It has been a busy time on many fronts in the past week; not only in the garden but in our Church and life generally. Anyway here is a litany of the triumphs and disasters I have been dealing with all of which are I believe of significant importance to humanity. My wife still thinks I am a deluded idiot with compost for brains.
1st – 7th May, or thereabouts: Things I Have been doing.
🌺 How not to treat Orchids. About a year ago some very nice friends were moving house and gave me an Orchid that they could not take with them. When the flower went I decided to completely renovate the plant rather than just opting to cut off the flower and hope that it would renew. The basic idea with Orchids is if you want to reshape and renew the plant, then after flowering cut the flower stem right back to the base. With care and attention, about a year later you should be rewarded with new flowering stems. I have duly spent almost the last year carefully watering the Orchid from the base weekly and lately feeding only the finest foods that only a royal Orchid would deserve.
The outcome is that I have been rewarded with two strong budding stems. What normally happens is that these stems will come outside sideways from under the leaves, and if you want upright traditional Japanese Orchids you need to train them up sticks. If you are patient what you should do is tie soft gardening twine to the stems and gradually over a few weeks pull them towards the sticks before securing them with ties. If you are an idiot with compost for brains and deludedly believe you can bend them in one go then what happens is they snap and you have wasted a year.
The photos (below) show that I fall into the latter category. From this you will see that I successfully bent one stem and then like an idiot managed to break the other. Learn lessons from idiocy, gardening takes time and we need patience, otherwise we end up with wasting a year.
🌲 Making paths in the wild places in your garden. Many of us in Spain have quite large wild areas in our garden. You have two choices with these. You can either try and reshape these into part of your formal garden, or, you can leave them as they are with minimal changes. I prefer the latter approach as I like to see wild flowers growing in informal areas. However, you do need paths through the wild area to allow you to move around, and rather than paving these with slabs or gravel, I prefer a more natural approach of shredding tree and branch cuttings. Once shredded this makes an ideal and naturalistic setting for your wild garden. See photos below of some my shredded labour and then forming a pathway.
🌴 Pull up Palm seedlings. If you have palm trees, and most of us do in Spain, then the likelihood is that they are growing on soil areas or more likely stone gravel. This is not a problem with Phoenix Palms (the ones with the long serrated branches) as the fruit from these palms are dates. However, if you have Washingtonian Palms (the ones with the fan type leaves at the end of the branch), then the fruit from these is a small dark round and sweet kernel type seed; which my Labradors look forward to as they supplement their diet by hoovering them up like currants.
From a gardening point of views theses seeds are tenacious at setting seed in your gravel, and once underway, unless you catch them quickly, will become as difficult to remove as Lonnie Donnegan’s dustman old mans boots. To detect them before they get underway, lookout for what looks like an innocuous, but well shaped blade of grass happily growing in your gravel. Beneath this innocuous exterior lurks an undercover operation that makes the Mafia look like sissies. The small kernel seed will quickly throw out pathway roots that will drive down into your soil to form a tap root, this supported by peripheral roots will take a Velociraptor type grip on your soil that will give you a hernia trying to remove it unless you get it quickly. See the photo below. You have been warned get out there and inspect under your palm trees.
🌹 Reshaping roses. Regular readers of this blog will know that I have developed a love for roses and I am now growing quite a few of them. However, all roses need reshaping and sometimes you cannot leave it until the annual prune. One of my roses in particular “Blythe Spirit” is so prolific that at this time of year I have to deadhead it twice a day, and the branches are so heavy with flowers they bend to the ground. To bring the branches back up and reshape you need to make a cut to an upward facing leaf area, (see photo below). If you don’t do this it will continually head South and all you will see is the underside of your roses.