Bikes in the greenhouse? No, thanks…

November 22nd, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 1 Comment

Chrysanth Pennine Series (left) and Mayford Perfection Series

Things in the garden tend to look a bit bleak at the end of November, especially this year. The rain, yes the rain, not only blighted some people’s lives but kept us out of the garden and off the soil. And there are so few plants that flower naturally at this time of year that – but there are some, my Pennine Series chrysanths (left, above) are still hanging on.

Many of us grow tomatoes in a cold greenhouse, and this last summer proved that outdoor toms don’t always do as well as we’d like, so growing them in an unheated greenhouse is a very good idea. But, when the last toms are picked, do we leave the greenhouse empty till it’s seed sowing time in spring? Do we use it to store the fair weather bicycle? Or do we use it for December flowering chrysanths?

The thing about the Mayford Perfection Series (above) is that they flower late, from about now onwards when we really need some colour, but they don’t need to be under cover until just before the first frost. So we can grow them in pots outside all summer – remembering, of course, to keep them well watered and fed – and when the tomatoes are over we can remove the plants to the compost heap, clean up the greenhouse and move the pots of chrysanths in.

You don’t need a heater, just open everything up on sunny days to let plenty of air through and close things down when it’s cold. Your rooted cuttings will arrive in May, pot them into 7cm or 9cm pots, keep them in the greenhouse for a few weeks and they’ll grow strongly. In June move them into 20cm pots and stand them outside in a sunny place, keep them watered and fed and provide some support. Bring them in when the first frost threatens. Each plant will give you four or five well branched stems of beautiful flowers – and they’ll still be going at Christmas.

One Response to “Bikes in the greenhouse? No, thanks…”

  1. Patrick Lydon says:

    Greetings Graham Rice!
    I have recently been put onto your work, both in book form and web presence, and I am delighted with what I see. As a native of Massachusetts who emigrated to Ireland 48 years ago to become an organic vegetable grower with a strong interest in annual flowers, we have a lot of common interest!
    I have long seen a huge value in hardy annuals which I believe have been widely neglected in their potential to be mixed into complex situations with perennials, shrubs, half-hardy plants. I have grown up to 80 different cultivars at one time, partly for picking and partly for visual enjoyment, but they have been direct sown in a field drill beside rows of vegetables. I now want to experiment with growing hardy annuals, hopefully by commission, for sale to people to transplant in their own gardens.
    But after a bit of experimentation, I realise there are challenges — different rates of growth, root disturbance, too-luscious growth in protection, best dates for transplanting, etc. I would be really interested to know if there is available guidance for the propagation and sale of things like: Linum, godetia/clarkia, escholtzia varieties, Shirley poppies, anagallis, lavatera, calendula varieties, coreopsis, viscera, and many, many more.
    I’d be happy to become a customer of Mr. Fothergill’s if I had good advice on particularly good varieties and most of all the methods for successful propagation and management.

    Three cheers for your great work!

    Patrick Lydon

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Is one of our best known gardening writers. A graduate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Graham was previously Gardening Correspondent of The Observer.
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