Author Archive | tejvan

Geranium Cranesbill Variety Review

The hardy perennial geranium is a good ground cover plant with many varieties to choose from. Do not confuse hardy Geraniums with Pelargoniums which are also sometimes referred to incorrectly as Geraniums.

Geranium Splish Splash

Geranium ‘Splish Splash’

Geraniums are one of the easiest and most versatile low growing plants. They are not fussy, but given a reasonable level of care they will reward the gardener with ground cover and 1 or 2 extended flowering periods.

Care for Geraniums

  • After flowering cut back geraniums to their base. Feed and water and you will get a second flush of leaves and flowers later in the year.
  • Geraniums are easy to divide. It is best done after the growing season is over in October. Just use a spade and divide their crown into two or three. If cut back, Geraniums can be divided at any time of they year but they will need more attention with watering.
  • Geraniums grow best in full sun or partial shade but they are versatile and in our experience not that fussy.
  • The great thing about Geraniums is that the mature plants seem relatively resistant to the most common pests – slugs and aphids. However, plug plants will need the usual protection from slugs and snails.

Geranium Plugs and Bare Roots

Dwarf hardy geraniums from Jersey direct

Geranium from Thompson Morgan

G. Johnsons Blue pictured is a strain of G. pratense and is a strong growing, self spreading plant. Mrs Kendall Clark is another clear blue but Rozanne has a longer flowering period from early summer to late autumn.

A pink geranium G. sanguenium is commonly found in many cottage gardens with it profuse pink flowers that have two flushes if cut back after the initial show. G Anna Folkard with lime green leaves has a trailing habit and needs some control in my garden.

Along with Johnsons Blue and Anna Folkard, Kashmir White has an Award of Garden Merit but I recommend you see plants in flower if you are looking to acquire it for a special colour or habit so that you make sure you are getting a good base stock that is worth the AGM.

The black Mourning Widow G. Phaeum like shade and self seeds profusely. My stock is also a weedy short lived flowering example that I am trying to throw out.
Greanium renardii has sage green leaves and delicately purple-veined flowers.
Geranium himalayense ‘Birch Double’ is vigorous and versatile. this superb cranesbill tolerates almost any situation; even full shade. A mass of double purple-pink blooms stand above the delicately serrated foliage which turns to shades of burnt red and orange in autumn. will quickly blend with other herbaceous perennials to create colourful groundcover and looks equally attractive in herbaceous borders and shady woodland gardens. Height: 25cm (10”). Spread: 60cm (24”).

Geranium wallichianum ‘Sweet Heidi’ have rich purple, cup shaped blooms with clean, white centres that are decorated with distinct maroon veining. Forming loose mounds of attractive lobed foliage, this robust hardy geranium makes excellent ground cover through the front of informal borders


Geranium cinereum Laurence Flatman”

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Biological Pest Control The Pros and Cons

Biological controls work best when it is warm and activity is highest. The more pests the more there is for the control to eat and treat.

pestcontrol

Biological controls are pest predators that can be bought mail order. Once introduced to the greenhouse or garden they can naturally take care of the relevant pest, enabling you to garden organically and free of pests. If you are considering using Biological pest control, these are the pros and cons

Advantages of Biological Control

  • They are totally organic and provide a natural solution to your pests.
  • They can be effective for upto two months.
  • Some biological control you don’t have to buy mail order. E.g. planting marigolds may encourage hoverfly and they will eat aphids.
  • Using Biological control means you won’t kill the natural predators like Thrushes for slugs, and ladybirds for aphids.
  • They don’t create an eyesore like slug pellets do.
  • Saves you having to kill pests, if you are squeamish at going round your lettuce leaves cutting slugs in half.
  • Some insects may develop resistance to domestic sprays.

Disadvantages of Biological Control

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Dealing With Ants

I am not anti ant but aren’t you glad ants are only small or with their organisation and strength they could rule our gardens.

ants

Photo by David Dennis CC

Ant at work. You have to admire the industry and organisation of ants.

Ants will be a common feature of any garden. To some extent, there is not much you can do about ants. In the garden they are a nuisance, but, sometimes it is just easier to live with them. Ants are more of a problem when they come into the house.

In the garden, you will notice ants, when areas of fine soil are created. (This actually makes very good topsoil). They are unlikely to do much lasting damage to your plants.

Generally, in the garden, I prefer to just tolerate ants, it isn’t really necessary to start using chemicals to kill them.

In the house they are more of a nuisance. But, before resorting to chemicals, simply try to block their entrances and keep areas clean of food.

Ants and Aphids

antsaphids

Photo by Martin Labar CC

This image shows ants and aphids working together. Ants are often attracted by aphids for the juice they excrete. In return, ants help protects aphids from predators.

How to Deal With Ants

  • Ants follow trails of food. Make sure you don’t have trails of food to your house
  • Ants do not manage to cross sticky substances. Using a jelly or slippery grease will prevent ants climbing in.
  • Often the easiest and most effective way of preventing ants entering in the house is to locate the hole where they are managing to enter. (Often ants follow a trail and you can see them returning out the same way they came – carrying food with them.)
  • If you find a colony of ants in a plant pot, you could drench the pot with water. (though make sure you don’t drown your plants.
  • Boiling water on an ant hill may also kill many of the ants in their. Though in the garden it might not be worth it.
  • Use Chemical pesticides.

Book Cover
Ant Spray at Amazon.co.uk

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Common Garden Pests

pests
Sometimes we don’t see the pest, but we definitely see their work.

