Author Archive | hortoris

Selecting a New Apple Tree

There are over 7000 different varieties of apple tree including those classed as eaters, cookers, crab or cider apples. 10% of these are available from RHS plant finder recommended nurseries.

Horticultural Considerations

  • Your apple tree should last a long time and be fruitful and satisfying. It is worth taking care to get the selection right.
  • The growth and size of your tree will depend to a large extent on the ‘rootstock’. The most common rootstocks are M27 5-6 feet tall, M26 8-12 feet tall and MM106 12-18 feet tall.
  • Some varieties of apple in clay based soil may grow slightly quicker and larger than an apple planted on light, sandy or chalky soil.
  • Most apple trees need another cultivar to pollinate their flowers and set fruit. It must flower at the same time. Triploid trees are very poor pollinators.
  • Some varieties are more disease resistant than others. Seek out award of garden merit AGM varieties or discuss with a specialist nursery.

Personal Selection Criteria

  • Warm country imports from supermarkets often have less flavour than your home grown apples.
  • Autumn apple days are held around the country and can offer a wealth of local advice. Sample tasting may be possible or you can select trusted well known favourites.
  • How you want to grow your tree can affect the selection. A trained espalier tree or cordon grown on a slant, a ballerina tree grown in a large pot or a ‘step over hedge’ tree are currently popular in designer gardens. The choice is yours but plan now for planting later this autumn.
  • Two year old trees will cost more but crop sooner than maidens.

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Tree Stump Removal

Are you stumped about how best to remove the stump and roots of  a tree after you have taken down the trunk and branches? This is the stump of an over grown Eucalyptus that was removed in spring. The slit was intended to hold weed killer but as the side shoots show it hasn’t worked. (Thank you EU for no help at all see below.) The scale of the stump and thus the size of my digging out problem is shown by my spectacles. I guess I should have known Eucalyptus are successful at regenerating.

Reasons to Remove Old Stumps

  • Stumps left in the ground after felling can cause replanting issues. Roots may get in the way, nutrients may be missing and the stump may look unsightly.
  • When simply felled the old tree can produce new shoots and suckers.
  • Roots can play host to various fungus and disease’
  • Roots may continue to cause uneven surface problems.

Removal Methods

  • Grubbing out by hand, spade and mini digger are the first port of call.
  • Winching out using the old trunk as a lever can be done with the right machinery and is often seen in operation on forestry land.
  • The root can be ground out and turned into coarse saw dust with a grinder or chipper often owned by a tree surgeon.
  • Applying brushwood or weed killer containing commercial strength  glyphosate or ammonium sulphamate. Drill holes in the stump around the circumference and fill with the weedkiller. Roots should die within a couple of months but the stum will take years to rot away depending on the species.
  • Root Out was a popular,  RHS recommended, product that encourage rotting. Crazily it has had its approval for use as a  herbicide, weed, tree and bramble killer withdrawn by EU and  it is now only sold as a Compost Accelerator. It was used, amongst other purposes to help prevent the spread of Honey Fungus Armilleria
  • Nature will eventually rot down your stump slightly quicker if you cover it in garden compost so the micro organisms can get to work. In the meantime it can be ‘tarted up’ for other purposes such as part of a stumpery or support for a decorative pot.
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Yew Tree – Taxus baccata

Yew

Yew are used in many contexts and can feature in natural or formal situations. In the 18th century species of Taxus were brought to the UK from America and Asia to add to our native Taxus baccata. There are now many cultivars of upright, pendulous and ground cover forms of Yew.

Garden Uses of Yew

  • Yew provide evergreen structure to your garden
  • Hedging is an important garden use creating a dense living wall or sculptable feature.
  • Yew is famous for its use in topiary with its ability to take on shape and form and last for many decades.
  • Mounds can be planted with an upright yew underplanted with ground cover Yews.
  • Dwarf varieties of our native Yew include Corleys Coppertip and Dwarf White.
  • Specimen trees can be grown from Taxus baccata varieties such as Dovastoniana, Amersfoort and Fatigiata Aureomarginata
  • In a small garden select slow growing forms of Taxus baccata

Cultivation Tips

  • Yew can withstand hard or even drastic pruning.
  • For a slender upright growing Yew try a Japanese for Taxus cuspidata ‘Robusta’ as a change from the Irish yew. Train young plants to a single stem.
  • Prune annually in late summer. To substantially reduce a hedge cut in April and do half the tree one year and the other half the following season.
  • Well suited to chalky and lime stone soil but not too fussy.

