Monday, 28 March 2011

Mon: restocking the bench at Dews Meadow

Yes, it was time to bring back the unsold Snowdrops - they'll go into safe storage under the bench until next year.

So now I have a new selection of plants on sale there:

Not exactly a huge selection, must admit that I took three trayfulls down there, and thought that would be ample! The bench is only a yard square, more or less, but it looks as though I could have got another few plants on there. I'll take some more down mid-week.

So this week I am offering:

A) The last couple of pots of miniature daffodils, Tete a tete, my favourites: I won't mind if they don't sell, as I will then keep them for myself!

B) Smilacena racemosa - False Solomon's Seal, lovely plant, great for shady woodland beds, although I've also seen it growing very happily in perfectly ordinary Oxfordshire borders, in full sun!

Sometimes this plant is described as being a lime-hater, ie a plant that needs acid soil, like rhododendrons and camellias, but in my experience it's quite happy here in Oxfordshire. The picture - right - is from summer: this week they are just barely sprouting.

Just look at those happy little tufty flowers! You can see from the leaves why it gets it's common name, can't you?

C) Lilium 'Black Beauty' just sprouting now: really tall, strong Lily, lovely colours. Like all lilies, subject to attack by Lily Beetle, which in case you haven't met it, looks like this:

Hard to believe that there is really a pest with such a ridiculously bright coat colour, isn't there?

The trouble is that when knocked off the lily, they invariably land upside down, and are therefore invisible.

If you have  lilies, either in the beds or in pots, you are almost certain to have this pest: they fly, so they get everywhere. Just look closely whenever you are out in the garden - lift up some of the leaves and check underneath them too. When you find lily beetles, just squish them between your fingers - it's ok to wear gloves to do this.

If you find that they do indeed fall off and disappear, then you can try taking a sheet of A4 paper out with you - hold it under the stem with one hand and shake the plant gently with the other. With luck, they'll all fall neatly onto the paper. If you are squeamish, you can fold the paper in half and tread on it to kill them.

Don't confuse lily beetle with ladybirds: ladybirds are very much rounder, and have spots: also, ladybirds are rarely such a strong, simple red colour as the lily beetles.

They also lack those long black antenna.

Ladybirds = good.
Lily beetles = bad.

Simple, really!

I'm also offering some Ophiopogon, black grass, one of my all year round favourites: plus some large hemerocallis, some Crocosmia 'Lucifer' just starting to sprout now,  and an odd Aucuba japonica or Spotted Laurel that is just taking up space in my front yard.

Talking of the Yard, all I am waiting for now is the Agreement, so hopefully in a short time I will start moving plants there, which should free up some space in my front yard for potting things on.

It's always a hard time of year to fill a plants for sale bench, as not much is flowering, and I know from experience that most people will only buy the plants when they are actually flowering. Unless they are devoted gardeners who have been searching for a particular plant, that is!


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