Monthly Archives: April 2023

House plants and cuttings

I never think a house can feel like a home without house plants. The rooms tend to look bare without fresh  living foliage.  They can be incorporated into a room design or just dotted about as you please, as long as they have sufficient light and the room stays at a  temperature that suits the plant.  There is no point trying to grow a fern that requires a moist environment in a hot, dry centrally heated room as it just won’t be happy.  I have plants in every room of the house but I sometimes have to swap them around  rooms as the seasons change depending on their individual likes.  As they grow larger they may need re-potting or even split and re-potted.  This is a great opportunity to make new plants to give away to friends and family or to charities to sell on.  I take lots of cuttings from large plants, split the peace lilies many times to make new plants and pot-on the chicks from the sempervivums to sell at Duddingston Kirk Plant Sale.  I have been given a few plants (that have needed a bit of TLC) recently from friends and I am waiting to see if they come through or not.  Steph gave me an Easter cactus that was very old and had split leaves dead leaves,old woody leaves etc so I gave that a good trim and potted up the cuttings.  I don’t have a before photo but I did take a snap after I had given it a haircut.

Steph’s Easter cactus after it’s trim
Easter cactus in bud
Steph’s Easter cactus in bud

Steph also gave me palm which had been very neglected so I  trimmed off the dead leaves and re-potted it and it is looking much better.

Steph's palm before a trim
Steph’s palm before
Steph's palm after a trim
Steph’s palm after

I have been given a few plants of Kate’s (who passed away recently) and it was quite a difficult decision to make, whether or not to alter anything about them or leave them as they were.  The Echeveria hybrid was looking very leggy and distressed so I cut the heads off it and a few single leaves too.  These were left to dry out until the ends calloused over, then were planted in a free draining compost mix.  I have left the rooted plant stumps in the  hope that it may get new growth from the stumps bottom part.  The leggy bit in the middle I have just placed on compost to see if it will root from the stem (just an experiment).  Hopefully one of these will take and I can keep it going.  She also had a Christmas cactus which was growing mainly in one direction so I trimmed off a  few bits and left them to dry for a few days and potted then up, and hopefully I can get some new plants from it.  Kate’s Petrocosmia had been very over-watered so I re-potted that and it is trying to dry out, I took some damaged leaves off it but I don’t know if it will survive.  I will take a photo if it survives.  I really hope I can keep them all alive for Kate’s memory.

Kate's Echevaria before a trim
Kate’s Echevaria hybrid before
Kate's Echevaria hybrid stumps after being chopped
Kate’s Echevaria hybrid stumps
Kate's Echevaria small head potted up
Kate’s Echevaria hybrid small head potted-up
Kate's Echevaria large head potted up
Kate’s Echevaria hybrid large head potted-up
Kate's Christmas cactus trimmed
Kate’s Christmas cactus trimmed
Kate's Petrocosmia begonifolia before
Kate’s Petrocosmia begonifolia before

I am loving me Aeonium Voodoo just now as the colours are just fantastic!  The top of the stem is bright green and these leaves go such a deep, rich, burgundy which contrast beautifully with the lime centre. I don’t know when I should take the head off to replant  – I may leave it another year or so.

Aeonium Voodoo head in summer colours deep burgundy
Aeonium Voodoo head
Aeonium Voodoo plant
Aeonium Voodoo plant
Aeonium Voodoo under leaves
Aeonium Voodoo under leaves
Aeonium Voodoo stem and leaf joints vivid colours
Aeonium Voodoo stem with leaf joints

And recently purchased are these fabulous living stones: Lithops.  They can be tricky to grow so I am going to have to be very careful with my watering of them.  I have potted them up in a very gritty, free draining compost and have given them one watering so far.  Fingers crossed I can keep them alive.

Lithops different colours

I do have a few air plants that I bought in 2020 but so far they have not flowered for me.  As soon as they I will post a picture.

Just a few of the cuttings that will be on sale at Duddingston Kirk Garden Club plant sale on Saturday.


