Better Ways to Amaryllis


On the 1st February my Christmas gift Amaryllis was rocketing upward with an 8 inch flower stalk already. The photo was taken at 6 inches only 4 days ago. What better way to reach for the stars? Unfortunately the bulb has now flowered itself out and I am looking for new bulbs to plant in Autumn.
The growing number of hybrids of Hippeastrum are better known by gardeners as Amaryllis and I will look under both names.


 Ways to Grow Amaryllis

  • Buy your new bulbs early to get the pick of the varieties and sizes.
  • Look for firm bulbs with no more than a hint of undamaged leaf growth
  • The compost supplied with boxed bulbs is fibrous and short on nutrient. A soil based compost is far better.
  • I find the bulbs hard to feed up for next years flowering. The compost needs more nutrient and I will feed twice a week through summer  after flowering. Then I will give the bulb a dry Autumn rest.
  • I will use dilute foliar feed as well as tomato feed and cut back the flower as soon as it fades
  • The leaves and flowers for next year are formed during this season so when cutting back do not damage the top of the bulb. You can see where a leaf was just clipped on this plant at the bulb stage.
  • They make exotic flower bunches if bought from a florist or grown in quantity at home. Tight buds open into a tall shapely formation.

Ornamental Amaryillis pictures of and pot growing tips.

Book Cover
Hippeastrum – the Gardener’s Amaryllis (A Royal Horticultural Society Plant Collector Guide) by V Reid

Final Growing Tips
Plant or replant with the shoulder of the bulb just showing about the soil.
Look after the plant after it has flowered to build it up- all that big flower needs lots of bulb strength
Repot in September for Christmas flowering. I like to grow the to flower in spring.
The more light you can provide the less drawn and consequently floppy the plant will be.
If necessary support the plant with cotton tied to a network of slim sticks but most Amaryllis are strong stemmed

Is this the way to Amaryllis from K van Bourg Wholesale? The great big bulbs thought of as the Belladonna Lily are popular presents at this time of the year. Easy to grow in a bit of warmth, no lower than 45°F, the spectacular Amaryllis Hippeastrum hybrids are available in several strong colours.

Boxed Amaryllis Growing Hints

  • Plant in a pot 6 inches wider than the bulb with one third of the bulb above the surface. Decorate with sphagnum moss as a mulch if you wish. Put clay balls in the bottom of the pot or mix perlite in the soil.
  • Soak the bulb roots in warm water so they can be spread in the pot and water once but then leave the pot. The bulb can’t take up moisture until the plant develops.
  • Allow some sunlight to encourage the stem and long strappy leaves to develop and grow watering only when bone dry.
  • Do not fertilise when in flower but as the flower finishes cut it off at the top and allow the stem to brown and die back. Then the leaves can be given a foliar feed and the plant some liquid fertiliser.
  • Plants in their pot can be put outside in the sunshine for the summer and then rested in september before restarting in growth back in doors in winter. Amaryllis are happy when pot bound so keep the same pot just replacing the top couple of inches of soil.
  • Give bulbs sunshine, good soil, and proper watering and regular feeding when in growth and they will be fit healthy plants

Photo Credit
Amaryillis by Will-travel CC BY-NC 2.0


Choosing a Birch Tree – Betula Family

There are over 60 species of birch or Betula as they are known


Silver Birch or Betula pendula has gleaming white trunk and stems that look good in winter with yellowing leaves in autumn that add seasonal colour. As a native British tree birches are good for the environment and encourage wild life.

Growing Silver Birches

  • In a large garden a full grown Silver Birch can offer shelter to smaller less robust trees and shrubs.
  • Silver Birch prefer light sandy soil but are quite tolerant of most soil conditions.
  • Normally cultivated to above 30 feet tall Silver Birch seek out light, bright conditions.
  • Small ‘whips’ or saplings can be planted in Winter or Autumn and mature trees seed quite freely.
  • Tie young trees to a stake.
  • The branches can be tied together to make a beesom. The timber is white and used for craft work and furniture making.
  • A weeping Silver birch Betula pendula ‘Youngii’ produces a dome shaped or mushroom headed tree of lesser proportions. Continue Reading →

Rose Hips for Gardens & Coughs

‘Three cheers for Rose hips’

