Killing Greenfly


This daisy is covered with blackfly a close relation of the greenfly. Greenfly can do damage to a plant by weakening it and helping to spread disease.

The importance of getting rid of greenfly depends upon the plant. For example, a daisy like this doesn’t seem to be that affected by infestations and it is often fine to leave it to nature’s control.


This hoverfly is an excellent predator of greenfly and blackfly, it can munch through a large quantity of greenfly.

However, if you have prize roses or want to grow cut flowers then you will want to get rid of the greenfly.

Insecticide’s from Amazon

Organic Method of Killing Greenfly

This greenfly killer is based on a fatty acid solution which kills greenfly on contact. The important thing is the spray needs to come into contact with the greenfly. But, it can provide an excellent alternative to chemical pesticides.



Honeysuckle Climbing Lonicera Varieties


Lonicera Heckerottii 'Gold Flame'

Woodbine is the common name for this Honeysuckle that provides a strong sweet scent in the cottage garden from the end of May. The climbing twining Honeysuckles are part of a large family of Lonicera that also includes a range of shrubby plants.

For sweetly flowering honeysuckle in winter try Lonicera fragrantissima or Lonicera Standishii whilst the best flowering summer species are the evergreen Lonicera Japonica. Sacrificing some scent for colour tryLonicera tellmannianawith flowers that are orange with red streaks on the outside or ‘Dropmore Scarlet’ for a terrific summer show of long scarlet flowers.
Belgica or the later flowering Serotina are true Honeysuckles that with a little support on a wall will scramble away to 10 feet or more. They will twine through branches of other trees quite happily and combine with robust roses to good effect.
Honeysuckle can be cultivated from cuttings and I have one plant that has had progeny in 5 gardens over the last 50 years as I moved house.
Pruning tips: Continue Reading →


Legumes and Pea Flowers


I am kicking myself for not noting the name of this alpine flower captured on my camera during a recent garden visit. The familiar pea shape and colour are reminisent of Cytisus or Broom but with 727 genera of Legumes I can’t be sure.

Gentle Reminders

  • Inspect plants close up to discover the natural beauty and make associations and links to other plants as the old plant hunters used to do.
  • The next reminder to myself is to make a note of a plants name when you have the chance to do so. My memory is totally fallible.
  • My vegetarian children eat the growing tops of Peas and I have resolved to  try eating them as well.

Legumes of the World is an authorative text on the range of leguminous plants but it comes at a price of £56 even from Amazon.


Growing Heliotrope Plants


Heliotrope usually has dark green crinkled leaves and deep purple flowers. The flowers are among the most fragrant in the garden. I grow it as an annual from bought plants (a bit extravagant). Heliotrope were prized by our grandmothers in traditional cottage-gardens. There are several varieties with flowers in white and pale lavender. But I prefer the old-fashioned kind with dark green, crinkled leaves and deep purple flowers. It is quite dependable both in ease of care and reliable fragrance. Reminiscent of vanilla, the heliotrope’s scent gave rise to its common name ‘ the cherry-pie plant’.

Growing Tips

  • If over crowded they may suffer from mildew but are generally pest free.
  • Plant in plenty of sunshine.
  • Heliotrope needs pinching out when young . Pinch back the tips all over the plant early on, which forces lots of new side growth. You wait longer for flowers but get more of them eventually.
  • Removing faded blooms promptly results in a continuous show of pretty flowers starting in July.
  • Heliotrope  turns its flowers and leaves toward the sun over the course of each day. And at night it readjusts itself to face eastward, to be ready for sunrise. That tendency is at the root of the name heliotrope. It means to move with the sun.
  • Heliotrope is a member of the Borage family

Heliotropium arborescens or peruvianum are the species to consider growing but there are many species of Heliotrope not all of which are suitable for the UK.

Winter Heliotrope Petasites fragrans is native to the Mediterranean. As its name implies it produces attractive heads of fragrant, mauve flowers early in the New Year  however, the true character of the plant is thuggish. It is a large-leaved rampant perennial spreading by means of underground stems and is very invasive.

