Archive | Flowers and Plants

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

Flowers for Mother’s Day

Mother’s day in the UK is fast approaching. If you have a habit of forgetting until the last minute, you can always rely on a bunch of flowers to save the day. But, rather than just a standard bunch of daffodils from the petrol station, what else would make your mother really happy and inspired to bake you more cakes?

Speciality Narcissus
Narcissus tazetta

Narcissus Tazetta. A late flowering daffodil. Warm spring has brought it out down here in Oxford. A lovely delicate flower with lovely colour contrast.

Daffodil selection

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Around Blooming Heather

Ground cover March Heather

Heather is an overlooked plant that can perform well in most gardens even though they generally prefer an acidic soil. They are evergreen plants that flower in pinks, purples and white.

Planting Heather.

  • Take into account how much space the mature plant will consume.
  • An average heather plant will grow to be between 8 and 20 inches tall  and two to three feet wide.
  • Plant them at least three feet apart for a better shape and easier pruning
  • Keep at least two feet away from other shrubs to encourage good air circulation.
  • For ground cover use low-growing heather and  plant them about a foot part.
  • Heather can be planted anytime the ground is not frozen.
  • Heaths and Heathers prefer full sun and well-drained, acidic soil. To prevent dessication provide protection from cold winter winds.
  • Heather should be planted so the root-ball is level with the soil surface.

Growing Heather

  • Heather should be pruned or trimmed each year immediately after they have finished flowering.
  • Poor foliage color, or stunted growth could indicate the need for feeding.
  • The best time to feed is in late winter or late spring with an ericaceus feed but this is often unnecessary and dangerous as heathers ‘burn’ easily.
  • Take cuttings from existing heather plants in July or August when the wood is “half ripe”.
  • If plants look straggly cover lower branches with peat or good compost.
  • Heather is reasonably long lived if given some care.

Read top 10 reasons for growing Heather

Heather in Yorkshire



Leek Day


March 11th and today I have finished harvesting my Leeks from last year. St Davids day whose symbol is the Leek is celebrated on March 1st every year so I am a bit behind the times.
I have also sown the 4th and last batch of this years seeds for indoor germination.
I may try some direct into the ground in early April.

Leek Easy Tips

  • Prizetaker will be ready to harvest from September until December.
  • Musselburgh I have sown for a later crop in November – February 2012. (It seems strange to be thinking about what to eat in 2012 but forward planning is part of gardening.
  • I will not grow my Leeks in the same soil as the crop I am just harvesting just in case of fungus.
  • I added some horse manure late last year and have a good moist soil bed ready when the seedlings need replanting.
  • I will hoe and earth-up the stems to get a longer blanched stem. This was something I forgot to do last year.


Canny Leek Growing is a book available from Amazon by Dan Calderbank that describs the best methods of growing leeks for culinary use or for exhibition, together with the historical development of this garden crop. Dan has developed his own leek strains and new methods of cultivation.


Scilla or Squill Should Look Like This?

After the ‘Lord Mayors Parade’ gardeners get the manure. After the snow and sometimes during the snow gardeners get the Glory of the Snow or at least the glory of Scilla.
To have a display that looks like a professional start 3 years ago.

To have a garden that looks like Kew start 30+ years ago.

Glory of the snow

I like to grow bulbs in the garden but am often put to shame by other displays. I sometimes wonder ‘Why Don’t My Scilla Look Like This?’ but then realise that comparing your garden to Kew garden or international locations means you are on a hiding to nothing.

Scilla auf dem Friedhof

Tips to Look Like This Continue Reading →


Growing Bulbs in Grass

Naturalising means bulbs growing and seeding as they would in the wild; i.e. “in nature”. In some gardens this means growing bulbs in grass instead of borders.
To naturalize bulbs they need to be planted where they can remain undisturbed without the need for the foliage to be prematurely removed. Leaves need to die back for about six weeks after the flowers have faded.

Growing  Bulbs in Grass

  • Crocus will thrive for years if planted in grass with a dry or fast draining soil. If the lawn is lush and gets lots of high nitrogen fertilizer it will stunt the flowering process of the bulbs. You’ll get lots of foliage but no flowers.
  • Plant in groups or clusters so you can mow the other area.
  • You need to be patient as a bulb seedling will take 5-7 years before it has built up reserves to flower. Above all do not deadhead the flowers so they can seed a couple of months after flowering.
  • Plant species bulbs rather than showy doubles.

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Gardeners Winter Vegetables

Get sowing for some winter greens and veg like Beetroot, Spring Cabbages, Lettuces, Spring Onions, Chicory, Fennel and Rocket.

Unless you already have a well stocked allotment or vegetable garden you need to be thinking about next years winter vegetables. Settle down with a drink and some good seed catalogues and plan to enjoy the fruits (or veg) of your labours through to next Christmas.

The well named Tundra Cabbage will take all that winter can throw at you and still produce firm heads until April. Blue cabbage Aurtoro looks so good next to Autumn yellows and oranges and it can be planted in the flower garden. The heads are firm and the leaves tightly packed to make a vegetable that stands well. It will also help make a warming winter soup.

