the number of plants people selling. Epimedium ‘Black Sea’ came home with me as well as Mertensia virginica, Iris dardanus, Geranium ‘Johnston’s Blue’, Muscari ‘Jenny Robinson’, an Anemone nemorsa, and a herbaceous Clematis.
The morning discussion is always the best part of the day and it was interesting to hear others views of soil test kits. The general consensus was that the ones you can buy in garden centres weren’t that reliable and it is more important to see what is growing well around your garden so I am less worried about finding I have alkaline soil having just bought two rhododendrons! In the afternoon we had a talk from Leila Jackson of T3 nurseries on ornamental legumes which was interesting and a few new to me were noted to investigate.
Today between the showers I took advantage of a sunny moment to try out the camera and see what had emerged over the last week. It was very satisfying to find Trillium grandiflorum appearing above ground. I purchased it over the winter, potting up the corm which had just started to show signs of life when I planted it out a few weeks back. I did spend some time improving the soil here adding lost of home made compost and wood chips so hopefully it will like its new home and flower next year as well as this year.
I got ridiculously excited when I found Soldanella alpina flowering in the cold frame. A week ago there was no sign of any flower buds and with one thing and another I haven’t opened the cold frame all week so this was a complete surprise. I suspect the cold frame has warmed up during the sunny spells which has brought on the flowers. The reason for my excitement is that I bought this plant, in flower, some 3 years ago and it has never flowered for me since. This autumn I re-potted it adding fertiliser and I applied slug pellets and gravel around the base to prevent the molluscs eating the flower buds before they had a chance to appear – it seems to have worked.
In the greenhouse and the propagator indoors the seeds sown a couple of weeks ago are germinating and hopefully this week I will be pricking some of them out. I will need to rejig the greenhouse yet again to make room for the seedlings and more pots of seeds that I want to sow this week. I am slowly but surely emptying out the cold frames of plant purchases yet unplanted, with the intention of finding them all homes, and last year’s perennial seedlings. My biggest thrill are four Meconopsis hensol violet seedlings from last year which have reappeared and I hope will flower this year once I have planted them out.
For the rest of today I am sitting on the sofa looking at the garden which I am rather pleased with and doing embroidery – well there is more to my interests than plans, honest!
This month I have decided to focus on one particular plant for the foliage follow up as I keep showing the same old plants month in, month out. My chosen plant is Geranium palmatum which I personally think is a wonderful foliage plant before the electric pink flowers appear. Read any description of the plant and you will see it is frost hardy and short lived. I have a number of these plants grown from seed several years ago and they have come through the last two winters unscathed although admittedly the winters have been mild. I think the lowest temperature we have had is -4C. However, we have had some real frosts which have left the Melianthus major leaves scorched but the most the Geranium palmatum has suffered is some of the older leaves going a blotchy red colour.
I like the leaves as they have a nice ferny texture to them and quite different to other geraniums. They are called palmatum I think due to the palm leaf shapes. You will also see how fresh and glossy the leaves are even in March and they stay like this all year. The only maintenance is to remove the older leaves as they fade.
And look at this wonderful fresh new shoots forming in the middle. As you can see Geranium palmatum grows from a central stem, like Geranium madrense, so cannot be divided like many other Geraniums. I think the only way of propagating it is by seed and I plan to collect some seed this year as an insurance policy in case we have a hard winter this year. But….what really fascinated me where the shiny red leaflets clustered around the leaf stems. So vibrant and attractive and I don’t remember having spotted them before. I only noticed them when I was cutting back dead leaves and weeding around the plant and became completely fascinated by them. They remind me of onion skins, the ones just under the dry outer skins, almost silk like. Its amazing what you discover when you really look at your plants.
For more Foliage Follow Up posts visit Pam over at Digging