Perennoja postitse ulkomailta

To the English version of this article
Syynä miksi en aiemmin ostanut eläviä kasveja ulkomaista on että olin huolestunut pärjäävätkö  ne päiviä suljetussa paketissa. Erityisesti se ajatus että kasvit olisivat ulkomailta pidemmän ajan kestävän postitoimituksen takia aika kauan matkalla esti minut ostamaan perennoja ulkomailta. Tässä kokemusraportissa  näytän ettei sellaisia huolia tarvitse olla kuten kokemukseni saksalaisen verkkokaupan kanssa todistaa.

Tilasin kaupan verkkosivun kautta www.zauberstaude.de kuusi perennaa ruukuissa (värikkäitä helleboruksia/jouluruusuja, alppiastereita ja erikoisohdakkeen) sekä kymmenenkunta erilaisia säkkäitä kevätkukkasipuleita (tulppaaneja, krookuksia jne.).

Verkkosivusto on saattavilla saksaksi ja englanniksi. Pääosuudet verkkosivuista on englanniksi olemassa (tuotekuvauksia, toimitusehdot ulkomaille, kauppakori, tilausselvitys). Valitettavasti muutamaa osaa sivustoista on ainoastaan saksaksi, kuten selailua tukevaa tuotekategoriakuvaus. Sivuston haku tukee kasvien latinankieliset nimet ja Googlen avulla pystyy kääntää suomenkieliset nimet latinaksi.


Perennoja on tarjolla tuhansia erilaisia ja jokaiselle tuotteelle on näytetty ajantasainen varastotilanne. Verrattuna paikalliselle puutarhakaupalleni – jolla on kuitenkin hyvä valikoima perennoja – tämä kauppa on ihan eri ja parempi luokka. Esimerkiksi paikallispuutarhakaupassa myydään yksi laji helleborusta joka on tavallinen valko-vihreä jouluruusu, kun taas Zauberstaude.de tarjoo 41 erilaisia helleboruslajia kaikenkaltaisissa väreissä ja muodoissa.

Hintaa on yleisesti noin kolmasosaa suomalaisesta hintatasosta ja on jopa halvempi kun suomalaiset alennushinnat. Kukkasipulien hinnat olivat hieman matalampia verrattuna Prismaa, Kodin Ykkönen, Bauhaus etc. ja valikoima oli selkeästi parempi. Yritä saada vaikka syksyllä kukkivia krookuksia Suomessa kaupoissa. Mielestäni sipulien laatu oli parempi kun paikallisten kauppojen.

Postitoimitusmaksu Suomeen oli tilauksessani €22,50, rahaa jonka säästin helposti halvoilla perennahinnoilla.

Sivuston postitoimitushinnasto löytyy tästä.

Maksuvälineeksi kelpaa luottokortti PayPal maksulla joka toimi odotuksien mukaan.

Paketin lähetys: Tilasin syyskuun alussa ja, kun olin tilannut myös kukkasipuleja, hyväksyin tilauksen yhteydessä että tilaus lähetetään syyskuun lopussa (juuri kukkasipulien istutuskauden alussa). En siis tiedä miten nopeasti tilaus luovutetaan postille. Saksankielisillä arvostelusivustoilla sanotaan että tavarat saapuvat yleensä kolme työpäivää tilauksen jälkeen. Heti tilauksen jälkeen sain tilausvahvistuksen s-postitse, ja odotukseni mukaan lähetys lähti syyskuun lopussa ja sain silloin englanninkielisen tiedotusviestin.

Sain lähetysseurantalinkin ja pystyin seuraamaan lähetyksen (saksankielinen s-posti kuljetusfirmalta, klika “Sendungsverfolgung”-linkkiin):

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Lähetys saapui kuuden kalenteripäivien jälkeen, yksi viikonloppu laskettu mukaan. Turusta pääkaupunkiseudulle kesti melkein eniten aikaa.

