Archive | Flowers and Plants

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

Sedum spathulifolium all year round


Sedum spathulifolium make dense mats of grey foliage. The cheerful yellow flowers can be up to 3″ across.

Originally from west and north America this hardy plant is now found in many rockery and alpine gardens. It can be grown successfully with Sempervivums or other Sedum.

Sedum spathulifolium varieties to Grow

  • Sedum spathulifolium purpureum has wine coloured leaves when young.
  • Sedum spathulifolium ‘Capablanca’ has virtually white leaves and is more delicate needing protection in an apline house.
  • Cape Blanco has tiny, fleshy rosettes of whitish-gray leaves. It spreads slowly to form low dense mats. Good in containers.
  • Although attractive in flower, Sedum spathulifolium are at their best in midwinter with their colourful evergreen foliage and attractive shapes.
  • ‘Carnea’ has rounded, fleshy, silver-green leaves shaded with crimson and bright yellow summer flowers. see images.

Read also Growing Sedum or Stonecrop and more on  Succulents

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Cushion Plant Growing Tips

gypsophillia aretiodes

What are Cushion Plants

  • Surprise!  Cushion plants look like cushions although they may be firmer.
  • Cushion plants grow very slowly and  evenly. They grow rosettes of leaves all at once so that no one part of the plant is more exposed than others.
  • The flowers are small and often massed closely nestled in the leaves for protection.
  • The low growing, dense foliage of a cushion plant acts as a layer of insulation, protecting the roots and stems.


Where to Find Cushion Plants

  • Cushion plants  grow in rapidly draining rocky or sandy soils
  • They grow in exposed and windy conditions such as alpine, arctic and arid areas.
  • A cushion plant  can thrive because it insulates itself  and has time to develop very deep  taproots .
  • Cushion plants in several families can be found all over the world. Continue Reading →

Rockery Plants in a Rock Box

Rock Box

A call this a rock box as it is one way of displaying rockery plants above ground level.

The size of these interesting rock plants allows you to get many species in one small container. This tannalized wooden frame was custom made about 4 feet square and is on display outside the new Alpine house at RHS gardens Harlow Carr. I counted over 30 different species planted in this one container.

Below is a close-up of the Armeria junperfolia from the same display.

Armeria juniperfolia

See also Rock Gardens in Miniature


Growing Triteleia Bulbs

Triteleia starlight

Tips for Growing Triteleia

  • Triteleia ixioides Starlight is a straw coloured flowering bulb that is easy to grow.
  • Flowers in umbels of up to 25 have 6 petals that open flat like wheel spokes and they can last for 8 weeks. they make good cut flowers.
  • They like a light, well drained soil and are good pot subjects.
  • Plants are 18-24″ tall and spread about 4″.
  • They can be grown from seed (flowers are pollinated by butterflies) or from cultivated 1-2cm ‘corms’.

Other Names and Species

  • Triteleia ixioides ssp. unifolia has a similar yellow colouring but the centre of each petal has a dark central line.
  • Triteleia ixioides is also known in its native California as Coast Pretty Face or Golden brodiaea. The bulbs are often listed as Brodiaea
  • Triteleia anilina is a mountain form that emerges in spring and blooms later than other Triteleia.
  • Triteleia laxa are purple flowering varieties widely available as corms in the UK.
  • Triteleia hyacinthina have many often white florets.

The Pacific Bulb Society has a large report on numerous species.

Read Growing Habranthus


Dry Stone Wall Planting

Madiera mch11 379

Crevice gardens are all the rage at the moment. The careful alignment of rocks can create some interesting locations for alpine and rockery plants. They are also very good for helping wild life to thrive.
See pictures of the Alpine Garden society rock supplier.

Other crevices can arise naturally or be created in the environment. These very high retaining walls are on a roadside but have been left like a dry stone wall. Rubble and soil are piled inside the stone which has been cut and faced. Between the stone a variety of plants are colonising the area.

