Friday, November 20, 2009

St. Edmund's Day to potting Privet

Happy Saint Edmund's Day! "Who is he?" you ask. According to some garden lore and legends, Edmund, a 9th century king of England, is the patron saint of farmers and gardeners and today, November 20, is the day to remember him. I always thought Saint Fiacre, an Irish Monk from about the same time period and, who went to Italy and took up gardening at a monastery there (thus, the Italian name,) is the patron saint of gardeners. Oh well, it's all in the legends and the beliefs you favor. (Just so you know--My gardening alliance is with Fiacre, so here is a picture of him standing tall in my garden this past summer.)

On a different subject, thought I'd show what I'm up to this week after rooting some Southern Privet shoots from a shrub we bought in the late summer and put into the garden for the purpose of growing a different type of standard that will grow to a couple or even several feet like the bays and myrtles I have. This shrub is still only about 18 inches tall in these pictures, but you get a good idea of how pretty the foliage is. Privet, when mature, can produce white musty-scented flowers in the spring and even berries in the fall making it a beautiful ornamental shrub for the garden.

You can see from the photo that I made cuttings, about 6-8 inches long in late September. Since it was so late in the growing season, I thought I"d try a little experiment. I put them in a glass filled with water and a touch of rooting hormone and set the glass on my kitchen windowsill which gets bright but not direct sunlight. By this past week, roots formed and I was able to pot them up. Is this beginner's luck or Saint Edmund/Fiacre doing his thing?

Southern Privet, (Ligustrum), and it's companion varieties originated in Japan and China and has been traditionally used as a nice flowering ornamental shrub for hedging purposes. It's elegant, upright form and vibrant green waxy leaves, seemed to me, to lend itself to being cut and shaped into some sort of standard for a large pot in the garden or on the patio. We'll see, come next spring.

Until then, these lovely little cuttings will take up residence in the greenhouse. Oh yeah, once again, happy Saint Edmund's Day to you farmers and gardeners out there. There's much to do before spring comes so don't get too comfortable because Edmund (Fiacre, too) is waiting and watching over your garden beds, even in winter. There's no rest for the weary.

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