Archive | Flowers and Plants

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

Growing Osteospermum – A Great Summer Performer

My Osteospermum was donated by cutting from a neighbour about 10 years ago. The large daisy shaped flowers appear all summer long in a light purple shade. It would be hard to count the number of flowers each year and I am guilty of not feeding the plant.

  • The plant seems hardy and is evergreen with greyish leaves.
  • I have placed it in the sun to droop over a wall where the soil is well drained.
  • There is a new range of colours and many hybrids including yellows and variegated plants
  • Other common names include African Daisy or Blue-eyed Daisy so you could guess it is a member of the Compsitae family.
  • If you want to see other Osteospermum try the Osteospermum.com web site
  • The lax and blousy habit make them an attraction in seaside locations where they thrive. They can be pruned or trimmed back in September.
  • Dimorphotheca are annuals that look very similar to Osteospurmum but they are South African calendula and part of the Asteraceae family
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Growing Rudbeckia Autumn

These Rudbeckia are grown as annuals or biennials but great perennial varieties exist. Some grow as low as 12 inches whilst Rudbeckia triloba Brown Eyed Susan is 5 foot tall and Rudbeckia maxima can be up to 10 feet tall.

  • Rudbeckia are easy to raise from seed. Resulting plants are well behaved, easy to care for and flower from August until late Autumn.
  • There are many varieties of Rudbeckia and I recommend hirta and fulgida types.
  • Rudbeckia are used as cut flowers and for growing in pots
  • Also known as Cone flowers most varieties do not need stalking
  • Rudbeckia sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ and ‘speciosa’ both around 2 foot tall have the RHS Award of Garden Merit. The ‘Green Wizard’ below is under test.

Gardeners tips on Easy Autumn Rudbeckia

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Plum Picks are Victoria and Czar

My Victoria plums have just been picked and the majority converted into jam. The wasps had not got at the sweetest fruit so I had a treat for dessert. The tree is now 10 foot tall and I will prune it back next May or June when the danger of fungal infection is reduced.

Last years Victoria plum crop was so good I decided to try another variety and a Czar tree was planted last Autumn. Czar is a culinary plum with a distinctive blue skin and a sharper taste. This year there was no fruit but next year I hope to do better. Both varieties are self fertile but if you have difficulty there is a great web site for pollination information.

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Companion Plants for Clematis

Some plants work well together for shape, texture or location and with others it is the colour combination that stands out. This Pholx and Clematis both look exceptional in the late afternoon light. The Phlox adds scent and this vibrant coloured clematis has been in flower since late July.

Focus on Clematis partnerships

  • Climbing Roses and Clematis make  classic partnerships. Try the dark Clematis jackmanii ‘Superba’ with a light pink Rose ‘New Dawn’.
  • Consider the environment for climbing and parner the clematis accordingly. Warm stone will look  different to a rustic pergola so try Commtess de Bouchaud or Miss Bateman
  • Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’ can look good with Nicotianas
  • I have seen Clematis montana ‘Rubens’ intertwine with a Golden Ivy and hold its own.
  • Careful mixing of Clematis varieties can produce good companions. Clematis tangutica’s yellow lantern flowers and seedheads look fine with large hybrids Clematis Mrs N Thompson has a yellow centre to pick-out the yellow lanterns.
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Tips for Tomatoes in September

I am picking more and more Cherry Tomatoes as the days get longer. I still have a lot of other vines in the greenhouse with fruit to pick and if they won’t ripen I will try some of these tips. Let me know if you have other methods.

Encourage late ripening

  • If you haven’t taken the greenhouse shading off, do so and clean all the glass.
  • Bunny Guinness suggests you cover plants with horticultural fleece or perforated plastic.
  • Stop pinching out as it is too late and excess water can be transpired through the new leaves to help avoid splitting.
  • Reduce the plants work load by selecting the fruit you want to ripen and take the rest off.
  • If you pick green tomatoes hang vines in a dark dry place to ripen.
  • Wrap a tomato in newspaper and put in a drawer  or cardboard box. Tomatoes ripen best in the dark and sunlight will make the skins get tough.
  • Put a banana in with green tomatoes will speed up the ripening/decay process
  • Pick green tomatoes as they start to change colour. Hard, dark green tomatoes get to a point where they won’t ripen and are only good for Chutney.
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Cyclamen Flowering in Winter

There are many species of Cyclamen and below is a selection for Autumn and Winter flowering.

C. coum is widely grown in the United Kingdom and there are many colours and leaf forms. Whites and pink flowers predominate but bright red varieties are available.

C.libanoticum is often grown in pots to flower January – April. It can withstand severe cold but dislikes wet soil.

C. persicum is tender and forms the stock for many florists Cyclamen. The flowers are generally held high above the leaves.

C. hederifolium flowers pink a bit earlier than some varieties. Leaves appear after flowering. Plants are best sited under shade as provided by a decidious tree. The underside of  the leaves are red coloured.

Other winter flowering species include C. pseudibericum and C. trochopteranthum a horizontal growing variety.

For more information on the Cyclamen species read any Guide by Chris Grey-Wilson

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Georg Arends 1863-1952

Georg Arends was a German nurseryman who bred many perennial plants. His business was successful until the second world war and Rosa ‘Georg Arends’ and Rhododendron ‘Georg Arends’ are named after him.

Plants he bred include ‘Arendsii’ versions of Aconitum, Arabis, Phlox and Hosta sieboldiana. He also specialised in Bergenia breeding ‘Abendglocken’, ‘Morgenrote’ and the white flowered ‘Silberlicht’. (I was told Bergenia were called Elephant plants because an elephant could stamp on them and they would survive. However a more popular name is Elephant Ears after the leaves.)

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Gardener of the Week

Michael J Berry

Private gardening commissions in Morecambe and Lancashire over several years. Now semi-retired

Specialises in home grown tomatoes in his own plot near the west coast.

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