You can create your own dry stone wall or crevice garden from a stone and a bank of soil.

Features of a Dry Stone Wall.

  • Water runs freely through the retaining wall and is not trapped on the leaves of plants that are susceptible to rot.
  • The soil is often poor in nutrients and is attractive to plants that thrive on those conditions.
  • Moss and lichen will colonise the damp shaded places but in the full sun other plant variety will grow.
  • Parts of the wall will be hot and dry so the plant selection should bear these conditions in mind.
  • Insects and birds can use dry stone wall for food and shelter. Leave some uncut grass at the foot of the wall
  • Height is not crucial but the wall needs to be at least a foot thick.
  • Local rocks are best and will dictate the ph of the conditions.

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Strongylodon macrobotrys.

Strongylodon macrobotrys in flower.









Also known in its native Philippines as the jade vine.

Shown here in an orchid house where it was 15 feet high and wider. Not one to try at home without the space and climate control. They appreciate a high humidity.

This spectacular vine has these interesting 2 feet long flower displays in emerald, turquoise or  jade colour.

Pollination in the wild is by bats who hang to drink the nectar and distribute pollen. If fertile the plant produces fruit that grow to the size of  melons.


Strongylodon macrobotrys is a legume or pea family and is perennial liana/climber


Help Growing Nemesia from Seeds or Plugs

DIY 178

Nemesia are good flowers for rock gardens, containers or for use as a bedding and front of border plants. Surprisingly they also make a nice and useful cut flower.

Nemesia Culture

  • Nemesias grow from 1 to 2 feet tall, with sparsely branched plants. They grow erect, with the flowers carried in large clusters at the top.
  • Nemesia are available in a wide color range, including yellow, orange, brown, pink, red, and lavender-blue.
  • Thompson & Morgan seed selection
  • Nemesia are half hard annuals you can sow now or buy as mini-plugs in May.

Growing Nemesia from Seed

  • Sow seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost date.
  • Seeds germinate in 7 to 14 days at 55 to 70 º.
  • In areas with cool, dry summers, seeds can be sown outdoors as soon as the ground begins to warm
  • Nemesias like fertile, well-drained soil and prefer full sun for flowering but cool evenings.
  • Nemesia will tolerate partial shade.
  • Transplant seedlings 6 inches apart after the last frost date.
  • Pinching the tips of seedlings increases branching.
  • Nemesia are useful for edgings, in rock gardens, walls, and for borders.
  • They are splendid container plants and make good cut flowers.


Nemesia Varieties.

    • There are three main species Nemesia caerulea, Nemesia foetens, Nemesia fruticans
    • Nemesia Masquerade are extraordinary with coconut-scented blooms! An unusual variety with exotic-looking yellow-and-white blooms. Plants are easy to grow, ideal for beds or containers and will bloom 12″ tall right up to first frosts.
    • Nemesia denticula Confetti or Celebration are popular tender perennials distinct from their half-hardy annual relatives producing lots of attractive flowers throughout the summer. The plants prefer moist but loose sandy soil. Extra watering may be needed in a dry season. They look equally good planted in the border where they are good for planting at the front.
    • Fire King is a scarlet-flowered variety. St. George is white and deep red bicolor.
    • Nemesia versicolor is a similar, more compact species. It has a variety of colors including truer blues. Blue Gem is a very compact variety growing to 10 inches high with blue flowers. Nemesia caerulea (below) is available in true blue, lavender, and white.
    • I also like the Nemesia Tapestry or the blue and white KLM series from Thompson & Morgan


Nemesia Blue Button is one of the many series of low growing plants you can buy as plug plants right now. A delicately scented species of Nemesia caerulea with vivid bluey-mauve flowers standing out against its dark green foliage. A compact but spreading habit makes it ideal for bedding, rockeries and containers.

