Flower Arranging – Hostas

Book Cover

The Cutting Garden: Growing and Arranging Garden Flowers by Sarah Raven

Growing Hostas for Flower Arrangements

  • Hostas are a group of over 200 species of perennials from China, Japan and Korea that grow well in the UK & North America.
  • In the garden they appreciate shade and protection from slugs.
  • As flower arranging plants they are in demand for the shape, size, colour and texture of the leaves.
  • Size varies from small leaves of Hosta venusta 4 inches high to large leaves of Hosta sieboldiana 2 feet across and more.
  • Hosta fortunei leaves turn rich yellow in Autumn and Hosta unulata is bi-coloured green and yellow with twisting leaves.
  • Hosta flowers from June onward but they are not particularly striking

otley show hostas 051

Special Tips for Flower Arranging with Hostas

  • Prior to arranging Hosta leaves condition them overnight in a deep bucket of water. Even submerging them will do no harm.
  • Stems are quite soft so if putting them into Oasis make a small hole with a stick first.
  • Leaves do not mature before May and would just wilt if cut too early.
  • Yellowe leaved varieties appreciate a bit more sunshine.
  • Hostas are useful for all-green arrangements.

A full array of books on Flower Arranging and related subjects is available from Amazon. You will find more advice and artistic inspiration amongst this selection.
I would also recommend the Harrogate spring flower show where I am always stunned by the floral arrangement amongst the plants on display.

Flower Arrangement
Turn your arrangements into botanical works of art – here are some examples and clubs you could join.
Flower Arrangement by Dominic’s pics CC BY 2.0

Hostas have sculptural leaves in a range of colours from bright green to glaucus blue with yellow and bicoloured varieties that can all contribute to your flower arranging expertise. Grow a few plants and see what we mean.

To grow a generic mix of flowers for arrangements and bouquets check out Thompson & Morgan

Other plants discussed in this series
Fatsia Japonica
Corkscrew hazel

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Dwarf ‘Patio’ Fruit Trees

Dwarf fruit trees of apple, pear, cherry and plum varieties are extremely easy to grow even on your patio.
Quick Tips
Healthy plants will produce an abundance of fruit from next summer.
Choose a large, deepish plant pot or container.
Keep them well watered when young to help them get established.
They require very little training or pruning and will be laden with delicious fruit on a single stem.

Dwarf Anna Apple tree
Dwarf Anna Apple tree by John A. Chartier ‘Anna apple is an Israeli cultivar, a cross between a Red Hadasa from Lebanon and a Golden Delicious apple ….it is a real tasty apple, makes great pies.’ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Due to their upright nature and the fact that they can be grown approx 40-70cm apart, these fruit trees are ideal for the patio or as a centre piece in a small garden. There is quite a range of fruit trees available with prices start at about £15.

Pot grown apple trees can be planted all year round. Enjoy the crunchy, mouth-watering sweet, and tart flavours of your fresh picked Gala and Golden Delicious apples.
Gala apples are praised for their shiny red skin and crisp, sweet flesh. Golden delicious prove to be the more common choice because of their beautiful colour and sweet taste – perfect for salads, apple sauce and apple butter. Both Gala and Golden Delicious apples should be harvested in October.

Jersey Plants Direct offer a pair of pears Conference and Doyenne du Comice Pear trees. Conference pear trees produce a juicy narrow fruit with firm flesh and are extremely popular because they are reliable under less than desirable conditions, which makes them perfect for the English climate. Doyenne du Comice are known for their brilliant texture and outstanding taste. Conference pears should be harvested in late September and Doyenne du Comice pears in mid October, both will produce a fantastic crop year after year.

If you are looking for something a little more unusual, take a look at our Plum and Cherry tree combination.

The varieties are the sweet tasting Cherry Helena and Plum Black Amber. Cherry Helena should be harvested in July and Plum Black Amber in August.


