Monday, 24 March 2008

Getting ready for the spring

175 different cultivars huddled together in a polytunnel and starting to sprout new growth

At Claines Canna we are struggling a little to stay ahead of the weather. The collection is still happily growing in the ground protected by a polytunnel, and the beds in which they will grow have been cultivated, manured and not a weed in sight. That will soon change!

Meanwhile, the breeding programme has really suffered from last summers torrential rain storms, and months without sunshine. As a result of that we had so many of our new seedlings failing to flower last year. We normally expect to carry forward about fifty seedlings through into the next year, destroying those that are not up to standard. However, this year we have had to improvise, and we have 200+ large pots containing last years seedlings stacked three high in a 7 metre (21'9") long polytunnel. They are separated by wooden lathes to keep air circulating, but new growth is going to find it difficult! They have been protected from the winter by thermostatically controlled electric heaters and I dread to think what our electric bill will be for the winter months!

200+ seedlings from last year, stacked high and deep and starting to sprout new growth!

Some of the plants in the stacked pots are now starting to sprout new growth and it is obvious that while this strategy will get them through the winter, we are still in deep problems as they need space, and we dare not leave them outdoors until mid-May, when we can be comfortable that we will have no more frosts.

Luckily, we partner with Keith and Christine Hayward at Hart Canna, and they are coming to our rescue next weekend with their giant white van. Keith has offered to grow at their nursery as many of last years seedlings as we can load in the van and we can, of course, visit them to see how they progress, and Keith has also offered to send us photographs and his opinions as well. So, our year has been rescued, and we can now also look forward to starting some new seedlings from previous years, plus seeds sent to us from several other of our Canna friends. Thanks to all of you, you know who you are.

Gardeners are always optimistic, and we are looking forward to a superb year, where all the travails of last year will be eclipsed by superb growing conditions and our Cannas will amaze us with superb growth!

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