What are the most common garden pests we are likely to encounter and how can we deal with them?

Slugs

Anyone who has sought to admire their garden, will have come across the devastation that slugs can do. From new shoots of delphiniums to prize hostas and lettuce leaves, slugs can leave a trail of devastation before you can say ‘where are those slug pellets…’
Fortunately, slug populations can be controlled through both the popular slug pellet and more environmentally friendly organic methods. See: Tips for dealing with slugs

Snails

There’s not too much difference between slugs and snails when it comes to pests in the garden. I remember my grandma going out in the morning with a plastic bag full of salt, she could easily fill a bag with snails almost every week. The methods for dealing with snails are similar to slugs.

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Hostas in Pots / Containers

hostas

The colour of green.

These hostas show how much colour you can have from different shades of green. They do a great job in brightening up this shady spot.

Hostas are an excellent low maintenance plant which are admired for their range of leaf colour. The fundamental problem of hostas is the old enemy the slug. The advantage of growing in pots is that it is much easier to protect them from slugs which for some reason take a particular liking to hostas.

hostas

A lovely gateway into Lady Margaret hall gardens, Oxford

Tips for Growing Hostas in Pots

Hostas do best in shady / woodland environment. In full sun, they may struggle. Though they do like a few hours of sun each day. They also like a moist soil. In pots, you will need to be careful they don’t dry out.
If they are in the shade, they are less likely to dry out, but, it may still be worth adding a few water retaining capsules.

Hostas in Full Sun

Hostas don’t thrive in full sun. You are better off choosing different plants for a hot sunny position. If you really want hostas, generally yellow / golden varieties will do better. Try varieties like ‘sun power’ August Moon, Gold Regal, Golden Sculpture Rising Sun, and Squash Casserole.

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The Joy of Gardening

Gardening is one of the most popular pastimes; everyone knows we are supposed to enjoy our garden but do we enjoy gardening or at times does it just feel like hard work? Is it similar to the Joy of Sex or 50 Shades of grey-green?

These are some tips for enjoying gardening.

Don’t Expect Perfection

Some people are never happy until every weed is removed and every plant is in the right place. This means that, even in a small garden, you will always be facing an uphill struggle to keep on top of the garden. A good gardener places emphasis on getting the important structure right, but then allows nature to have her own say as well. Don’t feel guilty just because some weeds are creeping through your borders. Don’t expect plants to behave exactly as you want. If you look at nature, you rarely see plants in a nice neat rows. (see: definition of a weed)

80 / 20 Principle

The 80 / 20 principle says that you can achieve 80% of your improvement with 20% of your effort. When gardening start with the jobs that make the biggest difference to the look of the garden. Don’t start with weeding an area out of sight by the compost heap. Start with making small changes in your main border which will make a big difference.

Take Time To Enjoy

A garden isn’t just a place of work, but somewhere to enjoy. You will always be able to find jobs to do in a garden; but, sometimes you need to say that you are just going to enjoy the garden – the weeds can wait for another day. Similarly, when you work, be focused. In one hour of concentrated weeding, you can probably do more than several odd 5-10 minutes sessions.

Garden is Living Entity.

Don’t just think about plants. Try to encourage wildlife such as birds; they help to create a feeling that the garden is being lived in rather just something to admire like a museum.

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How To Take Root Cuttings

Root Cuttings make an excellent way to increase the number of plants. They can be taken in the middle of winter when not much else is happening in the garden.

Plants which can be Grown through taking Root Cuttings

  • Phlox
  • Mint,
  • Japanese Anemones
  • Primulas
  • Oriental Poppies

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Top 10 Easy Flowers To Grow

sunflowers
1. Sunflowers. One of the most rewarding plants to grow from seed is the sunflower. You can sow seed in March – May. April is a great time. For best results. Try sowing seed in 3 inch pots. Protect from slugs and keep well watered. After a few weeks the seedlings can be planted out. Sunflowers will need staking. But part of the fun is seeing them grow so rapidly. – Growing Sunflowers

2. Daffodils. Bulbs tend to be very easy to grow. The main thing is to plant at the correct depth in the autumn. If the bulbs are in good condition and disease free they will flower for several years. They can be helped by a liquid feed and dividing when overcrowded. Growing from seed requires great patience and expertise. Growing Daffodils

3. Sweet Peas. Sweet Peas aren’t the easiest to grow, but they are wonderful. You can sow direct outdoors but you will have to watch out for slugs. Sowing in 3inch pots will give better results. They also need something to grow up. They will soon reach 6 feet. The other secret of sweet peas is to keep cutting the flowers – this will give you wonderful cut flowers for the house and extend the flowering season. Growing Sweet Peas

4. Nigella – Love in a Mist. If you want a really easier flower to grow try ‘Nigella’ common name ‘love in a mist. You can just scatter seed in the garden and it tends to look after itself. You can sow the seed in either autumn or spring. Once it gets going, it will set seed. It is resistant to many pests as well.

5. Iris.
Spring Flowers

See: Growing Spring IrisBearded Iris

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Photos from Waterperry Garden Oxfordshire

Waterperry is a small village eight miles east of Oxford. It lies on the River Thame (not to be confused with River Thames), though the Thame does end up feeding into the Thames. The extensive gardens and river-side setting offer a combination of formal gardens, flowing herbaceous borders and wildlife meadows by the river.
Waterperry gardens
Helenium

Waterperry gardens

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