We gardeners hopefully learn as we go along and this post is an update of a 6 year old report on indoor primulas.
‘Indoor plants that are in full flower in January include the strongly coloured Primula Obconica shown above. They look good in traditional blues, pinks and white with the new Twilly series including a strong red. There are plenty of long lasting blooms particularly if you pick off dead flowers. The hairs on the back of leaves can be an irritant so take care if you have sensitive skin, the plant is also known as Poison Primrose.
Plants at garden centers may have been grown specifically for a quick show of colour that makes them saleable and decorative as indoor plants. They are probably not frost free or very hardy.
Unlike other Primula obconica varieties, Twilly Touch Me is primine free, so causes no skin irritation.
Grown from seed give them dark to germinate. They flower the following spring/summer in the cool greenhouse or as a houseplant.
Primula obconica produce a dozen different colours of flowers.
The flowers last for several weeks if spent flowers are deadheaded regularly.
Do not let the plants dry out and the leaves become floppy.
Other species of Indoor Primulas include Primula malacoides a perennial plant for a heated greenhouse or conservatory. Also known as the Fairy primrose it is NOT hardy.
Primula sinensis the Chinese Primrose aka Primula praenitens is hard to obtain but the flowers look stunning so it is worth looking for.
Showing the soft fleshy leaves of ‘Twill Touch Me Series’ of Indoor Primula obconica. The Primula stem holds the flowers proud of the leaves.’
I have flirted with geraniums for several decades but never achieved the full satisfaction of a great display. Now I have a new plan to dedicate an area in the garden, dare I call it a zone? to some of these colourful plants. To give me an incentive to dedicate time and effort I have given it a name Pelargonia as I thought Geraniumistan was going to confuse the issue with cranesbill geranium or hardy geraniums.
As you can see from the search link I have blogged on 67 occasions about pelargoniums and geraniums over the Gardeners Tips years.
Frost Tender Pelargoniums
After several good years I got careless one weekend and lost some good growth and suffered several set backs after an air frost. A similar event took place 6 years ago and that was at the beginning of June.
Remember if your pelargonium stems get frosted then the plant will die and not recover!
In the North of England there can be frosts late in May and early June. In Scotland and on high ground keep your thermometer handy whenever frost is threatened.
My flikr selection -hover & press the arrow
Zonal geraniums are more accurately called ‘Pelargoniums’. The zonal is named for the distinct bands of colour around the leaf. On the example below 3 distinct shades are obvious even in a black and white image. These distinctive colours and patterns are quite sought after and some varieties are grown for the leaf shade alone.
Pelargonium House Plants
If you are worried about frost, geraniums make fine house plants. They can be kept in flower throughout the year and the flowers can be picked for a small vase. If you time it right when several ‘pips’ are showing full colour they can last a couple of weeks as the other pips keep opening.
Regular weekly feeding of high potash feed with an occasional nitrogen booster will grow a substantial specimen.
Pinch out the growing tip in April and June to get bushy plants with more flowers.
Compose your photo shot with care to get the image you want and only that image. In this photo the moss and drainpipe do not add anything to the desired result so they need to be cropped out for the next image where ‘Carols’ bucket takes center stage. If the original has been taken with high resolution the cropped image will not suffer. The spade could have been aligned better to show the handle.
Know your cameras capabilities and take several shots until you find an image you like. Be self-critical of your work and regular practice will help to get better results next time
Despite standing on the low wall to look down on the garden only the crazy paving benefited and I should consign this to the compost (I mean the recycle bin). The aim was to have a foreground that didn’t compromise the key middle ground and then a background that didn’t distract. Shame that this photo failed on all aims with the neighboring houses standing out and catching the eye and the key middle ground achieving nothing much.
Kenneth Cox at Glendoick Offers some of the best advice on rhododendron identification and recording. …..Using GPS handheld devices would allow reasonably accurate mapping to made by taking positional readings in each area of the garden and recording what is planted there. If you want you can then allow garden visitors to access these records on their own devices. There is no limit to the interactive potential if you are prepared to invest time and money…..
