Tuesday 9th August

Here I go again with plants that are under-rated and very rarely seen in gardens, I have grown the two following specie/varieties this year, they are just flowering now.

Tricyrtis Formosana 'Gilt Edge'  (Japanese Toad Lily)

Has a pretty gold margin to large green leaves. Strong growing to 60cms in height, flowers July-September.

Very useful for a semi shade position but happy in morning or evening sun in a free draining soil.

Flowers pink and spotted.

Tricyrtis Hirta  (Japanese Toad Lily)

My favourite, these bell shaped flowers are larger than the above variety and as you can see from the picture, stunning as very spotted, again strong growing to 75cms, large almost downy stems and leaves.  Same conditions as above.

Go on and plant something different  -  these are good in containers for late flowering.

Tuesday 17th May

Tiarella  "Foam Flower"

What a gem, this is a specie so much underated.  I have been using hybrid Tiarella's in my designs now for several years.  These are more easily available now but it still seems as though garden centres are not stocking this definate 'yes' for early spring and prolonged flower into June and the occasional flower after.

In an old volume of the "New illustrated garden encyclopaedia of 1938" it is noted "Tiarella only one specie of this genus is grown which is Cordifolia".  How far we have come in plant hybridization.  There is no doubt that Cordifolia is invasive and probably why Tiarella is not planted that much, nowadays however the new hybrids are amazing, Pink Skyrocket, Pink Bouquet, Spring Symphony, Snow Blanket.

Pink Skyrocket is probably my favourite, as the picture shows, it has almost candle-like flowers, pink buds which when fully open are white like little stars on tall heads (30cms).

Such an easy plant to grow as it will tolerate a wide range of conditions.  An evergreen perennial which is really useful planted in light or heavy shade.  A must for any garden! 

Wednesday 9th March

Primrose

Primrose named possibly as far back as medieval times, botanical name Primula Veris meaning 'firstly of spring' from the latin primus meaning first.

Nothing better than to see the wild primroses now flowering with their beautiful pale yellow flowers, can be seen in woods and under hedgerows and of course in our gardens.

The hybridised garden varieties of which there are hundreds of different varieties available can be propagated after flowering by lifting and carefully dividing or removing rooted offsets.  Pot up into small containers and bring on for planting out when nicely rooted up.

Can be grown from seed but if you collect your own seed the plants will not be true in flower colour to their parent.

Monday 8th February

Galanthus  (Snowdrop)

Many, many different varieties available but my favourite either for naturalizing or garden planting is 'Nivalis flore pleno' the double flowered Snowdrop.

Cup shaped flowers which hang downwards, the outside petals are pure white, numerous inner petals which are smaller than outer petals.  The tips of which are green with 'splashes' of green into centre of flower.  A stunning little bulb.

Majority of varieties are suitable for all types of soils and can be planted in sun or semi-shade.

I always feel that when the Snowdrops start flowering, late January early February, that the worst of the winter weather is over and spring is only just around the corner.  So come on get gardening, or better still give me a call!

 

Friday 5th February

Hamamelis  -  The "Witch Hazels"

Are one of the best winter flowering shrubs with clusters of curiously 'spider like' flowers on leafless branches, they will happily stand the hardest frost.

Many varieties available in varying flowering shades of yellow, reds and oranges and all are very heavily scented, a real bonus in winter.

Medium to large growing deciduous shrubs, slow growing with multi-stemmed branches.  An expensive shrub to buy from garden centres, as normally grafted, so should be planted in garden very much as a feature or specimen shrub.

Plant in good well drained soils, does not like chalk but will be happy in a shady spot.

Hazel-like foliage which provide super autumn colour.

The bark and branches of Hamamelis Virginiana supply the witch-hazel for pharmacy.

Whether true or not the branches are said to be a favourite with water diviners.

Thursday 21st January

Prunus Cerasifera (Myrobella or Cherry Plum)

Amazing 10 days ago the Myrobella Plum along the A419 came into flower.

This is not a garden hedging plant but I had to write a few lines.  Normally flowering very early in the spring, to see flowers now just shows how mild the early winter weather has been.

One of the best hedging plants in my view for field or roadside planting, very few if any 'cut and laid' now but years ago was 'cut and laid' more satisfactorily than thorn when grown on lightish soils as it grows so strongly.  If not cut will grow up to 8-10 metres.

Numerous tiny pure white star shaped flowers before leaves appear.  In favourable seasons will produce little cherry plums, yellow or red fruits which make superb jam.

A very understated hedging plant which because flowering so early gives encouragement to us all that spring is on its way - in a normal season that is!

