Know Your Abscission from your Zygomorphic

Know Your Abscission from your Zygomorphic

I have been reading the Penguin Encyclopedia of Gardening which aims to provide ‘….an explanation of words used in a technical sense in a horticultural context in the UK and USA.’ Set out as an A to Z this resulting post, missing a thousand definitions, is unlikely to rank highly with search engines.

Abscission

The separation of a leaf or fruit from it’s stem. Most notable as a deciduous tree sheds its leaves in autumn. Two layers of cells are formed to facilitate this process, an abscission layer and a corky tissue layer. The corky layer cuts off the food supply to the fruit or leaf and protects the the wound formed when the drop occurs.

Zygomorphic

A botanical term  referring to a flower having floral parts that are capable of division into essentially symmetrical halves by only one vertical or longitudinal plane passing through the axis. Examples include  Peas , Snapdragons and Orchids.

 

Orchid

 

Flitting about My Garden

Flitting about My Garden

The biggest butterfly in my garden is undoubtedly me the gardener. Whilst working on the beds or landscape I can flit from task to task or pause and forget what I intended doing. Even with ‘to do’ lists at the starts of the day I complete very few and add on  many supplementary things instead. The garden’s requirements take precedent as I flit about with spade or watering can but I also ‘butterfly’ in another key direction.

Over the years my preference for plant or species come in and out of fashion and I favour certain groups for a few seasons and then move on or more specifically move off. I think of these as my specialties but in truth I don’t specialise and never really learn or attain the best results before changing. It is more a case of the garden will be greener and my horticultural pleasure multiplied by variety and change.

Flitting about in this manner has led me to collect books on specific species in a vain attempt to excel. To this end I often join a specialist society for a period of time that currently includes;  the National Auricular and Primula, Cactus, Cyclamen, as well as RHS and AGS (alpine garden society). Added to this are my memberships of local clubs and societies where my enthusiasm last for about 5 years before I move on.

Current and Past Specialties

  1. Chrysanthemums
  2. Rhododendron and deciduous  Azaleas
  3. Dahlia
  4. Patio and miniature Roses and Rambler varieties.
  5. Cyclamen
  6. Auricula
  7. Carnations and Dianthus
  8. Peonies
  9. Dwarf Hosta
  10. Pelargoniums
  11. Dwarf Conifers
  12. Alpines
  13. Primroses and Polyanthus
  14. Daisy Compositae family of 30,000+ species
  15. Soft fruit and apple trees
  16. Shorter lived interest in Heuchera, Ivyies, African violets, Cistus,

Rambling Rector

Blueberry Growing My Best Tips

Blueberry Growing My Best Tips

It has taken 7 years to get a good crop of blueberries from my plants in a 12″ pot. See my earlier more detailed blueberry GTips from 2014. Now with the benefit of experience a good crop looks likely.  The yield has increased annually but for soft fruit and my blueberries in particular 2021 looks the best yet.

Three Best Tips

  1. Blueberries love a moist soil and plenty to drink. I put Strulch around the plants to retain moisture and water regularly. If using tap water rather than rain water I add some ericaceous feed.
  2. I planted two varieties in the same pot which helps fertilisation. One was a smaller weaker variety.
  3. The pot is now in a sunny sheltered position. The fruit grows on old and new wood  so I only trim rather than prune

Genome of a Garden Gnome

Genome of a Garden Gnome

Book Cover

I am not against garden gnomes, they can brighten up your mood and dark wintery days. From a gardeners view I offer the following comments.

