Archive | Flowers and Plants

Annual, perennial and interesting flowers with advice on culture, information, tips and recommended varieties

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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Carnation Street

 

Green fingers held this wet carnation still for a photograph of the captivating colour scheme. I have loved carnations for over 60 years but never really got on top of growing or breeding for showing.

Carnations through the Ages

  • Dianthus caryophyllus have been around for over 2000 years well known to the ancient Greeks. Since that time they have been bred into a vast range of varieties.
  • Standard Carnations are the large single headed varieties grown in a greenhouse environment.
  • Hardy border carnations of the sort by family grew in their little cottage the 1950’s. These are the family of carnations that were depicted in old Flemish paintings.

Jan Albertsz Rotius – A Four-year-old Girl with a Pot of Carnations – 1663

  • Perpetual flowering carnations well-loved by the florists who sold these by the million as one of the longest lived cut flowers. Now overtaken by supermarket and garage forecourt sales of bunches in plastic.
  • Vintage varieties  have been very popular in bridal bouquets for years
  • Spray carnations have multiple flowers per head by removing the terminal bud and leave the side buds to flower.
  • Pinks have smaller flowers than carnations and either single or double.

 

The British National Carnation Society   growing the flowers of the three main types of Dianthus – Pinks, Border Carnations and Perpetual-flowering Carnations.

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Help Plants Through a Wet Winter

Plants can drown when roots are left in wet soil for protracted periods. Short immersion whilst dormant is seldom fatal but saturated soil drives away the oxygen needed by plants to help them transpire.
Also in winter some plants are prone to root rot Phytophthora or rot off at soil level.

waterlogged garden

Not Waving but Drowning

Selecting Appropriate Plants for Wet Winters

  • Avoid silver leaved or grey perennials.
  • Mediterranean hot arid loving plants and many alpines do not like our cold, wet winters.
  • Pot plants that suffer quite easily and can die include Orchids, African Violets and other fleshy rooted plants.
  • Bog lovers, Hydrangeas, Cornus, Dogwoods and Hosta are just some of the plants that may thrive through a wet winter.

Improving Survival Chances

  • Wet soil is created by compaction or because of a high water table and poor drainage.
  • Incorporating grit or pea gravel as a surface mulch will help keep the base of the plant drier.
  • Plant on top of a slight mound
  • Improve drainage by spiking, trenches and with soak-aways or land drains.
  • Avoid compacting the soil by walking on the ground when it is wet.
  • Work your soil and dig in organic matter during the other seasons.
  • Spring flooding is especially dangerous when plants and roots start to respire. Divert excess water and be prepared

Pot Grown Plants

  • Lift pots off the ground with pot feet or onto bricks.
  • Lay pots on their side to avoid excessive rain settling on the center of the plants.
  • Improve drainage by incorporating perlite and coarse grit in the compost.
  • Move pots under cover or into a rain shadow.
  • Put a slanted pane of glass or cloches over special plants. Allow air to circulate.
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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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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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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

Book Cover

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.

Book Cover

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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