Irish Yew

Golden coloured Yew

See Also

Yew Root and Branch Review

Old Yews

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Is Green a Colour?

The answer to the question is ‘of course green is a colour.’ Green is a mixture, a hybrid in gardening terms, as it is made from yellow and blue combined in varying quantities. But the emphasis is on the ‘made from’ of this answer.  The leaves above contain a higher proportion of blue whilst those below are more yellow in content.

Green is fixed in our minds when we are taught the colours of the rainbow. Mnemonics and acronyms includeed Richard Of York Gained Battle In Vain, ROYGBIV,   Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo and Violet, Roy G. Biv,  and the song ‘Red and orange and yellow and green, blue and indigo violet too………….I can sing a rainbow’

Red is the complementary colour to green. They are opposite each other on the colour wheel.   A splash of red brings out the many contrasting green shades in this photograph.

 

 

There are many shades of green counted in the Irish  song ‘The 40 Shades of Green’. It is surprising how many of these shades use plants as a reference to the type of green colour such as; lime, pea, sage, olive, fern, juniper, shamrock, mint, moss, pine, seaweed and forest green (below with Lime) which all spring to mind.

Forgive this word play as here we have ‘Bowling Green’.

Frosted green has a blue hue as would most gardeners working in the cold.

The last Green picture is one of my favourite Hart’s Tongue Fern.

This post has been an excuse to use some of the many pictures of plant life that all rely on photosynthesis and chlorophyll to produce the greens we see.

 

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Grandchildren and Gardening

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Gardeners are keen on offspring in the garden when they come from their own propagation. That may not always be the case with grandchildren except in controlled circumstance.
Grandma saw a youngster eating a slug and rather than be critical asked ‘what does that taste like?’ After a pause the kid replied ‘worms’.

Safety of Children in the Garden

  • You can be too prescriptive about musts and don’ts. Commonsense is crucial and grandparents can help teach that to the kids.
  • Garden tools can be very sharp and need to be used correctly, carefully and kept under your supervision.
  • I am prone to leaving items in the garden to trip over and rakes can jump up and hit the unsuspecting. Now grandkids are visiting I am tidying up before after and during the visits.
  • Learning by experience will cover stinging nettles, irritating sap, prickly roses and some other plants to avoid. A warning or two (hundred that is) will still fall on deaf ears – I still get stung and pricked!
  • Not everything belongs in a child’s mouth but  most plant matter will not cause too much harm. However look out for poisonous seeds, Laburnum, Monkshood and anything you grow that you know to avoid eating.
  • Water is seductive and ponds dangerous. I know you will put up protection near open water and remember water and electric tools don’t mix

Keeping Grandchildren Amused

  • If you get rostered into child minding on a regular basis it is worth setting up regular garden related tasks the kids can get involved with.
  • Get them kitted out with waterproof clothes.
  • Don’t push too hard it may put off the next generation of Throwers and Titchmarshes. We may find routine gardening fun but kids may need a bit extra and activity changes every 20 minutes or so.
  • Gardening has lessons for all of us and the kids have a lot to learn from you and your garden or open air classroom.
  • There are lots of lists of easy to grow plants from large easy to handle seeds like sunflowers, Peas and beans but they take ages (eons in kid time) to show life much less crop. The old standby mustard and cress are more reliable.
  • Plant pots, containers, baskets and boxes are all small areas where kids can have there own ‘patch’ so to speak.

