Shrinking Violet

Latest posts by Shrinking Violet


Posted: 06/11/2013 at 20:05

Just a quick update:  the bulbs have been very healthy and have grown well.  The two more active ones are now in flower.  One bulb is in bud, and the other two are behaving as I would have expected ie leaf growth showing good signs of developing flowers for Christmas or thereabouts.

I have to say that the actual flowers are much smaller than I had anticipated and the perfume not as strong as I expected.  But at least I tried!

(hyacinths next year, methinks)

Bonfire night memories or traditions.

Posted: 06/11/2013 at 19:57

All these memories brought back so many for me, too.  We used to save up our fireworks, going down to the local newsagent each week when we got our pocket money, and buy some more fireworks to add to our stash.  These were kept in an old biscuit tin under the bed!  OMG.  what would Elf'n'safetymake of that???

Dad would always get the Standard half-a-crown box ("Light up the sky with Standard Fireworks" - that was the ad, I think) and when he was a bit flush, a couple of extra rockets and Catherine wheels.  Of course, the wheels usually came to nothing - they whizzed like mad and didn't revolve, or they whizzed too much and came off the nail into the garden, to our shrieks and consternation!

And what about the Jumping Jacks?  Now they really were an accident waiting to happen as they hopped and fizzed randomly.  And my brother (a research chemist in later years) would take the bangers and split them for the gunpowder to make "super bangers" which, fizzing and stuffed into the dustbins, would explode with huge force and blow the lids high into the air.  No wonder safety measures were introduced (and it's amazing that he still has all ten fingers and no scars in spite of his stupidity!).

Hot jacket spuds were a must, and mother used to make what she called "Hunters' Cake",  I can't remember what it actually tasted like, but it was always standard fare for us.

Family members would join us, and the menfolk were in charge of the bonfire and the fireworks;  women were consigned to more culinary endeavours!

And, yes - sparklers to write your name in the cold air;  rockets launched from milk bottles and guys made from cast-off shirts and trousers. 

Halloween isn't a patch on it!


Posted: 15/09/2013 at 20:38

Thanks Dove.  I've replanted them.  Two had extremely vigorous root systems (hence their heaving themselves out of the bowl) and the others were, perhaps, being stunted as a result.  I looked again at the Sarh Raven tutorial, and I hadn't done anything wrong - but perhaps these two bulbs were much more aggressive (can bulbs be aggressive?) and causing problems. 

Anyway - the deed is done, and I hope that the outcome will be a positive and fragrant display in due course!



Posted: 08/09/2013 at 21:15


Every year I swear I shall plant some PaperWhite narcissi for Christmas - and every year I miss the boat.  So this year, as soon as I saw the bulbs in the local GC, I bought them, and planted them. 

I anticipated that they would need to be planted rather like hyacinths, and the on-line tutorial by Sarah Raven seemed to back that up.  But . . . . . . .

Happy though the bulbs may be, and early though the initial growing phase may be, a couple of them seem to be lifting themselves (heaving themselves!)  out of the bowl.  The roots look to be strong (too strong, perhaps). 

So - should I let them do their stuff regardless?  Or quickly re-plant them, nose up, but with deeper root runs?

Suggestions gratefully received!


Posted: 18/08/2013 at 22:41

I had the same problem Berkley.  Having had difficulty with carrots in the open ground in the past, I sowed Early Nantes in deep troughs.  They have been regularly (and copiously) watered, especially during hot, dry weather.  So exactly what the problem is, I don't know - but the roots that have a hard core have the hard centre cut out.  The rest of them, some not as large as I would have liked, are just scrubbed, topped and tailed and quickly steamed.  Had some for dinner today (roast lamb, with fresh mint sauce and French and runner beans from the garden: delicious) and the flavour was superb, even if the odd shapes of some of the carrots would have been frowned on by the MasterChef judges!  But then - I grow for taste not presentation.


Posted: 18/08/2013 at 20:32

I had one that did that - and I cut the shoots off at an angle (a bit like a heel cutting) and potted them up  Result - new plants from old, with much more vigour. 


Posted: 18/08/2013 at 20:28

Chilli Focus is excellent  - my chillies are all doing extremely well.  As are all of us, incidently!  OH wrapped some CF and put it on the Christmas Tree as a "silly" present.  Trouble was, I didn't have my glasses on, so I added it to a Chilli con Carne, thinking it was culinary rather than horticultural!  It didn't do anything for the taste (!) but, thankfully, didn't kill us, either.  I had assumed it was a bit like Tabasco - and hadn;t read the label.    (I won't make the same mistake twice!!)

Fuschia Cutting's

Posted: 04/08/2013 at 23:28

Everyone has a favourite method - so it's worth trying a few of the suggestions.  Re the oasis - make sure that, when you cut it into blocks, you don't cut the roots themselves - so leave space between the cuttings.  (Or cut into blocks about 2" cubed before popping the cuttings in!).

Hope you are successful with one or another of the suggestions. 


Weed or Plant identification

Posted: 03/08/2013 at 19:13

When we bought in a lot of topsoil (cost a lot of money from Travis & Perkins) we had a lot of weeds, just like your photo.  I kept pulling them out and gradually got on top of the problem, but it was a real nuisance.  Incidentally, the topsoil was pretty poor in terms of nutrients, and after one season it needed a lot of extra compost etc.  Given the cost, I was rather disappointed in the quality. 

Fuschia Cutting's

Posted: 03/08/2013 at 19:09

Another way that can be successful is to use florists' Oasis - the green "foam" that is soaked in water.  Keep it moist and put the cuttings in a narrow hole that you've made in the foam and they will root in no time.  When you're ready, cut the foam into blocks around the new roots and pot each plant up in a pot of compost.  The foam will help to hold the moisture and the compost will give the burst of nutrients that are necessary.  I've never had a failure with this method at this time of year!  Oh, and I do cover the cuttings - usually with a clear plastic dome, although a plastic bag, held above the cuttings so that they aren't compromised with moisture collecting on the bag, will do as well.

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