Hebe Shrub from Cuttings

This purple Hebe is flowering about 2’6″ high in a compact format. I would like to make a low hedge of Hebe (Veronica)  to breakup the outline of a large border and this variety amongst many others suits me well.

Hebe Cuttings

  • Now is a good time to take a series of cuttings to root this Autumn and be ready to transplant next spring.
  • You can pull off a 4inch shoot leaving a bit of a heel and pot it in sharp compost or soil with some sand added.
  • I cut with a knife  or take my cuttings with secateurs if I am busy.
  • Trim off the bottom leaves and try get a cutting with the wood just beginning to harden at the base as this summers green wood may not root as easily.
  • Take more cuttings than you need and if some fail it won’t be a problem. If you have too many plants you can always find a happy home for these flowering shrubs.
  • Theoretically you should use cuttings from unflowered branches but I find so much floral profusion that it is hardly worth seeking them out.
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Annual Alyssum

Sweet Alyssum is one of the best smelling annuals you can grow. The flowers have a marvelous honey scent all summer and these  Alyssum ‘Royal Carpet’  are a different purple to the shades you normally see.

  • Carpet of Snow is the best selling seed variety that flowers traditional white. The seedlings clump up into a nice mound and the plants make good edging for borders. A must for Cottage gardens.
  • Allyssum is often paired with Lobelia for the contrast of blue and white flowers growing in unrestrained 3-4 inch tall plants. They can also be planted in pots to accompany a centre piece plant such as a bush fuchsia.
  • Mixed colours of pink, Lilac, rose, violet and even yellow now supplement the traditional white varieties.
  • Plants will self seed but I buy new seed each spring and the plants grow away in most soil conditions without much interferance from me.
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Fruit from Cherry Trees

Sweet Cherry are not often grown in UK fruit gardens. To get a good crop of cherries you need several varieties for pollination, it takes 10 years to get a good crop (then birds eat them) and the trees take up a great deal of space.  I will get lots of comments to the contrary now.

Going  Ahead with Cherries

  • Fan train your cherries against a wall and pinch out the growing shoots in June and again in September.
  • Add lots of Lime and Potash to feed your Cherry
  • Plant Standards 25 feet apart.
  • Opt for a self fertile Morello Cherry or Acid Cherry like Kentish Red or Flemish Red
  • For early Cherries in June try Early Rivers, Frogmore fruits  in July and Emperor Francis in late August.
  • For the above varieties check on the pollination requirements when you buy
  • Be content to grow Cherries for the blossom that can last 3 weeks in spring.
  • Smaller ‘Colt’ rootstock now allow trees to be controlled to 12 feet high.

I was lucky to be walking through this orchard earlier this month in Prague.

RHS

BBC Gardening Plant Finder

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Build Your Regal Geranium Collection

If you want to be a collector and build a Geranium or Regal Pelargonium collection to be proud off then start now for next year.

First Thoughts

  • Join the new Pelargonium and Geranium Society formed by the merging of the British Pelargonium and Geranium Society and the British and European Geranium Society on 1st January 2009.
  • Bone up on the best British suppliers of Geraniums like Fir TreesGosbrookand Fibrex.
  • Scrounge cuttings from friends, neighbors and local gardening clubs.
  • Now is a good time to watch garden centres selling off old stock (cheaply) that can provide lots of material for cuttings.

Top Types to Try

  • Aztec naturally branching with attractive pale green leaves.
  • Grand Slam with rosy red florets to varying lavender shades
  • Sunrise needing stopping to get abush orange flowers with white throat
  • Fringed Aztec Askam or Arnside
  • Hazel ….. Cherry or Harmony, Stardust, Herald or Heather
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Pruning Flowering Shrubs the Easy Way

rhododendron

Spring Flowering Shrubs that have finished flowering can be pruned in early summer. My Spirea were trimmed of flower heads and pruned of about one third of the old wood down to the ground this weekend. Hopefully also taking out weak growth and crossing branches will provide space for strong new stems to flower next year.

Forsythia was pruned after flowering back in April and other shrubs to now receive this treatment include Philadelphus, Ribes, Deutzia and Weigela. Weigela gets a lighter prune to encourage an Autumn flush of blossom. Rhododendrons (above) do not need pruning but I give them the once over to remove any problems.

Late summer flowering shrubs should be pruned next spring to encourage new flowering wood. Buddleja can be heavily pruned but avoid cutting into really old wood. Dogwoods should be stooled or cut bach to  about 10 inches high.  Choisya I just give a trim after flowering to retain shape and control the size but if they are putting on to much growth I will sacrifce flowers and prune early. Winter flowering Viburnum and Witch Hazel do not need much pruning so I tend to leave well alone.

Pruning Aims to achieve regular production of flowers and to keep a shrub healthy. A balance between old and new wood helps flowering. Creating space for light air and growth helps a plant remain healthy. Cutting back to a leaf or stem joint shapes and trains a shrub to do what the gardener wants.

After pruning care includes a dressing of blood fish and bone and a good mulch of compost. This will help the shrub replace all the wood it has grown and lost to my secateurs.

RHS

BBC Gardening Plant Finder

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Growing Phormium or New Zealand Flax

phormium

Spiky perennial plants sold as Phormium are available in variegated or self colours but all have striking sword shaped leaves. Phormium Tenax is the larger more commonly available variety but there are now approaching 100 varieties to choose from.

Growing Phormium

  • Phormiums are best growing in a sunny position although they will tolerate a fair amount of shade and like a stream side position.
  • Phormium have tough leaves that are resistant to desiccation so in the garden they rarely need any extra watering.
  • Varieties with upright leaves, such as ‘Sundowner’ and ‘Dusky Chief’ are reputed to be suitable for growing indoors
  • P. cookianum varieties are less hardy but with some bracken leaves for winter protection they should be OK. Try Black Adder or Maori Maiden.
  • Fernwood Nursery has a national Collection of over 70 varieties

flax

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Yellow Foxgloves – Digitalis Lutea

yellow-foxgloves

This Yellow Foxglove Digitalis Lutea is a hardy perennial and the clumps grow bigger and stronger each year. They are useful plants in sun or shade and reproduce from seed or the clump can be split. Foxgloves are species of Digitalis and most Foxgloves are biennial plants.
The tubular yellow flowers of Digitalis Lutea are plentiful and long lasting. The flowers are on shorter stems (up to 36 inches) than other Foxgloves and are easier to control in a garden setting.

Digitalis Lutea is recommended as a useful plant to grow in a mixed border

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Pansy Growing Tips

pansy2

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.

pansy-3

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

creeping-jenny

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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