Orchid propagation in the nursery has been busy over the winter. I am just planting out a batch of Green winged orchids which have grown really fast. They were sowed last summer as soon as the fresh seed was ready and here they are with a sinker, a tuber and some tiny water roots near the soil surface. I potted up about 60 today and there are many more still in the lab, putting on a bit more growth before they’re ready. I’m hoping these will be ready for sale this autumn. They go into a large window box because they do well all together and there is less chance of drying out or big temperature fluctuations.
Winter dormant orchids are emerging and I was pleased to see some Marsh helleborines coming up. They were planted out last autumn and it’s my first successful batch of helleborines, so I wasn’t sure how they would get on. I’m thrilled to see they are all coming up and have survived the winter well. They are still small, so I’m hoping these can go on sale in the autumn after another season’s growth.
One of my tasks last autumn was to clear and sow a new meadow patch about 3m x 3m , to use as a propagation bed. It’s next to the plant stands, mostly weed free and I sowed a calcareous meadow mix in September. I also added huge quantities of orchid seed – anything in the fridge I didn’t need anymore. I have used this area to plant out any tiny plants that got contaminated in the lab, so rather than throw them away I gave them a second chance by putting them out in the nursery bed. I know it doesn’t look much now, but I’m hoping that in a few years time it will be chock full of interesting species and I can use the space to plant out some more sensitive species that really don’t like being in a pot for any length of time. So far I can see a few grasses and meadow buttercups, a lot of yellow rattle and a clump of corn cockle which I sowed in one corner, just for fun.