Slow Learner

I’m not very good at saying no to volunteer plants.  Volunteer plants of course are the ones which just step forward to fill spots that you didn’t even know were spots until they volunteered to fill them.  I guess they’re generous little things which just want to give…  plus they’re free… and require no labor or attention… and that’s probably also a big plus in my book.  Some people might say the word ‘weeds’ right now, and I say bite your tongue.  If you can call sunflowers and foxgloves weeds, well then you’re probably a little higher class than this blog usually attracts and I suggest clicking on your way before you hold me liable for the time I’m about to waste.

galanthus bed

A clump of snowdrops (Bill Bishop if you really have to know) in a photo from last January. Note the tiny rounded leaves in the center of the sprouts. Soooooo innocent looking….

galanthus bed

One year later. A big fat rosette of foxglove foliage right where a snowdrop clump wishes to emerge. Please let’s overlook the many autumn leaves scattered about, and the as-yet untrimmed muscari foliage.

Ok, good.  Now  that  we’ve ‘weeded out’  a certain  type  of  reader, I  just want  to reassure anyone who’s left that you’re entirely high class, but of the type who just is and not the type who only thinks they are.  I suspect you all have soft spots for foxgloves and that brings me to today’s dilemma.  It’s not just any foxglove, it’s the especially special strawberry foxglove (Digitalis x mertonensis) and of course it’s right on top of ‘Bill Bishop’ and we all know that’s not going to work out.

galanthus bed

There he is. Bill is happily sprouting up right exactly where he should be.

Normally  a few  stray  foxgloves  don’t  even come close to causing a problem.  Any other year they’re just a crumbly mess of winter killed foliage by the time the snowdrops arrive, and with just a little brushing aside all is well.  This year things are different, and I might have to try a midwinter transplant because obviously I can’t just rip out this trooper, no matter how free she is.

It goes without saying that had I been attentive and moved the seedling last summer none of this would have been a problem.  Sort of like had I been more attentive and less lazy for the last seven years maybe my WordPress disk space wouldn’t have reached 99% full with only just the few photos which I’ve uploaded over the years.  Hmmm.  I should have read the memo a few years ago when I first reached my limit and had to purchase a blogger plan rather than enjoy free access, but noooo, let me put it off a little more.  Apparently re-sizing photos is a kind of important thing, which I’m sure everyone else knows but it just seemed like so much extra work at the time… and obviously I’m not one to embrace extra work.

So with a nice snow squall covering up the ground and ending any thoughts of transplanting, I’ve headed indoors and have committed to shrinking my digital footprint.  So far I’ve spent hours editing posts, reloading re-sized photos and then deleting the old.  Of course it’s my own fault.  Ignorance is bliss, but what kind of stupid thinks a 4.2MB (4200KB) cabbage photo would be necessary when a 143KB  will do?  I’m up to September 2013 in case anyone is wondering.

cyclamen coum

While on the subject of time-wasting, I reorganized my Cyclamen coum seedlings to see how close seedlings from the mother plant resemble each other. These were all from a purple with mostly green leaves in case you’re wondering.

Every now and then even the most committed data processor needs a break, so with short days, early nights, and plenty of here and there snow, the winter garden has again become my man cave and  I’m obsessing about Cyclamen again.

Cyclamen rhodium ssp peloponnesiacum

Cyclamen rhodium ssp. peloponnesiacum is a treasure I picked up at last year’s Galanthus Gala. It might be hardy, but that would mean not seeing these awesome leaves all winter, and why risk that!?

I thought I was good, and all last summer I was fully impressed with myself for having more cyclamen than ever before, but then the cold weather hit and maybe I do need more.  I would have had more, but some stinkin’ mouse family robbed me of nearly all last year’s ripening seed pods, in a way that I didn’t even know the pods were hollowed out until I turned one and saw the bottoms all nibbled out.  “Stinkin’ mouse” isn’t really the term I used, but since only the classiest readers remain I’ll try to keep it civil.

Fortunately I know a guy.  A little back and forth with Dr. Lonsdale over at Edgewood Gardens and two new and extremely exciting cyclamen have found their way here.  Plus a hellebore!

purple flush cyclamen

Two Cyclamen hederifolium with a faint flush of pink towards the center. Also hard to see is the variegation in the Hellebore niger seedling to the right, but it has it and I can’t wait for it to settle in to the garden this spring.

Another area I need to make more effort in is my indoor fertilizing regime.  The new additions from Edgewood are so well rooted they put all my plants to shame.  Dr Lonsdale has told me before to switch to something more specialized like a tomato fertilizer or anything with a lower first number (Nitrogen) but this blockhead will need a little more hammering, so one step at a time.

In the meantime, again let me say I’m pretty excited about the new additions.  The cyclamen are cool, but the hellebore will probably rank as one of the rarest things in my garden.  Take a look at a picture or two of >mature plants< and I think you’ll agree this little year old seedling is going to grow into something special.

Not as special as re-sizing thousands of photos and editing hundreds of posts, but close I’m sure.  Have a great week!

16 comments on “Slow Learner

  1. That is a terrible problem to have. I would love to give that foxglove a good home, but my soil will take even longer to thaw than yours. Keep us posted on the resolution of this crisis.

