Success stories

13 Jul

Quite a few bits and bobs are coming on nicely. So, here’s a post about them, the success stories. 

The children and I have a little project going on. We’re growing trees from fruit seeds which would otherwise have ended up in the bin with the rest of the food waste and scraps. My youngest, Reuben, thinks it’s slightly silly to be growing trees inside our house. Mango:


The Arabian jasmine I bought produced its first flower today. It’s also the first flower of any of the scented plants I plan to fill the hall with.

The next to flower in the atrium, or so I hope, is Hedychium coronarium. It’s looking pretty chunky and i’ve started it on the tomato feed, so here’s hoping.

Delonix regia, the famed Flamboyant of the tropics! It is very early days, but this seems to have a decent growth rate. Nor has it minded being moved from the propagation spot, way up high on top of the bathroom, to the greenhouse.

Caesalpinia gilliesii is leading a very happy life in the greenhouse, having been defoliated over winter by slight frosts.

This Agave has filled out very well indeed. Does anybody recognise the bright green centres to the dark green leaves as belonging to a particular species? In other words, can anybody ID it for me? It was from a batch of mixed seed. (A. lophantha maybe?)

Wham! That red! The ladybird and opium poppies set Agave ovatifolia off nicely, and Aloe striatula has been hugely cooperative now it’s had a chance to stretch its roots.

The jungly bit of the garden has escaped the worst of the chlorosis which has blighted a great many of the trees i’ve planted. More on that some other time.

Local goodness

10 Jun

Anna (my partner in crime) spotted that there was a weekend of open gardens in Burnage and Levenshulme, areas of South Manchester just adjacent to us. We missed them because of my work and our colossal hangovers. But something good did come of it. Tickets were available from a local garden centre called Bud, which I was always going to visit sooner or later, it being just a short distance away. 

It wasn’t disappointing. The owner is very much engaged in what’s on around and about and the place has the appearance of being a labour of love. She gave me several tips for local exotic gardening connections and asked if I grew commercially, perhaps as space for horticulture is at a premium in our city. 

I left a few things behind but came away happy with the following haul

Rubus lineatus, look at those pleated leaves up close

Darmera peltata, grown locally by someone who also supplies hostas (and I suspect also supplied the Arisarum proboiseideum I left there)

A Helleborus foetidus of a size handy for transport in bike panniers

Acca sellowiana with those nice silver undersides to the leaves, which will place it in the blue garden.

The most encouraging thing about Bud is the encouragement the place gives to try something new. Being in the inner city, it’s run with a bit of imagination and creative relish, rather than being beholden to hidebound hordes from the stolid suburbs. It makes perfect sense and is a refreshing change to visit. There was a pop-up cafe and craft beer stall there last night which Anna and I could have gone along too, but I was feeling rather lazy. I’ll be along again soon, that’s for sure. 

Besides which, this morning I was able to pot up seven sprouting Calamus rudentum seeds with the assistance of a little compost the owner kindly agreed to give me for free. It all helps. 

History in the making

9 Jun

At risk of this becoming a politics blog . . . 

This country is in it’s current state because of the Tories’ own selfish self-interest, but that’s a damn sight better than this country being what I thought it was two days ago, which was a miserable, self-hating, cap-doffing wretch.

The open sewer that is our press portrayed Jeremy Corbyn not as the mild-mannered social democrat that he is, but as a frothing communist whose leadership of the Labour party was held to be a re-enactment of the Jonestown Massacre, in sitcom format. 

And he got nearly thirteen million votes from people who preferred his fair minded views to the crabbed and crooked misery of the Conservative party. 

The last seat to declare, Kensington, just went Labour. KENSINGTON ffs

A day well spent

8 Jun

Apologies for posting on things other than gardening again, for those who are concerned for such things. So am I! Tell you what, two of my Calamus rudentum seeds have sprouted, which was really exciting for me. I just thought i’d post to say that I spent the day out canvassing. I felt the need to do something to try to nudge the result in a constructive direction, so I went along to the local Labour club to volunteer my services, which isn’t something i’ve done before. Here’s hoping that my children have better prospects than my generation as a whole. 

