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Rebuilding the Collection

April 19, 2010

Plant-wise, it’s not been  a good weekend. Spider mites on all sorts of stuff (particularly bad on the Cyperuses (umbrella sedges), which were just growing so nicely, and recovering from being cat-chewed), mildew on the Cissus rhombifolia (grape ivy)

And closer inspection of my ivy window boxes revealed they’re all so badly frost damaged to be as good as dead.

They were still looking deceptively green…

Hedera helixAt least until I pruned them back, three weeks ago…

Hedera helix

And even then, the stems looked green and alive.

But this weekend, I finally lost my patience, because they were still showing no sign of starting to grow (and ivies in other places do).

Hedera helix, Tulipa tarda

A sad sight, right?

Also, I needed to get the new plants off the balcony, so I emptied out one of the flower boxes and found the roots looking brown and dead.

They might still recover, but I figure they may as well do that somewhere under the shrubs in the yard (where, for lack of a compost bin, I tend to dump my dead plants and old soil – I hate having to throw perfectly good organic material in the garbage).

But I’d known for a while that I’d need to do something about the way these window boxes were set up.

I’d planted every ivy I found into them, all jumbled together with little regard to how they would look good, let alone to pot sizes. And they were squeezed together rather too tightly. Not to mention that the way they were all tangled up together made it impossible to tell how many varieties I actually had, or if any might have died.

So I’m doing things differently now. Planting every variety I buy in identical 9 cm clay pots (if the original plants are too big, I’ll take cuttings and use those), then plant them – pots and all – in the window boxes. That way, I figure, I can relatively easily keep track of how many I have, and remove dead plants. And they can grow roots out through the drainage hole, if they want.

Hedera helix

Looks much better, right?

The plants in the too-large pots were also temporarily moved to the windowsill until I’ve propagated them all – then I’ll give them away.

Hedera helix

When I’m re-planting this box (which is a bit larger than the already-finished one above), I’m planning to leave some space for annual flowers – I’d like to have something colourful outside my window.

Right now, there is a rare bit of colour as I’ve got a couple of Tulipa tardas blooming – here with gratuitous kitty:

Gandalf and greenery

See that blurry greenish thing back behind the two tulip blooms? I’m reasonably sure that railing planter also contains ivy. I wonder if they’ve got interesting varieties…

There’s another collection that will need rebuilding… I’m planning to give away a few hundred books, which makes my bookcases look scarily empty:

I’ve had this particular bookcase since I was ten or so, and I can’t remember it ever looking so empty. Scary, scary, scary.

But what’s the point of keeping books I won’t read again? Might as well try to sell them or swap them.

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