Archive for the ‘Bare rooted plants’ Category

This strange arrangement is me, at my tiny strip of an allotment, trying to train a Japanese Wineberry into a variety of forms, so that it can fit into smaller spaces.

Left to its own devices, it can be a monstrous spidery thing. Charming if interplanted with annuals, but a bit too space grabbing for a more petite front garden.

So here I was aiming for a Jean-Paul Gaultier-esque curvy cone shape,

And here I was experimenting with a sort of fan or star shape (and also wanted to illustrate the beauty of my urban plot!).

And this pic is of a lovely neighbour, David, training a Japanese Wineberry into a figure of 8. Lots of these ideas I’ve ‘borrowed’ from Blackmoor Nurseries from their small but inspirational stand at Hampton Court Flower Show this year, and I’m eager to see which permutation will give me the most fruit.

Ever since I tasted these delicious berries, I’ve been pondering how to squeeze them (and Blackberries for that matter), into a tight spot and looking forward to tasting the fruits of my labours come July. If you fancy a go, then it’s a good time now to order bare-rooted fruit canes. I think the figure of eight would even fit well into a large pot. Plants available from Blackmoor Nurseries.

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I needed a rhubarb crown for pics for my book, pronto, so I thought the best thing to do was to dig up and divide a rhubarb plant on my allotment. From what I’ve read, November through until March is the best time to divide and replant crowns, as the leaves have died back and all is dormant. In fact, this is similar to planting bare-rooted fruit canes. Having said that, Ben Asquith at Brandy Carr Nurseries (specialist Rhubarb growers) has divided his ‘Timperley Earlies’ as early as August in previous years and the crowns have grown on well since then.

I haven’t divided rhubarb plants before and wasn’t sure how much root I’d be digging up from my 3 year old plant (ordinarily you’d need to divide plants every 5 years or so).  The roots are fairly sizeable and try as you may to remove them intact, you can’t help break one or two of the longer roots as some spread out like tentacles for nearly a couple of feet.

When dividing, you’ll need to leave some buds on each new piece of root as the plant won’t regrow without root and bud combined. At first I couldn’t make these out, but if you carefully search through the top of the crown, rounded pinky/brown buds do become more evident. Bearing in mind where these buds were situated, I turned the Rhubarb root side up and then cut into the plant with a sharp spade, creating three new crowns from my original.

After replenishing the planting area with plenty of rich compost, I popped one piece of crown back into its hole and the others I planted up into pots, ensuring the crown was sitting just above the soil level. Rhubarb does grow well in pots, but make sure they’re big’uns to accommodate the chunky roots and again, fill with tons of rich compost before planting. In spring it’s a good idea to feed Rhubarb in pots with pelleted manure and give plants in the ground a good mulch around the roots with well-rotted manure in March. Be careful not to cover the crown when mulching though as this could lead to rotting.

Now divided, I’ll need to let this plant have a good year to settle in again and won’t be harvesting any stalks next summer.  Luckily though, I have a couple of other plants growing to keep me well supplied with Rhubarb Crumble.

If you don’t have  a plant to divide, but fancy growing a few of these delicious and decorative perennials, Brandy Carr Nurseries in Yorkshire are sending out crowns now. They have packs of 3 different varieties: ‘Grandad’s favourite’, ‘Raspberry Red’ and ‘Queen Victoria’ and they also have a pack of three ‘Timperley Early’ crowns’ if you want to try your hand at ‘forcing’ in years to come.

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I’ve just planted 200 Crocus tommasianus in our corner plot to pop up through the grass and can’t wait to see how they look come spring. I saw these on the Avon Bulbs stand at the RHS spring show, and thankfully remembered to write a note to self to order in September.

As the temperatures finally drop, people keep on asking me if I’ve finished working for the year, and I have to tell them, ‘not a bit of it’. Despite the depressing fact that the clocks have gone back and the nights are rapidly drawing in, there’s still tons to do. These last few weeks I must have planted thousands of bulbs and have a nice few calluses on my palms to prove it. I’ve even managed to get my act together to plant some of my own bulbs and this year I’ve plumped for a mass of pink parrot Rai tulips to appear alongside the dark curvaceous curls of a Black Parrot or two. A sumptuous combination hopefully. There’s still plenty of time to plant Tulips (up to the end of the year I’d say) and although Peter Nyssen are fast selling out of some varieties, there’s still lots of gorgeous bulbs online to tempt you.

Leucojum aestivum or Snowflake

I’ll also be planting some delightful Leucojum aestivum (summer snowflake) which will flower in April and May. Well after snowdrops have vanished for the year, these flowers are such a treat and at a foot or so high, seem to blend in well amongst most small shrubs and emerging perennials alike.

Once all my bulbs are in, I’ll be ordering some bare-rooted ‘Lord Lambourne’ apple trees from Blackmoor nurseries for a spot of training. I think I mentioned to Sue at Backlane Notebook that I’ll be attempting to train a one year old maiden up a coiling metal framework as I’d like to see how successfully apples will grow in a pot. She’s putting her allotment to bed for the winter, and this will be on my ‘to do’ list soon, although I still have quite a few Jerusalem artichokes to dig up and enjoy.

My leeks on the other hand have been rather disappointing, as quite a number have already started flowering, depriving me of one of my favourite winter veg. I didn’t water my crop when dry this year, and no doubt this, as well as our strange weather patterns, has prompted my leeks into premature seed production. My loss!

And last of my autumn jobs is to order some bare-rooted fruit canes. I’ve experimented with different varieties of raspberries this year, and although my old reliable ‘Autumn Bliss’ is still much-loved, I’ve found that Polka is equally (if not more) tasty, rather juicy and double the size (all this when grown in an old wooden wine box!). Again, available from Blackmoor Nursery.

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