Gloriosa lilies tainted by memories of unwelcome rodents?
I have loved Gloriosa Lilies since I saw some arranged in a stylish crystal bowl at a posh restaurant. Reluctantly I decided that I really needed a suitable conservatory or greenhouse to be able to keep them cosy enough to thrive.
This week, with the completion of my greenhouse 3 weeks away, I decided to take the plunge. I bought 5 plump looking tuburs. They were from the online supplier Gee Tee Bulbs, who I’d seen were having a summer bulb sale. The firm tuburs, the length of my little finger, arrived the very next day. They cost only £8.40. I considered it a small price to pay for five plants I’d long yearned for.
They were easy to pot up in pots of compost, lying on their sides. I have only two heated mats, currently in the dining room, and I have moved two of my dahlias to make way for the Gloriosas. I shall be checking them daily and can’t wait to see the first shoots.
Meanwhile, I was interested to learn more about the origins of the ‘Rothschildiana’ name. They are named after Lionel Walter, the Second Baron Rothschild, who lived 7 miles from me at Tring Park.
His name is mud in our neighbourhood for reasons I’ll explain.
A keen naturalist, he collected thousands of live and stuffed specimens of birds, plants and mammals from around the world and bequeathed his collection to the British Museum. His big mistake was to release live Edible Dormice (glis glis), not native to the UK, into the woods at Tring Park.
They look a bit like grey squirrels, but with bigger bushier tales and huge cute eyes and were considered a delicacy in ancient Rome. Just as the Romans rampaged across Europe, so glis glis are running riot and conquering the woodlands of the Chilterns and beyond.
Unfortunately they are partial to warmth for hibernation and the cold woods don’t really offer this. So they take up residence in lofts and throw rowdy parties, munching your wires for canapes. A friend of mine came face to face with one in her airing cupboard, curled up in her sheets after a particularly heavy night of revelry.
We have been lucky that renovations of our house enabled us to block up the places where they could get in and so far they haven’t returned to our cosy loft in the autumn to hiberante.
They still cause trauma to many of my friends though. I find it hard to forgive Baron Rothschild for introducing this invasive, non native, species. Maybe the beautiful Gloriosa superba ‘Rothschildiana’ will go some way to making amends.
Vegetable Patch Planning
This week I made a very hard decision. I’m going to cut in half the number of vegetables I grow this year.
Whilst I love growing my own, deep down I know it is time consuming and many parts of my garden are neglected whilst I tend my veg. I have shared with Six on Saturday readers my plans for a new woodland path and of course my new greenhouse. They must come first this year.
As you can see, a bed and a half are occupied by perennials displaced by my geenhouse build, which will need moving back when it’s finished. I have eight squash plants that have just germinated on the kitchen windowsill and these will romp away on one of the beds, smothering the weeds and producing some tasty fruits for winter storing.
I will also grow climbing french beans and runners as they are pretty low maintenance and it’s a quick but fun job to build the bamboo wigwams and plant some seeds at the base. I will also grow some jerusalem artichokes – as I love the soup – and will maintain the globe artichokes and asparagus that are already there.
Yikes, I feel rather queasy at the thought of such a minimalist approach but I must hold the line…
Secret squirrel bird table
Your mission – should you choose to accept it – is to design and build a squirrel proof bird table.
My eldest daughter chose to accept this mission as part of her GCSE Design and Technology coursework.
The finished product is currently being tested in our garden and I can report that it is squirrel proof. The only problem is that so far we think it may also be bird proof, although my son reported seeing a blue tit in, on, or near it.
It really is a secret squirrel operation as I can’t share a picture of it. My daughter hopes that she will crack the design, go on Dragon’s Den, sell millions and make her fortune.
What I can share is the roof, which very pleasingly she designed as a mini planter. This week we visited our local nursery, which stocks some lovely succulents.
She planted it up and I think it looks lovely. I managed to take a few offsets from the sempervivums which I’ll grow on for the future. Win win for us but I fear the birds may be losing out.
Bringing my Colocasia back into growth
This time last year I bought three Taro or Colocasia Esculenta tuburs to add drama to my tropical border. They have an edible root and are a staple food in many parts of the tropics – but my interest in them is purely aesthetic. They’re not known as Elephant’s Ear for nothing.
They did very well but I knew I couldn’t keep them going outdoors in winter. For a while I entertained the thought as keeping them as houseplants and I potted them up and brought them into the house.
They hated it indoors, looked immediately ill, and I knew I had to lift them, wash them, dry them and store them as I would dahlia tubers.
I potted them up in February and they’ve been taking up valuable space on one of my heated mats. This week I was rewarded with a beautiful new shoot. It’s pea green, with a pink tinge, and really is rather beautiful. Before long it’ll be a huge dramatic leaf but for now I’m enjoying it’s lilliputian beauty.
Teeny tiny Iris seeds
Talking of Lilliput, for the last two years I’ve been thrilled to grow a very small Iris in my alpine trough. It looks just like an ordinary Iris Sibirica but one that has consumed a magic shrinking potion. The complete flower is only 10cm tall.
Last autumn I shook the seed pod and was hoping they would germinate naturally in the trough. They still might but this week I picked the seed head off and discovered two shiny chestnut coloured seeds still inside. I’ve put them in a little pot filled with gritty compost and am hoping they’ll germinate.
Fungus Gnat update
A few weeks ago I described the plague of fungus gnats that had descended on my kitchen. Complaints from my family had put my urban jungle at risk of forest clearance and I needed to act.
I can report that numbers are now seriously reduced thanks to the rather unattractive plastic sticky pads. These are bright yellow, but leant up against the wall or window they attracted the flies in huge numbers. They are very very sticky indeed so care has to be taken that they don’t stick to your windows, plant leaves or worse – paintwork.
As promised I did also buy a new carniverous plant. I am yet to find a Pinguicula but this Sundew or Drosera was easy to find at a local garden centre. It hasn’t caught as many as the yellow plastic but is so delicate and pretty.
Six on Saturday is a weekly meme – take a look at the comments at the base of host The Propagator to see more ‘sixes’ from other keen gardeners from all over the world.