Author Archive | hortoris

My Spring Actions

2019 was off to a great start in Yorkshire; weather-wise at least.

Never knowing how many more springs I will be gardening I resolved to try the new and not to repeat the same mistakes as previous years. Surprisingly this philosophy has delivered several new tips that may be worth sharing.

New Spring Tips

  • Why have I never watered my dry compost before seed sowing. I use commercial compost for starting dahlias and summer bulbs into growth in frost free conditions. This year they have gone into predampened compost and the results are encouraging.
  • The daffodils have been great and I am photographing the garden in sections to see where they excel and where I can add new bulbs for next year.
  • Members of the primula family are also benefiting from the good damp ground that has followed a virtually snow free winter.
  • I can’t compete with the price of a bunch of daffodils from the supermarket so I am not trying. The space is too precious. However gardeners can compete on variety and specials and I have them in a dozen deep plant pots .
  • On miniature varieties of daffodils gardeners can compete handsomely as prolific results and good naturalisation seem to be easy. That is where I am setting my stall out.

Trying the New

  • I chop and change my selection of plants to grow each year. It means I get to select and buy new items that take my fancy. I do try to be loyal to a species for a couple of seasons but I think my auricula love affair is waning.
  • I have already dropped my membership of the Cactus Society and just composted the last specimens.
  • This year I am majoring on cyclamen which may take some years to reach excellence level. So to compliment that I have opted to try some indoor and outdoor Gloxinia.
  • I have returned to seaweed extract and just tried to perk up the lawn with a special watering. I will see how that goes.
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Design Tips for a Physic Garden

Chelsea Physic garden

The design of the Chesea Physic Garden dates back to 1673 when it replaced market gardens and orchards on the same spot alongside the Thames. Intended to be a physic garden ‘pertaining to things natural as distinct to metaphysical’ it is exceptionally practical rather than being design led.

Design Features With Appeal

  • Many excellent descriptions of plants with their practical or medicinal uses, in my view put it ahead of the RHS show gardens.
  • Rectilinear beds are arranged and labeled in botanic classification.
  • Old walls and old trees give shelter and help create a micro climate but there are also hot houses for exotic tropical plants.
  • Because the garden is not about gardening in a modern sense there are many features that need to be studied to take in the benefit from a visit to the garden. I liked the slate beds for pot plants, the variety of berries and seedheads (see below) and the statuary.

Incorporate Helpful Plants

  • Plan your garden with a good herbal or read up on plants before you select your range of subjects.
  • Consider viewing points and natural aspects of your garden.
  • A few of the plants that profit from being grown together include:
    • Marigolds and roses, aphids are lured naturally by roses, and these feed on the flowers and leaves. By planting marigolds around the roses, they will keep at bay insects.
    • Garlic, when grown in annual and perennial gardens, aids in warding off insects that feed on leaves.
    • Monarda or Bee Balm is not only an herb but also a striking flower, and this plant draws bees, and butterflies to the flower garden to assist with pollination.
    • Dahlias hold off insects and enrich the soil with nitrogen but otherwise are big drinkers and feeders. Continue Reading →
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Getting Good Results from Japanese Maples

Japanese maple or Acer palmatum are popular trees and small shrubs. They are grown for an attractive habit and dramatic foliage. The purple, crimson or creamy green leaves change to russet or scarlet in autumn. These leaves can scorch and dry and turn brittle when water is lost from the leaves by frost, wind, hot sun or salty air but they are worth the effort of giving them ideal conditions.

Ideal Growing Conditions

  1. Cool dappled shade is preferable to open, windy locations.
  2. Red leaved varieties need some sun to intensify their colour
  3. Plant Japanese maples in slightly acidic well drained soil that doesn’t dry out in summer nor become water logged in winter.
  4. The shallow roots benefit from an organic mulch.

Growing In a Pot

  1. Some smaller varieties adapt well to growing in a pot that has good drainage and aeration.
  2. Crock the pot and fill with loam based compost and mulch the top to avoid water loss.
  3. Water every day especially during hot weather.
  4. Repot in spring every 3 or 4 years before they restart in growth.
  5. Protect roots in the pot from very cold, wet weather.
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A Quick Spruce Up

I am not thinking of a Spruce conifer but an early smarten up and tidy of your garden. Here are some instant and relatively easy wins.

  1.  Initially focus on areas you can see from your windows and main viewing points. Then tidy, trim and weed even if it is still wintery.
  2. Turf out any old pots, hanging baskets or unsightly remnants that will never look as good again.
  3. Give borders a 10 minute make over to remove the worst looking offenders.
  4. Brush paths and tidy hard landscapes.
  5. If time and weather permits cut your lawns on a high setting for the first time this year
  6. Renovate and fill any bird feeders.
  7. Paint or clean garden furniture

Other quick improvements to your gardening enjoyment include:

  1. Treat yourself and garden to some seasonal gap filling plants such as bulbs or primulas.
  2. Plan or start a new project to give a bit of style to an area in your garden.
  3. Put some peat around ericaceous plants like rhododendrons and camellias and reapply bark chippings to improve appearances.
  4. Start your spring shopping with seeds or seedlings if you can protect them from frost.
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Orchid Shows

 

Winter and early spring is often a good time for Orchid shows in the UK. We have already missed half a dozen shows in January.

