Buying and Planting Your Tulips

Tulip Buying & Planting Tips

  • Marketing of bulbs starts earlier and earlier and this July saw some multiple chains offering pre-packed bulbs for sale. It is all very well getting ahead of the game so you get the varieties you want.
  • I belatedly have come to the conclusion that you get a better result and thus value for money from a specialist grower or retailer. Choice of variety, size and bulb condition are generally better as they have a reputation to protect.
  • Beware how you store bulbs as they can dry out (but they will also dry out in store if left hanging on one of those POS units.) If you store tulips in humid conditions they may sprout early or get mildew.
  • Normally I try and plant my Tulips by the end of December but this year I am a bit late. Still Tulips have a great capacity to catch up before April when they flower.
  • I have not been successful planting tulips in pots but I shall keep trying. Perhaps deeper in long toms is the answer; I will let you know.

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Varieties Planted

  • Monte Carlo a double yellow only 12 ” tall. They have an AGM and are reputed to be fragrant.
  • Apricot Parrot has feathered bicoloured petals. There is a bit of green on the outer petals with red and apricot shades on the inner petals. These Tulips are about 22″ tall
  • Another lower growing Tulip Greigii called Queen Ingrid at 14″ caught my eye with red petals edged in white
  • Bulbs varied in size from 10-13cm. I have planted most in pots that I can bury in the ground where there is a gap and take up quickly after flowering.
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Trials For Chrysanthemums My Trials & Tribulations


Some aspects of gardening are a trial not to say a tribulation. This year I resolved to get on with my Chrysanthemums (aka Chrysanths or Mums) and see if I could encourage enough of them to perform to a reasonable standard. So far I am failing for reasons which will become obvious.

Trials not tribulations are the genuine article at the RHS Harlow Carr and so they should be. I am presumptuous in thinking I could even get close to just one of their potted chrysanthemums.

Outdoor Mums in Pots

  • Pot in soil that is well drained, light and loamy.
  • After planting, water generously for 1-2 weeks, until the plants are well established.
  • Mums have a shallow root system so keep the soil slightly moist but not wet.
  • Feed the mums before the flower buds form to promote healthy roots, bud development, and a vigorous plant. I use liquid Tomorite but balanced slow release granules can be added to the soil when potting up.
  • Pinch your mum plant when it’s young to encourage bushier growth and more blooms.

Florists Pot Mums

  • Plants grown for indoor windowsill culture are often of a  variety unsuitable for outdoor growing. As such they should be treated with more care and are unlikely to survive outdoors overwinter.
  • Florist mums will have been treated with hormones and lighting tricks to restrict the growth and encourage flowering.
  • As pot plants the flowers last for 5 -8 weeks and are available in a range of colours including some dyed shades of blue.
  • They are generally available all year round as sold as an in flower gift.
  • The Pot Mum is  effective at cleaning the air through transpiration. Due to this you will need to water quite often as the top soil begins to dry out.

Hardy Garden Mums

  • Some varieties survive the winter out-of-doors and come back and continue performing the following season.
  • Blooming is prolifically from August to the frosts.
  • The habits are neat and compactmaking them suitablel for the front and middle of borders or in patio containers.
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Canes for Support in Gardens

‘Oh the old bamboo the old bamboo never-ever bother with the old bamboo’ That song reminds me to weed out the poor and damaged canes I have left over from previous seasons. Away with split canes that snag and frustrate and may carry disease.

In Praise of Canes

  • A good long one will do better than a good short one – well not always as excess length waves around and looks untidy. Fortunately you can shorten canes with secateurs and the off cuts can be used for shorter plants.
  • Why should Sweetpeas be forced to spend energy on climbing when I can help them with a good cane arrangement.
  • Why should runner beans get top heavy and risk being blown sideways.
  • Good gladioli and chrysanthemums will be better for a bit of practical and moral support
  • Temporary solutions to problems can often be solved by judicious use of canes.
  • Now my plants are able to perform with the aid of my new canes, string and net supports.
  • I like the idea of mixing bamboo canes with more twiggy stems. I also like the idea of putting two canes across the middle of twin rows of canes for extra support and rigidity
  • This year I resolve to support my plants better than ever before.

None Bamboo Canes

  •  A Large Hazel has already provided a crop of stems to use as further supports. They can be woven in with other supports and look more natural than bamboo.
  • Willow and hazel can be cross hatched to provide a frame work for shrubby plants to grow through.
  • Pea sticks are often short slivers of bamboo painted a dark green. Useful for around 12″ of support.
  • Nylon and other plastic ‘canes’ are obviously not canes but are long lasting and can do a similar job.
  • New tree and shrub supports are more likely to be stakes and ‘gardeners should be choosers’ when it comes to the right strength of item for the job.

