Friday, 18 November 2011

18.11. Crocuses emerging

Hello, it’s been yet another glorious day in my garden, with lovely sunshine and 17 degrees in the early afternoon. There isn’t an awful lot to do in my garden at this time of year, so a bit of tidying up, picking up dead leaves and cutting off herbaceous plants as they die off is just about it. And taking photos of course. There are always something flowering in my garden, even in the darkest part of the winter, so I can always find something to take pictures of :-)

And today I got a bit of a surprise when looking around for good photo objects – and found lots of crocuses emerging from the ground! I have seen them as early as around Christmas before, in mild winters, but I have never seen them in mid November.

It is not just a few of them sticking up from the ground, I have several hundred crocuses and they all seem to be on their way up. If this mild period continues they might flower by Christmas, but if the temperature drops they simply will just take a pause and continue when it rises again. However, if the process gets as far as to proper flowering and we then get some bad frosty nights, the whole carpet of crocuses will die down in one big heap. Time will show…

And it’s not just the crocuses that has decided to emerge unseasonably early, my daffodils are also on their way! At the moment it’s only the daffodils on the sunny side that have started to surface, but I am sure the shady side will follow suit. The daffodils are equally robust and  unharmed by cold weather as they come up, but they don’t like bad frost when in flower either. They do however take longer to come into flower than the crocuses do, so I don’t think they will flower by Christmas regardless of what weather we will get the next 5 weeks. Starting to emerge in mid November is way too early though, and I have never seen that before for daffodils either, so this is a first for me for both of these early signs of spring.

Here is my experiment making a Bonsai tree again. The plant is a Parthenocisus henryana - Chinese Virginia creeper, and fully mature it reaches 10m tall and 3m spread. My plant kept as a Bonsai is 7 (seven!) years old, and will never grow bigger than this. I have two of these and they started out as cuttings from someone’s garden where this plant was covering a tall fence. I thought it looked so gorgeous in the autumn, when the leaves becomes bright red, so I wanted one for myself, but realised later on that I have nowhere in my garden to put it. The cuttings were therefore just left in the pots, I pruned off the new growth and the long lianas they shoot out every now and then and ended up with a mature plant that slowly stopped growing.

Earlier this year the two cuttings got a proper Bonsai tray each and, being the first time I have ever done this, I could just hope that they would survive the brutal treatment required to get them to fit in the Bonsai trays. Not only have they survived, but look at the gorgeous gnarly trunk I have ended up with, it really looks like a tree! This is the second Bonsai and at this time of the year they both have started to change colour and get more red coloured leaves. I have also deliberately exposed some of the roots, as is normal for Bonsai trees, something I was a bit worried about – didn’t really know if these plants would like to have their roots exposed like this, but it doesn’t seem to bother them one bit :-)

The big test comes surviving the winter in these Bonsai trays, as they are much more shallow than the pots they spent their first 7 years in. The Parthenocisus are spending their life outdoors, and I never take them inside, even in the middle of the winter. They shed their leaves eventually, and put on new leaves in the spring. I really hope they will survive as Bonsais, they make a perfect display on my tables and thrive both in sun and shade.

I have ‘borrowed’ a photo from the Internet, from a web-site called www.dyg.ie, just to show you what a Parthenocisus henryana - Chinese Virginia creeper actually looks like, as mine are very far from what you would normally see. They can cover a tall building in just a few years and looks very impressive especially in the autumn when the leaves are gone red. Parthenocisus henryana was first discovered in central China in the mid 1880's by the famous plants man, Augustine Henry, hence the name ‘henryana’ which he used to add to many of the plants he discovered. I still think I prefer this one as a Bonsai, I am a bit chuffed that my first attempt to make a Bonsai has been so successful, and I think I should probably have a go at some other plants too. Shame it takes so may years to see a result…

OK, I think that’s it for tonight, this week-end I will be working on the autumn collection of my garden photos for my web-site so I will give you a link in my next post. Until next time, take care.

2 comments:

  1. Hello,

    Tig here from www.dyg.ie - glad that you found the Parthenocissus henryana image, taken at a house just down the road from us in Ashford, Co Wicklow. Incidentally, Augustine Henry was a Dubliner, and we worked on the garden of his house there where many of the original specimens that he collected are still growing beautifully.

    P. henryana is a gorgeous plant that seems to grow very well here in Ireland.

    I like your bonsais of it - something thta would never have crossed by mind.

    Tig Mays

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  2. Thanks for your comment, and thanks for allowing me to use your photo, much appreciated :-) If you ever start a customer gallery on your web-site, feel free to borrow the photos of my Bonsais to show your customers what you can do with the beautiful Parthenocissus henryana.

    Would have loved to see Augustine Henry’s garden, but I don’t travel anymore due to health problems. I do however watch every gardening related program I come across on the TV and thoroughly enjoy that.

    Thanks again for getting in touch.

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