As of last Sunday, the garden is officially closed (*The nursery is still open-- see website for schedule). It was a bit strange this week with no visitors walking around the garden. We enjoy and appreciate all the visitors who come through our gate during the season, but it's also nice to have this break in the action to get our big projects done.
Just imagine Fergus as the starter at a race: he's been looking at his watch...now it's time: "On your marks…get set…GO!" That's how this week started. According to Fergus, the last month or so "we've just been sharpening our pencils." Now it's getting busy. We spent most of the week taking apart the Exotic Garden, the majority of which is comprised of tender plants, making it a priority as colder nights arrive. Every year the Exotic Garden gets planted up fresh and then dismantled at the end of the season: cuttings taken, plants lifted and potted up, and everything put into cold frames or a greenhouse.
You would think Musa would have bigger root systems!
A variety of plants waiting to be processed
This Cordyline australis is one of the larger plants that came out
I have been assigned the task of caring for the "Hot House", (also known as the "Begonia House") which, as you probably guessed, is heated (has heat benches) and contains Begonias. It's a significant learning curve for me, as I've never looked after a greenhouse before. About half of the contents are cuttings (lots of which came from the Exotic Garden), which are more tricky to manage than established plants. The most important variables are water, temperature, spacing and air circulation. As with most indoor plants, (especially during winter) you must be careful not to over-water, which is probably the greatest cause of plant loss in this scenario. Temperature can also be a bit tricky, especially when combined with air circulation. It's somewhat experimental since we have such a wide variety of plants in the same environment, but we're keeping the house around 14 C (about 58 F). However, with outdoor daytime temperatures still reaching 14-15 C, it can really cause the greenhouse temperature to spike. I have to diligently keep an eye on all these factors, and check the house several times a day. When the sun is out and the temperature warms up during the day, I will open the vents and turn on the fan to create some air flow, which guards against pests and diseases. While it's good to keep the air fresh and circulating, you don't want to over-ventilate and let the house get too cold.
Cuttings on the heated bench
The Hot House is filling up fast!
There are many details, which can be a bit overwhelming at first, but everything we're doing makes sense if you slow yourself down and process it. Like anything else, the more you do it, the more habitual it becomes, and ultimately habit becomes instinct.