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Spring flowers and spring weeds!

Anemone nemorosa

Wandering out into one of the shade tunnels yesterday I noticed that we have a really nice collection of Anemone nemorosa 'Robinsoniana' heading into flower.

The wood anemone is a very attractive thing at this time of year.  A. nemorosa 'Robinsoniana' is a beautiful pale blue cultivar - which like all the wood anemones likes humus rich soils in shade, and needs to be keep away from accidental disturbance by garden forks - as it dies back to little stick like rhizome in the soil which are easily weeded out by mistake.

One thing that needs to be weeded out is the dreaded hairy bittercress - a true menace to gardeners and nurserymen alike.  With the arrival of spring this has started to germinate all over the place.  These anemones will need a thorough weeding before they can go out to market.



The race is well and truly on!

Young plants on greenhouse benches.

The vernal equinox has arrived and perhaps more importantly the clocks have just gone forward!

There is always something encouraging about the evenings getting that bit lighter - once you have got over the loss of an hour on sleep on Sunday morning.  Despite there being still a month or so until the final signs of winter are past, everything on the nursery has geared itself into life.  Our benches are covering rapidly with plants as things are potted out.

From now things will be pretty full on just keeping up with the grow spurt that is well underway.  As the evenings grow lighter so we will be working later and later.  Suddenly the end of the working day is often gone nine o'clock at night. Plants are demanding masters!



Plenty of Agapanthus to split!

Clumps of Agapanthus rootstock.

Along with the bulbs we got some nice clumps of agapanthus to split up and grow on.

Dividing up clumps is a satisfying but sometimes frustrating business.  Some plants divide easily and without complaint - others do their very best to resist being split apart.  Once you get the new growth tips growing away you want to avoid damaging the fresh growth so things need to be done carefully.  Unpicking the clumps can be rather like untying the Gordian knot so use of a sharp knife is a definite help!



Looking forward to seeing these flower - Salvia 'Black & Blue'

Young plants of Salvia guarantica 'Black & Blue'

A bit of recent spring warmth and sunshine has brought these Salvia guarantica 'Black and Blue' on nicely.

In a well grown stand later in the summer, and indeed well into autumn, these are a wonderful plant, with really handsome indigo blue flowers with a black calyces.  On sharp drainage they are reasonably hardy once they develop a good root stock.



Another onslaught!

Potting up bulbs.

Just when you think you have made a bit of progress with getting the seedlings potted out, we have another major task to sort out - potting up our bulbs for the year ahead.

Every year we buy in a range of different and interesting bulbs.  A couple of days ago our consignment arrived and is now needing to be potted up and sorted out.  It looks like some late evenings will be required!



The tasks of early spring are mounting!

Pricking out seedlings.

Spring is undoubtedly accelerating as the days lengthen and the temperature begin to climb.

A few weeks back we started sowing lots of seed making use of a bit of extra warmth under glass.  Much of this seed has now germinated and needs pricking out rapidly!

Seedlings can rapidly get crowded out and their growth can stall if you don't thin them out or transplant them.  It is a satisfying job knowing that in a few weeks you will have lots of nice young plants maturing rapidly. However it takes a lot of time and concentration as they are very delicate to handle.  As is always the way the jobs at this time of year are mounting rapidly - and there never seems enough time to get things done!



Echium pininana seedlings growing fast in response to a bit of added warmth.

Echium pininana seedlings

On the subject of things responding to a bit of early warmth, we have some very handsome young plants of Echium pininana which are growing very rapidly.  They should be great to get out in the ground hopefully in the next month so that they can really get going.



Keeping Pelargonium 'Lord Bute' happy over winter.

Pelargonium 'Lord Bute' cuttings.

Pelargonium 'Lord Bute' is a fabulous plant - and one of our most popular lines at Columbia Road. However it is a demanding customer when it comes to winter conditions.

Over recent winters we have lost large numbers of plants due to botrytis and stem rot.  Plants that were vigorous, well rooted and seemingly happy by late autumn seem to really dislike the chill and damp of winter, often seeming to sicken within hours.

The last winter has been really pretty easy on plants in the heated house.  No extreme cold and generally pretty dry - none of the endless wet of the winter before.  However despite this we have lost a couple of hundred two litre plants - which is very frustrating and costly.

So one of our experiments this winter has been keeping the young plants on heated beds in the propagation units.  So far they are looking good - so I'm hopeful we will still have a good crop for Columbia Road.  I'm already getting requests!



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