Pakkaus: Vasta saapunut paketti näkyy seuraavassa kuvassa:

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Kun avasin paketin, kaikki oli laitettu ison muovipussin sisään joten kosteus säilyy ja pahvi pysyy kuivana:

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Kukkasipulit löytyivät päällimmäisenä ja sen alla löytyivät perennat ruukuissa – jokainen huolellisesti pakattu sanomalehteen ja kaikki ruukut olivat laitettu pakettiin varovasti yhteen joten varret ja lehdet ei kärsisi kuljetuksen aikana.

zauberstaude-package5  zauberstaude-plants1

Otin varovasti perennat paperipakkauksistaan. Kaikilla kasveilla oli vahva ja hyväkuntoinen juuristo ja multa oli kostea. Kuten odottaisinkin syksyllä, lehdet ja varret olivat parhaan hetken jo nähneet – mutta kaikki olivat ehjiä. Lyhyesti sanoen olin saanut laadukkaita perennoja jotka todennäköisesti juurtuvat hyvin ja suorittavat vielä vuosia puutarhassani.

zauberstaude-plants2

Kukkasipulit  olivat pakattu joko tavallisissa ilman läpäisevissä  muovipusseissa joihin oli tavallinen tuotekuvaus kiinnitetty, tai ruskeassa paperipussissa johon oli kirjoitettu kukansipulin nimi. Sipulit olivat laadukkaita eikä missään ollut hometta. Perennojen mullan kosteus ei vaikuttanut lainkaan sipuleihin.

zauberstaude-bulbs1

Yhteenvetona voin sanoa että zauberstaude.de tietää miten pakataan ja postitetaan kasveja. Riittävänkokoisille tilauksille (ehkä 15+ keskihintaisia perennoja?) zauberstaude.de on suomalaisia kauppoja halvempi ja valikoima on helposti kymmenenkertainen. Tämä laajentaa hurjasti mitkä kasveja voin kasvata puutarhassani.

En ole (vielä) kokeillut muita saksalaisia verkkokauppoja ostaakseni kasveja, mutta tutkin noin kymmenen: yksikään näistä tarjoa englanninkielisen verkkosivuston eikä tarjoa kuljetuksen hinta-arvion Suomeen ilman että olisin ensin s-postitse tai puhelimitse yhteydessä näihin. Olen tilannut joiltain Iso-Britannian verkkokaupoilta ja yritin toisilta, mutta valitettavasti lähes kaikki isot Iso-Britannian perennaverkkokaupat eivät toimita eläviä kasveja Iso-Britannian ulkopuolelle.

Parhaan tuloksen postitse toimitetuille kasveille tekisin tilauksen kasvikauden alkuun tai loppuun (keväällä tai syksyllä). Näin todennäköisemmin kasvit lähtevät kasvuun omalla pihalla kun mahdollinen kuljetuksen tai pakkauksen haita vaikuttaa vähemmän kasveille. Tarkastaisin sääennustuksen ennen tilauksen tekoa ja välttäisin kuljetuksia  kovana pakkasaikana kunhan en tiedä pidetäänkö pakettia lämpöisenä koko kuljetuksen aikana.

Kuten aina kasvien kanssa, kyseessä ei ole miten ne kukkivat kaupan hyllyssä, mutta miten kasvit suorittavat pihoillamme.

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Rooting dahlia cuttings

Beside growing new plants from seeds, one of the greatest gardening joys now – while outside is still plenty of snow – is propagating dahlias from basal cuttings. I have done this last year on a near-industrial scale, this year I am only propagating two varieties that I did not propagate that successfully last year.

Here is how I do it:

    • After waking up the dahlia tubers, the key is to wait for the right moment to take cuttings from the new shoots. Literature states that shoots should be 10-12 cm long, which I found a somewhat vague description. Dahlia shoots push a pair of leaves above the stem, should the leaves count as part of the length? Depending on the variety and the vigour of the shoot the leaves contribute to the length up to 4 cm. My observation from taking cuttings from seven different varieties last year is that the length isn’t so important as the vigour of the shoot. I have taken substantially longer and shorter cuttings that rooted all well and had perfect-length cuttings rotting or wilting away rather than rooting.