Frothy coloured annual Nemesia is available as plug plants now or seeds for winter sowing.
The range of vibrant colours is increasing all the time as a result of selection and breeding.
Nemesia can be used in beds, borders or to brighten up the garden in tubs, planters, on the patio or even as a windowsill pot plant.

My Nemesia Tips

      • Nemesia grows 10″ high on unassuming plants
      • The flowers start blooming in June and last through August. Try the self colour varieties.
      • Sow seeds late winter to mid spring at 55-60F in a good seed compost on the surface of compost and gently firm down.
      • Keep soil damp but not wet. Do not exclude light and do not let the soil temperature become too high
      • Germination usually takes 7-21 days.
      • Transplant seedlings in to 3″ pots as soon as they are large enough to handle.
      • Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10-15 days before planting out in a sunny spot after all risk of frost has gone
      • Plant close together for a mass of colour

Different Nemesia

Nemesia strumosa ‘Carnival’ offers a wide range of colours whilst Mello is a red and white variety.
Nemesia strumosa KLM is a blue and white flower shown below.
Nemesia cheiranthus Shooting Stars has a bright yellow and white flower with a branching habit and coconut fragrance.

DIY 179


Tips for Composting Leaves

Composting Broad-leaves

  • Broad leaved trees produce prodigious volumes of leaves in Autumn.
  • Their leaves should be composted or rotted separately to other garden waste. They can take upto 2 years to decompose properly.
  • It is worth persevering because they make an excellent soil conditioner.
  • The leaves will decompose in punctured plastic bags or a custom made leaf bin.
  • Often these custom made leaf composters are made with a simple wire mesh.
  • The advantage of using open bins is that they enable worms to enter and help the process of decomposition. It is important to have 2 bins / bags on the go at the same time, as they will not be ready in less than 1 year.

Accelerators for Composting Leaves.

  • It is possible to buy a special liquid which helps to speed up the process of decomposition. These accelerators are worth adding as they will speed up the process.
  • Basically, these accelerators help add nitrogen to the leaves.
  • If you have access to manure adding it to leaves will work very effectively.
  • Even accelerated decomposition will not increase the nutritional value.
  • Oak Chestnut and conifer leaves take far longer to rot down than others. I keep leaves as separate as is practical as my Acers rot quickly and can be used around my Rhododendrons to good effect.

See composting accelerators.

Digging in Half-composted Leaves.

If you don’t want to wait 2 years to decompose leaves, you can simply add them at the bottom of a trench and then add soil, they will naturally disintegrate over time.
Worms are crucial to the decomposition and are also good for your soil conditioning.
It is far better to collect the leaves than leave them on your lawn.

Tips on Making Leaf Mold Easily

  • Rake your leaves together into a pile. Bits of soil, grass and a variety of leaves are not a problem but make the pile predominantly leaves.
  • Put the leaves in a wire cage cover and leave to rot. alternatively put the leaves into a large plastic bag and puncture to allow air to enter.
  • Leaves should be damp and can be lightly watered but not left soggy. The rotting will not create heat like normal compost and decomposition will be slow.
  • The volume of leaf mold will be a tenth of the leaf pile you started with.
  • Conifers and evergreen leaves will take three years to compost and are best added in small quantities.
  • Shredding leaves or chopping with a lawnmower first helps to speed up composting.
  • Do not include nuts or tree seeds
  • Burn any diseased leaves and avoid honey fungus

Peonies, Peony, Paeonia, Paeoniaceae In Profusion


However you spell Peony you will still be captivated by this family of Northern Hemisphere perennials. Lush flowers and foliage are a major attraction but there is also the opportunity to study and become involved in more detail with a concise family of interesting and often endangered species.

Peony Society is the place to start an academic study of the subject but getting your hands in the soil with a couple of good plants is even better.

Aims of the Peony Society

1. To promote peonies as garden flowers.
2. To publish a quarterly newsletter and annual journal.
3. To stimulate scientific research on peonies.
4. To encourage the conservation of wild peonies and old cultivars.
5. To organise visits to gardens and to see wild peonies in their natural habitat.