 Feb  6     Hinckley & District Orchid Society A.G.M and Quiz
Barwell Constitutional club
7-300pm – 10-00     Contact: keith bates 01455444177 keithbates185@hotmail.com
Trade Attending :-
     Feb  9     The North of England Orchid Society Monthly Show and AGM
Barton Village Hall, the A6 north of Preston
10.30am – 3.30pm     Contact: George Barnes 01942 810958 or via website form http://orchid.org.uk/email.htm
Trade Attending :- Phoenix Orchids, John Keeling
     Feb  20     Royal Horticultural Society RHS Orchid Committee
Council Room, Vincent Square
1130 –      Contact: Jill Otway jillotway@rhs.org.uk
Trade Attending :-
     Feb  23     The South West Orchid Society  Annual Orchid Show
West Monkton Village Hall, nr Taunton TA2 8NE
10.30am – 4pm     Contact: Marian Saunders 01278455170 msaunders1@mail105.co.uk
Trade Attending :-
     Feb  24     East Midlands Orchid Society displaying at the Harrogate OS Annual Show
Pavilions of Harrogate, Great Yorkshire Showground, HG2 8NZ
10:00 – 16:00     Contact: Melv. Stephen 01159 198124 melv_and_hil@hotmail.com
Trade Attending :-
     Feb  24     Harrogate Orchid Society Annual Show
The Pavilions Harrogate Showground Wetherby Road Harrogate HG2 8NZ
10.30am – 4.00pm     Contact: Ivor Pawson 01909 477832 ivor.pawson@sky.com
Trade Attending :-

However here are some as listed by the British Orchid Council to tempt you in February. I will be going as a spectator to the Harrogate show and potential some others. The trade usually attend to show their products and will offer advice to the novice. For other pending shows see orchid.org

 

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January Rose Pruning

I was reading an old book by Adam the Gardener the Sunday Express tipster and looking at his suggestions for January.

Rose Pruning In January

  • In January your roses should be dormant and some pruning has advantages.
  • Winter pruning can therefore be done lightly leaving harder pruning to be completed in march or april when you can see how the tree is responding.
  • This pruning reduces wind rock that can lead to frost getting down to the roots from loose soil.
  • Start pruning by removing dead wood and growth that crosses and crowds the center.
  • Standards and wispy growth should be pruned harder. Floribunda varieties need more top growth for a mass display
  • Tools should be really sharp to prevent bleeding and branch damage.
  • Do not prune during hard frosts.

I have been astonished how many rose trees I have growing in the garden. It was only when I embarked on the January prune/trim that they became visible and obvious.  The rugsa roses that I cut back in autumn were treated to a bag of horse manure to set them on their way in spring.

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Chill Out Music in Your Garden

You may want a tranquil peaceful garden but sometimes you need some supplementary relaxation. After your toils to achieve a neat restful space you can reward yourself with some gentle music. The National Trust recognise this and have launched a CD collection of ‘Music for Tired Gardeners’.

Relax after a hard days gardening to the music of Vaughn Williams’ Greensleeves, or if the weather in inclement Chopin’s Raindrop prelude may refresh you. Other composers on the CD include Tchaikovsky, Delius, Debussy, Schumann and Eric Coates etc. You may not be  ‘In a Monastery Garden’ but the Delius operatic composition ‘The Walk to the Paradise Garden’ will be some compensation.

Walking around your garden you can sign the old traditional song ‘How many kinds of sweet flowers grow In an English country garden?
How many kinds of sweet flowers grow
In an English country garden?
We’ll tell you now of some that we know
Those we miss you’ll surely pardon
Daffodils, heart’s ease and phlox
Meadowsweet and lady smocks
Gentian, lupine and tall hollyhocks
Roses, foxgloves, snowdrops, blue forget-me-nots
In an English country garden

Like me you may not remember the next two verses about ‘How many insects come here and go In an English country garden?’ and ‘How many songbirds fly to and fro In an English country garden?’

Happy listening and Happier gardening

 

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Oranges and Lemons on One Tree

 

Sorry the title may be a bit misleading if you were thinking of citrus fruit (not something I try to grow).

This is one of my prized Acer Palmatums that cost me all of 10 pence when our local garden center was closing down some years ago. I believe this mini tree is called ‘Orange Dream’ but the ticket was missing still what can I expect for the price. Luckily it was one on several varieties of Acer whose leave turn a brilliant orange, lemon  or red in autumn. Well worth giving them a space in your garden.

As you can see it was planted near a Mahonia referred to in yesterdays post

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My Mahonia

My Mahonia

I have been a bit short of things to say since Christmas but I recently got the camera out to snap the rain on my favourite Mahonia.

Growing in some shelter by a golden conifer this mahonia doesn’t suffer from any wind. The shrub has grown dramatically over the last few years. In late summer I lopped four feet off the top and trimmed the side shoots that were taking too much space. Now a respectable six feet tall I am getting good flowers that are still a bit too high to get my nose into. I have two other lower growing mahonia growing in acidic soil with other ericaceous plants.

The prickly side shoots no longer reach over the path.

Wet Spines on Mahonia

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New Gardeners Do Not Need A Garden

It is possible to enjoy gardening without having a traditional garden. Budding new gardeners can get a lot of pleasure and experience from a simple approach to plants and growing.

  1. Children can learn from growing mustard and cress from a packet of seeds in the kitchen. Put some cotton wool in half a clean eggshell dampen and sow some seeds. Better still may be a saucer with a damp face cloth.  A bean or pea seed in a jam jar wedged against the glass with some blotting paper will grow a root and a shoot to demonstrate the wonders of nature.
  2. Pot plants are often an introduction to gardening. Indoor they need light and water but most can survive at least 6 months without feeding. Green leaved plants may be easier to keep alive than flowering plants which in my experience need more care and attention.
  3. Without a traditional garden you can use grow bags on a balcony or path. I fill some bags and containers with bulbs or young, ready grown plants.
  4. Windowsill in my house are chock-a-block with plants from herbs and salad to exotic orchids. Even new gardeners can give some of these a go.
  5. If all else fails new gardeners can visit parks & gardens, garden centers and even look around the hedgerows and neighborhoods to get gardening knowledge and experience.


Cyclamen in a Pot on the Drive

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