Mid April in the garden

Strange weather again, one minute we are basking in warm sunshine, the next we are down to freezing.  I have been trying to harden off some cuttings but don’t really want to put them out in this icy wind just in case they get a shock so they are staying undercover for a few days until it warms a little.  Of course I just ordered the vine weevil nematodes the other day, but now I will have to keep them in the fridge until we have had a spell of rain and it warms a bit. You can’t apply them to dry soil as they need moisture to move around in the soil and find the weevil grub.  Most of the narcissi did well this year, except the Segovia and Ice wing.  Only 3 Segovia came up and two of those had their flowers eaten before they opened (exactly the same as last year).  No Ice wing came up at all.  The good news is that the narcissi Actaea poeticus did really well.  Last year most of them were eaten by snails or slugs either before they flowered or once they flowered.  They look great beside the berberis as the colours of the eye of the narcicci are almost the same as the berberis flowers. The tulips Mystic Van Eijk are still looking good as are the Erythroniums.  The cherry blossom have just gone over now and will soon be blown away in the wind.  It is too cold for me outside so I will concentrate on my indoor plants this week.

view of the garden from the patio April 2023
View from the patio April 2023
View of the stumpery bed in April 2023
Stumpery bed April 2023
View of the stumpery April 2023
Stumpery April 2023
View of the raised bed April 2023
Raised bed April 2023
orangey yellow Berberis alonside Narcissi Actaea Poeticus
Berberis and Narcissi Actaea Poeticus

Long handled tool for wheelchair gardening.

 Long handled tools – are they worth it?  There are so many tools to choose from and it mainly comes down to individual preference.   You can get long handled adult tools, children’s tools, telescopic handled, adjustable handled, or even no handled – just tool heads only.  I bought a load of different long handled tools thinking they would help me reach further into the garden to work, however, some of them were just plain useless.  Some of the children’s tools were robustly made and do actually help when using the rake, hoe, and little fork.  The spade was more difficult to use.  I could use them all in the shallow border but not so much in the deeper border.  The heads are all small  so jobs like raking could take longer than if you used a normal sized rake.  The weight of the children’s tools were not too bad but as they had wooden handles they do have some weight in them.  I still found digging the most difficult job as it is much easier being above the tool and using your weight to push down (or your foot if you can) which would often mean getting right into the flower bed.  This is ok when planting out a new bed but not when it is an established bed.  The lengths of the handles of the children’s tools are between 81cm and 98cm long.

The tools on the right of the photo are the ones I use all the time: the Draper long handled tools and an oscillating hoe.  The Draper long handled fork and trowel are great because they are stainless steel and are quite light and easy to use.  I like the T shaped handle as I can hook the handle over my shoulder and have the tool part resting between my knees so I can carry them up and down the ramp easily.  The T handle also  means I can pull the tool from the earth easily plus it gives you something to push on.  The handle lengths of the Draper tools are around 72cm.

Th oscillating hoe came as just the head only.  Harry attached it to an old broom handle (86cm long).  I find that I can push and pull it fairly easily.  It is most useful when working between rows of plants. You could always just shorten any full length garden too handles that are the broom handle type.

You can get tools that are classed as midi-handled which would be around 60cm long.   Maybe they would be just right for using in a raised bed from a wheelchair.

long handled hardening tools
My long handled tools

 You can get a telescopic handle that fits onto a variety of tool heads.  This one I bought years ago and I find that I really only use the small spring rake head.  What I find very annoying with this particular telescopic mechanism is that it doesn’t stay put while you are working with the tool.  You twist the handle the pull it out to the length you require the twist it to lock it in place.  It just untwists while you work.  Also on mine the middle telescopic part has stuck.  It is great in theory but not great in practice.  It is quite light to use and should go from 55cm – 120cm and I use it mainly to gently scrape dead leaves and debris from plants.

multi head tools with telescopic handle
Telescopic multi-head tool

The adjustable handled net (PondXpert) that I have for my pond is great as the mechanism is at the head end so when you screw unscrew it and pull it to the length you require, then screw it back tight, it stays fixed in position and won’t budge until you unscrew it again.  I keep is shorter when scooping leaves or duck weed from the front of the pond and longer when I need to reach the back of the pond.  The longer you have the tool, the more strain it puts on you hands and wrists (unless you can support it with your other hand).  This one extends to 1.8M and you can get different sizes and shapes of net that fit the handle. Ideally I would like to use it with some kind of arm support.  I know you can get some long handled tools that you can use a support cuff with (PETA Easy-grip tools and arm support cuff) although I have never tried these and some look very awkward to use.

adjustable handle for pond net
Adjustable handled small pond net