Five July Garden Flowers

At the beginning of June gardeners tips showed five photographs of flowers from my garden. For July I have chosen five spherically shaped flowers (actually they were snapped 30th June but they are still around in July).
You may expect plants to only flower in the months recommended by retailers but nature is not like that. The Alliums should be flowering earlier and be over by July. The Hydrangea and Gazinia are still to give their best.

Allium Christophii look like a firework display and I am told make good cut flowers. (Mine will stay in the garden for the time being.)

Despite very poor ‘Peony weather’ my exemplars have survived and not suffered too much damage. It is the flowers I have brought indoors that have quickly shed their petals this year.

It is a bit early for Hydrangeas to show full colour but I liked the theme of big round flowers on these photographs.
I have fed this Hydrangea with colourant last back-end and spring so am hoping the blue gets stronger as the flowers open more fully.

Where would an English garden be without it’s roses?

The orange Gazinia is included for the strength and variety of colour. It is a bit of a cheat as it is still under glass when the picture was taken as the rain could have damaged the petals.


Bruise Vegetation to make great Compost

It is no surprise that damaged fruit rots fastest. So it is with your compost. Cut or bruise the green stuff to make quick and friable compost.

  • Find a way to damage any compostable waste eg. run a lawn mower over it or cut into small pieces
  • Shred twigs and stalks – I use an electric shredder but secateurs are just as good.
  • Chop up any hard stems or long shoots with secateurs to about one inch lengths.
  • Leaves and other plant matter will rot quicker if the bugs and bacteria can get at them from more than just one end. So the more cutting, bruising, shredding, tearing, scrunching or chopping the better.
  • A chipper can do the bruising job quicker and a mulching device can be added to new lawn mowers.

Dactylorhiza foliosa Orchids in your Garden

Dactylorhiza foliosa is a hardy Orchid that will grow and flower in a protected spot in your garden. Originally from Madiera the established plants will produce stunning displays of flower in your garden.

dactylorhiza foliosa

Growing Dactylorhiza foliosa

  • This Orchid in a tuberous perennial that will lose its leaves in winter.
  • The tuberous root is hardy but good drainage and some protection with an autumn mulch is recommended.
  • Dactylorhiza in the wild like damp slopes in woodland glades so it is best to try replicate these conditions.
  • Dactylorhiza hybridise easily but young plants take a long time to develop into flowering specimens.

Description of Dactylorhiza foliosa

    • This Orchid will flower during early summer and generally has purple or pink spikes.
    • The leaves are strap like and can be spotted.
    • Plants can grow 2 feet tall
    • Dactylorhiza foliosa is just one of a large number of species and varieties within the genus Dactylorhiza.


Quarry Gardens at Belsay Hall & Castle

A ‘Quarry Garden’ had not registered with my horticultural subconscious until I visited Belsay Hall garden an English Heritage property in Northumberland. Serendipity or deliberate planning has created a fantastic garden space for the 21st Century from a site first developed as a garden at the end of the 18th century.
There are influences from other famous gardeners including Humphry Repton, William Robinson and the designers of the previous 17th century gardens and manor house.

Belsay Hall Castle Garden

Conceiving a Quarry Garden

There are a couple of paths through the quarry leading to the old castle which hosts grand views of the estate from the battlements. These paths go through the West Quarry garden and the East Quarry gardens. see photos

Sir Charles Monck had the hall built in 1817 from local stone dug from his own quarry between the Castle and Hall. Creating a quarry garden was in his mind as the stone was excavated with great care. If the stone had simply been blasted out we would just have a hole in the ground.

Belsay Hall Castle Garden

The sheer rock sides form a ravine with what has developed into a dramatic garden of significant proportions. The planting of evergreen trees like yews and pines on the rim of the quarry has increased the sense of height whilst the lower story has attracted many plants including Rhododendrons.

Belsay Hall Castle Garden

The lush, jungle atmosphere was later enhanced by Monck’s grandson, Sir Arthur Middleton, who planted many more exotic and rare shrubs that liked the conditions created by the microclimate within the quarry. Majestic trees are complemented by a collection of ferns that Sir Charles Monck was renown for collecting.

Belsay Hall Castle Garden
This is Trapoleum Tuberosun a relative of the nasturtium twining through a tree heather in the more formal part of the garden.

Gardeners Tips

  • Visit in spring when snowdrops and other bulbs, planted in the early 18th century, are in full bloom.
  • Time your visit to see the display of Rhododendrons in full spate.
  • Be prepared for a walk through the surrounding woods and through the Fern walk.
  • The hall contains no furniture but the architecture is worth studying, the tea rooms are worth eating in and the rest of the garden is designed for a fine day.

