Author Archive | hortoris

Edible Hedges You Can Grow & Pick

Sloes and damsons are in good supply this September in your local hedgerows. I have relied on my own blackberries this year but from the train window yesterday there were masses of plump black fruit for picking.

Forage amongst the book shelves to get a cornucopia of edible wild plant ideas.

Book Cover
You can plant your own edible hedge now until late March which will give you a supply of edible fruit and berries for years to come. Bare rooted plants are very reasonably priced.

Easy Step by Step Hedge

Clear the ground to remove weeds and old roots by digging or using Glyphosphate based weedkiller. Leave for a few weeks.
Pick a frost free day and when ready to plant put bundles of bare rooted plants into a bucket of water to give them a drink.
Mark out the line of the hedgerow bearing in mind you will want two staggered rows of plants. You can put down mulch matting and plant through it if you wish.
You will need 4-5 plants per square yard.
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Support Tips for Gardener’s Plants

Great big flowering Dahlias need some good support early in the season. A walled garden helps but these 4 by 4 canes with string every 12″-18″ add that bit extra. When the plants leaf-up and start to flower they will be heavy and liable to damage without support.

Young trees sometimes called ‘whips’ need support and the ability to flex in the wind. These angled posts are ideal with a support about one third the way up the young stem. After 3 years they should become self supporting. The angle keeps the support away from the roots. Continue Reading →

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Contorted Stems for Ikebana Flower Arranging

Winter Interest

Growing Corkscrew Hazel for Flower Arrangements

  • Corylus avellana Contorta is also known as Harry Lauders Walking Sticks or Corkscrew Hazel
  • It is a slow growing deciduous shrub that can grow to 20′ wide and 25′ high when mature.
  • Corkscrew Hazel looks best in winter and from February-March there are pendant male catkins on the bare branches.
  • Propagation is best done by layering branches.
  • When in leaf the mid green leaves give an ugly deformed appearance.

Corylus avellana 'Contorta'

Special Tips for Flower Arranging with Corkscrew Hazel

  • Use the twisted stems and bare twigs in winter arranging.
  • Twigs in bridal bouquets can add movement and interest.
  • Corkscrew Hazel are popular as a base for Ikebana
  • Catkins will gradually lengthen and become more yellow when kept in water for several weeks.
  • Twigs can be dried and used year after year. They can also be painted for Christmas.

Spring

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.

Special Tips for Flower Arranging with Contorted Willow

  • I have included Contorted Willow with Corkscrew Hazel as the issues, effects, tips and methods are quite similar.
  • Twigs and stems can be dried and used several times or be sprinkled with glitter for Christmas.
  • The cut twigs will last several weeks and eventually the willow leaves will open on the stem.
  • Contorted Willow is available under several names including Salix matsudana Tortuosa (Salix babylonica tortuosa), Salix x erythroflexuosa or common names Dragons Claw and Tortured Willow.
  • Salix the Willow family are more vigourous than the Corylus Hazels

Contorted Willow
Credits
Ikebana by M. Martin Vicente CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ by Stadtkatze CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Spring by David Davies CC BY-SA 2.0
Contorted Willow by touring_fishman CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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

Book Cover
Ikebana: The Art of Arranging Flowers by Shozo Sato and Kasen Yoshimura

Corkscrew Hazel and Contorted Willow are plants that both produce twigs that add movement and style when flower arranging. Mix with just one type of flower as less is generally more with Hazels and Willows.
Turn your arrangements into botanical works of art – here are some examples and clubs you could join.
Ikebana
Corylus avellana Contorta the Corkscrew Hazel aka Harry Lauder’s Walking Sick first discovered in 1863. Slow growing eventually reaching 20′ high and wide unless pruned for flower arrangements. Autumn cob nuts produced. Hazel catkins in spring. Cut twigs last well in water

 

  • willow leaves will lengthen. Catkins will open and yellow pollen will show
  • twigs can be dried by hanging upside down then used year after year.
  • twigs can be painted
  • use for christmas decorations, bridal bouquets
  • mix with flowers cut at different heights
  • Contorted Willow   Salix matsudana tortuosa aka S. babylonia var pekinensis, Dragons Claw, Tortured or Corkscrew Willow fast growing hardy deciduous tree
  • Salix x eryroflexuosa branches of rich chestnut colour and a ocher -yellow trunk – also hardy
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Bindweed Wild Flower Varieties

The bindweed family comprises of several varieties seen as wild flowers in the UK together with some other species including convolvulus and polygonum. They can be a nuisance in the garden with brittle roots that make them hard to eliminate.

BEST LEFT IN THE WILD!

Field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis)

Wild Bindweeds

Calystegia soldanella – Sea bindweed pink flowers with white stripe may-Aug

Calystegia sepium  – Hedge bindweed  or  Bellbine, Rutland Beauty, Hedge False Bindweed, Wild Morning Glory with white funnel shaped flowers June-Sept

Calystegia silvatica – Large bindweed with white or pink striped flowers

Black bindweed is part of the dock family Polygonum convolvulus few flowers in pale green

 Convolvulus arvensis – Field bindweed

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Calendula Calendar

Menston Calendula

Orange or Yellow are the signature colours of Pot Marigolds more correctly named Calendula officinalis.

