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Archive for the ‘seeds’ Category


Last autumn I sowed some hosta seeds that I gathered from a park in Copenhagen. I have no idea about the cultivar, but it was a large plant with plain green leaves, so pretty much your stereotypical giant hosta. The seeds did nothing in autumn, so I thought I’d have to re-use the pot and the compost for other purposes, but somehow I didn’t get around to it, and look what has happened:

hosta seedlingsTiny hosta seedlings! I’ve never seen a hosta seedling before in my life, but there’s no mistaking it; the leaves are definitely true hosta leaves from the very beginning. I find this very exciting and can’t wait for the plants to be 3′ tall and just as wide… I wonder how many years they will take to fully mature; I’m guessing at least 2-3 years, but really I have no idea.

Inspired by this success I’ve sown up 4-5 pots of other perennial seeds that I had sitting about. Some bought, some collected. They include Chinese meadow rue thalictrum delavayi, yarrow achillea millefolium ‘Cassis’, liatris scariosa ‘Gracious’ and some others I can’t remember. I desperately need more perennials to fill out my beds and borders – and thus reduce the need for weeding – and this seems a good way to do it. It’s cheaper than buying 50 new plants, it’s probably likely to produce healthy and hardy plants, and of course it’s also infinitely more fun to grow the plants from seed, rather than receiving them in 2-litre pots, ready to plant in the beds.

Hopefully they will be ready to be planted out next year – if the seeds do anything – and then it might be another year before the plants begin to look mature, but it’s worth waiting a while for a crop of new plants, right?

I’ve also done a second sowing of some annuals and veg – peas and beans – thinking that they might just have time to get going before the end of summer, but that’s less thrilling than the perennials that I hope to see bloom in my garden year after year… Long term planning/hoping, but so far I’m excited.

Now I just have to wait; the pots with the perennial seeds have been placed in the shade so they won’t dry out too much over summer, and I will be watering them whenever I’m in the garden so they can survive the next month and a half where the season forecast calls for dry and warm weather. My little babies will be all right if I have anything to say about it!

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Well, Summer Time starts tomorrow at 2AM – or should I write 3AM?

Anyway, today was a mix of things. We got up and had to go up to Elsinore – Helsingør is the real name of the city, but I guess most of you will only have heard of it through Shakespeare – for a funeral. A man my Dad’s age who died of cancer last Saturday. It was a friend of my Mother-In-Law’s, so I didn’t know him very well. I liked what I knew of him, though; he was intelligent, well-read and enjoyed talking ancient Danish history and Medieval literature with me whenever we met at my Mother-In-Law’s.

I think, though, that it was the parallel to my Dad’s death that kind of shook me. It was really hard for me to sit at that funeral, harder than I thought it would be. There is still a lingering sadness, remnants of grief. Something – someone – that is not there any more. For all that we didn’t have in common, for all that we didn’t understand in each other, for all that was not right, he was still my father. Was, not is. The past tense can be cruelly acute in certain circumstances.

When we came back to Copenhagen I continued – alone, as I needed some solitary time – up to the summer house. The snow has nearly melted in the garden, though there are still patches of white here and there – and a layer of ice on my three miniature ponds – but spring is coming. Some day, and hopefully soon. I wanted to have a few days alone up here, so I will be here until Monday evening. The lawn is littered with branches and other bits of the trees Denis and one of his friends cut down last weekend when they were up here, but that can wait. After all, the lawn won’t need mowing for another month, given that the ground is still frozen in places and the grass hasn’t grown since November.

I do have some plants to plant, though, if the ground has thawed where they need to go. Astilbe, sedum, phlox, heuchera, eryngium and loads of other Latin names. And I can sow some hardy annuals so they are ready to germinate whenever the soil warms up to 5 degrees Celsius. All right, so it’s a miserable spring to be gardening in so far, but eventually REAL spring will arrive and there will be stuff growing and flowers blooming – and I will be able to get my dahlias in the ground and set the gladiolus and lily corms.

Perhaps later in spring – when we are done with the kitchen rebuild and there will be plenty of weekends in the garden – I might even consider digging out another flower bed in the lawn. The one I dug out in autumn will soon be filled to capacity, so I need more space to plant flowers in. One can attend too many funerals, but one can never have too many flowers.

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I woke up this morning to this view:

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Snow falling heavily outside, covering the cemetery in a blanket of soft, white flakes. Very pretty, but hardly spring – will you agree?

However:

Outside it might be snowing
But inside I hope it’s growing!

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I’ve sown a batch of cobea scandens / Cup and Saucer flowers that The Flâneur Husband gave me – along with other seed packets – as a “congratulations on your first day at work” bouquet. All right, so the convention is that when you buy your partner flowers you generally don’t ask them to grow them themselves, but… Will you agree that four packets of seeds is the perfect flower present for a gardener? Especially seeds that should be sown 4-6 weeks before the last frost…

It means we have a little piece of spring – with promise of summer – in our window in the apartment, and I really look forward to seeing something emerge from the soil!