Seeds are now available from Thompson & Morgan


Solanum Potato Flower Climber


The plant family Solanaceae is large and diverse from the nightshades, through tomatoes, potatoes and peppers to daturas and Solanum there is a detailed explanation of these species on

Gardeners Solanum Tips

  • The Chilean potato vine Solanum Crispum is just the  vigorous climber to give your sunny wall an exotic look.
  • It has wiry stems which need tying up to wires or trellis for support. Prune and tie in to retain the required shape.
  • The small semi-evergreen leaves  remain on the plant in all but bad winters and easily reach 6 feet tall.
  • The potato-like flowers with lilac petals around a pointed yellow centre, appear continuously from mid-summer to mid-autumn. The variety ‘Glasnevin’ is the one to choose, as it flowers more prolifically and is also slightly hardier.
  • They are pest and disease free once established.
  • Plants like a moist but well-drained soil that is neutral to slightly alakaline in pH.
  • To propagate take cuttings from summer to early autumn. If buying from a garden centre buy when in bloom as some varieties have disappointing blossom
  • Continue Reading →

Flowering Currant – Ribes sanguineum


In my garden the flowers of the flowering currant are over for another year so this morning I started to prune the shrubs. The lobed leaves of the Flowering Currant are seldom of special merit although they look lime green fresh at the moment. Therefore I am happy to prune very hard immediately after flowering.

Pruning Tips

  • Cut out dead, damaged or diseased wood as a first priority.
  • Cut out some of the old thick blackened stems at ground level to reduce the thicket and open up the shrub. At least one third of the branches should be removed in this way.
  • For an over grown shrub prune all branches right down to the ground immediately after flowering.
  • Shape the shrub by reducing the length of the remaining branches to create an open framework with space for new branches .
  • From the pruned branches new growth will grow and buds form this summer and provide the base for blossom next year.

If you want to grow more plants stick some of the pruned branches into the soil in an out of the way spot and chances are good that several will root. I try get a cutting 6+ inches long with a bit of the older wood as it breaks in to new wood,  I strip off the leaves for the first 4 inches or so and plant in normal soil with no special effort.

History from The Daily Mail

Continue Reading →


Green Chrysanthemum


Chrysanthemum are great plants to grow for ‘cutting flowers’.  Spray chrysanthemum have been very popular for many years as they are easy to grow and last well in the garden or vase. Now there is a green flowered variety ‘Chrysanthemum Froggy’ that flowers in August with small, tight green flowers that develop towards purple.

For larger green Chrysanthemum try Anastasia Green or Balloon Green.  For a real stunner try the florists cactus type Chrysanthemum Shamrock.  These are still available in sets of 6 from Sarah Raven


Australian Plants & Trees



This white barked tree is an Australian Eucalyptus debeuvillei’ Snow Gum’. It is planted in the special southern hemisphere enclosure at Marks Hall in Essex as part of the Arboretum. Gondwanaland was the ancient name of a super continent that split apart to form Australia, Antartica, New Zealand and South Africa (although I don’t know who was around to call it that).

In the planting there are a large number of as yet quite young Monkey Puzzle trees Araucaria araucana but that adds to the attraction of this fine garden. It is good to see new planting that will be there when the 500 year old Oaks reach their millennium. One of those plantings will be the the Wollemi Pine one of the world’s oldest and rarest plants dating back to the time of the dinosaurs. With less than 100 adult trees known to exist in the wild, the Wollemi Pine is now the focus of extensive research to safeguard its survival.It is far sighted to plant several of these trees as part of the Southern hemisphere garden which will itself develop as the trees mature and provide shelter and (globally warmed) conditions.


Marks Hall Gardens & Arboretum

Continue Reading →


Bluebells in Flower


Sun creeping through the wood to the bluebells on the ground.


Bluebells in wood


The Bluebells flowering season is nearly over here in UK. These shots were taken in Mid May. Sometimes, as gardeners we can’t beat the beauty of nature.

Mauve Bluebell

See how to Tidy up bluebells


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