There is a german data base of Paeonia, the only genus in the flowering plant family Paeoniaceae with a vast number of hybrids and photographs.


sq paeonie

Peonies and special fertilizer from Thompson & Morgan
Clair Austin supplies Peonies and has some good tips on Tree Peonies which are my current favourite plant.

Here is a list of some Tree Peony varieties they have available.

Floral Rivalry’ (‘Hana Kisoi’) Gorgeous scented, deeply cupped flowers of light cherry pink. Each petal is darker at the base and curls around a centre of loose stamens.
‘Host of the Cherry Blossom’ (Yae zakura) Attractive double to semi-double soft pink flowers. The petal edges pale with time.
‘King of White Lion’ (‘Hakuojisi’) Magnificent semi-double pure white flowers of great size that are produced with great freedom. The base of each petal is smeared with purple. An easy variety to grow.
‘Shimi cho jamata’ (Long Life) A very beautiful variety with satiny lavender semi-double flowers. Almost black flares at the base. The flower forms an elegant cup and are are borne upright on the shrub.
‘Alice Harding’ (‘Kinko) A short variety with very large, lemon yellow flowers that hang downwards. These are heavily scented and the bush spreads outwards. Good for the front of a border. 60cm (2ft
‘Age of Gold’ A vigorous semi-double creamy yellow variety with red flares at the base of each petal. 90cm (3ft
‘Anglet’ Single yellow flowers, tinged around the edges with red, and around the stamens. Lots of flowers carried on a broad shrub. 90cm (3ft
‘Arcadia’ Single, clear yellow with small, almost ‘not there’ flares and deeply divided, ferny foliage. 90cm (3ft
‘Argosy’ The first lutea hybrid to be introduced. The single flowers are soft yellow , cupped and flushed with crimson at the base. 90cm (3ft).


double peony

For centuries Peonies have been great favourites of the Chinese and are one of their national flowers. Peonies are easy to care for once established.

Peonies are shrubby herbaceous plants that will come back perennially (year after year). They can live 75 years and still produce a brilliant profusion of flowers. Herbaceous means the leaves and stems die back at the end of the season and new growth will start again in Spring.

Growing Peonies

  • Flowers are often strongly scented to attract bees and have double or single blooms.
  • The colours are deep red through pink to white.
  • Peonies do not like to be disturbed or moved once they are planted.
  • Because they will live in the same spot for many years add some bone meal and good compost at the bottom of the planting hole.
  • Peonies are best grow from plants bought at a nursery
  • Plants are hardy but may make take some time to flower.
  • Only plant Peonies at the same depth as they were grown, never deeper.

Tree Peonies are harder to grow successfully and cost more to buy but can have show stopping displays of flowers once they mature.




Peonies make a great herbaceous perennial which can be relatively low maintenance and provide great blousy blooms – excellent for cut flowers during the summer months.

Tips for Growing Peonies

  • Don’t plant too deep. If the roots are planted too deep, they may not flower
  • Peonies like full sun in an open position. Some shade is fine, but, it must not be full shade.
  • They may need watering in the spring when the buds are forming. If the soil is too dry, they may not flower.
  • A light dressing of manure in autumn or general fertiliser can help, but, generally they are not too fussy.
  • They are relatively slug resistant !
  • They are relatively disease free if given space to grow.
  • The problem with Peonies is that the blooms become quite heavy and will fall over in a rain shower. They will need careful staking to remain upright in the garden.

Pink Peony


Purple Peony – one of the most common colours


If peonies fall over they can always be cut for inside

Caring for Peonies at BBC


I must start using the current name for my Peonies.


Whilst this and the next picture are correctly named I should record the variety names on all my photos.

Frank Newbold peony

Peonies look good when photographed as square pictures.

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