Saving money is just one of the fantastic benefits to growing your own fruit. Don’t forget that by growing your own you are in complete control of how you grow your fruit so know exactly what you’re getting. No chemicals or sprays, you can enjoy your healthy fruit for years to come. Growing your own fruit is also extremely beneficial for the environment; fruit filters the air, conditions the soil and attracts pollinators into your garden.

Snow White and the seven dwarfs - Hessen - Germany -   Bergfreiheit  - Schneewittchen und die sieben Zwerge
Snow White and the seven dwarfs – Hessen – Germany – Bergfreiheit – Schneewittchen und die sieben Zwerge by Ela2007 CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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Colour Range of Different Corydalis

Corydalis salida Firecracker

This Corydalis solida Firecracker is a relatively new plant introduced in 2006

Corydalis Colours

  • Corydalis solida Beth Evans produces delicate, pink-spurred flowers
  • Corydalis solida Purple Beauty
  • Corydalis turtschaninovii Gorin divided foliage with good-sized spikes of clear electric blue or turquoise flowers.
  • Corydalis solida George Baker deep red but hard to grow
  • Corydalis wilsonii profuse yellow flowers
  • Corydalis solida Zarla Povolzya warm pink
  • Corydalis solida Dieter Schacht light pink flowers
  • Corydalis popovii elongated white flowers held on sturdy spikes


Hardy, tuberous corydalis are often misnamed because the green pods drop their fast-maturing seeds close to the parent plant but the seedlings vary and many nurseries supply tubers formed from seedlings. As a result there are wishy-washy impostors masquerading under the ‘George Baker’ and ‘Beth Evans’ names.

It is better to buy any form or subspecies of Corydalis solida when in flowers and remember that the colour deepens after colder winters.

Corydalis wilsonii


See also Growing Corydalis and a picture of Popovii

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Conservatory Flowers


Start six months ahead of time to plan for winter flowers and colour in your Conservatory or Glasshouse.

Growing Exotics

Streltzia regina or Bird of Paradise flowers are as exotic as they come. Keep them dry and remember that as part of the banana family Strelitza are ‘heavy’ feeders.
Succulents and Cacti are becoming popular again and the Schlumbergera or Rhipsalidopsis are worth persevering with.
Anthurium thrive at temperatures between 60-72 degrees and at lower light levels than other house plants.

Forcing Bulbs for Christmas

Narcissus Paperwhite are one of the most popular bulbs for indoor growing. Try White Ziva variety from Thompson Morgan.
Hyacinth bulbs give off a tremendous scent that can fill a room. I would certainly give them house room. Start them off in the dark and allow the roots to develop in the cool. Stagger the planting time and grow several varieties so you can have them in bloom from Christmas to April.
Another plant that continues to grow in popularity is the Amyrillis with very showy flowers.

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Flowers in Early Morning

Christ Church Meadow Dawn

Daffodils just after sunrise

Christ Church Meadow Dawn

A misty Daffodil sunrise. Reflection in stream.

Christ Church Meadow Dawn

Daffodils by the River Isis, in Oxford


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What Kills Rhododendrons

It would be nice if your Rhododendrons were only to die from old age. Rhododendrons are generally long lived shrubs that would then outlive most of us and this article wouldn’t be needed.
However the natural world is not like that and accidents do happen. Gardener inflicted death can be caused by being over protective or trying too hard.


