Auricula Knowhow & Books

Auricula Book Examples

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The Auricula: History, Cultivation and Varieties Allan Guest

Every now and then I decide to focus on one species or plant group. For 2014/2015 it is going to be the Auriculas. I need to practice the techniques explained in various books and learn’ what is what’ with florists Auricula. With that in mind I have joined the National Auricula and Primrose Society northern section and so far it seems very good value for money.

On to the books I am looking out for:

Auriculas – Their Care and Cultivation B.Hyatt Cassell, London.
Auriculas Through the Ages: Bear’s… by Patricia Cleveland-Peck
Auriculas for Everyone: How to Grow and Show Perfect Plants by Mary A. Robinson
Auriculas and Primroses by W.R. Hecker (22 Apr 1971)

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Primroses and Auriculas Wisley Handbook by Peter Ward
The Auricula: History, Cultivation and Varieties by Allan Guest
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Why Gardeners Need Latin and Romans

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) think that a bit of Latin is useful for Gardeners but so is weed killer. But what did the Romans ever do for gardeners? Well they educated the Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus who began consistently using a one-word “trivial name” together with a generic name in a system of binomial nomenclature for all plants.
Moving on 250 years and 3000 plant names are worthy of exploration as they give a backbone to our gardening language.

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‘ RHS Latin for Gardeners: Over 3,000 Plant Names Explained and Explored’ Royal Horticultural Society and Lorraine Harrison

Amazon would say ‘RHS Latin for Gardeners is an informative, entertaining and beautifully illustrated unraveling of the mysteries of botanical Latin’ or something equally vomit inducing.

As Ovid said about compost making ‘adde parvum parvo magnus acervus erit’ or in English Add a little to a little and there will be a great heap.

My favorite is ‘errare est gardanum’ to err you must be a gardener.

Plant lables
Latin on the Slate

If it was the Romans who brought wine and grapes to our shores then a big cheers!

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Cut down on Pollen for a Low Allergy Garden –

Breathing Allergies

Hay fever sufferers don’t need to told about the typical symptoms of sniffing, sneezing, puffy eyes, sore throat and a runny nose. Starting in spring through summer these symptoms are likely to be caused by pollen and allergens. All year round symptoms are more likely to be caused by dust mites or pets such as cats.

Asthma is characterised by chest and breathing problems and can be caused by allergic triggers such as pollution, infection, or allergens. Airborne particles including pollen and fungal spores can bring on an attack especially if there is a known susceptibility to asthma.


Hay Fever and Asthma sufferers should cut down on Pollen

  • Given the above it is logical to avoid plants that are high in pollen particularly those that are wind pollinated. This includes grasses, weeds like docks and plantains, trees and shrubs that flower before the leaves are fully formed such as Hazel,Alder, Oak, Poplar, Sycamore and Birch.
  • Use other low pollen trees such as pink or red Hawthorne, Crab Apple, Prunus Cherries or Mountain Ash. These trees attract Bees so if allergic to stings then be even more selective with Ameleranchier or double flowered Japanese Cherries.
  • Female flowers do not produce pollen so chooses them in preference to male plants. Male trees or shrubs all produce large amounts of allergenic pollen.
  • If you can avoid having a lawn that may be best if not cut it regularly before it flowers or better still get a none sufferer to cut it. This is because even un-flowered grass will have trapped other pollen, dust and spores that is disturbed when cut.
  • For play areas use play ground rubber, artificial turf or inert covering but be aware of dusty surfaces.
  • For flat areas use ponds or water to reflect other green colours from the garden.

Select varieties with low Allergic pollens

  • Herbs like Chives, Thyme, Mint, Bay and Sage or the hotter Caraway, Cumin and Coriander but be wary of bees that are attracted by scent to pollinate the plants
  • Hosta come in a wide range of textured and coloured leaves. occasionally a variety may have scented flowers but these can be cut off.
  • Pink or red Pholx like P. paniculata Barnwell avoid the more scented whites
  • Geum and various Penstemon may be comparatively short lived but you won’t need a constant supply of tissues.
  • Hydrangea lacecap varieties or Spirea Japonica provide shrub interest
  • Large flowered Clematis and passion flowers can provide height as climbing plants
  • Annuals and biennials offer a fairly good choice including Busy Lizzie, Forget-me-not, Lobelia, Universal pansy (not the scented violas), Petunia, Nigella and Nasturtium.
  • Plant disease-resistant varieties as mildew, rust and black spot   reproduce by spores.