Pot Marigolds are typically grown as an annual or biennials but can be cultivated as a short-lived perennial.

Calendula are also called  English, Field Marigolds, Scotch marigold or Ruddles but are unrelated to African or French marigolds.

Menston Calendula

Varieties to Consider

  • Golden Princess;
  • Orange Princess;
  • Calypso Orange;
  • Radio;
  • Triangle Flashback with double flowers in shades of apricot-pink with a maroon 
  • Deja Vu
  • Pacific Beauty a mixture
  • Sherbet Fizz

Menston Calendula

Grow From Seed

  • Sow in autumn to over winter or start indoors before the last frosts.
  • Avoid warm propagation temperatures, as they will produce weak plants.
  • Keep the seeds covered with soil, as light inhibits germination.
  • After germination good light will help create bushy plants

They may look like daisies because they come from the same family asteracea

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Hosta Little Tips

otley show hostas 035

I am no great fan of large leaved hostas probably due to lack of space in my garden where I prefer to grow other plants. However the dwarf varieties are easy to get on with.

An alternative name for Hostas is Funkia. That appeals to me and helps describe how the plants can create congenital abnormalities and abnormal formations. (Teratology).

Small Hosta Tips

  • There are a host of varieties to start to growing and collecting may become an obsession. There are 49 named varieties of ‘mouse-ear’ varieties alone.
  • Water well in spring even before the first leaves show. Roots need water particularly as the light increases.
  • The better the roots the better the plants will display.
  • In spring restart the plants with slug bait, slow release fertiliser and a mulch.
  • A weak solution of Tomorite makes a good foliar feed.
  • Epsom salts will provide needed magnesium when the leaves have hardened in early summer.
  • Water  lightly  in autumn to fatten up the roots for winter.
  • Allow plants to make good clumps. Leave for 3 years or so before dividing. I tend to be too impatient dividing to get more plants.
  • Encourage flowers and collect seed to increase your stock.
  • The more light a hosta gets the more water it needs.

otley show hostas 050

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Floral Language

This curious 19th century craze which engaged the hearts and fancies of the Victorians had no historical or mythological basis but became the fertile sand on which a folklore was built. Using images from the Lindley Library this intriguing display tells the story of popular 19th century code used by lovers to exchange messages.The snowdrop signified friendship and forget-me-nots meant true love, but a gift of a pumpkin or a gourd was considered the height of bad manners – find out why … and discover much more by visiting the display at RHS Harlow Carr Library

‘The Artistic Language of Flowers’, 1880, published by Meissner & Buch, Leipzig © RHS Library Collections Digitised version from Amazon

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Roses are Red and Charitable Too

I am miffed  that the Royal National Rose Society has gone into administration (May 2017). Originally formed in 1876 it owns land in St Albans but finds annual running costs onerous. As small compensation here are details about a couple of charitable red roses.

The Prince’s Trust  Climber Rose

  • This rose was bred in 2000 by Harkness roses and named to help raise awareness and funds for the The Prince’s Trust.
  • The clusters of slightly fragrant, pure scarlet or blood red blooms are produced repeatedly throughout the summer into the autumn.
  • The green, glossy foliage provides an attractive backdrop to the blooms.
  • Normally a 10′  climber it can  grow up to 15 feet even on a north facing wall.

National Trust – Hybrid Tea Rose

  • A medium sized 3 foot high flowering Hybrid Tea rose.
  • Spiraling petals of  vivid red make florist quality, long stemmed blooms produced throughout the summer and autumn.
  • Young foliage is coppery red foliage maturing to a glossy, dark green.
  • Different suppliers make differing claims about the scent ranging from undetectable to sweet or strong. I think it is very light compared to most roses.
  • The eagle eyed may see some black spot but it is a hardy disease resistant rose that will tolerate poorer conditions than other rosa varieties.

At least the two beneficiaries The Prince’s Trust and the National Trust are still operating as charities even if our Royal National Rose Society is becoming defunct.

 

 

 

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Garden Advice to a Daughter

These notes are designed as advice to a daughter who has just moved into a 1920’s house with a long, narrow back garden and a postage stamp sized front grass patch.

Current Layout and Issues

  • The front is open to cats and the quiet road with a footpath at one side leading to the door, edged by a rough hedge.
  • The other side of the front is partnered to a well kept neighbors garden fence and a motley collection of shrubs. Under the bay window is ruble trouble.
  • The extended kitchen at the rear provides a small sit’out’ery  and place for pot plants.
  • A high trellis fence along the length of the garden displays nothing much and there is only a pencil strip of soil at its base.
  • I don’t expect the garden to look like this next time I visit but annuals and begonias can add a splash of colour

Quick Fixes

  • Cut and edge the grass at the front even though the ground is very uneven. Don’t worry about the weeds in the grass until you can call it a lawn.
  • Lower the 6 foot high privet hedge to say 3 feet and make it narrower at the top than the bottom. An ‘A’ shaped hedge is easier to maintain. Privet, Yew and mixed hedges will regrow, only looking rough until next summer.
  • Get the neighbors to cut down the overgrown inappropriate sized tree that is over-shadowing your garden. At best a good trim of over hanging branches would be a start.
  • Get a new lockable garden hut.
  • Clear up old attempts at compost heaps by spreading or burying. I would go for a themo plastic box composter.

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