What Makes a Rhododendron Die

  1. Rhododendrons are fibrous, shallow rooted plants that need good drainage to perform well and excess water is currently the major cause of death. Digging a big planting hole that creates a water sump is the way to drown your Rhododendrons.
  2. Rhododendrons do not have taproots to take a drink, unlike trees. Therefore Rhododendrons need frequent watering particularly when young or if spring is very dry.
  3. Another cause of rhododendron death is the excessive application of fertilizer directly at the base of the trunk of the plant. A good rule of thumb is to fertilize more frequently at lower concentrations rather than one large dose especially for small plants or newly transplanted plants.
  4. A fourth reason for rhododendron death is planting too deep. As indicated earlier, rhododendrons are shallow rooted plants and if buried they will stagnate or even die.
  5. Another reason that rhododendrons die is from cold winter temperatures with deep frozen soils. Most rhododendron can be grown in cold areas but I mulch around tender species.
  6. Not many varieties can survive unprotected all-day sun and some say they ‘are doomed’. In general rhododendrons in extreme climates benefit from filtered light and partial shade but there are some varieties that can stand direct sun.
  7. Sudden oak death fungus Phytophthora ramorum has recently infected Rhododendron ponticum and some container grown plants so this problem is moving up the chart of the causes of dieing.
  8. Fungus that causes ‘die back’ thrives in the same general conditions preferred by most rhododendrons. I am sometimes tempted to use a fungicide.
  9. Physical damage by rabbits, Deer or football playing grand children may cause breakages but should not lead to death.

Frost damaged Rhododendron

None Fatal Rhododendron Problems

Rhododendrons are a hardy species – they need to be coming as most do from the Himalayas
Frost has got to these rhododendron flowers but that is not cold enough to kill the plant.
Dried black buds may be caused by insect damage or water shortage.
Burned tips on this year’s new growth is typically indicative of lack of water as the plant withdraws water from the tips of the new foliage first.

June Rhododendron

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Serendipity in Nature and the Garden

Reflective Pollination

I like the way the insects wings have veins that are replicated in the crocus petals.
Also the shadow of the bee caused by the early spring sunshine gives another dimension to the photograph.
I can’t claim any special skill or patience when I took this picture but put it down to serendipity.

Serendipity can play a big part in our gardens. The happy harmony of two colours working well together, the apparently random self-sown seedlings that appear in the right place or even the new seedling that has characteristics not previously noted are all part of serendipity, sometimes you just need to look for it. Many variegated leaved plants were discovered and propagated after acute observation.

Be alert,
(Gardens need Lerts).

Book Cover
‘The Lucky Buggers Case Book’ the harder you Garden the luckier you get.


I am trying to become alert having discovered the way to white wash my greenhouse for shading is to paint the inside. For years I have struggled to clean the windows from the outside after whitening them to provide some shade.

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Tips for Weeding a Garden

March is a great time to sort out any weeds that are showing after winter. Perennial weeds need to have the root sorted whilst annuals like bitter cress can be hoed off and starved of moisture.

Some tips for weeding a garden.

Firstly – Is It a Weed?

One of the most common questions in gardening is – what is a weed? Well one answer is that a weed is a plant that shouldn’t be there. This may differ from gardener to gardener. In fact, I like to tolerate daisies in my lawn because I think they look attractive. However, to others they may appear weeds. Of course there are some weeds that nobody would want in their garden like bindweed, Japanese knot weed e.t.c

Be Thorough.
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Magnolia Trees Bloom


Magnolia in Oxford


Magnolia bloom in early April

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My Chinodoxa – Glory of The Snow


Chinodoxa are beautiful, hardy spring flowering bulbs that are easy to grow. They grow 6inches tall from small bulbs and have pretty star-shaped flowers with long narrow leaves. (Also spelled Chionodoxa and common name Glory of the Snow)

Cultivation 0f Chinodoxa

They do well in most garden soil. Plant 2-3″ deep.
Chinodoxa are most effective when planted in clumps and allowed to naturalise.
Suitable for rockeries and growing in pots.
Flowers lasts for 3-4 weeks, after which both the flowers and the foliage die back.

Chinodoxa Varieties

Chinodoxa Lucilliae is widely available and flowers bright blue
Chinodoxa Luciliae Alba is a clear white with star shaped flowers in March.
Chinodoxa  Forbesii Pink Giant produces a wealth of pink flowers.
Chinodoxa Forbesii is bright blue with a white centre.

Chinodoxia Alba

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