Tuesday, 17 January 2012

cold in the garden - and stratifying seeds

This has been a very mild winter so far.

Good news for people clearing land that has lay untouched for two decades....but cold is often necessary for plants. Or necessary for our enjoyment of them.

We split and transplanted snowdrops (galanthus nivalis) into a nursery bed on the allotment last year. This was to increase their number and to give them greater vigour. Snowdrops are an excellent early nectar and pollen source for precocious and hungry insects. The snowdrops are just peeking through and will be unaffected by this hard frost. They look to have coped well with the dry conditions of last year and we will nurture them until flowering has finished and then transplant them into the new woodland garden.

The seeding heads of sedum spectabile are spectacular after frost and provide great structure. We have many stock plants that will be divided so that we can plant en masse in future years. Piet Oudolph frequently uses these plants in creating his 'prairie planting' schemes that we hope to replicate at Cordwood. The seed heads provide a winter seed source for birds and also ideal overwintering homes for ladybirds.

Many plant seeds need a period of cold weather to trigger germination. This is termed 'stratification' and comes from early attempts to stimulate germination by putting sees into layers or 'strata' of sand.

We have collected the following seeds and put each into a lablelled plastic bag with a handful of slightly moistened leafmould. I must admit that it looks rather dodgy but was pleased that the bags have all been placed inside a zip wallet in Rogers beer fridge (!) where they will be left for around ten weeks. Or until the sniffer dogs arrive!!
After that they will be sown into seed trays in peat free potting compost and brought on in the polytunnel.

Acer (assorted)
Acer griseum
Acer palmatum
Alchemilla mollis
Allium Purple Sensation
Andy Lowes plant!!
Camassia (White)
Clematis viticella
Cedrus libani
Cotinus coggygria
Cotinus coggygria
Daucus carrota
Eutrochium purpurea
Rosa rugosa
Smilacina stellata
Viburnum opulus 

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