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A few weeks ago, as we were getting ready to leave the summer house and return to the City, I decided to cut some of the deep blue aquilegias that grow  between the paving stones in the courtyard. I know they’d bloom while I wasn’t there, so I figured the budding flowers would look nice in a vase in the apartment, and so they did.

The buds dutifully turned into flowers, and I was happy. It’s my favourite colour of aquilegia, but sadly we only have it in the courtyard where it is a weed, really, so I was so thrilled last week when I noticed seed heads starting to form; there must either have been some kind little fly that chose to pollinate these flowers, or else they were just shaken sufficiently when I have been airing out the apartment, because today they look like this:

The colour of the dried petals is a truer blue than the actual flower, which has a slightly purple tone

Of course there’s always a risk that the seeds won’t be true to type, but considering that I have no other colours of aquilegia in the apartment, I’m feeling confident that the seeds will produce the same lovely colour if I sow them out in the Ambitious Border.

So, this means that I have now used cut flowers and branches to propagate forsythia, dogwood and sedum so far, and with aquilegias in the making. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Free plants are the best!

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No, this is not going to be another post about what it looks like when I work from home, surrounded by vases of blooming forsythias or whatever. This is about REAL work, the kind that will produce visible, tangible results in the garden.

There is a large table in the bathroom that would probably be ideal for changing nappies if you had a baby, but since we don’t I have put it to other use:

I use it as a work surface for sowing seeds and potting up cuttings, and then the results are transferred to the windows around the apartment, especially the bedroom window since this is the window that gets the most sun (from dawn to around 1pm). The sitting room windows get slightly less sun, so I use those mainly for cuttings and for growing on tubers and roots.

This is what I currently have growing in the apartment (with a few omissions because there were pots I forgot I had tucked away):

As you can see I’m cheating by starting off the dahlia tubers in the apartment. This is because the slugs love them, and I figure a larger plant will be more able to survive a slug attack than a completely new shoot. There are also dahlia seedlings, pots with dahlia seed that has yet to make an appearance and – because the tubers grow so happily – a small pot with three dahlia cuttings that so far look like they will survive.

There are also two pots with tomato seeds and of course a tray of sweet peas. (And a box of DEGT seed – Don’t Even Go There – i.e. Zantedeschi Aethiopica with a germination period up to 3 months…)

And in the back of the dining table you can see a vase of dogwood branches that have rooted in the water. The variegated foliage is still pretty and adds a touch of spring to the apartment, but more importantly the roots are well-developed and eventually I will cut the branches back to only a couple of leaves and then plant them out in the hedgerow. I’m sure they will be happy there, and with dogwood there’s never even question about whether it will survive.

I do wish I could go out into the garden every afternoon after work, but since that’s not an option I do enjoy being able to get things going in the apartment, even though it will be a nightmare to transport everything up to the garden by bus and metro and train and bus…

(Oh, and tomorrow I’m flying over to the Flâneur Husband in Aberdeen and will be returning on Sunday with a suitcase full of three small rhododendrons that I will then plant in the garden on Monday… It seems silly in a way to move plants that far, but on the other hand they’ve brought him so much joy during his expatriation that I think it’s perfectly sensible to bring them to Denmark so he can continue to enjoy them.)

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I’m packing to go up to the summerhouse and the garden for the weekend straight from work today, and I think this might be one of the more challenging aspects of growing seedlings in an apartment and then bringing them to the garden by public transport; I have a big sports bag that is now stuffed with seed trays and I desperately hope they will survive the journey intact…

Also, what to do when I get to work? Do I unpack my seed trays and place them in sunny windows around the office to the bemusement of my co-workers, or do I leave them in the bag and feel guilty for keeping them from sunshine for an entire day?
I do think it would be easier if the garden was just outside the sitting room windows, but a remote garden is better than no garden!

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I slipped up a while back, lured by the temptation that dreams of summer hold on a poor gardener during the last month of winter (i.e. February)…

A newsletter coaxed me – rather too willingly, I fear – to visit a seed-pusher’s website, and before I knew it I had place an order where only one item was actually on my list of things to grow this season.

The above is a randomized mosaic of the seeds I ended up with, ranging in difficulty from “suitable for children” (PERFECT!) to “Experience useful” (i.e. sow at 24C, then keep moist for five weeks, place in plastic bag in the fridge for 2 weeks, do ritual shamanistic dance to encourage germination, transfer seedlings to individual pots, have nervous break-down and end up throwing them from the roof of the apartment building at innocent passers-by).

In other words I don’t count on all of these seeds to actually produce plants… But if at least some of them do – which does seem likely – they will be lovely additions to the garden and would make me forget the failures along the way. (Or so I hope.)

Except for the vegetables (which will – not surprisingly – go into the vegetable beds) and the climbers (ipomoea and Asarina antirrhiniflora which will go into the hedgerow to add some summer blooms and some bulk) I haven’t the faintest idea where the rest will go, but I suspect I might have to do another major “carve-new-flower-bed-out-of-the-lawn” project, probably as part of The Ambitious Border. I know for sure that there will be very little – if any – space for them in the Sunny Border if I want to reserve some space for dahlias.

But here’s to wishing, hoping, dreaming and – perhaps – realising some of these wishes, hopes and dreams.

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