Archive | Flowers and Plants

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

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

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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.

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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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Seed Dispersal

How do Plants Spread their Seeds

To maintain the species plants have developed many strategies for dispersing their seed. They make flowers and fruit attractive so gardeners buy them in seed packets or propogate them to eat. More importantly they have evolved specific techniques:

Major Seed Dispersal Methods

  • Wind is an obvious method from weeds like dandelions and their seed clocks and willowherb to trees such as Sycamore with the helicopter twirly ‘double samaras’ which spin to the ground.
  • Cyclamen have an ingenious method to get the fresh seed away from the parent plant. In addition to the pod on a long twisting stem the seeds are coated in a  sticky substance that is attractive to ants. The ants then unwittingly move the seed  to the new location.
  • The gravity ‘dead drop’ of seed is fine for annuals and seeds that are happy to germinate near the old (now dead) parent.
  • Seeds that want to move a bit away from the parent such as Alliums and Aquilegia have a seed pod that progressively tightens around the maturing seed. The pod then spritzes or squeezes the seed as a cherry stone would when squashed between your finger and thumb. Pea pods pop open when ripe.
  • Bird Cherry is named for the creatures that eat the flesh and excrete the stone. There are other seeds that are spread after animals and birds have eaten the fruit but not digested the seed.
  • Animals also disperse thistles, teasels and burdocks via their fur after the seeds hooks or spines attach themselves.
  • Squirrels and some animals also bury or hide nuts and fruit and if forgotten they may germinate. Humans may throw an apple core away spreading the seed.
  • Plants growing by water such as Willow and Flag Iris can have the seed transported by the water.
  • A combination of dispersal methods may be used eg a seed blown by wind may be transported by water to somewhere else.

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Re-Blooming ‘Remonant’ Plants

              Creskeld Iris

A little used gardening term is ‘Remonant’, said of a plant flowering more than once in a season.

I first came across the term in an article ‘Autumn Encore’ by Simon Garbutt in  The Garden September 2003 . The main thrust was on reflowering varieties of Iris, called rebloomer at Seagate Irises.

  • Where the growing season is long enough, remonant irises are bred to produce an autumn flush of flowers. In the USA where they are popular they are also known as “Cycle rebloomers”.
  • Continious flowering or Repeaters are now being bred to extend the flowering period. The answer to a regular display of Iris is to choose your species and variety with care.

Hydrangea Macrophylla ‘David Ramsey’ is one of the remonant bloomers in the Hydrangea range that is similar to Endless Summer. ‘Blooms age green and red during the summer for an antique look. This one can rebloom in more climates if cut right after first bloom’.Hydrangeas Plus.com

Many perennials are regular rebloomers to the point where they are not worth calling remonant as it is our normal expectation. The exception I would make is the ‘Rose’ or to be more specific some old garden roses that flower either once a year or once in the spring and again in Autumn. By specific variety derived from parenthood some roses are remonant.

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Trust Woodland to Supply Timber

What do Acute Oak Decline, The Red Squirrel Survival Trust and the silviculture reduction of oak rotation from 140 years to 100 years have in common? I can think of two or three answers around the work of the late Peter Goodwin.

Peter was from a family of cabinet makers and with Lewis Scott founded the Woodland Trust a charity focused on forestry and users of the different types of wood. The trust is a fount of knowledge about our native trees, tree planting advice and woodland based education.

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Acute Oak Decline (AOD)

  • AOD is an aggressive disease which can result in high levels of tree mortality within 5 years of diagnosis.
  • Like chronic Oak decline, AOD affects pendunculate and sessile oak trees that are over 50 years old
  • AOD is caused by a pathogenic bacteria that attacks the trunk of the tree causing a dark, sticky fluid to ooze from cracks or lesions in the bark.
  • Trees may also suffer from canopy dieback, similar to that in chronic oak decline.
  • Chronic Oak Decline is a less vociferous disease caused in part by insect damage caused by the leaf roller moth caterpillars .
  • The Woodland Trust has sponsored research into the problems and potential treatment.

