Author Archive | hortoris

When is a Rose not a Rose

  • A rose is not a rose when it grows on an alien stem.
  • A rose is not a rose when it is converted into a bar of fragrant soap.
  • A rose is not a rose when it is the name of the Yorkshire morris dancing set White Rose Morris Men.
  • A rose is not a rose when it is a pinkish colour of paint .
  • A rose is not a rose when a knight stands from kneeling.

A rose is not a rose when it is a Lenten or Christmas rose!


Cactus Dahlia White and Bright

Bright & Breezy Dahlia

  • My Dahlias have been flowering early and successfully since the beginning of July. The white cactus plants are the most forward with the collarettes just starting.
  • I no longer leave the plants in the ground over winter as I have lost too many tubers to rot in the wet conditions we get in Yorkshire.
  • I store tubers in old pillowcases in the garage. Plastic bags would cause fungus and rot.
  • I divide up the tubers in early spring.  Some are easy to divide thus increasing stock. Other clumps of tubers need cutting into pieces all with a neck left on from last year. New growth comes from the neck not the tuber itself.
  • I start off the tubers in plant pots but I am too lazy to take cuttings which I am told would make stronger plants.

Dahlia Cut Flowers

  • There are as many cut flower tips as there are dahlia species. Dahlia are meant to be long lasting in a vase.
  • Keep your cut dahlias out of the sun and out of the heat.
  • Pick early in the day as with most cut flower.
  • Choose blooms that have started to unfurl – neither tight  buds nor fully open.
  • Place the Dahlia stems in  hot tap water then allow them to cool for an hour.
  • Use fresh water when arranging then change it every couple of days.
  • Remove any foliage from the stems to avoid it decaying in the water.

Garden tips

  • Cut back to encourage more stems and deadhead to encourage more blooms
  • Water well and regularly
  • Stake taller varieties
  • Give dahlias plenty of room


More and Better Californian Poppies

This is largely from a post I did in 2013 with some updates. Seeing the colour in my garden and watching the single flowers close up for the evening I decided to buy some more seeds for next summer (I hope I can find the space to do them justice) I opted for ‘Copper Swirl’ by TM and for an extra 99p I got ‘Golden West Californian Poppy’ thrown in.  I am tempted to sow half of each packet shortly although the blurb on the packet suggests waiting until Feb or March next year.

‘I like a brash colour in the garden and you can’t beat my favourite annual Californian Poppy. Eschscholzia californica is a bit of a mouthful but Californian Poppies and their family are well worth the effort.
Californian Poppy
The Californian poppy is an easy to grow hardy annual, which thrives in well drained sunny positions.

Growing Eschscholzia Tips and Hints.

  • Eschscholzia doesn’t like being transplanted at all, so it is best to sow in open ground. Eschscholzia have long soft tap roots that are easily damaged so take great care if you have to transplant them.
  • The main criteria for growing the Californian poppy is a well drained soil and sunny exposure.
  • Eschscholzia doesn’t need feeding and can thrive in the thinnest of soils. Gravel gardens are ideal.
  • They can be sown in October or early spring.
  • If they enjoy the conditions of your garden, it will freely self seed; it can even become a little invasive, although it is fairly easy to weed through just a light raking.
  • It is worth thinning the seedlings so that individual plants become stronger.
  • Continue Reading →

Half Standard Roses at the Seaside

Half Standard roses are grown on a 60-80cm stems. The selected flowering variety is grafted onto this stem. A spreading variety of polyantha or ‘fairy rose’ attains further  height of  2′. Clusters of bead-like buds open to globular, scented flowers which are most effective en masse.

Very often Half Standards are a better choice than full standards as they do not get too tall. Note how the half standard has been secured to the top of the stake.

By contrast ‘Full Standard’ roses are grown on a 3 foot stem. The flowering variety is grafted onto the stem and depending on variety will grow a further 3-5 foot Most full standards flower at or above head height.


Fuchsia from Autumn Cuttings


Fuchsias root very easily and it a simple matter to take cuttings both to increase your stock of plants and to protect them from winter losses.

Cuttings in September & October from Semi-hardwood.

  • I think this is the best method for those without a heated greenhouse.
  • Cuttings are taken late in the season when the bark has started to harden and ripen.
  • Select side shoots 6-10″ long and pull them off with a heel. A heel is a bit of the main stem attached to the base of the cutting.
  • Insert the cutting with 4-5 others in a 4″ pot
  • If growing several pots of cuttings plunge the pots into a tray of sand to keep them evenly moist and frost free.

Summer Cuttings from Green Tips

  • Select cuttings 3″ long with two or three pairs of leaves.
  • Cut the shoot just below the point where the lowest leaves join the stem. Trim off the 2 lower leaves and pot 2″ apart.
  • If taken in July, pot on the rooted cutting before winter. Do not worry if they loose there leaves in winter they will regrow from February.

Spring Green Tip Cuttings

  • Similar to summer cuttings they should be treated in the same way.
  • Pot on as soon as rooted in about 2-4 weeks.
  • Keep in gentle heat, shade from sun and gradually ventilate.
  • Stop the plants at 4 pairs of leaves to get bushy growth and flowers from June and the rest of summer.