Roses produce hips to carry seeds if we do not deadhead. The colour of the hips (aka heps, haws, Pixie Pears or even Pig’s Noses) vary with some strong reds and bright orange varieties. The wild varieties and species rose are often better hip producers as other roses have been bred for floral purposes. Tip do some research when buying roses to get good hips.
Rose hip
Good Hip Roses

  • Rosa Rugarosa are grown for the hips that follow the flowers. They make a good hedge with masses of small bristly thorns up to 6 feet high. Rugarosa Alba are fragrant white flowers of heavily scented large white flowers June to September followed by large orange-red hips early autumn .
  • The climbing Rose Francis E. Lester has large bunches of small blooms with a strong fragrance. This is followed by masses of small orange hips in autumn.
  • Rosa ‘Geranium’  is a large, vigorous shrub with arching branches and dark-green leaves. In summer, it produces red flowers with prominent yellow stamens, followed by bright-red, long hips in autumn.
  • Rose Macrophylla has clear pink flowers followed by long bristly, flagon-shaped hips.

Rose hip
Using Rose Hips

  • Hips help attract wild birds and  feed them through winter.
  • Many hips from wild roses are colourful and can be used in flower arrangements.
  • Fruiting varieties like ‘Buff Beauty’ ‘Felicia’ and ‘Penelope’ are usually edible and pleasantly sweet, especially if you wait until the frost has concentrated their sugars.
  • Hips are decorative and can look spectacular during winter with a rime of frost.
  • Rose hips are made into syrup for vitamin C and here are some other recipes.

HT roses seem to produce more boring hips.


Rosehip Syrup, Tea and Cordial
Before setting out for school in the 1950’s I remember taking a spoonful of Rosehip syrup. The vitamin C must have done me some good as I am still here.

Rosehip Syrup Recipes

  • Crush about 2lbs rosehips and put into 3 pints boiling water.
  • Bring back to boil, remove from heat and let stand for 10 mins.
  • Strain through jellybag. When it ceases to drip, return to pan with another 1½ pints boiling water.
  • Pour into a clean pan, reduce by boiling until juice measures 1½ pints.
  • Add 1lb sugar.
  • Stir over gentle heat until sugar dissolves and boil for 5 minutes.
  • Pour into hot bottles and seal.
    With thanks to Hedgerow recipes see

more uses for Rosehips


Other Uses for Rosehips

  • The real reason for Rosehips is to produce pollinated seed from which to grow more roses.

Continue Reading →


Walled Gardens And Garden Walls

Most walled gardens are comparatively small and the walls act as wind breaks. The micro climates created help the plants through hard times.

If you are lucky enough to have a walled garden you will know what a boon they can be specially for growing vegetables and fruit. This 5 acre garden is in Helmsley North Yorkshire and has outstanding fruit and vegetables despite the climate. There is information on fruit grown within this garden on Gods Own County.

Tips from a Walled Garden

  • Think about the different micro climates in your garden. A walled garden accentuates and creates micro climates that you can use to your gardening advantage but you have many already.

menston march 14 029

Continue Reading →


Get Cracking Indoor Bulbs for Christmas

Bright colour and attractive scent are special features you can add to Christmas from indoor bulbs.
If you get cracking and plant your bulbs in Autumn you will have gifts to give away or an indoor show to be proud of.


Indoor Hyacinth Bulbs for Christmas

  • Hyacinths are fragrant and colourful. For Christmas you need to buy specially ‘prepared’ bulbs which have been treated to flower early
  • Buy new bulbs each year and select those that have been treated to flower early.
  • Pot up in early autumn and keep in cool dark conditions.
  • Bring into the light a few weeks before Christmas, then into the warmth. Flowers will last longer if not too warm.
  • Do not let your pots dry out.

Smaller Bulbs for Christmas

  • Crocus can be encouraged to flower for Christmas. Try a special pot with holes in the side where bulbs can peak out. Crocus chrysanthus are the small species best suited for Christmas.
  • Iris danfordiae are likely to give a good show if kept cool until ready to flower.
  • Tulips may be forced into Christmas flower but normally flower later.

