Cof­fee sacks a use­ful tool

Franklin County News - - GARDENING - BAR­BARA SMITH

black garbage bags and come with their own ven­ti­la­tion. I tried grow­ing pota­toes in sacks but found they dried out too quickly. In­stead I use sacks to dis­guise grow bags of pot­ting mix and ugly plas­tic pots.


The four Ps. Along with pan­sies, prim­u­las, prim­roses and polyan­thus are re­li­able for cheer­ful flow­ers through win­ter. There can be some con­fu­sion with the names, how­ever, as polyan­thus, prim­ula and prim­rose are of­ten used in­ter­change­ably. That’s un­der­stand­able be­cause prim­roses and polyan­thus are both mem­bers of the prim­ula genus which has around 400 species.

The name prim­ula comes from the Latin primus or first as they are among the first of the spring flow­ers.

Prim­roses (Prim­ula vul­garis) have clus­ters of flow­ers on erect stems aris­ing from a rosette of basal leaves. Flow­ers can be sin­gle or grouped to­gether as an um­bel on a sin­gle stem. They are of­ten yel­low but have been bred in many other colours. Polyan­thus, mean­ing many flow­ers, have larger clus­ters of flow­ers held above the leaves on sturdy stems. They are hy­brids of the cowslip (Prim­ula veris) and the com­mon prim­rose (Prim­ula vul­garis).

Polyan­thus have been ex­ten­sively hy­bridised and come in a wide range of of­ten mul­ti­coloured petals. There are also au­ric­u­las (Prim­ula au­ric­ula), the sub­ject of much in­ter­breed­ing for dis­play by Florists So­ci­eties dur­ing the 18th and 19th cen­turies.

These peren­ni­als should not be con­fused with Prim­ula mala­coides, aka fairy prim­rose, which is a win­ter and spring flow­er­ing an­nual. The flow­ers look more del­i­cate and the stems are much taller (to 30cm).

When it comes to bed­ding plants, more is more! A gen­er­ous patch looks bet­ter than a sparse sprin­kle dot­ted about. Luck­ily it’s easy to bulk up your stock of plants. Over a sea­son, prim­roses and polyan­thus grow into clumps of easily divided plantlets called crowns. Dig up each plant, shake or wash off ex­cess soil and tease the roots of each crown apart. Trim off any woody or dead bits and re­plant. Keep moist un­til they are es­tab­lished. Feed with dried blood or tomato fer­tiliser when buds start to form.

It’s get­ting a bit late in the sea­son but in warm ar­eas there’s still time to start Prim­ula mala­coides, pan­sies and their mini rel­a­tives – vi­o­las –from seed in trays. Seedlings are also avail­able in pun­nets or as pot­ted colour from gar­den cen­tres.


Daf­fodils don‘t need to be lifted and stored every year but if they look like the ones above, then it‘s This col­umn is adapted from the weekly e-zine, get grow­ing, from New Zealand Gar­dener mag­a­zine. For gar­den­ing ad­vice de­liv­ered to your inbox every Fri­day, sign up for Get Grow­ing at: get­grow­ time to give them a bit more el­bow room.

Ide­ally, move them be­fore they start to sprout as they will be eas­ier to han­dle. Dig up the whole clump with a fork. Shake or rinse off ex­cess soil. These daf­fodils had 1-2cm roots that needed to be gen­tly teased apart. Re­fresh the soil with com­post and bulb fer­tiliser and re­plant a few in the orig­i­nal spot. The rest can be given away or re­planted else­where in the gar­den or in pots. The small­est baby bulbs are un­likely to flower this spring. I planted them sep­a­rately in a large shal­low tub to grow on for a year be­fore find­ing them a new home in my gar­den.

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