Trial and Error

Note to self – ‘must get better at this hardening off lark‘. Now that it’s substantially warmer both day and night,  I mistakenly thought if I transferred my young plants from my conservatory to my plastic greenhouse for a few nights and then left them out on my garden table for a few more nights, that should do it. However I soon realised all was not well as they started to look a bit pale in parts and crumbly round the edges – including, horror of horrors, my verbena bonariensis. Having now read round the subject it seems the process is more of a hokey cokey activity ie in out, in out, but without the ‘shake it all about‘ of course. It seems I should have put them in my plastic greenhouse for a few days and nights, then put them out during the day and back in at night, the whole process taking as much as a fortnight. Anyway I think I’ve saved most of them – although my morning glory is looking a bit suspect….

Here I must digress to tell you that I have clearly led a sheltered life. When I told  my daughter Rosy that the morning glory was looking a bit limp, she seemed taken aback. “Mum that’s too much information!” Once she realised I was puzzled and I had clarified I was talking about a plant,  she explained that “morning glory” is a name given to early morning erections experienced by men! I was horrified, my mind was racing.  How many people had I imparted this news to over the past week? What had they thought? Were they oblivious like me, or were they chuckling heartily behind my back and regailing the story to all and sundry? After over 60 years on this earth how could this have bypassed me. I looked up the proper name for the morning glory plant  – it’s “Ipomoea” – but I keep forgetting it. Anyway one of the plants, which is little more than a straggly stem with one leaf left on it, has somehow managed to produce a solitary flower!

As mentioned earlier in the year, having become familiar with the poem Bernard and Cerinthe, I thought I would try my hand at growing some Cerinthes from seed. These haven’t turned out quite as envisaged. Again with belated research I realise I should have pinched them out. To be honest I had very little idea what they should look like. The seed packet shows a close up of some flowers and there is no mention of pinching out in the instructions. It was only when I saw a photo in Garden News recently – Carol Klein standing proudly next to her pots of Cerinthes – that I realised mine are just wrong. Instead of being bushy they look more like triffids. However the flowers are beautiful so I’ve reclassified them as trailing plants for pots and hanging baskets. 

Poor Captain Sir Tom – he is finally producing some buds, but  having rid himself of greenfly, he now has a touch of black spot. I am carefully picking off his affected appendages rather than resorting to chemicals. Another war I am continuing to wage is against slugs and snails. I am using copious quantities of copper tape and Grazers spray – all harmless, even to the slugs and snails – they just don’t like the taste of the spray and apparently are repelled by copper because of the reaction between the mucous produced by the slug or snail and the copper – that’s all those slimy trails to you and me. The ads say the copper tape can also look attractive – obviously not the way I put it on! These are some of my ‘weapons without destruction’.

I did read a somewhat macabre reader’s tip in Garden News – instead of buying cane toppers to stop you poking your eyes out, he uses snail shells! Hopefully they’re empty ones he’s found lying around the garden, but it does bring to mind those old sketches of heads on stakes on London Bridge!

My courgette plants are flowering and one mini courgette has made an appearance (they are supposed to be small by the way) – although when I look at it I get a flashback to my morning glory episode! One of my courgette plants has its stem bandaged with insulating tape because it split – it’s still growing though, so there’s hope yet. I have counted the number of flowers on my patio raspberry and black currant plants – they total 22 between them. I also have 2 strawberry plants in pots – I can see 15 strawberries developing – it’s not exactly going to be a feast when they ripen, but I will savour every one.  Carol Klein recently gave us a tip regarding basil. “Buy a supermarket basil – they never last long because they consist of numerous plants all fighting for space – break it down into a number of plants” she said. Not one to pass up a bargain, I couldn’t resist – I now have 23 individual basil  plants – I love basil but …. I am gradually giving them away and I guess I need to start making pesto!

And finally – the ceanothus and wisteria have fought back against Jack! The final photo is of the wisteria in the dark, but I really included it because I thought the sky was so beautiful that evening.

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  1. Belinda, this has made me laugh out loud – I have also been on this planet for 58 years and didn’t realise the phrase Morning Glory could be misused in such a way. It does appear though that gardening is ripe for euphemistic abuse – as you say in your post ‘he is finally producing some buds, but having rid himself of greenfly, he now has a touch of blackspot. I am carefully picking off his affected appendages,’ and I rest my case. I think your Cerinthes look wonderful – I like the extra leafage and love the idea of trailing them. And some really useful information about basil and snail shells, thanks as ever, a lovely read.


  2. This had me laughing out loud. And provoked some memories too. My father in law’s father was a toy maker; their family tradition was to use redundant dolls heads as cane toppers. It was very sinister.
    Also just wondering whether to report the person who gifted me a pot of morning glory for harassment?
    The cerinthes look amazing.


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