 

Friday 15th January

Daphne Odora Aureo Marginata

Rounded, tidy growing bushy evergreen shrubs, slow growing up to 1.2 metres in height when fully grown.  Shiny lanceolate leaves with a narrow yellow edge, very sweetly scented purply-pink flowers form at the end of branches in clusters.  Flowering late winter to early spring (although my plants are flowering now due to the mild weather).

Prefers a sheltered position in the garden and does not like north or east winds, in good fertile soils, moist but well drained.

Saturday 2nd January

Prunus Subhirtella Autumnalis Rosea

With age a fairly wide branched ornamental tree, densely twigged heads up to 6-7 metres in overall height when fully grown.

Frilly bell shaped semi-double pale pink flowers from late autumn sporadically through winter on leafless branches.

Flowering shoots super when cut and brought indoors for forcing.

Rich red and bronze leaves in autumn.  A very pretty ornamental tree for a small garden.

Thursday 24th December

Helleborus Niger  -  The Christmas Rose

What a treat to see now when little else is flowering, especially when although the weather has been extremely mild it has been wet and windy and quite miserable.

"Niger" is an evergreen perennial with dark green divided leaves, overall height 30/40cms.  Nodding good sized white cup-shaped flowers often tinged with pinky-rose and bright golden stamens.  Flowers last really well, December through to February.

Plant in a sheltered shady area away from cold winds, they look superb in a woodland setting with early flowering bulbs.

Likes a fairly neutral soil which must be moist at all times, drying out sets them back badly.

To those really keen gardeners seed germinates readily and although young seedlings take a while to 'bulk up' definately worth the effort.

"Happy gardening" over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Tuesday 17th November

Botanical Names

Do you know why botanical names of plants are always in latin?  Well in the 1700's latin was the most widely used international language of academics and for this reason plants were named in latin as common names varied from country to country so by naming in latin plants became an international language.

Wednesday 28th October

Liriope Muscari

What a stunning little evergreen perennial, flowering late in the season when little else is looking good, so late summer into late autumn.

An idea ground cover plant with bright green long narrow leaves with spikes of tiny bell shaped mauve flowers, looking somewhat similar to Grape Hyacinth in the way in which they flower.

I like to plant in groups of three for impact. They are very drought resistant, plant front of border as eventual height 30/45cms (12-18 inches).  Best suited to shady or woodland type areas and like well drained soil with plenty of humus or compost.  They would not be suitable for heavy clay or chalk soils but look stunning in containers for autumn colour and would liven up that shady corner in a container.

Friday 25th September

Cyclamen Hederifolium (syn. Cyclamen Neapolitanum)

A very hardy Cyclamen which produces a mass of mostly deep pink flowers, occasionally white, which appear before the foliage in late summer/early autumn, looking super now and flower over a good period of time making a stunning feature.

The leaves are somewhat ivy shaped, silvery grey/green in colour.

Good for naturalising, forming a lovely carpet, ideal for wooded or shaded areas in the garden.

Saturday 12th September

Bare Root Field Grown Stock

Now is the time to think about autumn/winter planting and place orders whilst stocks are available.

When I started in the horticultural industry there were very few garden plants grown in containers. Stock was grown and sold straight from the field, our seasons running from November through until early April, there were very few sales outside these periods.

Modern advances have meant that plants are now available throughout the year in containers, however field grown stock is still very much available and is far cheaper to buy than container grown. Winters are much milder than they used to be so the bare root season now runs from the middle of November until late March.

Roses, hedging, conifers, fruit trees (soft and top), ornamental and native trees are all available in bare root form.

Planting a bare root or field grown plant is much the same as container grown planting however there are a few rules:

1.  Don't plant in frosty conditions, heel into good soil or compost until weather conditions permit.

2.  Make sure that roots have been soaked in water prior to planting.

3.  Planting pit should be twice size of plants root system allowing enough space for good application of planting compost or really well rotted manure.

4.  Always plant to the same depth at which they were grown in the nursery, burying will kill.

5.  Always firm plants in by gently treading in to exclude air pockets.

We can provide a complete range of bare root stock, email us with your requirements.

Tuesday 8th September 2015

New Lawns

There are two periods for sowing grass seed to form a new lawn, late April/May or late August/September.

Lawns sown in the spring will take far longer for the seed to germinate as the soil is still cold from the winter weather however, for lawns sown as autumn approaches germination is much quicker, say 7-10 days, as the soil is still warm from the summer.

Make sure you have prepared a good seed bed and select a good seed combination for your type of soil and for your requirements, i.e. hardwearing for childrens play or a finer lawn for croquet, etc.

Sunday 30th August 2015

Spring flowering bulbs

Garden centres now have new seasons spring flowering bulbs on sale so here are a few tips.

