The biennials sown in June are now ready to go outside to bulk up for the late summer, before they are lifted and planted out into their flowering stations in October/November. Erysimum are pinched out before transplanted to bush up each individual plant, but the Sweet William, Aquilegia and Aubretia seem to be bushy enough. The idea is that these plants will augment the Tulip display next year. These have been planted out in every available unoccupied space about a foot apart each way.
New sowings of some exotics have been made and many of them are already germinating. Allocasaurina verticillata, the Drooping She-oak, are flying up and I have just sown some Hakea laurina seed, which if coaxed to germinate may make fine plants in time with stunning pink and white pin-cushion flowers. Both these plants like poor soils and full sun in Ireland. They will thrive on just sun and air.
We have just transplanted some Water-Lily crowns, Nymphaea, into large 20l baskets filled with stiff, clay and topped with a dressing of gravel. Now the water temperature is at its zenith, the Nymphaea will grow and establish very quickly. It is important not to plant them where the fountain can sprinkle them with water, as they would not enjoy that.
Mid-August is the best time to stop the new growths emanating from the spurs of restricted forms of Apple and Pear. We have many espaliers, which are pruned using the Modified Lorette System. This involves reducing the new shoots, (if longer than the span of your hand), to an outward-facing bud, about five or six buds from the join of this year’s growth to last year’s. In theory, the plant hormone Auxin, which is manufactured in the growing point, will continue its journey down towards the roots and will ‘puddle’ at the join of this year’s and last year’s wood. In the late summer sunshine, (if we get any), the Auxin can transform what would be a leaf bud into a flower bud. In the winter pruning, the shoots are shortened again to within an inch or two of the join of this year’s and last year’s wood, with hopefully, a couple of transformed flower buds, which will form the basis of next year’s crop.