Pansy Growing Tips

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The typical Pansy face is shown in this golden Pansy. They are very accommodating plants and that is probably why so many are grown every year in the UK. Winter flowering Pansies can be sown now and planted out in October for flowering from February onward when a bright spell occurs.
Tip for sowing seeds cover the seed tray with a sheet of paper until the seeds germinate – do not bury the seeds in compost.
Tip Grow Pansies as biennial plants – they get leggy after flowering.

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These Pansy faces are almost black and very deep and intense colours can be found in the Pansy family. Consider the viola family when planning a black garden.

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Creeping Jenny Good or Bad

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Beware Creeping Jenny
can invade your garden if you don’t take care. In the right place Creeping Jenny or Lysimachia nummularia is a useful plant as it retains a dark green leaf through winter but has bright green leaves from spring and flowers yellow from Spring through Summer. The prostrate, creeping stems make excellent ground cover but they can infiltrate plants and damp borders and even withstands walking on.

The stems root easily and spread by creeping. This picture shows Creeping Jenny in a dry wall and whilst the flowers are smaller the plant in thriving. I do not know if it arrived by seed or via a piece of broken root but it creeps me out at times.

Sometimes called Money Wort I would save your money (and not grow it) but if you are keen many people will give you a bit just to reduce the population in their garden.

Other Resources

Royal Horticultural Society RHS ‘Gardening for All’
National Council for Conservation of Plants and Gardens ‘Conservation through Cultivation.’
Garden Organic National Charity for Organic Gardening.
BBC Gardening

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Collecting Seed from your Garden

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Do you like to grow your own plants from seed you have collected from your own garden. Well as you would expect it is as easy (or difficult) as nature intended but gardeners can certainly help with the selection and dispersal process.

When seed is ripe or ready to be distributed you can help with the distribution process and the timing to get optimum conditions. I have just collected lots of seed from a colourful Aquilegia that I want to establish in my garden. The seeds are presented in a tubular pod with 5 cells that turn from green to brown and then progressively twist to squirt out the seeds over a couple of days. The squirting or sprinting process is like us squeezing an orange pip to get it to fly and is a key way of seed dispersal in nature. Pansies use the same process from a triumvirate of seed husks.

I collect the seed just before the husk is totally brown and keep it in a paper bag or old envelope for a week. By then the seed will fall out and the husk can be thrown way. Seed can then be sown in good conditions in the right place my Aquilegia will go into seed compost in september for upto 3 months in full light to help germination.

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Guerrilla Gardening

Plant by lampost

Plant by lampost

Guerrilla Gardening is a movement which seeks to take unused / ugly plots of neglected land and grow plants and vegetables. It is a loose movement with a variety of projects.

Guerrilla Gardening may begin as an illicit activity of just planting in a certain area. In a way the thrill of guerrilla gardening is a combination of the illicit activity and the action of improving the local environment. It could be viewed as a beautiful form of vandalism. A kind of reverse graffiti.

If you look around your city / town, there is a bound to be a neglected area full of weeds / unnecessary concrete e.t.c.

There are many different things that can be done as part of Guerrila Gardening

  • Planting bulbs / plants in an area devoid of colour
  • Protecting weeds grown in a variety of places.
  • Clearing up litter
  • Taking up unnecessary concrete and planting in it.
  • watering / feeding half a bed of plants to give a different level of growth

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Hover Mowers & Safety

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Hover mowers are quick and easy to use but they do not leave stripes in your grass. The motor mowers for long grass are an excellent way of clearing space like a hovering scythe. The electric Hover mowers are fine for small lawns and are far lighter than most other lawnmowers but they are unlikely to collect up the cut grass.

Before Using Your Mower

  • Read the instruction book, it may seem obvious but best to be prepared.
  • Fill the petrol tank before you start as pouring petrol into a hot engine can be as dangerous as smoking.
  • Examine the area to be cut for stones, bits of metal, toys or pets.
  • Set the cutting height, not too short!
  • When starting the machine keep it still, perhaps by putting your foot on the hood.

While Mowing

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Weeping Willow in Trim

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There are 400+ species of Willow tree from creeping alpines to the large Weeping Willows of river bank fame.The Weeping Willow has a short life span relative to most other species of less than 50 years and a rapid growth rate. After 20 years the typical Weeping Willow will reach up to 50 feet high depending on variety. For larger garden use ask your nursery man to help you select a restrained variety.

History -In 1908 a German nursery produced a cross between Salix alba the White Willow (a native of water meadows) and Salix babylonica grown in the UK since 1740’s.
Cuttings of single stems up to 6 feet long will root easily and most Willows cross pollinate.
Don’t plant Weeping Willows too near drains or buildings the roots are large and strong. Three times the eventual height or 30 Yards is a safe distance but if you want to avoid subsidence that is the only safe place to plant it.
Don’t prune, the shape is never quite the same afterwards but as you can see the trailing branches on this mature specimen have been trimmed neatly to the same length.
Uses for Willows include the manufacture of cricket bat blades, extraction of chemicals to make asprin and woven willow hedges and wind breaks.

Catkins are produced in spring by male and female trees with the male generally more showy.

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Growing Blue Ceanothus or Californian Lilac

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This Sea of Ceanothus blooms is typical of this densely flowering shrub. Most Ceanothus are blue flowering, evergreen shrubs from low growing prostrate forms to good sized bushes (this one is 5 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide).
The blooms are very attractive to bees and hover flies and during flowering it is covered from dawn till dusk with pollinating insects. They grow from cuttings so I have take to dotting them around the garden in case I loose one or two but they seem quite hardy.

Varieties of Ceanothus

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Gardening Quotes

Alys Fowler ‘Gardening is something you do not some thing you buy.’

Vita Sackville West ‘ Successful gardening is not necessarily a question of wealth but of love, taste and knowledge.’

Alan Coren ..’You and I be a-diggin’ and a-stretchin’ and a-sweatin’ as we work away with that most indispensable of gardening tools, the wallet.’

Chris Bayles of Rosemoor   ‘ A horticultural sweetshop.’

RHS on AGM  ‘ Some people in the trade are muddying the waters, because it is cheaper for them…’

Monty Don ‘It is the space between plants and objects that make a garden interesting’

Alan Titchmarsh ‘ In gardening circles Beth (Chatto) has become something of a legend in her own lifetime. It was she who turned peoples eye’s towards out-of-the-ordinary plants back in the 1960’s when she opened her Unusual Plant Nursery at Elmstead Market.’

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