Wednesday, 23 July 2014

One man's trash......

At the tail end of summer last year, I was visiting friends living near the city centre here in Edinburgh.   In the city, refuse is collected by way of a communal bin system.  Large refuse bins are sited in many of the streets.  When the bins are full or even on occasion when they are not, waste is just heaped on the ground around the bin.  Often this leads to making passing by these bins hazardous for pedestrians, abled bodies or otherwise!  Litter and fly tipping are pet hates of mine.   What has this got to do with gardening I hear you ask yourself?  I'm getting to that.     

When we were leaving my friend asked me if I'd be so kind as to pop a bag of rubbish in the bin at the end of the street.  It would save her going down later.  No problem, I told her.  As I got nearer the bin, I thought it was full as some lazy so and so had created a big mound of garbage bags around the bin.  Amongst the pile of bags and other garbage, I noticed 2 plants had been discarded amongst them.  After spending the next few minutes putting all of the bags into the rather empty bin, yes, Mr or Mrs Fly Tipper was a lazy so and so (you can add your own expletive if you wish) and couldn't even be bothered to lift up the lid.  I gathered up both the pots and popped them into the boot of the car.  Both were easily identified, the first was an Agapanthus.  It was kind of in flower.  The other a Yucca but other than that, I haven't a clue!   

Here is the Agapanthus as it was when I brought it home.  Rather pot bound don't you think?  

You do wonder why folks throw some plants out but what ever the reason, I'm just glad I was in the right place at the right time.  Their loss and all that!  


Windswept and interesting!

Getting it out of that pot was not easy.  The roots had grown through the holes in the base and I just couldn't get any purchase on it at all.  Out came my trusty utility knife and pad saw.  I was sure the plant could cope with a bit of root damage so all I needed to do was to take care and not loose a digit or two in the process.   I began hacking and sawing away at the pot. It took me quite a while to eventually free the whole thing up. 

Root, toot and I'm oot!
Just get a look at that root system!  It was all root and very little compost as far as I could see.   

Where to start?  The root ball was solid.  I plunged it in a basin of water for an hour or so.  Purely in the hope it would soften and free the roots up a bit.  In the end, I had to be really brutal with it, handfuls of roots were coming away.  They were very brittle, the water obviously hadn't soften them one little bit.  They might even by brittle by nature for all I knew.

What to do next?  I remembered reading that they perform better when they are pot bound but from what I could make out by looking at the plant, this may well not be the case.  Rocket science was not needed to see that.  I didn't want to put the plant under any more stress than I already had, I decided just to pot it up into a bigger pot at this stage.  I would revisit dividing it should recover and come back next year.  

For a week or so it looked a bit worse for wear but regular watering and some rain, it began to pick up.  It was kept in a cold greenhouse over winter.  If I had know we were to have a frost free winter, I'd have risked leaving it somewhere sheltered.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing isn't it? 

It didn't die back completely (as my other Agapanthus does) but that could also be the result of the mild winter rather than it being evergreen.  I'm extremely doubtful of ever finding an exact identification, there are way too many hybrids and cultivars out there to even narrow it down.

Bad hair day!

If you'd like to jump forward 10 months with me and take a look at how it's doing this summer.  It is flowering but even less that it had appeared to do last year.  Obviously my potting on didn't do quite what I had hoped.   

I just need to take the bull by the horns this autumn and set about dividing it into smaller pots.  I suspect it's going to be a bit of a real slice, dice and hack job rather than gently gently!

Before you ask, the Yucca?  Well, what do you think?  I really need some advice here if anyone has any to offer.         

For a while there, each new leaf was splitting across width ways when they reached a height of around 5 inches but that seems to have stopped now.  All new growth recently has been much healthier and is no longer splitting.   I think it's crying out to be repotted but am unsure of what's going on with those tuber like 'things' on the surface.  Are they roots?  Which growing medium would you recommend?  I know in the ground they will prefer a sunny well drained spot but don't think I'd risk putting it in the ground here as the winter wet will probably be an issue as might winter temperatures.  I'm thinking a John Innes based compost, with some grit and some soil conditioner to retain a little moisture. 

It was nice to find 2 good sized plants and even better to have rescued them.  After all, if I hadn't someone else definitely would have.  I know I'm not the only one to have found plants in the most unlikely place.  Chloris over at The Blooming Garden has a Yucca in bloom for the first time since she rescued it from the municipal dump a few years ago.    What about you? Any exciting finds or perhaps you found a monster, a plant you regret rescuing and are wondering why you ever bothered in the first place.