August 15, 2007

High Summer, hello autumn?

The tropicals front of the greenhouse continue to mature in the late summer heat of last week. I think Fergus can smell the brugmansia.

Although the heat and humidity of high-summer in New England peaks around the middle of August, the first cold fronts from Canada are also introducing cooler nights after violent thunderstorms. These cool temps might mean the end of summer for most gardeners, but for me, it simply signals a shift in plant material, for as summer-blooming plants begin to mature or go dormant with the temperature shift, and day-length shift, an entire series of collections are beginning to stir into activity, being triggered by the same environmenta changes.

Cyclamen species in the greenhouse are even beginning to boom earlier than normal. Here, a sand plunge, where I keep a collection of many Cyclamen species, shows that even one C. hederifolium has even thown out a blossom a bit early.
Last year, I had a disasterous result from repotting by Cyclamen collection in July, losing many of my species since I made the mistake of treating them like my other summer-dormant bulbs, and letting them go dry. But not unlike some of the Amaryllis relatives from South Africa, the Nerine, which I used to let go bone-dry and 'bake' in the summer on high benches in the greenhouse, I now keep a little moisture available via some damp sand below, or with a spritz of water once or twice during the summer months.

This is critical for Cyclamen graecum, according to expert, and buddy John Lonsdale, who now lives and grows many rare plant collections in his Pennsylvania garden, Edgewood. (Visit his site, it is spectacular - I'd provide a link here, but having problems since I am on a Mac, and Mac's Safari browser doesn't work well with this Blogger software which also is my excuse for spelling errors!). John, whom I visited last fall just when his Cyclamen where in peak bloom, told be that C. graecum prefer to stay a little damp, especially thier 'feet' during the summer. So this year, I did not repot any Cyclamen, until last week, and at that, I just carefully slipped the rootballs into new pots, without disturbing the soil too much. I noticed that the graecum all had extensive roots systems than ran out of the drainage holes in the pots, and down into the damp sand, which remained damp because of the broken greenhouse glass from the summer, so rain fell on all the cyclamen in tiny amounts - probably perfect, since many I can see, are starting to send up new growth, and I only lost one through the summer. I will start watering deeping in a couple weeks, around September one, and we will see what happens then! I can tell already that the C. graecum have buds, as do the C. africanum, a more tender species from Persia.

Cyclamen graecum, the tuber showing not only new growth beneath the thick layer of grit I keep on top of the tuber, but it shows the size of the tuber, and that it is firmly rooted in the soil through-out the summer. Much like my Nerine sarniensis, although the bulb appears dormant through the summer, below soil, the roots are quite alive, and actually making substantial growth, in search of a little moisture perhaps, to make it through the summer heat.

The autumn and winter-blooming narcissus also have taken a year off from repotting, in an experiment to see if this will make a difference, and because I am too busy to do anything more than re-topdress with gravel, and to clean-up the pots and relable. I moved the collection into the Alpine house for the summer, so that they can really bake well, and because the broken glass in the greenhouse was allowing too much rain to fall on the pots.

1 comment :

  1. Hi Matt, I'm planning a special blog entry on doggies who help out in gardens! There seem to be a lot of us out there, would you be willing to send me a pic? See my blog on 5th August for details, would love to put a link to your blog if that's OK? xx Matron


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