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      Ready for the cut – shoots of dahlia ‘Sam Hopkins’

      The perfect cutting is rather thick, 5-6 mm at the base, vigorous (main shoots, developing quickly) and has small strong leaves. The thinner secondary shoots and shoots of poorly watered or partly rotten tubers tend to be weaker and are less successful. I also observed that the first shoots root better than successive shoots if you keep taking cuttings.

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Awaiting propagation – shoots of dahlia ‘Tamburo’

    • Before taking cuttings I prepare the pots where the cuttings will root. I agree with Carol Klein that unglazed ceramic pots are better than plastic pots as they are better to retain moisture. Last year I used ceramic and plastic pots with clearly differing performance. As rooting medium I used a seed- and seedling compost from Kekkilä into which I mixed generously vermiculite. According to an article in BBC Gardeners World magazine in April 2011 dahlias root even better in sand but I have not tried this. If using sand, they probably need fertiliser earlier on as there aren’t many nutritients in the sand. Just before taking the cuttings I water and drain the pots.

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Cutting with a sharp kitchen knife

  • The cuttings I take with a thin, sharp and pointed kitchen knife (I found the curved blade of a grafting knife that I bought for the purpose particularly useless). I try to cut away with the shoot as much tuber as possible without damaging surrounding shoots or buds that I hope to turn in to cuttings later and I try to do one clean cut. I understand that cuttings require tuber tissue to develop roots, hence they are called basal cuttings.

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    A fresh dahlia cutting – dahlia ‘Sam Hopkins’

  • Once the cutting is removed from the tuber, I carefully cut away all leaves from the lower half of the stem. This part of the cutting will be in the compost and leaves would only start to rot in the compost. I do not remove the growing tip of the cutting. This will be done only once the cutting has rooted and started to grow again, in order to force the plant to branch out to grow multiple flowering stems. I also tidy any lose bits at the basal cut or the lower end of the cutting with the knife that could rot.

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    bottom half of leaves stripped off the cutting – dahlia ‘Tamburo’

  • I use the back end of a pen – or any other long object that is a bit bigger in diameter than the cuttings – to push a hole into the compost before I carefully ease in the cutting. This hole I push at least to the depth of half the cutting, better two thirds. Once the cutting is in the hole, I carefully push the compost around the cutting with my fingers to enclose the cutting with compost. I do not use rooting powder, which some literature recommends. I had good success rates all the same.

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    Potted up cuttings – an unglazed ceramic pot retains moisture

  • Once I have all cuttings for the pot planted up like this I water and drain the pot. Watering ensures that compost encloses the cutting firmly and there is sufficient moisture. Draining is important as excess moisture would increase chances for the cutting to rot rather than root.
  • I place a transparent plastic bag with little airing holes in it on top of the pot or place the pot in a covered propagator, or both. This ensures that the air around the cuttings is moist and they do not dry out. As I am doing this inside whilst outside there is still strong frost, the humidity in my house is very low (I measured as low as 10%!) and without cover the compost and cuttings would dry out very quickly.

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    A plastic bag with airing holes prevents the cuttings from drying out

  • I place the pot on a light but not sunny windowsill – and this year on my shiny new heat mat – and check moisture every day (and in the process I air the propagator/plastic bag preventing mould).
  • Within two to three weeks first roots can be seen through the holes at the bottom of the pot. One should not take the compost out of the pot prematurely as this may disturb the rooting process and might even damage emerging roots (although I admit I have done this, which did not yield any information that I would not have learned from looking at the bottom of the pot).
  • Once cuttings have properly rooted I repot them and start them on a diluted liquid fertiliser feed every other week.

Garden Wildlife in Winter

From December onwards the garden is covered in Snow. It initially emphasizes all details, but eventually drowns everything and there is little to look at. Usually the snow cover disappears late March or early April – four or five months of this.
Wildlife can provide change to the scene if it is lured into the garden.

