Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Autumn work in the glasshouses

Autumn is a busy time for us in the glasshouses. One of the main jobs is the annual clean for the display glasshouses. Before any cleaning can begin we have to do some serious pruning as the plants have flourished in their enclosed space and many need to be brought back to a more manageable proportions. This pruning will also reinvigorate plants so that they can put on fresh growth in the spring and improved flowering. Other plants may have simply have become too old and woody and it is time to replace them and so are removed, cuttings or divisions having been taken earlier. The optimum time for fresh planting will be in the spring as the days become longer and it warms up. By pruning and cleaning more light gets into the glasshouses, which is essential during the short, dark days of winter, as well as removing pests that may be lurking. So, once the pruning has been done, the power washing takes place removing dirt from inside and outside where we can and we have clean glasshouses once again.

Power washing in the Fernery

Another job that has taken place recently is the potting up of bulbs for forcing. Forcing is a method of growing a plant so that, in our case, it flowers earlier than it might do if allowed to grow naturally. Plants are also forced to give a vegetable or fruit crop earlier than normal. We do this by growing plants warmer than they would normally be, but you do not want to grow them too warm too soon. So, at the end of September the Narcissus Paperwhites and N Chinese Sacred Lily bulbs were potted up, closely followed by the hyacinths at the beginning of October. These were then plunged in beds of compost outside in the frames with several centimetres of compost over the top of the pots to exclude light. Once the bulbs have shoots of about 5cms, they are taken out of the frames and moved to a cool and bright glasshouse. The earliest bulbs to flower will be the Narcissus Paperwhites, which will flower before Christmas and these along with the other forced bulbs will be displayed in the Conservatory, bringing a splash of colour on a dull winter day.
Lucinda Lachelin

Hyacinths in the Conservatory

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