 

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Laid-back Lawns

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What Use is a Lawn

  • A patch of grass is an Englishman’s lawn just as his home is his castle.
  • A lawn can be used as a sanctuary to be cut and cossetted whilst escaping from life’s toils and troubles.
  • Aesthetically it may be the central feature of a modern garden design or a natural backdrop to a more avant garde garden
  • Lawns are for recreation including croquet,  children’s football, french cricket and golf with a plastic ball containing more holes than Hostas after a slug fest.
  • Lawns can become a valuable habitat for wildlife so go easy on the chemical treatments.
  • A place to stand admiring the rest of the garden or talking to the neighbors

Avoiding Lawn Labours

  • Not everyone wants to work of months on end to maintain a pristine lawn. It will take ages to get a billiard table lawn and then the weather will change.
  • Decide what sort of lawn and effort you are prepared to accept.
  • Lawns respond to TLC and if you can’t or don’t want to lavish your time on one then you can subcontract the work to a Green Finger expert .
  • If you pay a gardener make sure they trim the edges regularly, nothing sets off a lawn better than a short back and sides.
  • Left to grow a lawn will not become a floral meadow, more likely a weed infested jungle.
  • Greying your garden with concrete, paving or decking is a recent activity but think of all the uses you will have to forgo.
  • Ignore the roller above Grandads used one but you don’t need to risk a hernia unless you are a professional  groundsman.
  • Turf can provide an ‘instant lawn’  a bit expensive but less so than astroturf.
  • If you enjoy lawn maintenance set yourself up in business to help others!

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Bromeliad, Vriesea and Guzmania

Most Bromeliad of the thousands of species are tropical plants. In the UK they make good house plants and pot plants for a conservatory. Others plants in the same family are the  genus including  Aechmea, Neoregelia, Vriesea and Guzmania

Bromeliad Care

  • The foliage  grows in a natural rosette of sword shaped leaves.
  • A central cup of leaves catches water in the plant’s natural habitat. In the home just top up this cup with soft water once a week. Over-watered  can cause root rot.
  • Use a liquid feed once a  month but not via the cup.
  • Avoid direct sunlight but the plants need plenty of light. Semi-shade is ideal.
  • Keep the air humid by putting the pot in a saucer of gravel.
  • The brightly colored leaves are  called bracts.
  • After flowering the Bromeliad may start to produce offsets called pups.

 Water in the ‘cup’
Kew 092
Guzmania

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June 17th Potatoes from a Waterbutt

This £1 packet of supermarket potato tubers have just been harvested to cook as new potatoes tonight. The variety was Charlotte, they were chitted in February and planted out in a frost shelter in March.

The results were better than usual in that they didn’t ‘go into the water’ when boiled. The potatoes were quite waxy, tasty and good value considering the price I paid. I used an old waterbutt rather than these special gro’bags see below. They had let me down in the past as I think they do not hold enough moisture. One advantage of both planters is that the ground stays clear and the space can now be used for other items.

I am now going to try use these planters for some late Chrysanthemums that can be kept outside in summer but brought into the greenhouse for autumn.

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New Photos of Senicio or Senetti

Sorry but I have been to Madeira again on holiday. The gardens, walking and vibrant colours are major attractions

With old age I am growing to like Daisy and all the related family particularly these vibrant coloured flowers from Pericallis genus.

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Garden for Cut Flowers

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On the new craze of gardening for cut flowers, where America starts will we follow or is it really voice versa?

Olden Times

  • The Romans brought many plants to the UK in the first century including  various herbs and  the grape.
  • Dating from the early 15th century a book called The Feate of Gardening mentions more than 100 plants.
  • Gardens as a form of creative display properly began in the sixteenth century, often described as Tudor gardens.
  • Oh…. did Christopher Columbus stumble on the new world around then?

Flower Farms

  • Skip to the 21st century and ‘flower farms are all the rage’ as though selective cultivation is something new.
  • Stunning flower gardens of rewarding species can be grown for seasonal bloom
  • A corner of your garden or an allotment plot for sweet peas, chrysanthemums, dahlias and  cosmos can produce bunches and bunches.
  • With more space flower production for gate sales or local retail supply can supplement plant and seedling sales.
  • Do not forget to grow ‘greenery’ to sell with bunches of flowers.

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Possible Markets for Your Flowers

  • Bridal displays and bouquets for special occasions are worth a premium price.
  • Selling as a producer to a retailer means the retailers  margin and wastage needs to be accounted for in your pricing.
  • Market stall, farmers markets and local event selling is seasonal but may generate  some cash.
  • Supply agreements will commit you to regularity and consistency so have a good plan to be able to deliver.
  • Crafters, flower arranging clubs friends and neighbors are also possible targets.
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