Wednesday 26 June 2013

Planting up the circular steps & tricky pests

Tues 28th May
Weather: 10 - 11 °C. Rainy
We had the exciting job of planting up the circular step beds with succulents. The spring bedding was of forget-me-nots (Mysotis 'Royal Blue') and Tulipa Cairo. This hadn't worked so satisfyingly because it has been incredibly windy these days so the tulips had been blown to shot not long after flowering. Maybe shorter ones for next year will be better.

We tried to work with Fergus creatively in how we laid out the succulents. Before doing that we really worked the beds into a fine tilth, as these plants need as much drainage aid in this country as possible. We then laid the plants out when we were happy with their positioning, and tried to plant them in as delicately as possible to not compact the soil. This was no mean feat when the soil although heavily gritted is clay and it being very wet.

Weds 29th May
Weather: 11 - 12°C, possibly peaking to 14°C, a bit better.
I had to deal with a series of pests today. First spider mites in the hothouse, these come about when it is hot & dry, so I damped everything down to try and increase the humidity, including the leaves to help create an unfavourable enviroment for them. They are mainly attacking the dahlias. Siew Lee the deputy head gardener has put some biological control in there already, and I tried to wash off the worse of the mites. Hopefully a bit of both will help get rid of them.

Lupinus riddled with lupin aphids Macrosiphum albifrons

A type of Lupin aphid has also been attacking our Lupinus arboreus, L. polyphyllus 'The Governor' & 'Chandelier', these are much bigger than the average aphid and are white/grey or green when filled with plant sap. We tried to culturally control these by squishing them, but there are actually a lot of them so they may have to be sprayed.

Then I potted up some Lychnis arkwrightii 'Vesuvius' - with a name like this it does make you curious what the plant would look like. Some swallows kept me company as I did this in the soil shed - it would seem that they come to nest here annually and dart like a bullet in and out of the door, but quite happy to share the space.

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