End of the Month View – March 2nd 2018

Thank goodness there’s some colour in the greenhouse right now. I planted these Iris reticulata last October. And just when I need something cheerful to look at, they’ve sprung open like a jack-in-a-box. As soon as the sun hit the greenhouse glass, they pinged open. A lovely moment. Glad I was there to see it.

Such an inky blue. I planted Iris Pixie and Harmony, and then somehow lost the labels. A common occurrence in my garden. I must address the problem of how to keep labels this year.

I’ve no need to tell you what the temperatures are like at the moment. One look out of the window and you can see for yourself. We are white over in the UK. So today I’ve been mooching in the potting shed and greenhouse.

Planted last September, these Carnegie hyacinths are a joy for months. The buds are pretty, with just the green tips showing. I think there’s as much pleasure in anticipating what’s to come, as there is when the buds finally burst into bloom. The scent fills the whole greenhouse and makes it a pleasure to work in there on a freezing cold day. I heat the greenhouse to between 5 and 7 degrees. It is an old Alton Cedar greenhouse -second hand, renovated and painted black. Being cedar, the wood swells in the winter and cuts off any draughts – keeping it warm and cosy in there.

Prepared -or temperature treated bulbs – are planted in September in individual 3″ pots. The bulbs are given a cold period to fool them into thinking they have been through winter. We then put them in a cool, dark cupboard in the potting shed or garage for 20 weeks which finishes the treatment. Then, the bulbs are gradually brought out into a cool greenhouse and grown on. You can delay development by just keeping them cold and on the dry side, which is how I’ve managed to keep them flowering right through winter.

Choose bulbs that have flowers roughly the same size to plant into bowls and create displays for the house.

Today, I’m looking out at a snow, right across the back fields, and there’s icicles dangling from the greenhouse roof.

All along the top shelves are succulents and cacti- which need virtually no water between November and mid-March. These Echeverias have grey -blue leaves and striking orange flowers in summer.

The potatoes are starting to chit. Hard to believe, I will be planting them in a few weeks. I’m growing Charlotte and Lady Christl- both delicious. These varieties are on the RHS recommended list for growing in containers. If you are thinking of growing in containers, you need 8 litres of compost per potato. So put five in a 40 litre bag or 16″ -18″pot. Start off filling the bags with 20 litres of compost and 125g organic potato fertiliser. Sink the potatoes into the compost, and water. As the haulms or stems grow, add more compost to cover them and gradually fill up the pots. The secret to success is not to overwater. Soggy compost deprives the plants of oxygen and leads to stunted growth. Start feeding with potash when the leaves are out of the top of the pots. Other varieties I’ve tried and are RHS recommended include Casablanca, Golden Nugget, Sharpes Express, Maris Bard, Jazzy and Vales Emerald. I don’t grow Sharpes Express as much though, as it tends to disintegrate when it’s cooked and you end up with a pan full of soupy water.

Just behind the potatoes and bedding plant cuttings is a pot of wild rocket. I sowed the seed in autumn and now have lots of little pots like these from which I can pick a few leaves each day. Pick from the outer leaves, leaving the centre of the plants to keep growing.

Here’s a quick peek in the potting shed at dusk. The last of the Paper White narcissi are cheering up the potting bench. Another fabulous scented flower.

And in the potting shed window there’s snowdrops. This one is a very pretty Galanthus Viridapiece which has delicate green-tipped flowers. A favourite of mine.

Thank you to Helen at Patient Gardener for hosting this EOMV meme.

How are you coping with the weather? Get in touch and let me know how your garden is faring in the snow. Keep warm everyone.

36 thoughts on “End of the Month View – March 2nd 2018

    • Thank you. Same here! Hasn’t it been awful. I must admit my mooching in the greenhouse has kept me sane. Can’t wait to get some proper gardening going soon! Thanks for your kind comments. Have a good week. x


  1. I always forget how long even prepared hyacinths need to be kept in the cool and dark – must try harder next year! It is such a joy to still have indoor plants to enjoy when the weather is as inclement as this week ahds been and I am glad you have been able to enjoy yours.

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  2. Karen feels very much the Siberian cold wave and the storm Emma that hits the United Kingdom with snow, ice and subzero temperatures. By the way, the storm was over Spain, it left and now it continues sending us storms and Siberian cold: but here but it has already happened … Your Iris reticulata is beautiful and you saw how it opened: how beautiful. The Iris Pixie and Iris Harmony: I do not know what the pot is, but it is divine. I also lose the labels! Conegie hyacinths are wonderful and the aroma must be divine. Thank you very much for explaining how the bulbs are cooled. As a saying goes: “You will not go to bed without knowing one more thing”. The photos are magnificent. It is wonderful the photo with the white porcelain vases with yellow tulips and in the foreground a white hyacinth. I love succulents and cactuses: you have a good collection. The icicles of ice give a special touch to the Greenhouse! Karen thank you very much again for explaining how to grow potatoes in containers. When I was very small, about 11 years old, my Mother gave me an old potato with roots and I planted it and a small gardener with parched and bad earth. After a very short time, a very pretty plant with white flowers was born. When the flowers withered we went around the jadinera and came out a bunch of tiny potatoes that after cooking were very good. Sorry for this intrusion of my gardening adventures since childhood. A lot of wild arugula has come out of the seeds: that’s fine. In my garden I have seen that same plant or an almost equal one; if it continues this year I will investigate it. In the Shed, The White Paper Narcissus with its perfume and pure white is lovely. It is the last? I love the Galanthus Viridapiece. Memories with love for your Mother. Kati a lot of love and keep warm. Take care. Greetings from Margarita.


    • Thanks for the update Jessica. Such very welcome news. Well, last summer Mum and I spring cleaned the greenhouse, cleaned all the glass and titivated all the plants. It took us a couple of days. I put 2 chairs in the corner and a coffee table – and I use it as an outdoor room to read and work. Now I’m determined to keep it tidy as I’m a terribly untidy worker and all under the staging was cluttered with rubbish. We’ll see how long it lasts…. 🙂 x


    • Thank you Mike. I’m trying. Brrr. Potting shed is tidy, greenhouse is tidy, kitchen is tidy…. I just want to get out there! Keep warm. Have a good weekend, despite the weather xx

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    • Thank you Alison. I’m sharing it with a very angry robin today. I keep saying, I don’t mind sharing. He’s not keen! Might give up and go indoors. There’s a row of wrens siting on the slider of the greenhouse door so I can’t get in there either. Keep warm xx


    • Thank you Ron. That greenhouse is a lifeline in this weather. Somewhere to mooch in when it’s frozen outdoors. Glad you have warmed up over there. I’m just sowing my tomato seeds now. Can’t wait for fresh tomatoes. My favourites. All the best with your gardening. Karen .

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    • Thank you Cathy. Glad you have found them cheerful today. What a horrible cold time we are having. Can’t believe it was the first day of spring yesterday. It will have to warm up quite a bit for those potatoes. Keep warm. Karen x

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