It’s all very well messing around calculating perfect compost for difficult seed, but sometimes you have to wonder, what’s the point? Back in Spring I was poking around in the undergrowth, as you do, and ran across a pile of old spruce stumps, which were abandoned around fifteen years ago as too difficult to split for firewood. Self-sown into this half-rotten mess – rhododendron yunnanense seedlings:
I had no idea that yunnanense even set viable seed in this climate, still less that its ideal germination medium was spongy rotten wood. But apparently so. Now the time has come to try and move them and pot them up. This is easier said than done, because I have no idea how far down into the rotten stump they have sent their roots. I start by using the chainsaw to hack the stump to a manageable size:
It turns out, luckily, that the rhododendron roots mostly have penetrated only the top half inch of the stump, although some have run down the edge and need to be picked out carefully. There’s a lot of wildlife in the stump: tiny worms, slugs, woodlice. Rotten wood is a good habitat. There are ten separate seedlings. Some have done well, in a Darwinian sense, and are well away. Others are spindly and feeble, but perhaps once they are given their own soil and space, they will learn how to compete.
I’ll leave them in the greenhouse over winter, where I can keep an eye on them, and plant them out in the Spring. I don’t know where, though – rh. yunnanense is very beautiful (see here) but I don’t know that I find room for ten. Anyone want one?