Six on Saturday: 18.5.19 Plant fair Bargains

Last Sunday we headed out for a family outing to the Floral Hall plant sale. The Floral Hall is a community venture and the yearly plant fair raises money for Marie Curie. Amy, Alice, my mum and I headed out to grab some bargains. The stalls were a mixture of homegrown enterprises and local nurseries. Last year I picked up lots of ophiopogon at 50p a pot. This year there seemed to more of the nurseries and less of the homegrown but still good reductions on many of the garden centres. We got there early and plants were selling fast. I was on the lookout for something to replace the white camellia I intended to take out. This camellia came with the garden and hasn’t proved hardy enough. Too many of the flowers come through frost damaged so I’m cutting my losses and replacing it.

We had a good shop around the stalls and then stopped for a cuppa and a toasted teacake before returning home with our spoils. Alice had a good run around outside the Floral Hall and investigated their rather grand bug hotel.

1. Dahlietta-Suprise Paula

So kicking off the first of my purchases is one bought by Alice and Amy. I gave them some pocket money and this was their choice. Not a bad choice either. This is a short, compact option. I’ve potted it up in a medium pot. It should, in theory, continue to flower through to Autumn. This is my first year taking part in #Dahlialove I had said I would just start with two varieties and see how it went but the fairs purchases takes it up to five. The flowers remind me of raspberry ripple. Better than their choice last year of oxalis.

2. Dahlia table dancer

This second dahlia purchase is a cactus variety. I bought for the colour rather than the name. The flowers will be spikes of purple with white tips. For now,¬†I am moving the dahlias in and out at night for another week or so until I feel safe that they will be alright outside. I’ve read pinching out will help these become bushier. Anyone care to comment? Help appreciated.

3. Acer Palmatum

I bought this Acer to go near where the white camellia was. Towards the back of the garden, I have a whitebeam and a black cherry. Currently, I’ve kept this in check but they could grow to be massive. So I am planning in for some smaller trees in case I need to remove the two existing trees. This is an Acer Palmatum ‘going green’. It can grow to about 2 to 3m. The leaves start bright green and are described as changing to shades of yellow and orange before dropping leaving bright green stems. With the red dogwood further along this should give some nice winter stems. I do have clay soil but I’ve added lots of organic matter the last few years so I’m hopeful it will take alright despite not having its perfect conditions. Not really a reduction on this one but it looks to be a good healthy plant.

I also bought an Acer butterfly. This one is smaller so I am starting this one in a pot. It has nice contrasting¬† white edges. I’ll let it put on a bit more height before finding a space in the border. I think this one is quite tender so I’m going to try and keep it sheltered for now.

4. Hosta, possibly big daddy

I bought two of these cheap from one of the homegrown stands. They weren’t certain of the variety but thought possibly big daddy. Whatever it is it has nice big green leaves so should give a good bit of foliage for my front garden plans.

5. Alice’s choice

Alice wanted this mouse. I think Amy wanted her to get a hedgehog but this was what she wanted. It’ll go nicely with last weeks fairy house and help in keeping Alice invested in the garden. It’s up out of the way on her mud kitchen for now while the builders finish their work.

6. Heuchera ‘marverlous marble silver brown/green’

I’d talked last week how much I was enjoying my heuchera foliage. These three were cheap as chips and have wonderful veins running through them. It looks like heucheras are gong to spread from fern corner into the opposite border. Gradually I’ve fond myself creating more shade as I actually like a lot of shade foliage plants. The foliage on these is stunning. A definite winner for me.

I’m very happy with my purchases. Sadly, the building work continues so I still can’t sort the garden properly but good to have a few purchases ready for the front once it’s done. Today we are celebrating Alice’s birthday from earlier in the week so will be busy through the day. Three years old and such a joy to both of us. I hope you all enjoy your weekends.

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The Big Dahlia Experiment

This year is my first year growing dahlias. Through looking at lots of stunning #dahlialove through six on Saturday blogs I decided this year I’d dip my toe in and try and grow some. I’ve got a few tubers hidden away for when the risk of frost has gone and I’m also trying the seed option as well. Dahlias are very tender to frosts so I’ve been trying to time this so they would be viable plants but not put out too early that they would shrivel in the cold.

Now there aren’t many dahlia options that come up reliably looking anything like what they claim to be but Sarah Raven’s Bishops children claim to be a good reliable option. They have dark foliage and then plum, orange or red flowers. While being quite ornamental and good for cut flowers they still have the RHS perfect for pollinators award satisfying my desire to provide for wildlife.

Dahlia seeds and Alice’s choice of passion flowers

I’m lacking space to grow seeds this year with building work going on so I’m restricted to a few propagators in the spare room. These were sown in a medium sized propagator a few cm apart. At a week in the seeds were going strong with almost 100% germination success. I didn’t expect them to germinate or grow so fast.

One week of growth

We are now a couple of weeks into growing and they’ve been ready to prick out into individual pots. They’ve gone into 10cm pots I found in the shed. While I am cutting the single plastic use down no sense in not using these when they are already there. As already said I am lacking space in the house and as almost every seed germinated I have a lot of dahlia seedlings now. So I am going to trail different options for the seedlings.

I have put a handful back in the propagator they came out of and they have gone back in the spare room with a few grow lights for company. These are not on all the time just a few hours in the evening when I am around to supplement the light. The lid is coming on and off to give them the chance to have air circulation. There is cappilary matting at the bottom to give them a water source.

Then another handful are also sharing the spare room in a really useful box. It was suggested on Twitter that these could be used for propagators and as cold frames. This box is a bit small but it will do to get them established in the 10cm pots.

Then I have a much larger really useful box that is going in and out on the warmer days. As it gets warmer and the risk of frosts at night lowers I may risk leaving them out and start to harden them off to cold.

Then as there were still a couple I had left they have gone in a spare plastic box upside down. As this is an effort to move these are staying outside on top of Alice’s mud kitchen which is currently in the middle of the lawn while building work goes on. I imagine they have lower chances of survival but currently, the weather forecast is good for the next week so we’ll have to see.

So, watch this space to see how the really useful box cold frame works out. If even a handful of these make it to full size I’m going to have a good display of dahlias so fingers crossed. Any advice is greatly received. I’m going back to read Naomi Slade’s wonderful book for what to do next.

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