Even the most mature amongst us cannot resist the lure of a parcel through the post. And if that package happens to have the words 'Live plants' on the front, then whose heart wouldn't skip a beat?
Such a package came for me a few days ago. In a perfect world, there would have been a knock on my door, and I would have answered it to a rosy-cheeked postman, who would have handed it to me with a smile and a cheery word. As it was, the postman had thrown the package casually over the six foot gates and I found it a nano-second before the dogs did ! Luckily the packaging was excellent, and survived the ultimate test.
When I was invited, with some fellow bloggers, to visit the Thompson & Morgan Trials ground a couple of weeks ago, something happened that seemed like part of some weird fantasy . All the visitors were handed a sheet of paper with new T & M plant introductions on, and asked to tick the ones they liked, and wished to have sent out to them. Would it be rude to tick them all ? I couldn't resist !
Back in the real world, I forgot about this list of plants ... until the postman threw the first batch over the gate ! It was Belarina double primulas, which are a new introduction for Autumn 2014.
When I took off the cardboard outer sleeve of packaging, I saw that it contained 9 well grown plug plants of Primula Belarina. These are pom pom flowered doubles, and it is claimed that they flower well in adverse weather conditions, with tightly packed, rosebud blooms throughout Spring. They also stay nice and compact.
Now I am a sucker for double primulas, always have been and always will be. My mum adored them and collected them whenever she saw them, and they were some of her most-prized plants. I feel the same and look out for them wherever I am. They always seem too exotic to bloom when the weather is so cold, and have the lushness of summer perennials.
The plants were very clearly marked and labelled, as each cell had an indented letter on it, to help with identification.
The plants came with clear instructions, written in an accessible style, using plain English. Even absolute beginners would have a good idea of what to do with their new plants.
Although the plugs were still moist, healthy and green, I opened up the packaging, watered them, and left them for a couple of hours, before potting them into 9cm pots in the greenhouse. I used a compost mix with a very low percentage of peat, and a high percentage of sticks and bark!! It really does need sieving before every use.
I have labelled each one using my newest labelling system - lolly sticks with permanent garden marker writing on one side, and black biro on the other. I want to compare how long the writing lasts using different types of pens and pencils as I am so fed up of faded labels, with writing I can't read.
Below is a photograph of the Thompson & Morgan catalogue, showing the colours of the Belarina plugs. They are a mixture of 'Pink Ice' (self explanatory!); 'Amethyst Ice' (purply one, I assume, with white edging) and 'Nectarine' (yellowy/ pinky/ orangey one, don't you think?).
I particularly love the dark purply one, as I already have a similar one which gives me great pleasure.
All the pots are now in the cool greenhouse, and I swear they have grown already over the last few days.
I hope they live up to the catalogue description, and that they flower well for a long period, even through bad weather.
Thank you Thompson & Morgan - can't wait for the postman to throw my next package over the gate !