Monday, 10 November 2008

Inspiration and what to do on a wet day.


Everyone needs some inspiration especially on yet another cold wet November day. One of the things that inspires me with my garden is this photo that hangs on the wall of my office. it is a picture of my great grandfather George with his wife Nellie, my great aunt Eva and my Grandmother Margery. They are standing in his greenhouse in Beccles, Suffolk, where he grew prize winning Chrysanthemums. I would love to grow blooms like the ones behind him.

So what can you do on a day like this?

One of the things I like to save up for the short dark autumn days is ordering my seeds for next year. Over the last couple of months there has been the regular thump of a seed catalogue coming through the letter box, followed by the sound of the dog launching himself at the door trying to exact revenge on the postman for daring to wake him up.

These catalogues are stored in my office to be thumbed through during the boring moments of the day. The lists are compared against books and articles that I have read and notes made of who stocks what. Then once decisions have been made the order forms can be filled in. I love the little specialist nurseries that still only work by snail mail. There is something pleasing about filling in the list and dropping it in the post, you feel that you are dealing with someone who cares more about the plants than all that high tech stuff!

The most important list does not come do me by post but by via the net. This is the RHS Seed list, about October each year the Royal Horticultural Society produces it’s seed list, members can select 20 packs from this selection of seeds collected from the Society’s gardens. This is not a simple job, firstly only Latin names are used, no pictures are shown only height, colour and some indication of preferred conditions are given. This is why it is a job for a rainy day. You find a comfy chair, a large cup of coffee, pencil and paper and a lot of reference books. The first thing you do is scan the list for any of the things you made a note of from the seed catalogues or genera that are a particular favourite, in my case Dianthus. Once this is done the real fun starts looking up things you have never heard of, will it grow in my heavy, cold clay soil. What about some greenhouse plants (Do we really need to grow as many tomatoes next year)?

After you have spent an hour or two picking your list your problems are not over, they might not have enough stock! Back to the list to pick five reserves, This is pot luck, there is no way of knowing what stock is available so how do you pick a reserve the Geranium oxonianum may be replaced with Daphne mezereum both lovely plants but hardly interchangeable. This is the real fun as it will not be until the box arrives in the New Year that you know what you have got. Then it is back to the books to plan the propagation.