  • Use gnomes for friends family and your own pleasure and amusement.
  • I don’t take gnomes too seriously and have just a couple to keep one another company.
  • Large families of gnomes seem better if you have the space.  The weeds of a gnomery are other frivolous ornaments and I stay clear of them particularly fairies, witches and elves.
  • You can name you gnome three times with a personal name, a clan name, and a nickname.  The picture is Mumple chops the fourth from the clan  gardenfoot with the nickname hortoris.
  • Keep your gnome clean and they will live in your garden without needing special fertiliser or pruning
Skunk Cabbage Kicks up a New Stink

Skunk Cabbage Kicks up a New Stink

Latest news on Skunk Cabbage

Repeated below is our post from 2009 when I first reported on the water loving skunk cabbage. In 2021 the RHS have decided that the proliferation of this plant is endangering native species and they should not be grown in the UK. The RHS say ‘after flowering  seed heads should be cut off and burnt’ this should help the spread of the rouge amongst our aquatic plants in areas such as the Wye Valley and Lake District.

If you followed our tip to grow this plant I leave it to you what you may wish to do. I am not changing my mind as it is not yet a plant on the banned list  under Schedule 9 of The Wildlife and Countryside Act

skunk-cabbage

‘American Skunk Cabbage Lysichiton americanus is planted in groups along the streamside at the Valley Garden Harrogate. Over the years the plants have seeded themselves freely and now make a fantastic display covering the full length of the stream and beyond. The yellow flame-shaped flowers really called spathes, are 18 inches high and look magnificent reflected in the water in April and May. Then the flowers are followed by enormous paddle-shaped, leathery green leaves which remain until dieing back in autumn.
Lysichiton camschatcensis has a hypnotic white spathe and lime green flowering head and a cross between the two species produces a cream spathe (I like to call a spathe a spathe). This spathe surrounds a cigar shaped stem called the spadix which bears many small, bisexual green flowers.

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Net Gains in the Garden

Net Gains in the Garden

2021 Net Experience to date

  • I am moving away from plastic nets particularly the fine thin green version sold by some retailers. They break after one season, become brittle and inevitably end up in landfill or worse.
  • This season I favour chicken wire either galvanised or coated mesh. I have strung a 6 foot length between two stout metal poles. The poles have been fed through the holes at the edge every 6 inches or so. Thus I have a wall of netting for my sweetpeas to climb up.
  • Rather than use netting on softfruit I intend using horticultural fleece as a temorary covering because I hve a surplus of fleece and it deteriorates if kept to long.
  • Wire mesh can be adapted as a coarse sieve used on my home made compost.
  • Whilst not true netting I use wire frames for bird feed holders. I have a couple for suit blocks and seed balls.

original post on garden products April 2011

‘Netting can be very useful in the garden and there is usually one or more types for each particular application.

Climbers like Sweet Peas need something to cling on to as they grow. You can cut off the tendrils and tie the stems to a cane but that is labour intensive. I prefer to use a very open green plastic net. It is about the cheapest you can buy and if you throw it away at the end of the year it will have done its job.

For runner beans and climbing beans I use stronger plastic net also with a wide open mesh and strong poles. Again it is still cheap as a form of netting.

For protecting soft fruit like strawberries or building a fruit cage you need knotted netting also called mesh knotted netting. This is strong enough to keep out the birds. The mesh varies from 7mm squares to 18mm diamonds. The smaller gauge keeps out moths and butterflies and the wider for pigeons and small birds.
For herons over your pond a wider mesh of 45mm will not spoil the appearance.

Insect mesh netting is finer and more akin to fleece. It can deter carrot fly, cabbage root fly and caterpillars whilst giving a modest amount of shade.

Wind break or shade nets are made from higher density polypropylene.

Pond nets for leaves and debris can also protect your goldfish. A fishing line strung across the edge of ponds may deter cats and other creatures.’

Me and Seed Trays

Me and Seed Trays

Plastic seed trays

Seed sowing reaches its height in the middle of April. It is worth looking at the labour saving devices that were not available to our parents and grandparents.