  2. Eliza Waters says:

    Terrific new additons, Frank! One always needs more cyclamen, galanthus, etc. etc. 😉
    So did you move the foxglove or the galanthus?
    I’m impressed that you are going through your posts to downsize – a job that strikes fear into my heart. I’m listening though, because I’ve been marching the same path. I expect my day of reckoning will be upon me sooner than I’d like to think. Good luck!

    • bittster says:

      Neither, we had a snow squall come through and everything is under three inches of snow, no more transplanting dilemmas until it thaws 😉
      I’m reading other comments and I think I’m resizing too generously… I could probably go down to 800×800 and right now I’m doing twice that! -but no way I’m going back to redo it AGAIN 🙂
      Have you been doing the same and need to resize? I thought for sure I was the only one.

      • Eliza Waters says:

        But isn’t 800 x 800 a square? That wouldn’t work for a lot of my pix. I’ve done 800 x 1200 and 800 x 600, but honestly, I’m not sure I’m getting that right!

      • bittster says:

        I THINK it makes it so the longest side is no more than 800 and then keeps the photo dimensions proportional to what they were… as in it won’t take a 4×6 photo and resize it to a square. So far everything looks the same in terms of resolution (to my eye) and photo proportion, it’s just much smaller a file.
        I worry about how these old photos look, but seriously, for my blog I’m the only one looking back five years to see some of these. No one else is going to care if the resolution on a picture of my weedy garden is off a bit, in fact it might help!

  3. pobept says:

    Thank you for scaling down your pictures. I’m on a wireless(radio based) ISP. This by nature slows down downloading of high resolution pictures/data. More Band width is costly and I can’t afford to upgrade to get faster downloads.
    Happy Gardening

    • bittster says:

      Thanks, I never thought of that. Another duh moment since resizing has also made loading the photos much faster which is nice on my end as well. I guess we all live and learn (eventually, and sometimes only when forced!)

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Scaling down of so many pictures sounds like a Herculean project. I wish you the best in this effort. For the time being can’t you just cut back that foliage of the foxglove? Then this spring put it at the top of your list of things to move. Your treasure trove of Cyclamen and that Hellebore is such a delight. I bet you feel like Midas in his counting house when you are tending these plants. Do carry on with your less is best fertilizer.

    • bittster says:

      I feel silly for even trying to get through them all, but once you take that first step it’s just keep going and eventually you’ll make progress. I kind of have a little bit of a stubborn streak especially when it comes to these monotonous tasks.
      Plus I’m too frugal to pay for more storage, and the idea of having to pay year after year is more than I want to think of.
      I get smitten with a new plant and usually move on regardless of how much it was or how hard it was to find. Often there are plenty of other eager gardeners willing to adopt and I’ve only got so much room 🙂

  5. Cathy says:

    Oh dear, good luck with the photo resizing! I am now feeling incredibly guilty about my poor sick Cylamen with yellowing leaves. Yours look so healthy and have such a variety of different leaf colours and markings. Lovely! Your winter garden provides a very nice way to pass the winter days. I hope you can save the foxglove. I was thinking of foxgloves this afternoon on my walk through the woods in the snow… there is a spot where they grow wild, just on the edge of the woods, in all different colours! I think I have now memorized the way to get to through the undergrowth to collect a few seeds later in the year. 😉

    • bittster says:

      I think what saves my cyclamen is that they get to escape my care each spring when they all go back outside. If I were responsible for their care year round eventually there would be charges of plant abuse filed against me! I need to change the fertilizer though. Mine are too leafy and green rather than full of blooms.
      That will be nice to get a few of the foxgloves into your garden! Some of my all time treasures are abandoned things found in the woods or escapees from long lost gardens. Old iris, columbine, roses… I have a few which have been brought in from the wilds.

  6. Paddy Tobin says:

    Re the photograph size: I use Photoshop which allows me to resize the photographs in batches – each album as I have finished editing the shots and named them. I resize to a maximum of 800 X 600 and reduce quality to 6/12. This is more than adequate for viewing on a laptop screen and means it is possible to upload the photographs to the internet at at reasonable rate.

    Re the foxgloves – yeah, weeds when in the wrong place, such as on top of snowdrops!

    • bittster says:

      Well that is good to know, and I’m glad I confessed my problems online since I’ve still been leaving them as too large files. 1200×1200 or 1050×1050 is around where I’ve been resizing them to since I thought 800×800 would be too small. 800×800 it is for the next six and a half years worth of pictures!

      • Paddy Tobin says:

        I have written my blog since 2015 and have used only about 25% of capacity. At a rough reckoning, I think reducing the photographs to 800 X 800 maximum (I set it for 800 X 600 landscape) means that 25 of the lower sized photographs equate to one at the larger format so it is quite a saving of space.

  7. Ah, photos and computers. Issues I never want to deal with again. Mark looked at my blog this morning and photos were missing. But not when I looked. Who knows what readers saw. It’s endless. I am totally smitten with that Hellebore. I paid top dollar for H. ‘Tabby’ last year from PDN. I could only get one and am hoping it survives. Hellebore foliage is one of those things that always looks good in my garden so some variation would be nice. Just getting started with Cyclamens. You are always turning me on to something I need to add. I have been known to accidentally toss Foxglove seedlings before I leaned to recognize them. I have two big beauties in a path where they are going to be a big problem this year.

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