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A Midland Alpine Gardener's Diary

This entry: 30 June 2011 by Diane Clement

Diary Entry No 44 - Seed Collecting starts

All my cyclamen coum appear to have gone dormant now and the seed pods have coiled down to the ground

The pods stay firm for many weeks, but about this time of year (with me) they ripen.  If the pods are gently squeezed and they “give” slightly, then it’s time to snip off the pods and put them into open containers to dehisce (open).

Usually they ripen on the plant, and for the plants in pots, it’s easy to keep an eye on them and catch them at this stage

And when I said the C coum appear to have now gone dormant, actually the dry leafless top of the plant belies the truth, which is only obvious when a pot is lifted from the sand plunge.  The truth is that C coum never go dormant as they start to make new roots in June when the top is just about died down.

Seed collector's kit



Seed collecting starts earlier in the year whenever I find any seed, and at that stage the system is a bit haphazard.  This time of year I need to establish a system so I like to put together a little kit that I keep in the greenhouse but can easily take round the garden.


Seed collector?s kit

I put together a selection of various open topped plastic containers – old film canisters, small food containers, cups, etc, to hold seed.  Also in the kit is a pair of scissors suitable for snipping stems, plus tweezers for any seed that escapes, a pencil and lots of card cut up into small pieces for writing down the name of the seed

As I gradually collect seed or seed capsules, they are stored in the containers with their name. Any seed that is not completely ripe is put in larger containers that have plenty of air circulation.

Here’s some crocus seed on a pot saucer

… and some erythronium seed.  The red wire twist was round the stem of the plant to differentiate three varieties which I have close together and are indistinguishable in seed.

Those last two are easy seed to clean, but some types are more difficult. As seed ripens, I gradually clean off the chaff and then store in small manilla envelopes (I may show some techniques for cleaning over the next few weeks)

Two new projects

I’ve just started a couple of new projects.  The first was the clearance of an area of rockery which had become overgrown, partly with Sedum

The first few of the following pictures were taken in March

Two new projects

So the sedum was cleaned out

I had left the patch of ground until now as I was worried about replanting in case I hadn’t got all the sedum out. 

It seems fairly clear of sedum now, but an overgrown Helianthemum and a Thyme have both become woody and not earning their place,

... so they also were removed.

And I also assessed the value of this Erodium chrysanthum which is a lovely plant in foliage but hardly makes any flowers and was swamping other plants, so that also went.

I was pleased with the transformation

and excited by the opportunity to do something different with this space.

I note with interest that at this time of year that the Prunus incisa “Kojo mai” casts shade on some of this patch.

So what am I going to do here?  Sorry, undecided as yet - watch this space!

Second project

And another little project, this time a ten minute flash of craziness.  I decided that many plants grow better in the sand plunge than in pots so I decided to make a little tufa crevice garden in one of my plunge trays.  It looks a funny shape because this greenhouse is hexagonal and the plunge bed is trapezioidal.


Second project

I’ve planted it up with young seedlings and cuttings and currently just regarding it as an experiment to see how it goes.

Arabis androsacea seems to be settling in

And in an open sided frame – Cyclamen purpurascens just coming into flower for the first time from seed sown in 2009, I don't think I have ever had C purpurascens flower so quickly from seed - especially as it is often erratic to germinate.


Please add any comments or thoughts in the Discussion Thread here:


Midland Diary no 44 Discussion Thread

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