New Year 2022

Happy New Year! I hope you have enjoyed a good Christmas and new year holiday. Now it’s time to get on with 2022. Let’s hope it’s a good year for all of us.

It’s been very mild here in the UK all over the holiday period. I believe the warmest UK New Year’s Day temperature on record was recorded. Sadly it’s also been mostly damp, misty and wet, so not much fun being outside. However, it’s all set to change, with colder air moving in, clearer skies on the horizon, and snow and ice in the forecast. Brrrrrr…………

I haven’t spent much time that much time out in the garden recently, but I have noticed a few changes this year compared to other years. I expected to have some nice images of snowdrops or the perennial primrose to show you, but no sign so far. No rhododendron blooms nor hellebore buds either. Instead, I found a few surprises.

Yellow_poppy_flowering_in_winter_2022
New year poppy. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

This poppy was in flower at the beginning of December and you can see the buds of flowers yet to come. The second image was take on New Year’s Eve when the last of the buds opened.

Pink_rose-buds_flowering_in_winter_2022
January rose-buds. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

These buds are on 2 different rose bushes in different locations in the garden. I had thought that the buds might open up, but I suspect that the lack of sunshine and shorter daylight hours have kept them closed tight. With the temperature on the way down now, I picked them today and now have a delightfully fragrant, home-grown posy on my desk ūüôā

Freshly_picked_pink_roses
New year roses. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Looking a wee bit sad now, this is the last of the carnations. The plants have been in flower since early September so I think they deserve a rest now. And, flowering on and off for many weeks now, the trailing campanula is still producing fresh flowers in the more sheltered parts of the garden.

Orange-red_carnation_and_trailing_purple_campanula
January Carnation and Campanula. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Something more seasonal to end my post with, the winter-flowering heathers have started to open up. Usually, the plants are covered in flowers by now, but this year, there are only a few sprigs in bloom at the moment.

White_and_pink_winter_flowering_heather_2022
Winter flowering heathers. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I will be in the kitchen again for my next post, so until then, I hope you keep well and stay safe, and I send you my very best wishes for the year ahead.

Grow your own bunch of flowers

Pastel_pink_and_peach_carnations_arranged_with_gypsophila
Carnations, back in fashion. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

This week’s post is one I’ve been¬†putting together¬†for over¬†a year. At last the timing is right to publish. I hope it will be of use to anyone who likes “recycling” and raising plants for free.

A¬†wee while¬†ago I celebrated a “big” birthday. One of my friends sent me a very lavish bouquet¬†containing¬†many varieties¬†of flowers. One¬†bloom in particular caught my eye because it¬†was not a favourite of mine.

The carnation (Dianthus)¬†is a mainstay in many a flowery bunch.¬†¬†It is great value and lasts for a very long time in¬† a vase of water.¬†The carnation¬†went out of fashion for the very same reasons that¬†it is back in fashion¬†today. However, my birthday-bouquet carnation¬†wasn’t a patch on other varieties I’d seen. It had¬†rich peach-coloured¬†petals¬†with¬†a red frilly detail. It was a real beauty and changed my opinion of the flower there and then.

Close-up_on_deep_peach_and_red_carnation
My birthday carnation. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

A¬†few months¬†before my birthday, I’d been staying with my Mum and she had had a¬†jug of green shoots¬†on her window-sill. They were carnation cuttings which had rooted and she was about to plant in her garden. I could hardly believe that they¬†would be¬†so¬†easy to root and grow on, naturally¬†I¬†had¬†to have a go myself. Above is¬†one of the cuttings from my original birthday¬†carnations in full bloom last summer, 3 years after taking the cuttings from the original stems.

There are 2 simple ways to root carnation cuttings: one is simply in a pot of water on the window-sill (like my Mum did) and the other is with rooting powder and a pot of compost. If you fancy a go, the best time of year to do it is  from now and into early summer when the weather is warm.

Making_carnation_cuttings
Selecting cuttings for rooting. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Select side shoots from carnation stems that don’t have any flower buds on them. They should look healthy and have 4 or 5 sets of leaves on them. Trim off the bottom pair of leaves and cut the stem just below a joint.

A_jar_of_carnation_cuttings_in_water_on_a_window-sill_and_rooted_cuttings
Rooting in water. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

To root in water, simply pop the cuttings in a jam jar of water and leave on a light window-sill, out of direct sunlight. Change the water every 2-3 days. After 3-4 weeks you should begin to see thread-like roots appearing from the joint on the stem.

Rooted_carnation_cuttings_potted_up
Potting on rooted cuttings. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Once the roots appear, lightly dust the rooted ends in a little hormone rooting powder and plant in compost. Keep watered and in a well-lit, warm area out of direct sunlight Рan unheated greenhouse is ideal. Once the plants are strong and established, plant outside in late summer.

Raising_carnation_cuttings_in_compost
Rooting cuttings in compost. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Rooting_carnation_cuttings_in_pots
Pot-rooted carnation cuttings. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

You can also root carnation cuttings by adding them straight to compost. Dip the ends of the cuttings in hormone rooting powder and place in compost. Cover with a clear plastic bag or cloche and sit on a warm, well-lit window-sill, not in direct sunlight. Keep watered. After 3 to 4 weeks the cuttings should have rooted. Remove the bag and keep the cuttings  in the same way as the water-rooted cuttings above until they are ready to plant outside in a few weeks.

Peach-red_carnations_growing_in_a_border
Last Autumn, carnations in flower in my garden. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

My carnations have been flowering on and off for the last 3 years. This spring, the stems had become very long and “leggy”. I trimmed them right down, leaving a few shoots in situ,¬†and¬†from the stalks I cut down, I¬†took some more¬†cuttings. Now¬†I’m starting again with another batch of cuttings¬†and looking forward to populating other areas of the garden with some very¬†attractive carnation stems later on in the year.

I was amazed to see that even the tight flower buds I removed from my cuttings burst into flower after a few days indoors,¬†which just goes to show that the carnation¬†really is a¬†great value flower. Happy blooming ūüôā

Small_peach_and_red_carnation_flowers
The last of the flower buds opened in a vase indoors and lasted for over a month.           Image: Kathryn Hawkins