Tidying gardens in Stevenage, Welwyn Garden City, Knebworth & surrounding villages.
If you would like help in the garden, whether it's for a few hours a week, a month or more, then please get in touch.
Tel: 07963 291504

Fully booked for 2020.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Snakes Alive!!!

This slithering critter scared the b'jeepers outta me at work today...slinking around my client's greenhouse. It was grass snake and about 2 foot long but despite being totally harmless, I quickly took this photo and RAN FOR THE HILLS!!!!

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Propagating Succulents

Last year I thought I'd have a go at propagating this Echeveria succulent. 
Next month sees the first birthday of my little 'propagatees'.

Gently wriggle a few of the juicy leaves away from the bottom of the mother plant. Don't yank or tear the leaves, GENTLY wiggle, they will come away in one piece quite easily.
Set aside for a few days while the end drys up. I think I waited 3-4 days.

3 Weeks Old

Get yourself a small tray of multi-purpose compost and lay the leaves on top of the soil. Some folk buy specialist cactus or succulent soil but I simply used regular multi-purpose compost. Spray the leaves with a mist of water and leave on a window sill in a bright spot but not direct sunlight. We want these babies to grow, not grill!!
I misted the leaves once a week or whenever the soil looked really dry. 
As you can see above, it doesn't take long before spidery roots appear.

5 Weeks Old

After 5 weeks, tiny rosettes of new leaves started to form just above the roots...(insert excited squeal!!)

7 Weeks Old

By the 7th week the excitement was all too much and I had to lie down in a darkened room.
Keep up the regular spraying and marvel as the roots start to find their way down into the soil.

13 Weeks Old

At 13 weeks I had been hospitalised, dressed in an ill-fitting 'white jacket' & embalmed in 'anti-excitable fluid'. My propagatees were flourishing, I'd taken to talking to them & willing them on their way.
A few weeks later I potted up my new plants into individual pots. The original 'motherleaf' was still attached and I let nature take its course, allowing it to wither & fall off naturally.

So here we are today, almost 1 year on. Party hats & streamers are poised for a first birthday celebration. Six of my leaflets made it, I have been released from my secure unit just in time to make cake and spam sandwiches.

Of course the icing on the Echeveria cake would be the arrival of dainty pink / yellow flowers, but I'm a patient soul...all in good time.

Why not give propagating succulents a go?

Propagation Scale
Nightmare.................................Dead Easy (Tick)

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Growing The Dream

Auricula-phobes, look away now!

These are my favouritist plants ever...Auriculas.
I could just sit here all day looking at them.

Some dream of far-flung, exotic destinations, winning the lottery, a fast car or living in a large mansion. Some dream of owning a unicorn, becoming famous or travelling the world.

I dream of one day having my own tiny nursery.
A girl's gotta have a dream right?

When I was a kid I dreamt of working in a shop selling pretty notecards and fancy, coloured papers. My first job, however, was at the Unemployment Benefit Office. Twas a job, but the paperwork wasn't quite as pretty as I'd hoped.

As a grow'd up, my new dream of becoming a gardener took hold and I made sure that one came true. Now I'm working on the ultimate dream...my own nursery. Nothing big, nothing fancy, just a wee scrap of land with a greenhouse or polytunnel.
I shall dream on for now.

Meanwhile in the Tidy Garden, happiness fills the air. About 15 years ago I bought a selection box of Auricula plug plants from Thompson & Morgan. I had no idea at the time just how much I would fall in love with these amazing flowers. Since then I've propagated their offsets a million times over (give or take), grown my own plants from the 'Viennese Waltz' seed collection (again from T&M) and now I'm trying out a variety of plugs from Van Meuwen (see 40 newbies below)

This week I've bought my first ever 'named Auriculas'. I am beyond excited!!!
I've got Starling, Royal Mail, Joel, Lord Saye En Sele, Sunflower & Bluechip. One day I hope to find out the names of all the other flowers I have and who knows, maybe have my own named variety (an add-on to my ultimate dream?)

Auriculas are tough ol' birds. I grow all of mine in plastic pots so that I can move them around and enjoy them as they flower. I have a dead-posh Auricula Theatre (NOT!!!) on either side of the greenhouse doors. Actually they are just a couple of black, plastic shelving units but they serve a purpose, the colourful flowers, in their black pots, stand out against the black background and the shelves provide the plants with some protection from the rain.

Auriculas look amazing in hanging baskets. They like cool, shaded spots with good ventilation. I grow mine in bog-standard multi-purpose compost, nothing fancy, no added feed, etc, just simple compost mixed with some grit with a layer on the top too. Mine stay in their baskets, in the same place all year round, sometimes giving a second flush of flowers. For goodness sake, don't throw them away after flowering, just put up another basket of different plants and tuck this one somewhere cool until they flower again in the spring.

Once my potted plants have finished flowering I move them to the back of the greenhouse onto more shelves, to rest, produce offsets and to protect from hot, summer sun.
Vine Weevil in my garden are a nightmare so I treat the pots twice a year and also repot in the spring a) to refresh the compost & b) to remove any of the Vine Weevil buggers that escape my killing potions.

So if / when my ultimate dream comes to fruition, I shall have Auriculas to the fore ...that's if I can bear to part with them.
I wonder what the dog's dreaming about...probably a juicy bone.

(All photos from the Tidy Garden)

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