Seed Tray Review

  • Old wooden seed trays with slats and high sides are still in use. They need care when cleaning before new crops are sown.
  • Plastic seed trays from rigid polypropylene with drainage holes can be used time and again and are easy to store and clean. There is generally a pattern of ridges to improve drainage.
  • I like to use the thin plastic segmented inserts inside a normal seed tray like those in the photograph.
    • They are cheap enough to be disposable but last a couple of seasons with care.
    • They vary in the number of cells, 3×5, 8×5 or 4×6 for example.
    • Each cell can be for individual seeds or used for several fine seeds. It makes pricking out and planting far easier.
    • The cells can also be used for growing on after pricking out. 15 or 24 good plants can be raised in one tray.
    • Do not put plastic inserts in a tray without drainage holes or the compost may get water logged.
  • Seed trays can be used to hold individual pots in one place. Up to 15 square 3″ pots can be put in one tray and they are a bit deeper than a standard tray.

Seed Tray Tips

  • Take care when watering to get all the area damp. Be careful with small cells and those near to the drying sun.
  • Label your seed sowing with the date and type of seed sown.
  • Sterilise your used seed trays in Jeys fluid or similar
  • To water from the bottom fill a larger container and stand the tray in the water until enough has been taken up.
  • Do not leave seedlings too long before pricking out. Long roots soon become stunted.
  • Carefully push out the cell contents from the bottom if using this product.

2021 Experience So Far

  • I vowed to sow fewer seed packets this year as pricking out then fills all the available warm space before the frost goes. Instead I have filled seed trays and 7cm pots with cuttings and bought in seedlings, so my space problem remains.
  • The square 7cm pots fit together in a seed tray for watering and carrying (but I always end up tipping some out by accident).
  • I did provide bottom heat for those seeds I have sown except lettuce. This has helped germination but regrettably not for tomatoes.
  • I stand some seed trays on wicking fabric to benefit from capillary action when watering from the bottom.
  • I have managed to get more seed trays in my greenhouse so all is not bad news despite the weather.
  • There is still time to use the seed trays for annuals and other seeds like wallflowers which await my attention.
Cold Snap and Sundry Snaps

Cold Snap and Sundry Snaps

Winter quarters on garage windowsill. Short of light but a warm sand based seed bed
Early protection in the bagging area.

Tulips do not mind the cold snap we have experienced during April but the greenhouse appreciated the bubble wrap

There is a great variety of tulips on show at the moment
Rhododendrons were decimated by the cold snap – still I hope for better next year – third time lucky after last years frost.
I treated myself to a Knaphill Azalea’Viscosa’ a white thjat will flower after our northern frosts.

Weeds to Worry About

Weeds to Worry About

Are weeds just plants ‘whose virtues have not yet been discovered’? Ralph Waldo Emerson Are weeds all bad to be dug out or killed off in your gardens and public spaces? Are native weeds worse than alien invaders? First lets see what plants we are talking about

Invasive or Noxious Native Weeds under the Weeds Act 1959,

I don’t know about you but there is a chance some of these weeds appear in my garden along with other miscreants such as willow herb (Chamaenerion angustifolium) , ground elder, convolvulous and bluebells. And that is just the start of my weed trail.

Invasive non native alien plants

  • American skunk cabbage Lysichiton americanus
  • Chilean rhubarb      Gunnera tinctoria
  • Curly waterweed      Lagarosiphon major
  • Floating pennywort             Hydrocotyle ranunculoides
  • Giant hogweed         Heracleum mantegazzianum

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Green Guerrilla Gardening

Green Guerrilla Gardening

Plant by lampost
              Plant Around the Lampost

Guerrilla Gardening is a movement which seeks to take unused often ugly plots of neglected land and grow plants and vegetables. It is a loose movement with a variety of aspirations and ecologically green projects. It has been described as ‘The Illicit Cultivation of Someone else’s Land.

If you look around your city town or landscape, there are bound to be a neglected areas full of weeds and unnecessary concrete that would benefit from your green ministrations.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.

There are many different and simple things that can be done as part of Guerrilla Gardening in a green manner.

  • Planting bulbs / plants in an area devoid of colour
  • Protecting weeds grown in unusual places.
  • Clearing up litter
  • Taking up unnecessary concrete and planting in it.
  • Watering, feeding and generally looking after a bed of plants to give a different level of aesthetic or practical result.

Guerrilla Gardening and the Move to Legitimacy

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