It’s time to empty the orphanage

This is probably the saddest time of the year in gardening terms because you have to empty the orphanage. The orphanage of course is the potting bench where I have raised young cuttings and seedlings from way back late last year up until March. At one time the orphanage (potting bench to those with hard hearts) was full of hundreds of little plants waiting to be chosen and go out into the garden of life. Of course all the pretty and strong ones were chosen first. The less pretty, awkward, slightly less abled and downright ugly ones were left. I used to try and keep their spirits up by telling them they were unconventionally good looking and what counted was character, but that only worked for a few days before they were all depressed again. At one point I blamed the EU and its regulations for them not being chosen – consequently all my orphans are Brexiteers.

When Campoverde Open Garden Day came along and my garden was open to hundreds of visitors, I prepared all the orphans specially, everyone was watered fed and with new top dressing. Whilst business was brisk on the plant sale stall, at the end of the day there was a great deal of wilted leaves and sad fronds. I reminded them of our motto “no plant left behind” which I had stolen from the US Marines but they weren’t to know.

Oh, but don’t think we didn’t have good times. To cheer everybody up I would go down in the evening and sit up on the potting bench beside them all and tell them about famous orphans who had done well; Harry Potter, Snow White and Superman were just some of our favourites. But everyone’s absolute favourite was Orphan Annie. Sometimes, on Saturday nights when no one else was around I would take my IPad down to the orphanage sit on the bench and we would all watch Annie the movie. I would beat out the time to the music on the potting bench while we all sang along to “the sun will come out tomorrow”. At the end of the evening we would all sing a rousing rendition of “heads, shoulders, knees and toes” with me doing all the actions. They of course didn’t sing “knees and toes” that would be stupid, they sang “leaves and fronds”.

Anyway, the point of all this is that everything has come to a head. My wife, whom most of you know as Cruella has gone to England to visit our son. Before she left she gave me an ultimatum along the lines of “if those plants aren’t gone by the time I get back I am throwing them out”. Luckily the orphans didn’t hear this. To be honest if she had said ” it’s those plants or me”, it would have been a close run thing but I  suppose the Church would miss her.

So I have had to spring into action and make room for the orphans by clearing a space for every orphan even in inappropriate places – remember our motto “no plant left behind”. The photo below shows the orphanage before we began “operation Annie”.

The orphanage

16th August: Things I have been doing lately.

🛏 Tidy up your beds. To make room for new plants you need to create space by tidying up and clearing out some of your flowering annuals; especially if you have harvested the seed. In my case that is mainly Marigolds, Margeurites and Carnations. If you have been assiduously deadheading all summer as I have told you, then you will have enjoyed a succession of blooms on all your plants. But, even this has to come to an end, once you have more than 50/60% dead flowers on your plant then you are into the law of diminishing returns and the plant may need to come out. The first photo below shows a bed of Marigolds where it is all over. The second photo shows a bed where daily deadheading will give you at least a further two weeks of blooms. The first lot came out to make room for the orphans. The third photo shows the Marigolds happily saying goodbye from the compost bin.

Margeurites are different, they are not really annuals and they don’t get that end of summer dead look of annuals. Instead they get very leggy and look quite messy. You have two options here. Firstly, you can cut them back quite severely to about 20cm; as long as they are shooting from the base then they should come back for late Summer early Spring. Secondly, you can just take them out, especially as you have the seeds anyway (I hope). The first photo below shows an overgrown border of Margeurites that look messy. The second photo shows the same border with all the Margeurites cut back severely and making room for orphans.

And finally a photo of some of the orphans planted out. I know this is the wrong place for them, but you should have seen their little faces when I told them they were going to be planted and that their long wait was over; everyone burst into a spontaneous chorus of “the sun will come out tomorrow”. The potting bench is a lonely place now, but it was the right thing to do.

The Sun did come out!


Author: spanishgarden

I live in both Spain and the UK and am a very keen gardener. I garden every day and enjoy sharing all the secrets that God allows us to discover in our gardens.

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