Cabbage Tips

Plant Spring cabbage 12in apart.
Earth up the soil around their stems to prevent rocking and help them against the cold.
In cold frost prone areas cover with fleece or cloches. Watch out for pigeons which may get deterred by netting.
Young plants can be thinned for spring greens and leave the rest to heart up.

Curly Kale with crinkly leaves is another vegetable that shouldn’t be restricted to the vegetable patch. Redbore a purple leaved variety grows on tall sturdy stems that look interesting through winter. Other varieties like January King 3, Red Winter or Westland Winter, a blue green, can add more variety to the garden and your winter grub. If you like the blistered crinkly leaved varieties go for Resolution or Traviata F1’s.

Parsnips are just ready to start lifting. They can be left in the ground until needed and I think a bit of frost does no harm to the flavour. Interceptor Carrots can be harvested through to March and reverting to the purple theme Purple Haze Carrots can be picked until Christmas.

Seasonal favourite Brussels Sprouts need that bit of frost to bring out the sweetness and take away some of the sulphur taste. Pick from the bottom of the stalk and then you can finish off eating the top of the stalk like a small cabbage. I find Maximus F1 have a long cropping season and a good flavour. Support the stalks if grown ina windy conditions.

Late Cauliflowers to consider are Haddin or Deakin F1’s that will hold until February if you don’t eat them first.

Autumn sown Spinach is a healthy crop containing iron and vitamins.
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Growing Excellent Auriculas

This spring has been a good one for my Auriculas. I have been please with a powder blue flower that I hope to propagate by division in July. First I will water well and add some dilute feed.


These Alpine Auriculas look excellent  when grown in 3 inch pots. The ‘Long Tom’ pots are silghtly taller than the traditional pot and are useful as Auricula tend to grow a ‘carrot root’ used to anchor the plant in the wild. Alpine Auriculas have either a golden yellow or cream centre surrounding the tube.

Show Auriculas are considered to be the star Auricula plants and must have a ring of dense Farina around the eye of the flower. Selfs (all one colour) and Edges including most stripes have an outside edge composed of leaf tissue such as the ‘Orlando’ a grey edged show Auricula. Green edges usually have larger flowers. Stripes have recently been reintroduced with Monmouth Star having red petals with yellow rays out to the flowers edge.

Double Auricula ‘Sibsey‘  is a blue to purple flower and can be found at Specialist grower Angus Auriculas. Doubles arise from mutations of border or garden Auriculas and were amongst the first novelties cultivated and shown. There is now an increasing number of doubles including striped doubles at NAPS shows.  The Fantasia variety is deep maroon with white frosting a real eye-catcher


Border or Garden Auriculas have old names like Dusty Miller, Recklasses and Ricklers. Only a few  have ‘Farina’ the white powder found on leaves and flowers that resembles flour or meal which is a must on Show Auriculas.  Some are European primula hybrids and occasional are scented. Best grown in a position that gives them shade from midday sun. Water in very dry spells but plant in well drained soil. Ideal for partially shaded positions on rockeries or borders, or spring flower beds, pots, tubs

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Tips for Growing Hibiscus Indoors

Buying tips for indoor Hibiscus. Smaller plants with3-5 branches each with buds are generally the best value. If they loose there buds new ones should soon follow. Look at florists and chain stores as well and garden centres.

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis

Hibiscus is a large genus of over 200 species. One species Hibiscus cannabinus, is extensively used in paper making. Another, roselle Hibiscus sabdariffa is used as a vegetable and to make herbal teas in the Caribbean but it is as an extravagantly coloured flower that we know it best.

If your hibiscus has flowers of red, pink, orange, yellow, salmon, peach, orange, or two coloured double or single flowers, it is probably a tropical hibiscus. Hardy hibiscus do not come in these colors or in doubles! If it is a perennial, hardy hibiscus they need very little care over the winter, they are root hardy and die to the ground each year.


Houseplants and Indoor Hibiscus

  • Chinese Hibiscus are shrubby plants that make fine indoor exhibitions if given plenty of light.
  • Bought plants will have been treated to keep them small and compact. You can prune them to keep in shape.
  • Short lived, trumpet shaped flowers are available in many colours and there is a regular supply of new buds.
  • Keep in a constant temperature to avoid bud drop.
  • Don’t over-water, keep on the dry side but water copiously in summer.

Look at Thompson & Morgan for more ideas.


Cultivation Tips for Hibiscus

  • Most hibiscus have a few yellow leaves when they get old and need replacing. If your plant too has many yellow leaves it is stressed probably from over watering.
  • Hibiscus want loamy, coarse open soil that is not too heavy.
  • For prolific flowering, hibiscus need weekly feedings during March-October. Low phosphorus and high potassium feed is best.
  • Repotting is usually carried out in spring if you can see roots poking out of the bottom of the pot or if they are filling the pot.


Recommended Hibiscus Organisations

The American Hibiscus Society lists the following links

Hibisucus genevii in the Princess of Wales Conservatory
See the endangered hibiscus ‘hibiscus genevii flowering during May in the Princess of Wales Conservatory Kew. In the wild it is only found in small numbers in specific areas of Mauritius.’

