Out of season colour is a winter bonus

Delphinium Galahad offered a second bloom.

Delphinium Galahad offered a second bloom.

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One concession to warmth in our cold greenhouse is the propagating box equipped with a soil-warming cable.

This is thermostatically controlled at 15C, and it’s amazing what can be rooted and germinated.

It is presently filled with leaf cuttings of Begonia Rex and streptocarpus cultivars. They’re well rooted, with shoots of young plants, but we’ve reached a crossroad in terms of care. If I were to transfer them to pots now they’d require more space and a similar level of heat. The solution is to leave well alone, turn the thermostat down a notch and nurse them through winter.

In November, the greenhouse peach tree surprised us with a second display of bloom, two dozen flowers in all. February is the normal time for this when we hand-pollinate with a small brush, but on this occasion all was left to nature. Subsequent cold weather has ended the show. It’s natural to wonder if this will affect the flower production and harvest next year, but experience dictates it will not.

Roses and other border plants, encouraged by unseasonable weather, were blooming out of sync, but a few nights at minus 2C has restored normality. There are still a few blooms on a New Dawn climbing rose. Such colour is to be treasured while it lasts and once the pink flowers are spent we can complete the pruning.

Tall spikes of white Delphinium Galahad have similarly offered a winter bonus. The main period of bloom ended in late August when the foliage was cut to ground level, but as often happens with this perennial, mild weather encouraged a second coming. With conditions so unpredictable and flower buds about to open, we couldn’t bear to see them ruined so have cut the stems and transferred them to a vase indoors.