Archive | Flowers and Plants

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

Tree Paeonia Autumn Leaves

Some Paeonia plants are grown for the size, colour and scent of the flowers. This picture caught my attention with the dark red leaves on the three year old tree turning a magenta red offset by the orange red of the Geum Mrs J Bradshaw. Tip Select your Geums with care as many of the 50 species are weeds called Avens.

Tree Paeonies make handsome shrubs up to 6 feet high with very large decorative flowers. A couple of varieties have AGM including the large yellow flowered Paeonia Lutea ludlowii and Paeonia delavayi with crimson flowers are attractive anthers.
Various named varieties can be found in shades of pink, yellow and red and have deeply cut leaves. Look out for the fragrant ‘Souvenir de Maxime Cornu’ or the double yellow Chromotella.
Protect young plants from severe frost but mature specimens will be reasonably hardy.


Eucalyptus Trees in Britain

Eucalyptus or Gum Trees are fast growing shrubs and trees best noted for their attractive scented leaves and stems. They tolerate a variety of soils preferring a deep loam. The leaves on this young tree are still coin shaped but will develop as the tree matures.

Gardeners Tips

  • You can grow Eucalyptus as a short lived shrub and do not need to let it grow to full height. Dig it out when it gets mis-shapen.
  • Plant in spring so roots can develop in the warmer soil but they are surprisingly hardy for trees from Australasia.
  • Plant near a Cotinus or a red Acer for contrasting colours.
  • There are 20 varieties of Eucalyptus seed available from Jungle Seeds
  • See Australian trees including Eucalyptus Snow Gums at Marks Hall garden and arboretum Coggeshall, where 200 Eucalyptus trees have been planted and ‘on warm days the oil aroma provides a heady scent’.

Weeping Beech Fagus Pendula

Beech or Fagus are a small genus containing some of the most noble trees that can make a fine specimen tree. This weeping Beech’s full name is Fagus Sylvatica Pendula or the Weeping Beech although I have christened in the Crying Beech.
It is a large and spectacular form with the main stem or trunk covered in droopy hanging branch lets. There are several related weeper but this tree was quite singular in it’s habit and grew to 50 feet yet still looked immature.

Fagus sylvatica ‘Purple Fountain’ as an excellent tree with cascading branches and dark, bronze/purple/green foliage. Very similar to other weeping beech but much more columnar in shape. Leaves turn more green throughout the summer.

Beech in Autumn at Valley Gardens Yorkshire.

Amazon supply Beech trees and Purple Beech. but a nursery would have a wider selection.


Autumn Crocus Naked Ladies

After seeing Naked Ladies at Harlow Carr gardens in Harrogate I decided to plant some Autumn crocus for myself. The blue Crocus speciosus were planted under some rhododendron shrubs and the colour has been a good strong blue. The corms would have flowered without being planted so it is little to do with the peaty soil but hopefully the leaves that follow the flowers will now help bulk up the Crocus for future years.

The blown flowers on the pink crocus were from far larger bulbs. As you can see they are too near the surface but many Crocus have the ability to use their roots to pull the bulbs deeper in to the soil. I will not be disturbing them to find out. I will cover with some more soil if only to deter mice from eating the bulbs.

Even now if you find bulbs on sale or special offer it may be worth buying some of these interesting bulbs.


War Memorial Flowers Chosen with Care

This war memorial is still well adorned with flowers in late October. The Sweet Alyssum ‘Carpet of Snow’ is doing the job of providing a pervading scent. The Geraniums with white and green bicoloured leaves are probably Caroline Schmidt or a relative of Frank Hedley but the variety is less important than the over all effect.

The setting was evocative of Peace but in November the reminder of less peaceful times will be demonstrated by the Poppy Wreaths and tributes. The Poppy, long a symbol of death and rebirth and now of wartime remembrance, is Papaver rhoeas, the Common Poppy or red flowered Corn Poppy.

British Legion Poppy Appeal donation site


Cyclamen for Woods and Shade

Cyclamen are happy in dappled shade and grow well under trees. If you want to imitate suitable conditions use uncomposted bark chippings as in the photograph.

Ivy-leaved Cyclamen or Cyclamen hederifolium also called Cyclamen neapolitanum have numerous scented, white or light pink flowers in autumn before the leaves grow.
This species readily naturalizes and seeds prolifically.
Like other cyclamen, it resents being transplanted and corms can grow up to a foot in diameter.
Roots emerge from the upper surface of the tuber and not from the lower surface.
Cyclamen like a light soil and good drainage protects the corms from rotting.

Round-leaved Cyclamen Coum flower during the early spring from January to the middle of March. They prefer some protection from bad weather.
They make interesting alpine pot plants.

Book Cover ‘Cyclamen: A Guide for Gardeners, Horticulturists and Botanists’ by C. Grey-Wilson is available from Amazon


Black Eyed Susan or Susie

This simple annual climbs or clambers upto 2 feet tall. Provide a simple support with a triangle of hazel twigs or canes. Black Eyed Susan do best in a sheltered position or as a conservatory plant. Also called Thunbergia Alata they are annuals that should grow easily from seed.
The late summer flowers are intense in colour and the name comes from the dark center or eye. Cream, white, yellow and orange varieties are available.

Thunbergia fragrans Angels Wings has twining stems with 2inch wide white flowers. Whilst notionally it is perennial it blooms well in the first year and can be treated as a half hardy annual.

  • Black Eyed Susan at Thompson & Morgan
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    Tips for growing Magnolia x soulangeana

    Spring flowering Magnolia x soulangeana can be planted now. Container grown plants from grafts or cuttings will flower sooner than bare rooted shrubs. Check the container is not pot bound and older, grafted plants will perform quicker. It is a case of paying a bit more to get what you want as it can take up to 5 years for Magnolias to start flowering.

    Growing Tips

    • Blooms may fall during spells of warm weather so avoid planting in very sunny parts of the garden. Also avoid early morning sun and wind which can damage young growth. Other than that magnolias are hardy shrubs and trees.
    • You can under plant Magnolias as their structure is open but avoid damaging the shallow, delicate roots. I suggest you try Muscari (grape hyacinth) or other small bulbs.
    • You can layer your existing magnolia in August using current year shoots but rooting may take a couple of years.
    • Pruning should not be needed except crossing branches and reshaping. hard pruning can set back flowering for several years.

    Varieties to Grow

    Continue Reading →


    Knapweed Garden Gem or Invasive Weed?

    Centaurea macrocephala also called Knapweed is a tall perennial plant in the cornflower family. Even wikipedia can’t decide about the scale and desirability of the Centaurea family.  As with many families there are good and bad and this species seems fine in my garden.

    Growing Centaurea macrocephala

    • At 3′ to 5′ high this bold plant is ideal for providing vertical interest in a sunny, well-drained herbaceous border.
    • The golden-yellow thistle like flowers are on stiff stems from July to late summer and  mid-green, lance-shaped leaves are followed by attractive seed heads.
    • The flowers are attractive to butterflies bees and many insects as you can see. This and the attractive seed heads make this variety an eco-friendly plant to grow.
    • When dried the seed heads are excellent for use in flower arrangements.
    • Other Centaureas are blue and purple and can make fine cottage garden plants.
    • Avoid Spotted Knapweed that are invasive and ugly cousins  Centaurea biebersteinii , Centaurea maculosa and Centaurea maculosa subsp. micranthos

    • More insects on a Purple Centaurea that flowered in June.


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