Plants with Pollen to Avoid

  • Pampas grass and ornamental grasses
  • Marigold or Calendula and Achillea or Yarrow have pollen which can cause asthma
  • Chrysanthemums and Shasta Daisy have allergenic pollen
  • Even Privet and Elder can trigger hay fever or asthma
  • Weeping Silver Birch, Willow trees and any ‘catkin’ forming trees are a risk of Hay fever and asthma

More Information

Read about Scent and Smell   in low allergy gardens.

Books from Amazon:
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Creating a low-allergen Garden by Lucy Huntington

Allergy Free Gardening by Thomas L Ogren

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Low Allergy Garden Phormium

The coloured, sword like leaves of Phormium are not to be sneezed at!
menston 055

If you suffer from Asthma, Hay Fever or Skin Allergies you want to select plants that do not exacerbate your problems.

New Zealand Flax or Phormium works well in a low allergen garden taking several years to flower. The sword shaped leaves are the attraction of this range of plants useful for a focal point in a border, gravel or container.

Phormium can be purchased mail order at amazon.

The species Phormium tenax is quite large growing but some hybrid varieties like ‘Bronze Baby’ will work well in even small gardens. Phormium ‘Purpureum’ is a robust grower but ‘Sundowner’ (below) is smaller and has interesting cream, purple and green striped foliage.
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Hypericum – St John’s Wort, Rose of Sharon, Aaron’s Beard

Make your garden feel a lot better with this cure all….
St Johns Wort

Hypericum is a large family of perennial shrubs with creeping roots. This specimen is three feet tall and attracts lots of insects from mid June. Often called St John’s Wort it is named after St John’s day which is 24th June when it’s flowers are collected for medicinal purposes.

In mild climates the shrub can be evergreen with glossy leaves. With several varieties having an award of garden merit this is a shrub that is well worth growing.

Flowers and Cultivation

  • The single yellow flowers are often quite numerous as on this Hidcote variety. It is also known as the Rose of Sharon.
  • Flower colour varies from pale lemon yellow to an umber or burnt orange-yellow
  • There are 5 petals and a large number of stamen leading to another common name Aaron’s Beard.
  • They flower at the end of branches or stems and create a spicy scent of curry.
  • After the flowers there are fleshy red berries that contain numerous seeds
  • The wild flower can be quite invasive spreading by roots or seeds dropped by birds
  • Prune after flowering. They can stand a hard cut back and may even benefit.
  • Grow the ground cover Hypericum calycinium Briggadoon which can flower July -October

Herbal and Medicinal Uses

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Wild Nectar Plants for Butterflies

This is a selection of wild flowers that have for generation helped provide food for butterflies. They are rich in nectar and even garden cultivated varieties should feature in your butterfly friendly garden. Even nettles feed butterfly larvae.
weedy dandelion
Low Growing plants up to 12 Inches Tall
Primrose and Cowslip.
Orange Hawkweed
Birds-foot -trefoil
Lesser Celandine
Sweet Violet and Pansy
Wild Thyme
White Clover
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My Main Garden Problems

hosta-snail damage

Not everything in the garden is lovely. Consider this hosta with snail damage that has ravaged the leaves so that they are just a mass of ribbons and holes. Slugs and snails are a pest at the best of times but this plant was in a wet spot and has suffered accordingly. See our slug and snail tips for help to prevent this in your garden (if you can trust someone who has a plant like this)

This is a picture of a Holyhock with an early stage of rust. Rust is yellow spots and grains starting on the reverse of the leaf that stop leaves functioning. This is a regular problem with most Holyhocks in our area and is exacerbated by wet conditions. By later on in the season leaves will be falling off and the plant will be in a sorry state. Even plants that are said to be resistant have shown signs of rust the progress of which can be slowed by fungicides.