The Red Squirrel Survival Trust

  • The American grey squirrel is a destructive pest that has displaced many colonies of red squirrels.
  • By keeping reds and greys apart, red squirrels can be allowed to thrive protecting the biodiversity of Britain’s native woodlands.
  • Other activities of the trust include establishing new red colonies across the UK wherever feasible and funding research.

 Ancient and veteran trees

  • The British love ancient trees, the stories associated with them, cultural connections and historic uses of timber for dwellings ship building etc.
  • The number of ancient trees in the UK (127,595) is exceptional. Many look special and support rare fungi, plants and animals.
  • Visit the Woodland Trust’s  Ancient Tree Inventory to find ancient trees near you. ‘You’ll be able to record one that is missing or search the database for the largest or oldest trees in any part of the UK.’
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Sunflower Insects Van Gough Missed

No flies on Van Gogh

Van Gogh walks in to a florists ‘Hi Van, can I get you a sunflower?’
‘No, thanks, I got one ear.’

Vincent’s fruit loving cousin, Man Gogh

“What does the letter “A” have in common with a sunflower?
They both have bees coming after them.”

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Long White Radishes

Mild-flavored winter radish usually characterized by fast-growing leaves and a long, white fleshy roots

White Radish (Raphanus sativus) Facts

  • Seeds of the Daikon, Mooli, Japanese or Oriental Radish are  popular for their pure white roots.
  • Generally they have  a crisp mild flavour that won’t go pithy.
  • Fully winter hardy they are best grown for autumn and winter production.
  • Roots can remain in the ground in good condition over a long period.
  • They can be lifted and stored the same as other root crops.
  • They produce best in sun and moist, fertile soil.
  • Radish do not transplant well but you can try using plugs.

 

Suppliers

  • Long White Icicle is currently on offer from Suttons in support of Cancer Research.
  • 23 varieties of Asian Radish seeds from evergreenseeds.com
  • Or try our link to Thompson & Morgan top right

 

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Mesclun Gardeners Salad from Seed

Mesclun is a name for a traditional melange of salad leaves. The name mesclun doesn’t feature in any of my gardening reference books before 1980 so old gardeners may not recognise the term.

Anything Goes Mixes

  • Traditionally the mixture was a blend of wild and cultivated chicory, as well as lamb’s lettuce and young dandelion leaves.
  • There are regional variations for mesclun, in Provence they use a blend of chervil, arugula, lettuce and endive.
  • One particular  American special ‘Salad Leaf Mesclun Mix is lettuce based on a colourful mix of Red Batavia, Green Batavia, Little Gem, Tango, Red Salad Bowl and Cerbiatta varieties.
  • An Italian equivalent for mesclun is misticanza, Thompson & Morgan’s Misticanza D’Insalate contains: Lettuce Bionda a Foglia Liscia, Bionda a Foglia Riccia, Verde a Foglia Riccia, Meraviglia Delle 4 Stagioni and Biscia Rossa.. seeds
  • A speedy UK mix to be sown all year indoors contains Salad Rocket Victoria, Greek Cress, Mizuna, Mustard Green & Red Frills, Pak Choi Canton White.

How to Grow Mesclun

  • Seeds should be sown thinly outdoors in summer or in an unheated greenhouse during the autumn and winter months.
  • Sow little and often to get continuity
  • Germination is quick and you can start picking within as little as 28 days.
  • Thining out is not necessary or plant out quite close together as leaves are for eating young and fresh.
  • Leaves are tastiest at the baby stage start cutting when  2-3 inches high. Cut and come again in a few weeks.
  • If the weather turns hot many varieties tend to bolt.

Some mixtures include more exotic greens, especially those quite popular in Asian cuisine. One particularly flavorful variety is called mizuma, a delicate-leaved sort that is popular in Japan. Another is the Asian tat-soi, which has rather sweet dark green leaves.

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