 

To my surprise Amazon now supply or arrange to supply canes in volume via the web – it makes transporting the 7-8 foot ones in my car a thing of the past.

 

 

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Dendrobium the Wonder Genus of Orchids

There are over a thousand known species of Dendrobium and innumerable hybrids. This makes Dendrobium the second largest orchid genus in the world after Bulbophyllum.

Dendrobium cuthbertsonii
Dendrobium nagomi

Dendrobium rhodstictum
Dendrobium hibiki
Dendrobium griffithianum
Dendrobium bigibbum

Culture Tips.

  • Dendrobiums like their roots confined in small pots. for good drainage use bark, perlag and charcoal to make up an open mix which drains easily.
  • Repot when either the compost becomes acid and soggy or when the pot is full of roots.
  • Plants from the mountains of New Guinea like a little moss mixed with the bark or they can be grown on slabs of bark or tree fern on a mossy bed. Such slabs need daily misting for most of the year.
  • Over enthusiastic flowering of small dendrobiums can lead to a premature death.
  • Small dendrobiums sometimes benefit from a steady gentle air flow.
  • In winter temperatures can drop to 40°C when you should not water or feed but give plenty of light and air movement. Buds develop in spring and new growths appear. Water sparingly until the new shoots have grown good roots then feed weekly during maximum growth.
  • Free draining potting mixes should always be used containing coarse bark perlite, sphagnum moss and even small pebbles if a little weight is needed.
  • Propagation is by division of the larger clump when it has filled the pot. Some Dendrobiums produce offsets. Generally they do not like any root disturbance.
  • Australian species and hybrids include the ‘Rock Lily’ flowers last only 3-4 weeks but Dendrobium bigibbum is often grow for cut flowers.
  • Dendrobium like plenty of bright filtered sunlight but avoid direct sunlight that may scorch the leaves. They can be difficult to re-flower if they do not receive sufficient light.
  • Never allow plants to stand in water as it may rot the roots.
  • Moss loving species can be grouped as either Himalayan, Australian or New Guinea (including Singapore). They can be grown on chunks of bark or tree fern on a mossy bed.

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Georg Adalbert Arends Old German Plantsman

Georg Arends was a German nurseryman who bred many perennial plants. His business was successful until the second world war and has been regenerated to be one of the oldest in Europe. It still remains within the Arends family.

Among over 300 plants that Georg bred are included ‘Arendsii’ versions of Aconitum, Arabis, Phlox and Hosta sieboldiana. He also specialised in Bergenia breeding ‘Abendglocken’, ‘Morgenrote’ and the white flowered ‘Silberlicht’. (I was told Bergenia were called Elephant plants because an elephant could stamp on them and they would survive. However a more popular name is Elephant Ears after the leaves.)

One of Georg’s favourite Berginia (wiki)

Rhododendron ‘Georg Arends’ was named after him. Dobbies say that it forms ‘A spectacular evergreen shrub that produces masses of large bright red flowers in mid May, up to 7.5cm in diameter, on a round shaped and bushy plant with dark green foliage.’

David Austin sells an old rose called Georg Arends which he claims it is ‘A good shrub with large, rose pink blooms of perfect Hybrid Tea shape; the petals curling back at the edges in a most beautiful manner. Deliciously fragrant. Recurrent flowering’.

A recent article in the Financial Times celebrates 130 years of Georg’s nursery business – I wish I had plants that lived a tenth as long.

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Cyclamen that Flower in Winter

The late season flowering of Cyclamen is just one of the reasons to grow these useful flowers. There are many species of Cyclamen and below is a special selection for Autumn and Winter flowering.

C. coum is widely grown in the United Kingdom and there are many colours and leaf forms. Whites and pink flowers predominate but bright red varieties are available.

C.libanoticum is often grown in pots to flower January – April. It can withstand severe cold but dislikes wet soil.

C. persicum is tender and forms the stock for many florists Cyclamen. The flowers are generally held high above the leaves.

C. hederifolium flowers pink a bit earlier than some varieties. Leaves appear after flowering. Plants are best sited under shade as provided by a deciduous tree. The underside of the leaves are red coloured.

Other winter flowering species include C. pseudibericum and C. trochopteranthum a horizontal growing variety.

For more information on the Cyclamen species read any Guide by Chris Grey-Wilson

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British View of American Landscape

Some time ago in the pre-Trump era the west lawn at the British Museum  showed plants from North America landscape. The plants were provided in partnership with Kew but the photographs were mine taken in September.
I now wish I had also visited to see and take pictures of earlier spring and summer flowers fro N America.