Hibisucus genevii in the Princess of Wales Conservatory by Kew on Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Book Cover


Growing Good Gerbera

Red Gerbera

Gerbera are ornamental plants that are related to sunflowers. They are very popular as a decorative garden plant or good as cut flowers.
Most Gerberas are result of a cross between Gerbera jamesonii and Gerbera viridifolia. The resulting Gerbera hybrida are basically of South African descent.

gerbera 061

Gerbera Characteristics

  • Gerberas are also known as Barberton Daisy,Transvaal Daisy, Ghostly Daisy or Forever Daisies
  • Thousands of cultivars exist generally with two layers of petals.
  • Winter hardy gerbera in a rainbow of colours are now being marketed.
  • Single daisy flowers appear regularly throughout summer with their faces turned towards the sun
  • They vary greatly in shape, size and vibrant colour including white, yellow, orange, red, and pink.
  • The centre of the flower is sometimes black or the petals two tone.
  • Gerbera is said to be the fifth most used cut flower in the world (after rose, carnation, chrysanthemum, and tulip).

gerbera 057

Gerbera Good as Pot Plants

  • Buy good strong Gerbera plants with plenty of new bud still to open.
  • Gerbera flowers best when it is growing in a small container that is slightly pot bound.
  • Repot Gerbera Daisies in April if it has out grown the pot. Ensure the crown of the plant is above the level of the soil or it may rot.
  • Use an open, free draining soil mix. When repotting After repotting keep them in a shaded location until they’re established


Gerbera Growing Tips

  • When the danger of frost has passed plant Gerberas outdoors in fertile, well drained soil in sheltered, sunny borders
  • If growing Gerbera in containers use large pots with a loam based compost such as John Innes No.2 or 3.
  • Keep well watered but avoid wetting the center of the leaves which are prone to rot.
  • Apply tomato food 3-4 times a season.
  • To pick flowers do not cut but bend and twist to break at the base. This should also encourage new flowers.

Thompson & Morgan supply Gerbera plants

gerbera 063

History of Growing Gerbera

  • There are currently approximately 80 species of Gerbera nad many cultivars.
  • ‘Robert Jameson was born in Scotland in 1832 at Kilmarnock. The most popular Gerbera jamesonii (or Barberton Daisy) has been named after him. “Rough notes of a trip to the goldfields” – in which he describes his journey to Barberton and life in the (g)old days.
  • Traugott Gerber was baptised on January 16, 1710 in Zodel, Oberlausitz – Lower Silesia. In 1737, the Dutchman Jan Frederic Gronovius christened the genus Gerbera after the German medical doctor Traugott Gerber, but who was he?’ read more from the

See also our Facinating Gerbera
gerbera 060

Good Gerbera for Growing Outdoor

  • Two new series of Gerbera have been release to the horticultural trade as hardy perennials.
  • The Gerbera Garvinea series of plants comes in 20 varieties with flower shades of red, pink, orange, yellow and white.
  • The Gerbera Everlasting series are shorter plants that flower freely in warm gardens with acidic soil.
  • Also relatively new is the Landscape series which are not hardy.
  • Gerbera ‘Forever Daisies’ from Thompson & Morgan grow year after year in patio pots or planted en-masse in sunny beds and borders.


Books on Gerbera Production

These books are not cheap and are aimed at the commercial grower:
Biotechnological approach for the mass propagation of Gerbera: Rapid production of a commercially important flower, Gerbera by Md. Motiur Rahman, Md Bulbul Ahmed and M. Monzur Hossain (15 Nov 2011) ‘mass production of Gerbera using biotechnological methods could be acted as a new dimension in the field of horticulture (the authors thank) the Plant Breeding & Gene Engineering Laboratory and the Department of Botany, University of Rajshahi

Gerbera in Net House: Nutrient Management in Gerbera under Net House by B. M. Nandre and A. V. Barad (13 Dec 2011) ‘Gerbera jamesonii has many commercially important cultivars like Sangria, Savannah, Nevada, Rosa Bella, Aida, Dalma, Twiggy, Pink Elegance, etc. Gerbera is propagated by seeds as well as asexually by division of clumps and through cuttings’



More Phalaenopsis Moth Orchids

It is easier to call a Phalaenopsis by its common name of Moth Orchid

This moth orchid (called Phalaenopsis) is blooming for a second time this year and the last blossom lasted over 5 months. On one arching stem there are 12 flowerheads and one unopened bud but there is also 4 other stems at different stages of flower production and at least 25  2½” diameter flowers are currently on display. This floriferousness may be due to a happy accident after the first (and only) stem flowered I followed received wisdom. I trimmed off the spike to around 1 inch above the first node on the spike stem, somewhere below where the first flower had appeared, near a little bump. The stem regrew but horizontally and I wanted to tie it up a cane. Being too vigorous I broke the new flowering stem but all the new ones have turned up at the funeral so to speak.

Book Cover
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