Belsay Hall Castle Garden


Bird Bath Tips for the Garden

Book Cover

Birds often struggle through our cold winters in the UK and the USA. I guess that is why some of them migrate.  However in the early spring they will be hatching and fledging so they need access to water and the gardener’s answer is a bird bath and a pond.
Where to Locate Your bird Bath
• Birds will use a bird bath if they feel safe and have an escape route into cover.
• Locate the bath near suitable hedges or trees
• Make it hard for cats to lurk near the bath using vegetation as cover
• Place the birdbath where the birds can see the area around it and where there are no hiding places for predators
• Place away from direct sun as this prevents algae growth in the bath.
What Features are Needed
• A shallow bath is adequate and a deep bath dangerous. Birds can drown so cover deep water or bridge the water with a plank or similar.
• The birds need a place to stand and a perch or twig may help.
• Bird baths on a pedestal are most popular.
• A small diameter bath allows birds to see over the edge and be prepared for danger.
Other Tips for Bird Baths
• Ensure good hygiene by cleaning out every week. Dirty water can spread disease.
• Ensure water during frosty times – this is when birds need it most.
• Nature provides bird baths in ponds and puddles. They are not accessible in freezing weather so like your fish pond it is worth keeping a space ice free.

Design of Bird Baths

  • A good bird bath has a sturdy construction that will not wobble or fall.
  • The bath should be accessible so it is easy to fill and clean.
  • Birds appreciate shallow sloping sides with a shallow approach to water.
  • To allow different species to bathe the water should be 1-4 inches deep.
  • Make sure the surface of the bath is rough so birds can grip it with their claws, and not slip.
  • The vigorous bathing of a flock of starlings can use up a lot of water, so make sure your bird bath is big enough!
  • Whilst you are in DIY mode to help your birds why not add some more feeders and nest boxes.

Book Cover

RSPB advice on Bird Baths

  • The simplest bird bath is a plant saucer with textured finish and a stone in the middle You could set several of these around your garden., but is light enough to make it easy to clean and refill.
  • You could use a dustbin lid sunk into the ground,or supported on stones or posts. If the lid is shiny or slippery, a thin layer of gravel on the bottom (this makes it more difficult to clean though).
  • A shallow stone in the middle will help birds get to the water in comfort.

• Bird Baths from Amazon


Growing Seaside Daisy Erigeron glaucus

Erigeron glaucus is often called the Seaside Daisy as it loves the coastal conditions. Other common names for this wild daisy include seaside fleabane and beach aster. These pictures show cultivated varieties growing on a wall within yards of the sea in Cornwall.

St Just Truro Erigeron glaucus

Growing Erigeron glaucus

  • This is a herbaceous perennial that grows 12 inches high and spreads upto two feet in a clump.
  • There are varieties flowering in pinks and blues including Sea Breeze and Roseus.
  • The notable centre of the flower has golden yellow florets with an outer fringe of petals
  • The stems appear succulent and this helps the plants survive salt ladened drying wind that you get at the seaside. Leaves are lance shaped and designed to retain moisture.
  • Erigeron glaucus flowers best in full sun each one about 2″ across.
  • Propagated from stem cuttings.

St Just Truro Erigeron glaucus

Uses and Where to Grow Erigeron glaucus

  • Erigeron glaucus can be grown in many locations where there is good drainage but they flourish at the seaside.
  • Erigeron glaucus can be used for containers and pots.
  • I grow them in my rockery and with other Erigerons in an alpine area.
  • The spreading habit makes them suitable for embankments or on top of walls.

See other small Erigeron plant growing tips and photos.


Star Flower Dahlias – Juul’s Allstar

Classed variously as a Novelty, Star or Orchid-type Dahlia flowers Juul’s Allstar are eye catchers that should be real show stoppers.
To win a top prize the centre should be open with the disc in proper proportion to the ray florets that should be clean and uniform.
Eden Project Dahlia
This p[hoto of Dahlia ‘Juul’s Allstar’ is a real star and has produced flowers early in this wet summer down in Cornwall.

Star Dahlia Flowers

  • Strange how different flowers on the same plant have seven or eight petals per flower (above 8 below 7 & 8)
  • The slender petals form a distinctive star with the sides of each petal rolled inwards. This creates the eye catching and unusual shape.
  • The underside of the petals of Juul’s Allstar dahlias are red with the top being yellow with red veins. The curve of the petal brings out the bi-colour effect.
  • Dahlia Honka is a similar style dahlia but the petals are primrose yellow on both sides of the petal. Dahlia Marie Schnugg has a red flower that is not as uniform as Juul’s Allstar.

Eden Project Dahlia
Dahlia Juul’s Allstar

honka_2 by Productions Saint-Anicet CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Dahlia 'Marie Schnugg'  2009
Dahlia ‘Marie Schnugg’ 2009 by F. D. Richards CC BY-SA 2.0


Snail Problems in the Garden

Snails can be more damaging than slugs! They like the juicy leaves of lush plants and can consume many times there own weight in green matter from your favorite plants.
The only thing snails do not do slowly is eat at a snails pace!