For the wildlife this means that seeds and other food on the ground are not longer accessible.

I am for the fourth winter feeding birds (and other wildlife) in the garden putting out feeders with seed and fat.

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A blue tit feeding

During the extremely short days around midwinter birds come to feed from early light through to dusk. Blue tits make the largest crowd with ten to fifteen taking their turn at the feeders. One or two crested tits make their appearance every now and then and the odd coal tit makes the occasional visit.

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A coal tit waiting for its turn to feed

A great spotted woodpecker turns up every year, daily at certain times, hacking away at the fat or making do with some peanuts.

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Hacking away – the great spotted woodpecker

Bulfinches turn up in pairs or flocks and on sunny days the red breasts of the male are adorable.

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A bright spot of colour – bulfinch male in the sun.

A pair of magpies, actually very shy birds, make do of the fat sausage when they come to feed.

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A magpie

From late February onwards common blackbirds come to feed and stay to make a mess of my vegetable patch and berry bushes later in the year.

Most entertaining are the red squirrels that sometimes empty the feeders in record time. When several show up at the same time, there is always some chasing and tail wagging. At most we had four at the same time.

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A red squirrel feeding seeds from the ground

Forrest mice live in tunnels in the snow and sometimes I can watch them feeding on seeds that dropped from the feeders. Although they certainly will breed well-fed as they are, I hope they will at least leave my plants be. They usually disappear into the forrest once I stop feeding in spring and I have not had problems with mice in the garden.

The forrest hares leave their give-away tracks all over the forrest floor and frequently pass through the neighbours garden. They do not seem to like our garden though as they have left my trees in piece so far. I have spotted tracks leading to the feeder, the hares probably feeding on dropped seeds.

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Tracks giving away nightly visits of a forrest hare

Although I have spotted roe deer and forrest reindeer from our living room on occasions, they fortunately do not venture into the garden. In summer I try to reinforce this by growing smelly flowers (of the garlic family) near to the forrest. I have seen elk tracks 50 meters from our garden in winter, but as far as I now, they have left my garden in piece so far.

One visitor puzzles me: last winter one feeder was ripped from 1,5 meters high and a 1,5 cm green branch snapped. The thick metal wire where the feeder hung from was badly deformed and the lid disappeared for good. My neighbour recons this could have been a wolverine or raccoon dog desperate for food.

Dahlia Awaking

My dahlia dreams are coming true again, my first dahlias are awake!

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Dahlia ‘Sam Hopkins’ sending out first shoot

Last autumn I dug up all of my dahlias, sort-of freed them of earth, stacked them in plastic buckets and had them stored in my in-law’s garage (which is heated at 16C). I don’t have a suitable frost-free cold storage myself. With dark autumn days, christmas frenzy and winter taking the mind elsewhere, no one checked on those tubers, until I went in Mid-February to pick two dahlias from the buckets to take them home and wake them up.

Although I have seen what dahlia tubers can look like on supermarket shelves after months of neglect and too warm storage, I felt my dahlias looked pretty grim and I was not sure they were still alive.

I planted them up anyways – after shaking off dry earth and pruning excess roots – and watered sparingly, putting them on the kitchen window sill (getting very busy there already).

For almost two weeks they looked dead. One root of one of the tubers even turned to mush when I touched it and I removed the rotten bit. In desperation I googled and found consolidation in the explanation that some dahlias wake up very quickly, others may need two months or more.

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A glimpse of spring and summer – a vigorous dahlia shoot!

Shortly after, I was rewarded with one dahlia showing the first shoot, but for almost three weeks I was as good as convinced that the other dahlia would be dead. Now it is sprouting 8 shoots at once. Both pots have roots peeking out at the bottom – since after the shoots appeared.