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Amongst the more colourful flowers were a range of ‘tickseed’ which is the American name for Coreopsis. I like to grow these airy prairie plants even in darkest Yorkshire and you may see why from these photos.

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Trust me to get a photo of mildew! Must try again.

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The Museum garden had a lot going on in both leaf and flower forms.
The signage was good but it wasn’t obvious to me which of three zones each plant portrayed; Woodland, Prairie or Wetland.
I am sure the wetland was represented by the wonderful insect eating Pitcher plants.
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Older Pitcher plants below.

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I am sure it wasn’t intentional on the part of Kew to include these British Rockies. I am sure the real thing are more awe inspiring.

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For me the September light set off these New England Asters a proper treat.

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Cone flowers Echinacea purpurea held there own!

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Orange Coneflower Rudbeckia fulgida. The seeds feed finches and Native Americans used a wash from the plant for snake bites, earache and for a variety of other medicinal purposes.
First known in England in 1789 when they were described by Wm Aiton the first curator at Kew and ‘His Majesty’s Gardener at
Kew and Richmond ‘.

 

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Banana Republic and Musa Review

Banana hand

I have just finished eating a Fyffes banana grown in Costa Rica. They were certified by the Rainforest Alliance and were sold as ‘Ripe, snack size bananas’ and a very appropriate  name it was. In our fruit bowl we also have ‘organic Fairtrade bananas fro the Dominican Republic cutesy of the EEC at least until brexit by which time they will be well overripe.

This encouraged me to dig out an old post with photos from Kew in 2010. I was in the middle of a series of posts on fruit trees from exotic climes and realise that the Banana didn’t quite fit. Bananas are herbs and do not grow on trees. The stem,  can grow quite tall in some species and is really just matted together leaves.

Therefore I offered some of my photographs to show different varieties of Banana growing in Kew hot house and Madeira.

Kew Red Banana
Red Banana

Musa coccinea Red banana
Very Red Banana Musa coccinea

Bananas
Commercial Banana plantation

Banana
Banana in Flower

Banana plantation
Banana Crop in Madeira

Read these articles for more information.

Banana growing in UK
Exotic Gardens to Visit to see Banana growing in UK

Other Musa Species and Genra

  • Plantains are  a cooking variety of Musa and a member of the banana family
  • Wild banana species, Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana generally have seeds but cultivated bananas are almost always sterile and seedless
  • Wiki as usual has an authoritative list of Bananas and an explanation of their classification.
  • The false banana or ensete is a member of the Musa genra
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Garden Problems Caused by Wind

Problems Caused by Wind

  • Wind desiccates leaves – moisture is gone with the wind
  • Even well rooted plants can be rocked by wind and this can be fatal to roses or fruit trees. Shrubs and tree growing at a slant caused by wind will never give of their best.
  • Wind abrades, rips and tears. I have just lost a good spray of chrysanthemums that I was looking forward to seeing in flower. Chrysanthemums stems often break near the joint with the main stem and I should have tied them up with more care or kept them out of the wind. Fleshy leaves like dahlias do not do well in wind.
  • A cold wind does no one any good and the wind chill factor can damage plants as well as gardeners.
  • In severe windy conditions pots can be blown over, loose debris scattered and even structural damage may occur. Pots appear top heavy when there is lots of growth that catches the wind. My clematis and runner beans  have caught the wind and both are leaning from the wind.
  • Trees and shrubs can be stunted by wind and will not reach thier normal potential. You seldom see giant trees on our windy coastline.
  • Unwanted seeds can be dispersed with only a gentle breeze

May all your winds be zephyrs and all your gales be miss spelt girls

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Tips From Gardeners to Flower Arrangers

10 Comments from Gardeners to Flower Arrangers

  1. Prior to collecting material get your gardener to spray an insecticide to prevent pollen beetle and other insects being imported.
  2. All flowers will last longer if a foxglove is included in the arrangement. If they are not desired or available make a tea by pouring boiling water on foxglove leaves. When cool use the liquid with water.
  3. For delphiniums and larkspur add sugar don’t bother with the old Wive’s idea of an old penny (give it to the gardener).
  4. For daffodils and narcissus add charcoal or camphor to the water and preferably keep them from other flowers.
  5. Topmost buds should be nipped from gladioli, snapdragons and delphiniums.
  6. Heathers without water will last for weeks in the house without withering or dropping needles.
  7. Many spring flowering shrubs will last longer if picked in bud rather than full flower and stood in hot water first. Try this with Forsythis, Wintersweet, Witch hazel and willows.
  8. If flowering shrubs must be used the whole shoot should be taken down to two buds above old wood.
  9. Leave enough leaf material for plants to regenerate.
  10. Old flowers may be about to set seed and will not last long in the arrangement.

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