Snail Problems

  • Snails can climb, so stems and stalks are at risk at least as a means of transport to the best feeding station.
  • Snails are keen on juicy, fleshy, water rich plants and less keen on ripe plant matter
  • Families of snails breed in damp and dark locations then seem to feed in groups.
  • My Lupins are always prone to attack despite my best preventative measures. Hostas are also hostage to snails fortune.
  • Snails do tidy up decaying plants and are part of a natural gardens ecology system so do not kill ruthlessly.
  • Beware homing snails, they have the ability to creep back to home territory quicker than you expect

Lost Gardens of Heligan snails

Treatments for Snails and Slugs

Garden snails 4 & 5

In Praise of Snails

  • Snails do not burrow under ground like the black slugs that do most garden damage.
  • Snails do tidy up decaying plants and are part of a natural gardens ecology system so do not kill ruthlessly.
  • Snails provide food for some birds.

Photo credit
Garden snails 4 & 5 by davidshort, CC BY 2.0


Growing Iris From Bulbs

There are two main species of Iris that will grow from bulbs. Bulbs are generally cheap and easy to grow. The bulbs are often packed in 10’s or 50’s so you can grow a group of Iris together or grow extra for cutting.
The main sorts are Iris reticulata and Dutch Iris but there are also some other bulb species to look out for.

Iris reticulata

Iris reticulata

  • The Iris bulbs growing in the photo above are a series of low growing, early spring flowering plants named after people like George, Natasha, Joyce, Gordon and Pauline.
  • Iris reticulata are early flowering Iris that usually appearing from late winter to early spring. The blooms vary from pale blue to deep violet with central yellow splashes down the middle of each petal.
  • These Iris are useful for growing from bulbs in pots or in rockeries.
  • Plants are low growing at around 6 inches tall.

Dutch Iris

  • Dutch Iris flower a bit later, than reticulata bulbs, in early June.
  • Dutch Iris are winter hardy and can also be grown in a cool greenhouse for cutting
  • The flowers are on strong stems 20-32 inches tall.
  • Oriental beauty is one of my favourite varieties shown below
  • Cream Beauty, Royal Yellow and White Excelsior are varieties that avoid the natural Iris colours of purple and blue.
  • Plant Dutch Iris bulbs every 3-6 inches or dig a wider hole and put 3 bulbs in together. Cover with 3″ of soil.

June garden 040 Iris reticulata

Tips for Growing Iris from Bulbs

  • The preferred method is to plant the bulbs in October 5-10cm (2-4in) apart at twice their own depth in well-drained, moderately fertile soil in sun or partial shade.
  • Most types of soil will suffice for one year for these bulbs. The flowers are already inside the bulb waiting to escape so they are almost foolproof in the first year.
  • Divide congested groups July to September after the narrow leaves have died down.
  • Try growing some bulbs indoors for early flowering by forcing. This is what florists do with Dutch Iris varieties.
  • Iris will grow well in pots or containers but if you want them to flower successfully next year they need a deep 8 inche root run to build up strength .
  • The dark blue goes well with snowdrops and they flower at about the same time.
  • Iris look good in rockeries and the top of walls.

June garden 038 Iris reticulata

Growing Other Iris Variety from Bulbs

  • Mixed bulb packs can give you a good show but look for Iris reticulata J S Dyt reddish purple or Natasha white with green veins and a yellow blotch.
  • Iris danflordiae flowers bright yellow 4″ tall.
  • Iris Histroides ‘George’ flowers are a plum purple and Katherine Hodgkin light blue with yellow crests and dark spots both 6″ tall.
  • Iris bucharia grow about a foot tall in yellow and white.
  • Iris lactifolia are ofter called the English Iris naturalise quite well

Iris joker

Useful Links
British Iris Society 90 years old and going strong
BBC Gardeners World – Gardening site of BBC
Royal Horticultural Society
Finding, growing and breeding new species
Iris B


Garden Sculpture and Statuary

For an interesting garden combined with a bit of art you could do worse than visit The Himalayan Garden & Sculpture Park at The Hutts, Grewelthorpe near Ripon North Yorkshire.
Beware the gardens close from June until April each year as the Himalayan plants are only at their best in spring, so watch the time.
The rhododendrons are worth visiting when in full bloom so it is worth picking your time for a trip although the attached nursery is open by appointment.

Himalayan garden sculpture
Stainless toadstools reflect well in the garden.
Himalayan garden Grewelthorpe 180
The whole garden is a sculpture. Hewn out of the valley side it comes as a surprise that there is such a garden and sculpture park at The Hutts .

Himalayan garden sculpture
The many water features in the garden are well augmented by sculptures and statuary. See the May flies in May.

Himalayan garden sculpture Chamu Romano
It will be a dark day in the garden before the stone eggs under the sculpted duck hatch.
Himalayan garden sculpture
All gardeners need a hand every now and then. A big hand is even better.


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