It’s a quiet time of year for me work wise so I’ve been spending a reasonable amount of time in the garden this last week or so. The pain and joy of self-employment. I persuaded the Non-Gardener to fire up the chainsaw and bring a couple of branches down on the Amelanchier and the Birch. I’ve also thinned out Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ a bit (with loppers and a hand saw. I’m not allowed to play with the more dangerous tools any more. To be fair, past efforts have been quite hairy!) and removed a very old and no longer very pretty Griselinia littoralis ‘Variegata’. By removing and then composting the leaves etc on the borders I hope to be removing a lot of the slugs sheltering in them. My theory is that they won’t then be around to munch on new shoots as they emerge. Good theory I reckon! We’ve had some quite hard frosts recently, for here, but the bulb and plant growth seems to be ahead of normal. All this positivity is very good for the soul. So on this positive note here is my Six for this week.
1. Several Sixers have asked for more information about my efforts to keep my cuttings and overwintering plants a bit warmer in the glasshouse. My experiments have involved horticultural fleece, Celotex insulating board, very useful advice from Jim at Garden Ruminations and, finally, electricity and an 80W tube heater. The original heater was an old one that the N-G had but this week I used a Christmas voucher to buy a new one with a thermostat. The glasshouse is 12 foot by 8 foot and the staging is wood covered with Butyl liner so no water gets through. As part of the evolving experiment a wooden upstand was made to go around the smaller plants and cuttings. This was some timber that the N-G had accumulated for ‘one day’ use.
Some of the cuttings were taken very late so I could try out my new propagator so they’re not as big as I’d like them to be.
The original Celotex box (made from half of the sheet) is now a lid that fits over this at night. I try to put it on when the temperature starts to fall and the daylight fades but I t’s later if I’ve been out.
The tube heater is suspended a bit more than the minimum recommended distance of 50mm below the staging. The wooden staging absorbs the heat well. The plug that is dangling down is from the original tube heater that the N-G has moved behind the new one and could be used if things get really cold. I’ve covered the four lower louvre vents to cut down on droughts. There is still plenty of ventilation as there are four roof vents, another louvre at the far end and a split door.
The max/min thermometer takes two readings, one on the unit itself and the other via a plug in lead. I put this lead inside the wooden upstand. The results are in the photo below. The first two columns are self-explanatory, the third is the ‘box’ temperature when the lid goes on, the fourth (mis-labelled but I knew what I meant!) is the difference between the first two columns. I hope my maths is right! The asterisk is the day the thermostatic heater was fitted. I’m really pleased with the results so far. The Celotex was about £35 (only used half so far) and the heater was about £21. The running cost is the same as an 80W lightbulb on a thermostat. If anyone has any ideas for improving on this do let me know.
Sorry, that was a long first Six if you weren’t interested.
2. Mid January and it looks quite like spring
3. I cut all of the old leaves from the Hellebores this week. Some flower stems are barely showing and others are showing off.
4. One of the overwintering plants in the glasshouse is Fuchsia ‘Lechlade Gordan’. It’s new to me this year. There’s a couple of cuttings growing well as I didn’t know how hardy it was. The flowers are small but perfectly formed and most stems are flowering. I hope it does this earlier next year.
I don’t bubble wrap the glasshouse, this is a piece tucked behind the plants to give a little protection.
5. I succumbed to a ‘bargain deal’ on some Nerine bulbs ages ago. They arrived a bit earlier than I was expecting/hoped.
6. Most of my borders are small but I have one larger wrap-around one and I started sorting through the narrow end of it yesterday (Friday). It’s lovely to see some soil at this time of year (the rest of the year I don’t like to see any!). I don’t think I removed enough Forget-Me-Nots though.
It’s windy but mild and dry here today so the perfect excuse to get outside now that I’ve fulfilled my Six duty. I hope you are able to get outside as well but if not then at least we can see what everyone else is up to courtesy of our host at