This isn’t frost damage on the Hydrangea so I assume it is wind burn on some of the early opening flower heads. Normally my hydrangeas don’t suffer from pests and problems but very young plants need some protection from slugs.

black-spot on rose tree

Most of the infected leaves have already denuded this rose tree. The last few spotted leaves will be cut off and burnt. It isn’t safe to compost such infected leaves as the spores will persist and return via the compost when it is spread. The rose will be pruned heavily and given a fungicide treatment now and again in spring in the hope that the problem wont recur. the roses next to this tree are fit and healthy so it is worth looking for resilient varieties when you buy new ones. The cost is normally low enough that I should oust the spotted plant right now.

Confessions of a Gardener

  • My other garden problems are more personal. Laziness and apathy sometimes stop me getting down to some hard graft.
  • Leaving dirty and hard jobs for another day emphasizes that procrastination is the thief of garden produce.
  • Another personal trait is the failure to plan, label or record what I have going on in the garden.
  • I start one job and get distracted or find something more enjoyable to tackle.
  • I plant too close together, weed too late and skimp on the overall tidiness or lack thereof.
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Top Tomato Tips

A good crop of tomatoes is not just an accident. A bit of ‘TLC’ will be repaid


Watering is key to growing a successful Tomato. If a Tomato dries out the skin quickly thickens. If you water inconsistently the skin splits. Irregular watering can stop the uptake of Calcium which causes Blossom-end rot making the bottom of the fruit brown and inedible.

Feeding Tomatoes will increase the yield. All that rapid growth and fruiting takes a lot of nourishment. If you are growing in pots, grow bags or containers all the nourishment is provided by you. Provide a high potash feed weekly, increasing the frequency the larger the plant gets in July and August. If the leaves start to look pale, discoloured or yellow it hints at feeding deficiency.
To encourage more roots plant part of the stem as roots will spring from the buried stem.

Training your Tomato up a cane or string with regular ties to support the weight of fruit.  Continue Reading →

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Sowing Green Manure

Sow green manure as soon as you empty a space, even 4 weeks can be enough to get a good amount of green growth using spinach or mustard.

Clover field 8177

Green manure is a crop specifically grown to create organic matter to be composted or dug into the soil. When dug in the green manure provides humus and nutrients to the soil.
Each green manure variety adds to the quality of your soil, Lupins deep roots help break up clay and many bring beneficial insects into the garden.
The mere fact of using green manures stops goodness being leached out of the soil when it has no other crop.

Green Manures to Sow for Summer

  • Buckwheat deep rooted for poor soil conditioning.
  • White Clover a nitrogen fixer
  • Yellow trefoil for moisture retention
  • Mustard but avoid if you suffer from club root as it is a brassica.
  • Phacelia see photo below
  • Agricultural Lupins deep rooted nitrogen fixer
  • Spinach or calendula grow and rot quickly.

Over Wintering Green Manure to Sow

  • Red or Crimson Clover see photo above.
  • Alfalfa deep rooted nitrogen fixer good for trace elements.
  • Field Beans fast growing nitrogen fixer
  • Fenugrek
  • Ryegrass humus from green matter
  • Comfrey

How To Sow Green Manure

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Plants the New Mulch For Green Soil

All I wanted for Christmas is more humus.


When winter comes to a close and the spring flowers give a hint of things to come I will be buying and sowing my vegetable seeds.

Within a couple on months I wont have a spare bit of soil in the garden and the ground will be covered with lush vegetation (I hope). Plants are the new mulch!

Green Soil

  • Ground covered with greenery will hold water more readily and provide shade for roots. Ensure water gets down to where it is needed as a dense covering of foliage can leave the under-soil bone dry.
  • Soil in good heart will grow better crops and you can plant closer together.
  • Add layers of mulch material or compost on top of your soil to condition the soil and get it into good shape.
  • If for some reason you intend having a bare patch for sometime then try a green manure crop. They can help soil structure and nitrogen balance when dug back into the soil.

Traditional Organic Mulch Materials

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