Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Carnations part 2 ...

Since my first interest I have picked up a couple more books:-

Carnations and Pinks for Garden and Greenhouse” by John and Eileen Galbally

This I bought after it was recommended by Brian Yates in his excellent Pinks Blog on the BNCS Website – thank you for that Brian it’s well read and thank you Eileen for helping to write it. It’s a shame that some of the varieties aren’t around now ... or maybe they are (plug for the Heritage scheme)

And the other one I got from a local Charity shop for £2-50 ( a tad more than the original 18/6d !!) but equally useful and that is

Growing perpetual flowering Carnations” by Steven Bailey.

So armed with these and the others mentioned in the 1st part I worked out my plan of action ... or rather inactions due to the weather. I can’t remember when we had Snow, Frost, Fog and rain like this year. Anyway I have my two offspring well trained and they get me Gardening vouchers for birthdays and Christmas so rather than mix my own composts I usually buy it in. I don’t have the time to mix it and upto now the quantities are small any way. Also the last couple of years rather than the 5” or 6” of annual rainfall I normally get here in the Highlands of Warwickshire ( well 550ft asl is a mountain round here!) so I thought that I would use a similar mix to my Late Chrysanths as it is fairly open this is roughly

4 parts JI No.3, 4pts Miracle grow Multipurpose and 1 part Perlite and a dusting of calcified seaweed - maybe it’s not what you all use but I thought I’d start from here. Also I seem to get better results from Clay pots than Plastic so I dug out some of the spare’s and planted 3 plants in an 8” or 9” pot any odds left to be planted in 2 to a 3ltr plastic or singly in a 6” clay so we’ll see what gives the best results. This also helped out as I probably won’t have the spare room later on in the year so the 3 to a pot seemed the obvious course.

So what varieties am I trying to kill? Well, I’ll tell you.

Borders - 27 plants

Anne S Moore, Flanders, Hannah Louise, Irene Delatorre, Lord Nuffield, Pink Nuffield,Spinfield Grey, Spinfield Joy, Tamsin Fifield.

PF’s – 39 plants

Cromptons Classic, Cromptons Princess, Cromptons Bride, Summer Bride, Clara, Clara's lass, Betty's delight, Linfield Annie's fancy, Joannes Highlight.

Pinks – 6 plants

Linfield Dorothy Perry, Oakwood Erin Mitchel, Anders Dora bryan, Anders serene, Anders Gemma, Magenta Gem.

Added to this I have some replacement cuttings of some of the older plants I grow Carmine Letitia Wyatt, Laced Monarch and Claret Joy to adorn the Garden.

Pinks still waiting to be potted up

Borders brought in out of the cold ... frame

a couple seemed to have suffered

As you can see a fair mix so hopefully I should get something all being well. The only thing to do now is sort out the bottom of the garden so I have somewhere to stand them till flowering time ... But that’s another story.

New venture ...

As you all know I’m an uncontrollable propagator ... no I’ve not got a huge family I meant plants, something I inherited off my Father who was a good gardener ( better than me). As a youth I hated gardening and most of all my father’s passion of Chrysanths . I eventually gave in and said I liked Dahlia’s and grew a few when I to keep dad happy. Then a turning point in my life, I got married and had 160’ of garden to look after ... not the ideal situation for a garden hater, but eventually the nagging er I mean persuasion paid off and I started to look after it and Pinks were one thing that went in. I bought some from the local garden centre. They were in 3ltr pots and cost me £1-50 as they were coming to the end of the season, but as I’d just acquired a greenhouse I did the decent thing and took loads of cuttings with the help of one of dads books “ Carnations for everyone” by Montague Allwood.

Then came another turning point a few years later, my wife was seriously ill for about two years and after buying here bunches of flowers each week I thought, “must be a cheaper way of doing this” and so I selected bunches of Carnations with some “cutting” on and then went to one of dads old Chrysanth chums and bought some sprays for cuttings (and somehow ended up with 6 late flowering plants as well ... George Freestone is both a very good salesman and now friend!). After growing for a couple of years I looked on the internet for a source of Carnation netting to use to grow my sprays and eventually came upon this the BNCS site, dropped an e-mail to see if they could help, had a very nice reply off Betty Linnell and Peter Booker and then it happened, I got the Carnation bug.

What I intend to do is to record my first stumbling footsteps in to the serious growing of all things Dianthus. But where to start?

I decided the only decent thing to do as I had had all this help from Betty & co was join the BNCS and I received my free booklet, read it and promptly sent for the other two. Not knowing what I fancied (if you pardon the pun) I felt the best course was to grow all types! So I duly trawled through the yearbook, and saw loads of photos, read the article on the website noted names and sat back and thought 6000 was probably too many ( Ok, so I exaggerated the number a bit) It quickly became evident that a lot of the good show varieties have one serious flaw ... they don’t smell! And as most of the plants in my garden have a scent of some sort I thought this was going to be a factor I had to consider. I like the idea of PF’s as these will give me a long flowering season ( unless I killed them) but some of the Borders seemed to have a nicer looking flower but shorter season .. so I’d have to get both, as I didn’t want loads of Pink flowers I looked at the colours and tried to pick different ones where possible so that would make for some nice mixed vases on the sideboard filling the room with a heady perfume.

Armed with my list I posted on the forum asking about Borders and got a reply almost immediately from Jim (via Betty) saying if I went over he’s have a few that would start me off. Mistake number two! Having softened me up with a cup of tea, Jim did a “George Freestone” like move and showed me all the ones he grew and the list went out of the window and I came away with a collection of scented border cuttings. One down, one to go.

It was about this time I decided that I would get some more late Chrysanth cutting of varieties I fancied growing so looked on Ivor Mace's website and realised he was selling some PF’s so I ordered 9 off him and thought that takes care of that but in a moments madness I mentioned to Betty that I’d got some and thought I might like a few more ... another trip to Dunfield and away I came with a few more ... and 6 pinks to play with! So that’s where I am to date. I’ll try and do a blow by blow account of how I get on and maybe someone will read these and think they might like to follow in my faltering footsteps and who knows I may even show a few but I don’t think the more serious amongst you will have to worry as I’m more of a grower than a shower although I do try and get a few Chrysanths in the local show if possible.

But 1 thing I might try this year is to answer a question for Mr Mace. I grow late flowering spray chryanths and I take the cuttings July 7th and then when they are potted up into the final pots (3ltr) I Black them out with black plastic for 4 weeks or so and this induces the flowers to form. If I have space I might try sticking a spare Carnation in and see what happens.