Patterns with Plants


This natural pattern of succulent leaves was spotted in my garden as the Autumn flowering Sedum Spectabile burst forth this Spring. This follows the patten in the leaves at the end of a branch of Monkey Puzzle Tree and set me thinking. Many gardeners spend a lot of time and effort to get patterns of colour and texture, variety of shape and form or harmonious patterns to please the eye but nature does it best.

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Growing Annual Phlox

Gardeners Tips 2011 phlox

Phlox can be an easy grown half hardy annual suitable for any garden situation particularly a cottage garden. It’s compact bushy habit makes it ideal for planting as drifts of colour, as border edging or in containers. This Phlox differs from the perennial varieties that grow taller and have more scent. Never the less annual Phlox is worth the little effort that is required

Description of Phlox

  • Phlox drummondii is free flowering in a broad range of attractive colours including red, white, blue shades, pastel colours and bright yellowy orange.
  • Phlox flowers throughout the summer on 12″ high plants although some varieties are lower growing.
  • Phlox hybrida compacta has a stripped flower.
  • The flowering period is from June through July & August
  • Blooms are about 1″ across in clusters and are trumpet-shaped with a narrow tube.
  • The leaves are soft, hairy and sticky.

Cultivation Tips for Annual Phlox

  • Grow from seed sown in February- May six weeks before the last frost.
  • Sow seed on the surface of good, free-draining, seed compost.
  • Do not cover the seed. Place in a propagator or seal container inside a polythene bag and place at 18-20C (64-68F) until after germination which takes about 10-21 days.
  • Do not exclude light as this helps germination.
  • Transplant seedlings when large enough to handle into trays or pots. Grow on in cooler conditions for a few weeks before planting out 8″ apart after all risk of frost .
  • Plants prefer a rich well drained soil in a sunny position.
  • A foliar feed of dilute liquid fertiliser will help plants continue flowering through summer.

Special Growing Tips for Phlox

  • The Phlox self deadheads to produce a continuing show
  • The flowers are attractive to Bees and Butterflies and that makes them worth planting for that alone.
  • In USA some species grow will at the roadside so how hard can they be to grow in your garden.

Book Cover
Phlox: A Natural History and Gardener’s Guide by James H. Locklear

Varieties, Species and Types of Annual Phlox

  • Phlox drummondii ‘Crème Brûlée’ a variety of orange-yellow shades.
  • Phlox Drummondii ‘Dwarf Beauty Mixed’ includes reds blues and white.
  • Phlox Drummondii ‘Phlox Of Sheep’ is available in a range of pastel shades
  • Phlox hybrida compacta ‘Peppermint Candy’ is an interesting red and white stripped variety

Horticulture Sources and Origins

  • In 1835, botanist Thomas Drummond collected the seeds of this annual wildflower in America where a red-colored variety grew with a pink-flowered form.
  • You can often obtain seeds or plants from our mail order company of choice Thompson & Morgan
  • Read about perennial Phlox
  • Night Phlox or Zaluzianskya is a plant closely related to Phlox.
  • Pdf article on annual phlox species.
  • More Information from University of Texas plant data base

Lily Flowered Tulips

red tulip

A red ‘Lily Flowered Tulip’ creeping above the late spring snow.

I have just ordered my tulip bulbs for autumn planting.

Lily Flowered tulips are so called because of their unique shape: the blossom resembles a lily, or sometimes an urn. This effect is created by long, pointed petals which tend to bend back; it can give the impression of a six pointed star.

Varieties of Lily Flowered Tulips Include

  • Ballade
  • Ballerina
  • Blom’s Harmonious Mixture
  • China Pink
  • Elegant Lady
  • Fly Away
  • Jane Packer
  • Mariette
  • Marilyn
  • Marjolein
  • Maytime
  • Mona Lisa
  • Moonlight Girl
  • West Point
  • White Triumphator
  • Yuri Dolgorukiy

How to Recognise Lily Flowered Tulips

    • Lily tulips are all classed as Division 6 tulips.
    • They are a small group of tulips, which used to be classified as Cottage Tulips with an hourglass shaped bloom.
    • Lily-flowered tulips with their cinched-in waists and reflexed petals show their distinctive shape off best if not too closely crowded together.
    • In style they are similar to the Ottoman or Turkish tulips of the 18th century.
    • They are a beautiful race of tulips with lovely flowers and gracefully reflexing and pointed petals.
    • The elegant blooms are born on strong wiry stems from mid April to May.

