Friday, 27 January 2017

Reasons to be cheerful ...


There are many reasons to be cheerful right now! Cautiously cheerful, perhaps, but still cheerful. There are signs and portents afoot which indicate that spring is on the horizon. The days are beginning to lengthen, the birds have started singing again, and the bulbs are beginning to appear.


In the conservatory, nobody has told the plants that it is actually winter. We keep the temperature reasonably low, so I was expecting the overwintering tender plants to remain dormant. I thought I would keep them ticking over, but that there would be little active growth. What a joy! They have not only kept growing, but they have kept flowering too, giving many reasons to be continually cheerful!

Begonia 'Garden Angels' are putting out lots of new leaves, and the leaves have kept all their wonderful metallic colouring. They will, apparently, stand a couple of degrees of frost, but, as they are quite expensive, I didn't want to chance leaving them in the greenhouse this year. Also, they are every bit as decorative as Begonia Rex, the house plants, and they have given lots of pleasure over the winter.


This plant, which is flowering its little socks off, is Impatiens Niamniamensis, the 'Parrot plant'. It is easy to see how it got its name, as the flowers certainly resemble  brightly coloured parrots, swinging on the stems. The plant itself can get quite leggy, so I try to ensure that it gets as much light as possible, and will be pinching out the growing tips shortly, to encourage a bushier plant.


The plants which are the undisputed Queens of the Winter, are the Abutilons.  They have flowered non stop all summer, autumn and now winter. The flowers are quite lovely, and the red pictured below is very rich and dark. They are hard to beat for flower power!


I grew lots from seed in early summer and have put several in the greenhouse to overwinter, and these are thriving but not flowering. The temperature in the greenhouse has fallen to 3 degrees and they have been fine.


I have left sacrificial Abutilons in the garden, to see what temperatures they can actually cope with, and so far we have had down to minus 3, and they are still fine, and have even kept their leaves.


However, last night the temperature dropped to minus 4.8 degrees , so I have yet to see whether they have survived , or succumbed to the frost.


Yet another reason to be cheerful is that the red, Abyssinian bananas are all continuing to thrive and to actively grow, and produce new rollers. They look amazing when viewed against the rays of a winter sun.



And the best reason of all to be cheerful is that the seeds have been chosen and bought, and the propagator has been switched on. There are already results, with seedlings popping up every day.



















27 comments:

  1. I love the begonia leaves. I only have one begonia rex that I keep meaning to propagate through leaf cuttings. Have you ever done this? The abutilon colours are really striking too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have tried propagation through leaf cuttings, Sue ... it was an unmitigated disaster !

      Delete
  2. Your notes on Abutilons are encouraging. They are so beautiful but I had vowed to stop planting things that are marginally hearty in zone 7b.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ricki, I know where you are coming from! It is so much less hassle to just keep totally hardy plants in the garden. Trouble is, I find the tender ones irresistible !

      Delete
  3. Your conservatory is inspiring. I'm adding more and more plants to the sunroom each year--same thing, we keep the temps lower to benefit the plants and the budget. Your plants look very healthy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is hard to regulate the temperature isn't it Beth? They need to be just high enough to keep things healthy and thriving, but low enough to be as economical as possible.

      Delete
  4. Hi Jane, I am so glad for you that you have this conservatory! It would cheer me up, too!
    I love, love, love your begonia 'Garden Angels', the leaves are so fascinating, I think I wouldn't need flowers to be happy with them. Your red Abyssinian bananas are also a thing to admire! They simply look spectacular.
    Your last photo reminds me, that I haven't sown any sweet peas, yet. I don't even have the seeds, well I better get on it, otherwise there will be no sweet peas this year in my garden.
    Warm regards,
    Christina

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Get those seed catalogues out Christina and get choosing! Trouble is, there is so much choice that it is difficult to make a decision!

      Delete
  5. The begonia leaves are very attractive, I will have to look out for it in the plant catalogues, garden centres. Sweet peas are a true sign of reasons to be cheerful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Brian, the leaves are very similar to Begonia Rex, but apparently 'Garden Angels' will take a degree or two of frost. Thompson & Morgan sell them as do their cheaper sister business, Van Meuwan .
      Sweet peas are truly the scent of summer!

      Delete
  6. Witch hazels are out here and snowdrops are coming up. The new season has begun!
    (Reaches for seed catalogue..)
    :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jessica, I have just been reading your Australian adventures - witch hazel and snowdrops must seem a bit tame after what you have been seeing!! Console yourself with a seed catalogue or three ...

      Delete
  7. I love begonias in any form. I also like Abutilons but they don't bloom well here. They start blooming when I bring them in for the winter. They don't last very long so I have given up on them. Seeing your seedlings peeking out makes me very excited.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have you started sowing seeds yet, Lisa? Light levels here in the uk are still very low, so it is far too easy for seedlings to be horribly leggy as they veer towards the window.
      Begonias are relatively new for me, and I am just beginning to discover the diversity of the various forms.

      Delete
  8. I did originally think I would keep some tender plants in the sitooterie (it has underfloor heating) but as it's not attached to the house I fear plants would suffer the ssme neglect as any houseplants! I am overwintering some things in it this year for the first time to save space in the greenhouse. Good to see your plants and you have aroused my interest in abutilons with saying they are easy to grow from seed

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are dead easy and the germination rate was fantastic. Chiltern seeds sell them online.
      Love the thought of plants sitting it out in the sitooterie !!

      Delete
  9. Is there anywhere to sit down in your house?! The photo of the bananas made me smile... that is a gardener's garden room! I grew Abutillon when I had a greenhouse to overwinter them and I loved them. I rather miss them so I will be interested to learn how the outdoor ones fared in the recent frosts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sarah, space for humans is becoming a tad limited I'm afraid!
      Did you heat your greenhouse or did the abutilons survive at frost free temperatures? Mine seem fine after -4.8 degrees, but they are in sheltered positions in the garden, tucked in with larger plants, so might have their own cosy micro climate.

      Delete
  10. Very impressive!
    conservatory are just fabulous. I love nature but you you did in this way i just love most.

    ReplyDelete
  11. It sounds like you are all ready for spring! Your conservatory collection of plants is wonderful and I love your Begonia 'Garden Angels'the most for its wonderful foliage! We have had a pretty mild winter here up until just the past week, but I am very much looking forward to spring. There is something wonderful about seeing those first bulbs starting to push buds through the once frozen ground. Glad to have found your blog and enjoyed the read. Have a great week!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Lee and thank you for your comments. It felt very spring-like in the garden today and I am giddy with excitement at the thought of a warm sun again!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Love your conservatory! I am very impressed with all your abutilons from seed. They are flowering now from a June sowing? I must try them from seed too. (I've only ever bought individual plants before, which have then been lost to cold weather. :( )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comments! Yes, I grew them from a June sowing and they were so easy to grow. Give them a go, you won't regret it ! :-)

      Delete
  14. Thank you for sharing reasons to be cheerful! Very much needed right now. I have seen Abutilons in greenhouses and out on the west coast, but have never grown them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jason - hang on in there ! Seeing is just around the corner ! Worth trying outside as they will take around -5 degrees if my experience is anything to go by!

      Delete
    2. Argh! Auto correct! Meant 'spring' - not 'seeing'!!

      Delete

Thanks for visiting and reading.
I really welcome comments and have learned much from them, over the years of leaning over the virtual garden gate ...