Short Tip Cuttings in Heat January – March

  • This is the method used by our local nursery.
  • Overwintered plants are pruned by removing all green shoots. Then syringed with tepid water once a day to induce dormant buds on the old wood to shoot.
  • When new shoots have 3 pairs of leaves take the cutting leaving one pair of leaves behind.
  • Pot in a 3″ pot with 2-3 other cuttings and place in a propagator.
  • After rooting 10-14 days very gradually allow air to circulate.

London 2000

More Fuchsia Cutting Tips

Continue Reading →


Massed Bands of Flowers

I think some of the best garden displays come from a mass of the same plant grouped together. I don’t often practice what I preach being a well known doter-in who squeezes plants into a small space.

These black viola Molly Sanderson’  look almost black when clumped together and the light is bright. The plants self seed and last for a few years.

Your massed plants do not need to be in the ground, a group of pots can get a vibrant display together. It is an opportunity to experiment with colour matches and variety.

Perhaps given the ‘massed bands’ title I should have shown some trumpet flowers!


Successful Upgrade to My Compost Bins

You can see photographs of my former compost bins in an  old 2014 post

I just updated the introduction as follows ‘5 years ago our council  provided a brown bin for garden waste. Shortly after they introduced a charge to have the bin emptied.  Larger branches, gnarled roots and diseased wood  now goes in this bin’.

Improved Bins for Better Compost

  • Keeping the heat of decomposition within the pile speeds up my composting.
  • A large bin helps me keep the garden tidier.
  • I am encouraged to make more compost and tip far less.
  • Green household waste also goes in the new bins.
  • The bins content tends to get a bit dry despite the rain drops you see. So I add water and comfrey leaves/juice.
  • The lower openings intended for shoveling out the compost tend to get a bit clogged and thus I empty by opening the whole side.
  • The black bin is smaller and was bought for slow to rot rubbish and composting/rotting down leaves. This years luxuriant growth has taken over and the more I spread compost the more compost I generate (Thanks Les Barker)


Hardy Varieties of Fuchsias


Once established hardy Fuchsias need little maintenance. Growing outdoors they lose their foliage after frost and branches may or may not die back. However in spring they will send up fresh strong growing branches from the base or existing branch frameworks.
A big advantage of growing in the ground is that the unrestricted root run can produce an extremely  floriferous plant.

All the varieties we have selected below have the RHS AGM award.

Hardy Fuchsia Tips

  • Trim them back in late April not after flowering so that the twigs will protect the crowns from frost.
  • Spring pruning allows you to assess how fiercely you want to prune. Hard for a compact bush, gently for a larger shrub.
  • Generally having survived one winter Fuchsias will be successful for many years. All those below have been known to survive 5 years plus in the UK.
  • Give Fuchsias a slow release fertiliser in spring after cutting back. Then an occasional watering if they are very dry is all the other treatment needed.
  • Hardy Fuchsias come in a range of sizes, colours and shapes.

Smaller Hardy Fuchsias 1- 3 Feet Tall

  • Son of Tom Thumb with carmine and red flowers
  • Alice Hoffman with rose and white flowers and bronze tinged leaves.
  • Chillerton Beauty a vigorous grower with pale pink and violet flowers.
  • Conspicua deep red and white eye catching flowers
  • Dollar Prinzessing 18 inches tall with double flowers.
  • Genii with lime -yellow foliage and red stems but late flowering.
  • Heidi Ann less hardy but magnificent
  • Rufus the Red grows 24-30″ tall

Hardy Fuchsias 1- 3 Feet Wide

  • Annabel pink and white flowers on a trailing habit.
  • Empress of Prussia introduced in 1860
  • Garden News double flowers and surprisingly hardy.
  • Phyllis vigorous large leaved abundantly flowering plant
  • Mrs Popple introduced 1899 so it is a survivor.

Other Hardy Fuchsias

  • Hawkshead with white flowers and tall growing 3’plus.
  • Margaret Brown strong growing with smaller flowers.
  • Celia Smedley cream and flame coloured flowers on a strong plant
  • Species Fuchsia magellanica Whiteknights Pearl
  • Fuchsia magellanica ‘Aurea’ has bright golden foliage  with pendants of deep magenta


Books on Fuchsias from Amazon


Winter Gardening

What can gardeners do in winter? The answer lies in the soil! but to old gardeners it is still ‘Beyond our Ken’. I often spent too long polishing my good intentions this includes planning to send my mower for servicing and sharpening’ a shame I do not plan to polish up my other important gardening implements.

Winter Preparations

  • In the spirit of new years resolutions you would expect my garage and shed to be perfect models of tidiness and order
  • Winter prune trees and plan other tree work. Get an arboriculturalist to do the hard and technical work
  • Clear the garage, garden shed and store areas. I have a glory hole where an old coal hole was under some outside stairs. It should be renamed gory hole as the stairs now allow water to penetrate.
  • I still store pots by the score together with sundry bulk items I may or probably wont use again.
  • Use the opportunity for testing my good ideas, bodges and purloined ideas from other gardeners
  • Store garden furniture and frostable item.


Sorry about this post but I have just been clearing out some old drafts – now back into the garden.


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