Thanks to Bloms Bulbs

tulip pattern

It is hard to see what type of Tulip is showing in this photograph as the flowers are well blown! (that means they are open to the fullest extent and are nearing the end of there display life.)

Tip toe through the tulips

Because tulips are such showy flowers I couldn’t resist adding another favourite picture to this short collection of snaps.
See also Parrot Tulips on Gardeners Tips


Growing Nasturtiums

Double Nasturtium

Nasturtiums or Tropaeolum majus are also known as Indian Cress as the peppery leaves can be eaten. However, the best reason for growing Nasturtiums is the large volume of red, orange or yellow flowers you can get on a trailing plants that is planted in poor soil. Also they are so easy you need little help.

Description of Nasturtiums

  • Nasturtiums are soft, fleshy plants with round, veined leaves.
  • Flowers are generally single in small trumpet shapes coloured Red, orange and yellow.
  • The plants will trail or spread over a distance during the summer and can be used for climbing or to trail over a wall.
  • After the first frost plants turn into a mush but the tripod seeds can be collected or left as wild creature food.
  • Nasturtiums flower in summer/autumn. Plants grow in mounds unless supported as climbers.


Cultivation Tips for Nasturtiums

  • Grow from seed which are oval, pea sized capsules. The seed size makes them easy to handle and suitable for children to plant.
  • Plant direct into the ground where you want the plants to flower.
  • Nasturtiums produce 3 seeds per flower and self sow for next year. The spare seeds are eaten or rot<./li>
  • Poor soil will encourage more nasturtium flowers. Rich soil encourages leafy growth.
  • Do not bother fertilizing Nasturtiums
  • Ideal for bedding, borders, tubs and containers.
  • Flowers can be cut for unusual floral decorations.


Special Growing Tips for Nasturtiums

  • Black fly, cabbage white butterfly and slugs appreciate a meal of Nasturtiums but do not let that put you off growing them.
  • Flowers seeds and leaves are all edible and enhance a salad.
  • Nasturtiums protect other plants from insects – or more likely act as the host for the insects
  • You can trail your nasturtiums off a balcony by growing them in pots. Provide plenty of water.


Varieties, Species and Types of Nasturtiums

  • There are 200 species of Tropaeolum but only 3 or 4 in cultivation as flowering Nasturtium being Tropaeolum majus, Tropaeolum peregrinum and Tropaeolum speciosum.
  • Nasturtium Double Gleam looks double due to the frills on the petals.
  • There are many varieties of Nasturtium sold by seed merchants in single colours or mixtures.
  • Nasturtium ‘Banana Split’ Tropaeolum minus, is an eye-catching nasturtium with golden-petalled flowers that fade to lemon as the season progresses
  • Tropaeolum speciosum the Flame Nasturtium, Flame Flower, Flame Creeper is a hardy perennial with spurred blooms in bright red throughout summer followed by spherical blue fruits set against a backdrop of attractive dark green foliage.

Horticulture Sources and Advice

  • True Nasturtium plants are water cress, garden cress and mustard with a peppery, pungent flavor. They should not be confused with flowering nasturtiums which are from the genus Tropaeolum.
  • You can often obtain seeds or plants from our mail order company of choice Thompson & Morgan
  • More tips on growing Nasturtiums
  • More Intensly coloured Nasturtiums



Gardening with Dummies

Book Cover

Gardeners Tips for Dummies are contained in the above book.

Other Dummies to Consider

If your veg crop fails, buy some dummies from the local greengrocer.
Do not be upset if your dummy is not working in the garden today.
Slugs and pests are seldom dummies, they are always live.
Babies dummies sometimes benefit from a bit of sugar – so too can your Tomatoes and Carrots prior to eating.
Do not throw your dummy out with the rain butt water.

This is just a dummy post – a garden post


Growing Veg in Winter for Spring Crops

Book Cover

Sowing and planting vegetable in Autumn will ensure produce can be harvested from next April in mild districts. Over wintered crops avoid the problems of insect and pest damage suffered by spring sown crops but beware of mice when planting seeds.