Spring flowering bulbs should be planted September/October through to early November, should not be planted in excessively dry areas where little or no rainwater penetrates, none will tolerate waterlogged soils as they will rot quite quickly.  If yours is a heavy soil subject to retaining water and therefore not free draining always plant on a thickish layer of course grit.

Make sure you plant at the correct depth as if you do not then failures will occur. As a general rule plant at twice the bulbs own depth, so a bulb measuring say two inches should be covered with bulb fiber and soil to a depth of four inches.

Plant in clumps, dependent on specie, of 9-12 bulbs, this will provide good impact in spring, planting in lines is quite un-natural and in spring will look like an army on maneuvers.

It is all too easy once bulbs have flowered to forget exact positions and when digging borders and hoeing during summer to disturb and slice through causing damage. I find that certain bulbs are best planted in pots and sunk into borders, certainly Iris Reticulata and some Crocus types do best this way, similarly Tulips are lovely planted in containers on a patio. Alternatively if you are worried about bulb disturbance a cane at each end of planting clump pushed into the soil and showing above soil by say two to three inches will allow for easy recognition and will not be offensive to the eye.  If however your borders are bark mulched for ease of maintenance, which by the way is excellent to retain moisture during dry periods in summer and does supress weed growth so occasional hand weeding only necessary, then bulbs will be quite safe and will flourish for the following spring. 

Monday 24th August 2015

Are you 'a plonker'

In gardening terms, and I stress in gardening terms 'a plonker' means someone who is given or buys plants without thought to their growth pattern, i.e. eventual width, height, or indeed soil needs, and 'plonks' the plant in the first gap they find in the border.

In most cases they end up with a border crammed full of different specie overgrown, all fighting for space and light, nothing fulfilling its potential and the weaker specie dying.

Think before you buy because  a plant in a garden centre looks appealing, check that it will be happy in your garden and that you have the correct position in your border.  If you are given plants, always make sure you know the name so that you can assess its needs and where it would be best positioned.

A well planted border should provide you with colour throughout the year whether it be from flower, fruit or foliage.  Make sure that you include evergreens and deciduous.

All should be visable, graded eventual heights from back to front or middle to sides.

Thursday 13th August 2015

Hydrangea - Every garden should have one or several!

There are many types of Hydrangea available including climbing but here I am writing about the popular Hydrangea macrophylla, often referred to as the 'Common Hydrangea'.

Within the macrophylla group there are two distinct forms: Hortensia, the 'Mophead' which have globular shaped large flowers, used extensively by florists. Flower heads dry really well for indoor winter arrangements. The second type 'Lacecap' where flower heads are flat and appear lacy. All Macrophylla types are deciduous and easy to grow, flowering over a very long period, July through to September, even in winter, frost on old flowers is most attractive. They can be grown in sun or partial shade and are very good planted in containers.

Flower colour is influenced by your soil pH, acid soil (lime free) produce blue flowers and alkaline soils (lime) produce pink flowers, for those of you with alkaline soil wanting blue flowers you can buy 'Hydrangea colourant' which should ensure the blue flowers.

Prune fairly hard in spring to ensure good flowering.

Tuesday 28th July 2015

A perennial for every garden  -  Hemerocallis (Day Lily)

A really easy to grow hardy clump forming perennial, evergreen or semi-evergreen.  A vast range of colours available in many varieties, creating a lovely addition to any border. Summer flowers only last about a day but a profusion of flowers means a fairly long flowering period.  Select a large flowered variety for real impact.

These are lovely planted in containers and is a very tolerant plant in many conditions, they can also be useful as a compliment to water areas within your garden.

Propagation is by division, early spring is a good time, although they can be divided in the autumn.  I have this summer grown the variety pictured, how beautiful is this!

Sunday 26th July 2015

Summer Pruning of Apples and Pears

Summer pruning is becoming a very popular method, of course winter pruning by most is considered the norm however if hard winter pruning is carried out when the tree is most dormant this will promote strong growth the following spring/early summer with little or no fruit.

Summer pruning mid July/August will check the tendency for excessive growth (whereas winter pruning stimulates growth of new shoots).

Prune back shoots to within roughly 15/20cms of their base, reducing the leaf area at this time has the effect of producing fruit buds more quickly at the base of the pruned lateral shoots than if shoots had been allowed to grow unchecked throughout season.

Thursday 20th July 2015

Cistus Speciosus

Most Cistus have finished flowering now, or will do shortly, so now is the time for light pruning (clipping quite acceptable) to remove flower heads, etc. and shape plant.

If you allow your Cistus to grow each year without the pruning mentioned then the bush will become wide, unmanageable and very woody.

Cistus do not form new shoots freely and therefore by cutting into the large wood survival will be extremely doubtful.