The three best examples of private (as opposed to botanic garden) record keeping I have seen outside the major botanic gardens are Philip de Spoelberch’s collections at Herkenrod in Belgium, Lord Howick’s collection in Northumberland and the late James Russell’s plantings at Ray Wood, Castle Howard, Yorkshire. All of these gardeners believe passionately in the value of accurate and detailed records……
Rhododendron Golden Eagle Label at YSP
To a gardener a label should be easily seen unobtrusive, legible, long lasting and easilt fixed so that it is not broken off by wind or clumsy gardener. To a plant seller the label is designed for one purpose, to relieve you of your cash.
I am still seeking the ideal label and hate those little white plastic sticks that become too brittle.
The longest lasting labels are embossed metal labels I have some thin copper labels to scratch the details into but they are hard to see. Glendoick recommend aluminium labels written on with a soft pencil tend to last well
Beware of label death, where a branch or stem is girdled metal, by the failure to loosen a label as the plant grows.
Dymo labels are surprisingly long lasting
Most botanic gardens use expensive engraved labelled on UV stabilised plastic or modified acrylic laminate.
Goodnews, I have 3 good sized compost bins. The bad news is I am filling them very quickly which if they rot down soon enough will become more good news. The black bin heats up quicker but contains less material and is hardest to get at to turn the waste so I guess that is a scoring draw (using football pools terms).
I should have known all along that hay rots into a soggy lump and isn’t great for garden compost making. It probably contains far more seeds that I or the garden can cope with.
I should have known all along that forgotten tools may turn up in heaps as they do not rot but rust even my spare pair of Felcos had some rust.
I should have known all along that rats like a warm friendly space to live and breed. A neighbor has had to call out the pest control twice during the lock down and I’ve discovered an unusual depression and hole in one of my heaps. I hope my early action will work.
I should have known all along that I would get better compost if I sieve out the tougher bits. A full bin has realised 50% fine sieved parts with the rest going back to restart the new bin. I also found fruit labels and sundry bits of plastic.
For over 25 years I have gardened a rockery or rock garden on a triangular patch of poor soil. I progressively scrounged and collected a range of granite, limestone and sandstone rocks and added them piecemeal. I aspired to growing alpine plants and recognised good drainage and shelter from winter wet weather would be key but that is as far as my planning would go. For the first couple of decades I was busy at work and wasn’t able to put in the effort of looking after small but hardy alpines.
One of the consequences of this lack of time was that I took the easy way out and planted ‘Dwarf and slow growing conifers’ that were a popular fad at the time. I also supported many alpine nurseries with my often ill chosen plant selections in attempts to buy a ready made garden feature. Latterly I joined the Alpine Garden Society and took advantage of shows and seed exchanges.
Then a latter stage crept up on me. The 10-20 year old conifers started to take over in scale and dare I say interest. Firstly dwarf can be a misnomer just because a conifer is small when planted it may very well just be a slow grower that has higher ambitions. I true dwarf conifer is a genetic feature of some species and are worth seeking out at the expense of other mass grown shrublets. Over time I dug out the larger and more boring specimens but still the alpines became less significant. I now have 20+ conifers of varying forms, colours and species taking over the alpines. The highest is 6 feet tall and may be the next for the chop one is low growing but spreads 5 feet wide and a favorite on mine is only 9 inches high. The space is still approximately 200 square feet but is extending into and adjacent bed past the crazy paved path.
In some years different plants do better than others. In my garden this year is the spring for primulas and today’s crop shows off some of the strong colours that I have been enjoying. Notably the blues are deep and stand out due to the contrasting yellow eyes. Yes to quote our former speaker John Bercow ‘the eyes have it, the eyes have it’.
Why better looking than in previous years?
A wet and mild winter has favoured the primulas and produced lush leaves and masses of bloom.
The ground I have photographed is largely dedicated to these plants with a few interlopers and weeds.
The original stock is a few years old and a process of selection must have been going on without me realising.
From last year the soil was in good heart in terms of texture and fertility.
I think I tried harder and provided more TLC as I also got good results of primulas in ornamental pots.
What to do after Spring
I am not confident that next spring will look as good but I see that copious water has helped so if winter is dry I will augment with mulch or extra water.
I will resist the temptation to split the clumps to get lots of new plants. I will mark out a couple of larger favourits and may split off some roots.
I will look after the semi-dormant plants as they loose some robustness through summer and give a liquid fertiliser boost before autumn.