Winter Vegetables to Grow

  • Broad Beans can be sown in October or November. Most varieties should be hardy though I would select The Sutton which grows 2′ tall or Aquadulce Claudia.
  • Peas of round seeded varieties such as Felthams First, Pilot or Douce Provence are suitable for autumn sowing.
  • Mange-Tout should overwinter if you grow Oregon Sugar Pod.
  • Garlic and Shallots are best planted in November.
  • Carrots of the Nantes type such as Adelaide or Nantucket will mature in June if overwintered.
  • Winter greens can often be bought as young plants for putting out in your veg plot.

Growing Tips for Winter Vegetables

  • Protection is the name of the game if you want to boost crop yields.
    • In wet regions use cloches to protect seedlings.
    • Sow some seed in modules in a cold greenhouse for planting out in March to get an early crop.
    • Cover with fleece in really cold weather.
    • Shelter for strong winds where practical.
  • Great Preparation will help winter crops
    • Plan to get all your crops started before December by which time the soil will be too cold for sowing or planting out.
    • Good drainage will help so I use  raised beds.
    • Place crops to benefit from winter sunshine.

The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year-round Vegetable Production Using Deep-organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses.  Eliot Colman helps the Home Farmer (and the keen gardener) extend their growing season to cover   winter   as his techniques can easily be adapted.


Carbon Neutral Garden


They are not making ‘Carbon’ anymore nor is carbon ever totally destroyed. Carbon is one of natures greatest recycling projects. Carbon is present in gaseous form like Methane(CH4), Carbon dioxide(CO2) and Carbon monoxide(CO). Carbon is also dissolved in water particularly the oceans but is naturally present most notably as a solid in rocks such as limestone, minerals like oil and coal plus trees and plant matter.

Do you think about the carbon cycle?

Is your garden carbon neutral?

Are you offsetting your own carbon emissions?

Environmental Benefits of Planting Trees

Common Sense Carbon Neutral

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Growing Citrus – Oranges, Lemons, and Others

Book Cover

Glasshouse gardeners and those with large conservatories may be tempted to grow citrus trees. This book by Martin Page contains well written, instructive comments. Due to an American influence on the varieties chosen it is worth doing more research for UK purchases before plunging.


Don’t expect a crop of sweet juicy fruit in normal UK conditions.

It is noaccident that oranges grapefruit and other citrus come from Florida, North Africa and hot fertile climates

‘Growing Citrus’ is also  available as an ebook.

A more general text may suit casual growers of fruit. The book below contains interesting ideas on 50 different fruit crops.
Book Cover


Calendula Pot Marigold Collecting Seeds

Fly trap

Calendula have lasted well all summer and there are still come bright yellow flowers in my garden despite last nights frost.

Collect Seed

  • I collect the seeds from the flowerheads when the curved seeds become brown. Otherwise the plants self sow and you get plants where you do not need them.
  • If they do self sow and germinate, as they are likely to do, you can transplant them in late spring.
  • The seeds dry quickly and are easy to find, collect and store.
  • On each head there are about 12-20 seeds.
  • Sow between March and May  ½ inch deep, outdoors in drills  12-18 inches apart, in soil which has been raked to a fine tilth.
  • After sowing, keep well watered until seedlings appear.

Calendula Tips

  • English Marigold, Marigold, or  Pot Marigold are common names for Calendula Officinalis Nana.
  • They are available a striking combination of   double yellow, lemon, apricot and orange flowers, borne on  compact, basal branching, bushy plants.
  • For organic gardeners this makes an ideal companion plant keeping flies away from other crops..
  • Flower petals and leaves can be used in salads to add a tangy flavour.
  • If you can’t collect your own seeds are available from Thompson Morgan

Orange calendula


Berry Fruit Cages

You have grown some bush fruit in an organic garden and as the berries ripen all the birds you have fed through winter decide to feast on your well grown crops. What a good job you protected them in a fruit cage!

red currant

If you do not have a fruit cage yet, you can buy a Two Wests Standard 6′ High Fruit Cage 6′ x 12′ Cage from Amazon.

Blackcurrant and Jostaberry
Blackcurrants prefer a cool, clay-loam soil which is not too acidic pH 6.5.
They are gross feeders and like a rich fertile soil.
Blackcurrants are shallow rooting and require irrigation or good watering when dry.
Protection from frost may be needed for early flowering varieties.

Redcurrant and Whitecurrant

A potash rich, moist, well drained soil with a pH 6.0 is optimum. Continue Reading →


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