Northern Exposure

Triumphs and failures on a window ledge.

Something Borrowed April 21, 2009

Filed under: bulbs,Colour,Flower,Spring,Summer — northernwindowgardener @ 8:46 am
Tags: , ,

The Last TulipI don’t tend to refer to articles in the press and online media as I’m sure many people have enough of their own sources to be getting on with, and generally there aren’t that many articles that reference window boxes. But The Telegraph had a short interesting article in their online addition. Titled “Small Spaces” it shares the woes of the time between sparkling spring blooms and summer’s on-rush of colour.

There’s some pretty basic advice on pulling up the old bulbs – great information for me, a bit obvious for the seasoned gardener. When you’re just starting out you crave this kind of pedantic, step-by-step guide on how to do something.

The bit I found really interesting though is that the writer pops along to a nursery expecting to pick up a bunch of window box ready replacement summer bedding plants, only to be told that it’s been cold and they won’t be ready for another couple of weeks. I can only guess that the nursery she visited take a more natural route to growing their plants.

In the garden centres that I’ve recently visited their bedding plants have been well advanced with some coming into flower. Comparing their geraniums with my own, which I happen to think are coming along well, it’s like looking at two different species. If I was less aware I’d think I’d done something wrong but they were sown early and have grown consistently.

The only conclusion I can come to is that the garden centre varieties have been forced along, presumably in energy-intensive indoor nurseries, in order to look so good this early in the season. Which then makes me wonder if they would really be a good purchase this early in the season when the night temperatures can still get decidedly chilly. That’s without getting into the environmental debate over how they’ve got to this stage so quickly.

If I hadn’t been growing from seed this year then I doubt I would have known any better and my head would certainly be turned by the lush foliage and multiple buds of the garden centre offerings and would have been quite happy to plant them up. This time though I found myself turning my nose up at them and dismissing them as un-natural show offs.

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3 Responses to “Something Borrowed”

  1. Flighty Says:

    There is a difference between garden centres and garden nurseries. Many gardeners generally avoid the first and only visit the latter.
    It’s clearly from this post that you’re aware of the pitfalls that we all suffer from when we’re seduced into buying good looking plants!

  2. Glo Says:

    Well, thanks to your wise words, I closed my eyes while walking past the blooming plants for sale when I went shopping today. I thought, “No, I won’t even look…until the weather is ready for them…” I was quite proud of myself…

  3. Last year as a very novice gardener I wouldn’t have (and didn’t) think twice about picking up the prettiest specimens in the garden centre. This year about 80% of my boxes will (hopefully) be filled with plants I’ve grown from seed. Cheaper (maybe), simpler (no carrying lots of trays on the bus) and very satisying.
    I want to try some trailing petunias which I couldn’t find seed for so they will be coming straight from the garden centre – when the time is right!

    Glo – good for you! I might not have resisted quite so well!


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