Something important 

7 Jun

I’m nervous. The general election is tomorrow, and although the polls have consistently shown that Labour aren’t heading for disaster, the experience of the last few years leads me to fear that they are wrong. There was the surprise of a conservative majority in 2015. Then there was Brexit. Then there was Trump. On all of these, the polls were wrong, and on all of them I voted (or would’ve voted) for the losing side. 

You don’t have to be left wing to see that not everything should be run like a business, or that the Tories’ “difficult decisions” are exactly what they want to see happen, or that David Cameron, with his gigantic state borrowing and his restive Scots was a failure even on his own terms. You don’t have to be left wing to see that a vote for the Conservative Party is a vote for static, misanthropic misery. You don’t have to be left wing to see these things, but it helps. And the United Kingdom is not known for being left wing, at least not for these past four decades. 

The other question is how this country sees itself. I, for one, don’t think it sees itself as a country at all. That is, we have no genuinely shared sense of belonging. Our national beliefs are shopping . . . and shopping. The culture of individualism rules supreme, at least within the tight bounds of being able to spend one’s money as one sees fit. Beyond that, I don’t know about individualism. It has all the appearance of a fad. Our capacity for self-improvement ends at the exact point where the money runs out. For example, terrorists committed mass murder here in Manchester the other week and the people responded. How did we respond? We responded by tattooing ourselves with the image of Mancunian toil – the bee. There’s a specific, approved design to the tattoo. And we gave ourselves a pat on the back for labelling ourselves as having joined in. To me, it seems that a visitor from another planet would find imponderables in our behaviour, which at one and the same time places individual autonomy on a pedestal, yet is clearly bonded to a medium of cultural and economic value-beliefs which it denies has any kind of agency.

In this environment, it makes perfect sense to vote Conservative. In this scheme of ours, the value of personal freedom is beyond question. Specifically, it is beyond any questions related to its inherent speciousness, existing as it does in the amoral, avowedly apolitical vacuum whereby it lacks any kind of societal or economic context. That’s what Tories expect me to believe in: loneliness. Loneliness is the poverty of a condition in which everything and anything I do is a matter of “personal choice”, i.e. is of no consequence whatsoever. I’m not lending my support to a political party whose core belief is “you’re on your own son, so you’d better get used to the idea.” A vote for the Tories is a vote to hug misery tight and never let go. 

Old seeds

2 Jun

When moving house, everything gets turned upside down. One finds unexpected things in the process. Things like this box, which i’d used to stow away spare seed in.

Look closely and you’ll see the legend “this package contains seeds that require immediate attention.” Hopefully I did that at the time, rather than six years down the line, i.e. now. They weren’t all from Chiltern Seeds. Some were cast offs from other people and some i’d collected myself, such as cerinthe, nicotiana and cobaea. It’s taken me a few hours to cast them about. There’s cerinthe, schizopetalon, two varieties of night-scented stocks, calendula, eucalyptus and caesalpinia sown in various spots in or out of the greenhouse. 

Cardoon, artichoke, clianthus, acacia and gleditsia got the hot water treatment yesterday. The last three have already swollen and sprouted inside of twenty-four hours. The lot are sown in pots in the greenhouse. I didn’t have an opportunity to use a sterilised growing medium so I mixed a little alpine grit with the crumbliest garden soil I could muster. Let’s hope they don’t damp off en masse.

Adlington Hall Plant Fair

1 Jun

This took place a couple of weeks ago. I came away with thirteen plants, tree seedlings in the main. Some i’ve grown before, but most i’ve no prior experience of. This weekend I potted them on and the children helped me write the names on the pots.
Me: “This one’s called Metasequoia glyptostroboides, otherwise known as the dawn redwood.”
Alex: “Why don’t we just write that then?”

Finally, Aeonium ‘Velour’