Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Wallflowers (13 FEB 2013)

I’ve been spending my gardening time elsewhere, instead of planning planting schemes and organising seed packets in sowing order. I’m taking it easy this year, because past experience has shown that seeds sown too early aren’t so successful as the miscellaneous seedlings which sprout from a desperate sprinkling into a last resort seed-tray in late spring. Good things come to those who wait after all.

ugly duckling snatches a piece of the action

I don't want it to be a desperate sprinkling this time, following weeks of watering and waiting till all the nutrition has leeched out of the compost and the seeds sown with the first signs of spring are too sodden to germinate, till I'm so bored with the whole process that I can't be bothered to sow neat rows in fresh compost again and label.
 
When I eventually opened the backdoor to see what was happening out there, I found holes/craters dug by foxes and their droppings on the lawn, which are sure signs that I’ve been neglecting the garden. I wonder if daily patrols, leaving the scent of human in the air to mark my territory, would stop animals interfering.
 
Daffodils ...
 
The usual suspects, hellebores and heather were out, but I was cheered most by the wallflowers, new additions grown from seed.
 
Wallfowers
 
It’s possible to trick biennials into flowering within a year if the plants are over-wintered. I sowed wallflower seeds in pots outdoors in autumn 2011 hoping to see flowers by the following spring. That didn’t happen even though it was a cold winter with snow, but at least they have provided much-needed bushy ever-green foliage. Very un-cabbage-like for a plant in the brassica family .. and this year, finally, some flowers.




I couldn’t understand why the plants were travelling away from the fence which I’d planted them next to, expecting them to climb up, and instead were heading towards the patio stones.

Wallflowers stepping out : Spring 2012 & last week

While trying to research their preferred growing conditons, I discovered that the name wallflower comes from the plant precariously rooting itself in walls rather than shyly standing against them as their namesakes in 19thcentury dance halls. It sounds improbable but there's a picture on the web to prove it. Their preference apart from walls (or patio stones in my case) is infertile, well-drained soil.
 
Wallflowers are not the prettiest but they have character
(... or at least they're intelligent, deciding to flower when there's less competition.)
 

I planted one in a wall as an experiment, so it could get back in touch with its roots. It was almost symbolic because I suppose people would label me as a wallflower of sorts, I’ve never even been to a dancehall/disco/nightclub let alone stand by the wall declining.
 
Time for this wallflower to live a little dangerously
 
Wallflowers are not the only ones who like well-drained soil.
I guess the foxes excavate the dry flower-bed under the neighbour's trees to save wetting their paws.
One of the craters is now filled with broken cement and spare wallflowers which look scared to death.
I've promised them that I'll patrol daily from now on.
 
Wallflowers stretching their comfort zone
 

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18 comments:

Angie said...

Good luck with your patrols. I've read on a few sites that dried chilli flakes are good at deterring some pests. Maybe worth a try.
I do like wallflowers but unfortunately they don't like my garden. It's too wet!

Tim said...

Thanks for sharing b-a-g. Really interesting about how the wallflower got its name.

HolleyGarden said...

Your description of the wallflowers in the last pic looking scared to death had me laughing out loud! Your wallflowers in bloom are just beautiful! I've never grown these, and didn't know why they were called that. I would have guess they stood against the wall. I agree with you about not rushing to plant things before it's time. I've done that before, and it never turns out well. Hope you can get your fox problem under control.

Karen said...

Wallflowers are pretty, those pesky foxes are not. I know how frustrating holes in garden beds are.

carolynsshadegardens.com said...

I think the wallflowers are quite pretty. But of course I love orange flowers.

The Gardening Shoe said...

I'm with Holley - that "scared to death" comment/photo is hilarious! I also like your idea of them being intelligent and flowering when little else blooms.

Like you, I haven't sown anything yet. We are on clay, so anything I sow in a propagator will have to hang around for ages until the soil warms up.

All the best with the foxes - they seem to be getting more audacious as winter drags on.

HELENE said...

I got rid of the foxes in my garden 2 years ago, by then they had been here 3 years and I was at my wits end. They dug several tunnels from my garden to next door, where it was very overgrown and derelict and a haven for the foxes during the night. The foxes dug during the night, I could hear them as my bedroom is facing the garden. If I was to prevent them digging I would have had to camp outside, in the winter! During the summer they used to lounge around in my garden and only leisurely jump over the fence back next door whenever I came outside.

I solved the problem by doing up the next door garden! I spent 3 months clearing up the garden and making it as fox unfriendly I could, with the house owners approval and gratitude. I filled in the tunnels with stones, put plastic sheets over and put several tins of paint to weigh it down. After a couple of weeks I removed the plastic and when the next door garden was finished the foxes was nowhere to be seen. They didn’t come back the following autumn and not this year either so have probably found a new garden!

Loved your wallflowers by the way, haven’t grown them before but that’s one for my wish list I think.

Helen Johnstone said...

You should sow wallflowers and other biennials around June and make sure you prick them out and pot them on regularly, that way you will have flowers the following spring.

I think the light is too low at the moment for sowing seeds apart from those plants that need cold to break their dormancy, March should be soon enough

Catharine Howard's Garden Blog said...

lovely lovely wallflowers.......fulfiling indeed.

gardenwalkgardentalk.com said...

Wow foxes! I guess them making holes is not too welcome though. I like the swans, even the one you were not as kind in describing.

eljaygee said...

foxes are in the news this week too b-a-g but I like the idea of them not getting their paws wet via your neighbour's tree. Wallflowers out already? How I miss their heady scent. p.s. as soon as I planted foxgloves, those tell tale holes appeared. True story!

Janet/Plantaliscious said...

Goodness, I hope no foxes come calling on me, the damage you and Kate (Beangenie) have been experiencing is a nightmare! I've never sown wallflowers, but I'd like some for next year as the insects love them so much and they flower for ages. Wonder if I'll remember...

Alistair said...

Hi b-a-g, the fox which recently started visiting us was a bit of a novelty, when I see the damage they can cause, well that's a different story, I heard that there was said to be about ten thousand urban foxes in London. Good to see Wallflower in your garden start to bloom already and will probably put on an even better show with not flowering last year. I was not aware of how it came by its name, didn't even think about it, well I guess your scientific brain is more in tune with these things.

Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

Our fox keeps his distance although I wish he would take care of the voles if he comes over the fence....too much food elsewhere for him...I am not familiar with wallflowers and I love the colors.

I am with you about taking my time this year...work has me too tired to even think much about sowing seeds. Enjoy yourself!

debsgarden said...

The wallflowers have lovely blooms. I don't think I have ever seen them before! I like your planting in the former fox hole.

Stacy said...

I hope you manage to discourage those foxes--how you avoid Garden Rage (like Road Rage, only Much Worse) when you see damage like that is beyond me. You sound so full of calm, sensible plans instead!

a3acrefarm.com said...

So sorry about your fox damage. We usually do not have trouble with them in the garden here. They do dig holes in the snow, which we see when we are out each day on our snowshoes. That gives the dog something so interesting to sniff!

Pest Control Oregon said...

that was very unfortunate

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