Saturday, 27 December 2014

This is Helleborus niger 'Potter's Wheel' growing in Cumbria and photographed on Christmas day. This is a very good form of a lovely plant but has flowered very well like so many things after the hot summer and has been undamaged by slugs. 

Thursday, 18 December 2014

                                     A special Christmas post!                                                         It shows two of my other loves beyond Meconopsis - birds and trees. In the village in East Fife Scotland where I live there are many holly trees (Ilex)  and this year they have been very well berried after the hot summer. In the last week blackbirds (Turdus merula) in particular have stripped off all the berries from the trees  in the village. I love having well berried holly to decorate our house and my children's at Christmas. This tree, which is still smothered in berries, has not been touched. Why?  - because it has been guarded by the large mistle thrush (Turdus viscivorus) - the species name is derived from the mistletoe - Viscum album. This is another plant species with berries that this species likes and of course it is another Christmas plant. My guardian angel  is seen on a chimney pot right next to the tree and any blackbird that comes anywhere near it is chased off with a harsh rattle.  This will be the winter food supply for this bird right through the cold months at the beginning of the year.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

A vulnerable winter rosette of M. punicea. The outer  leaves will not survive long and the rosettes can become almost invisible above ground and are therefore vulnerable to being damaged during winter tidying

This  is how I cover them for the winter. Three methods shown here. 1. Glass cloche made of two pieces of glass (broken large cloches from vegetable garden) 2. A piece of perspex on a wooden pole.  3. A clear plastic container of the sort soft fruit is sold in. The last needs a stone underneath the edge it so that air can circulate
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This is a two year old rosette of one of the evergreen monocarpic (die after flowering) species - probably what we call M. napaulensis of garden origin. They can rot in winter and wet followed by frost repeated several times can induce this rot. I normally do not have problems in the dry east of Scotland but IF in doubt place a simple tent of glass over so the rosette keeps dry but the roots of the plant are kept moist. I shall suggest next week that you do the same (if you are lucky enough to have them)  with Meconopsis punicea seedlings as a simple glass tent cannot harm them and they are too precious to lose and will take an image to show this.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

                                This is about seed sources

If you want to start growing Meconopsis from seed then both the ALPINE GARDEN SOCIETY and THE SCOTTISH ROCK GARDEN CLUB offer extensive seed lists to members. For rare items or seed collected in the wild there is often only a small quantity of seed available. If you donate seed you get a few extra packets. You are asked for a long list of alternatives but you will always get some seed from the top of the list. 

The address of the AGS is AGS Centre, Avon Bank, Pershore, Worcestershire WR10 3JP. U.K.  EMAIL is  ags@alpine  The subscription is £32 a year. This includes a really excellent Journal 4 times per year (approaching 500 pages for 2014) with superb colour plates all the way through.

The address of the subscription secretary of the SRGC is 10 Quarry Avenue Acklington MORPETH Northumberland NE65 9BZ U.K. The subscription is £18 per year and includes an excellent journal twice a year full of colour images and original articles by experts. 

Very few seed houses offer Meconopsis. A firm that offers several species is Plants of Distinction, Abacus House, Station Yard, Needham Market, Suffolk IPO6 8AS.

 The only other one I can find is DOBIES which offers LINGHOLM. This is a wonderful fully perennial big blue poppy that reliably sets seed. It is available in their current catalogue at 70 seeds for £3.59. This normally germinates well to a standard spring sowing and 70 seeds is generous and should provide plenty of plants. If you yearn a perennial blue poppy in the garden this is by far the best choice. Even in southern U.K. in a light shady position on well enriched soil because it is tetraploid and thus very robust, it should be content and with more than one seed grown plant it should set fertile seed.