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Looking almost dead – slowly awaking dahlia ‘Tamburo’

Usual advise is to plant up dahlias in March/April. However, I planted those two dahlias already in February because I want to propagate them by taking basal cuttings. The dahlias in question, dahlia ‘Tamburo’ and dahlia ‘Sam Hopkins’ are those that I did not manage to propagate aplenty last year, because their later shoots were weak and rotted away rather than rooting. And while most of my dahlia cuttings last year rooted well, they started to flower only in Mid-August (I took the first cuttings 8th of April). This year I want my cuttlings to start flowering in July. Therefore I started already in February.

Building a fence

When building our garden, the first project was to erect a long fence to separate our garden from the neighbour’s and to provide privacy.

The plan and material for the fence had been provided. I modelled the fence using Google SketchUp to visualise the number of panels and height.

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Model of the fence

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Fence modelled within landscape

I marked out the fence with sticks and line, measuring the exact half-way line between our houses and where the fence posts would go. The latter turned out a bit tricky, as we had to dig to find out where the forest rock foundation started, which would mark the start of the fence. I confirmed the measures with the neighbour so that there would be no reason for later complaint about the position of the fence. Following the supplied design, we dug out the holes. In the process we found plenty of lovely coloured granite rocks of up to the size that you cannot lift on your own, that had been used as filling for the building site. I kept the larger one of those to use later for dry walls. The holes where filled with a base of gravel, insulation material and then the fence posts where sunk into the hole in exact position (kept in place by diagonal timbers) so that they where correctly spaced and in line. Then they were anchored in place by filling the holes with concrete, including drainage and insulation at the bottom to prevent water gathering below the foundation and lifting the foundation when freezing in winter. Once the concrete was set, we outlined the height of the panelling of the fence with lines, actually realizing that a 20 cm gap at the bottom and 130 cm panels (resulting in overall height of 150 cm) would be heigh enough to provide perceived privacy on either side. Originally we had planned a 30cm higher fence, but in hind-sight I am glad we left it lower. Some other neighbours built as similar fence to that height and the fence looks very overwhelming, while ours has received spontaneous prize by passers-by. Once the height was agreed and the concrete had settled, we started building the panelling. The panelling material was cheap sawn timber that we treated with suitable wood oil for outdoor use that coloured the timber brown. The fence-posts got the same treatment. Building the panels involved measuring and sawing to length, and screwing into place (levelled.). As “roof” for the panels we screwed a treated wood that would better endure rainwater and protect the cheaper wood underneath. As the fence covers some height difference, we made small steps after each panel so that the fence softly embraced the lay of the land.

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The completed fence

Building a front-entrance terrace

When building our garden, the front-entrance terrace was one of the initial projects that I took on, right after completing the  terrace in the back.

I modelled the front-terrace using Google SketchUp, providing me with a means to calculate material needs, visualise the result and as blueprint during the work. I actually showed the model to my neighbour before starting the work and asked him if he would be OK with the design.

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Model of the front-entrance terrace

I built the front-entrance terrace following the same pattern as for the terrace in the back: digging to the depth of the concrete slab foundation, placing and levelling the slabs, fixing the supporting beams, creating a 10% sloping gravel plane to drain water away from the house’s foundations, fixing the top layer beams of the framework and then the decking boards. There was a one-step stair that I needed to build with the decking, I opted to just leave out the top framework layer for this 60 cm x 2 m area. There is  also a post supporting the roof that protects the entrance area, with a rather ugly concrete foundation rising about 30 cm above the level of the step. For this I had design to build a 60 cm x 40 cm sized box out of decking board high enough to cover the ugly concrete bit. The box has the second purpose of proving a side wall for the step, rising higher than the terrace. To make it look less of a strange design feature to hide something and more like a purpose-made add-on, I left an area in the box open that could be used for plants. We ended up putting pretty stones there, as they do not need maintenance. We learned, however, that small children love to pick and throw those stones… Originally I had planned to have the terrace narrower and a larger area for the flower bed, but my neighbour talked me into making the terrace area larger, and I am glad of it as now we have a front terrace were I can sit in the morning sun, when the back garden is in shade. To tie the flower bed into the front area, I framed it in using decking board.