Continue Reading →


Swiss Chard as Coloured Spinach

swiss Chard HC

Similar to spinach with a slightly bitter flavour Swiss Chard is pungent and slightly salty. It contains an exceptionally impressive list of health promoting nutrients. Although Swiss Chard is available throughout the year, its season runs from June through August when it is at its best.

  • Swiss Chard is a tall leafy green vegetable with a thick, crunchy stalk that comes in white, red or yellow with wide fan-like green leaves.
  • It is ornamental enough to grow in the border.
  • Chard is easy to grow from seed and grows upto 18 inches tall and spread.
  • Eat and cook Chards like spinach. Both the leaves and stalk of chard are edible, although the stems vary in texture with the white ones being the most tender.
  • ‘Ruby Red’ has stunning deep veins and can be picked young.
  • ‘Bright Lights’ is a seed mixture ready within a month
  • Organic seed is available and if growing it organically watch out for slugs

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Gardening Jobs We Hate To Do.


Cutting the grass is hard work, (you could just leave it like this natural meadow)

Gardening is a beautiful pastime, working with plants is one of the most rewarding activities. But, there are sill some jobs that never seem particularly attractive. These are some of the jobs I try to avoid doing, or at least get someone else to do. (It’s about time to invite my Mother to cut my edges)

1. Dealing With Slugs

There is no easy way to deal with slugs. Using pellets leaves a slight feeling of guilt. Any other method is either gruesome or hardwork.

2. Cleaning equipment after use.

When you’ve spent along time clipping a hedge, putting the clippings away, the last thing you wont to do is to clean all the tools you’ve used. But, it is an effective way to extend the length of tools.

3. Cutting the edges and picking up the clippings.

Mowing the lawn isn’t too bad, but, going round all the edges and cutting them is hard work with little reward.

Continue Reading →


Growing and Pruning Peach Trees

espallierPlanting peaches

  • If planting against a wall remember at least a foot from the wall will be extremely dry
  • The soil may also be very poor and contain builders rubble.
  • Dig a deep pit and fill with good rotted compost
  • After planting water well to settle the soil and add a mulch of manure
  • Peaches like a lightopen well drained soil that still retains some moisture

Training Peach trees

  • Horizontal wires secured with vine eyes are a traditional support mechanism.
  • Train side shoots to form a fan shape by tying to the wire
  • A neater method may be to select 2 side opposing shoots to grow parallel to the wall. Remove the leading branch and tie each shoot to a cane at 45degree angle.

Pruning Peach Trees


Scented Pelargonium (Geraniums)

It is the scented leaves of Pelargoniums rather than the flower that attracts growers and collectors. They are often used in scented gardens for the blind but are useful in a normal garden border where they may be brushed or touched. As indoor pot plants they are ideal as living pot-pourri and may be hybrids or species in their own right.

Top 10 Scented leaved Pelargoniums

  1. Pelargonium Fragrans Variegata a small plant with lots of scented green and white leaves with the aroma of spice, pine and lemon.
  2. Mable Grey woody and harder to grow but heavy lemon scented leaves

Book Cover

  1. P. graveolens Lady Plymouth a strong grower favoured for exhibitions with a rose like scent
  2. Prince of Orange is an old variety that as the name implies smells of orange
  3. Little gem is a dwarf grower with a spicy scent that remains fresh until late in the year

Continue Reading →


Choice Blue Conifers

Abies procera glauca

This noble fir is a large prostrate form with thick rounded bright blue needles that gives a good colour contrast within any garden. This is just one of the good looking Conifers that can be suitable for a British garden.

  • This prostrate form is slow growing. Remove any strong vertical branches
  • Young plants need a good soaking when the soil becomes too dry and prefer a moisture retentive soil
  • Roots spread wider than the tree but shouldn’t need fertiliser
  • Will stand very cold winter temperatures
  • The habit, form and colour of this Pine make it a good plant to incorporate into a garden design

Book Cover

Other Blue Conifers

Colorado Blue Spruce or Picea pungens glauca is a beautiful blue conifer with a broad, pyramidal shape.

Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca Pendula’  as the name suggests trails like a weeping willow and can be as vigorous.

Chamaecyparis Lawsoniana Alumii is a slow growing columnar tree

Abies pinsapo blue Spanish fir is also slow growing with some of the most striking frosty blue  foliage of any conifer.


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