Author Archive | hortoris

Skunk Cabbage for the Waterside Lysichiton americanus


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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Taking Delphinium Cuttings


The towering spires or spikes of Delphinium are to be admired from near and far. How much better if you can increase your stock of a favourite plant by ‘Vegetative Propagation Methods’.

Method 1
April is a good time to take a cutting from the base of the plant below soil level. Cut out a sturdy 3-4 inch shoot that is about pencil thickness. Too thin and the shoot wont make a sturdy plant and to thick and it will be hard to root. Make sure you get low down taking a shaving of the old root with the cutting. Failing to do this will encourage a rapid but spindly growth that wont last the summer. A bit of hormone rooting powder can be used but the cutting should root quite easily. Pot on or plant out when healthy and strong growth is showing.

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Fringed Tulips a Crispa Flower

Tulip Crispa or the fringed Tulips looked really good at our Spring show so I have planned to grow some next year. These photos were taken on the bench demonstrating what good cut flowers Tulips can be. The fringed or lacerated petals are unusual yet elegant and add to the attraction of these strongly coloured flowers.

Tips on Fringed Tulips

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Garden with a Bird Bath


A bird bath can be popular with our feathered friends and be a focal point in the garden. If creating a new bed, for plantings, that will have a bird bath as a centre piece locate the bath just off centre. Work into the soil suitable compost  about 4 inches of garden compost will give the bed a good start.

Plant suggestions

  • Use plants of varied heights and colours and bear in mind you are trying to attract native bird species.
  • For the back of the bed try a Persian lilac growing upto 10 feet. Syringia Persica has fragrant mauve flowers.
  • If there is a wall or sturdy fence try Virginia creeper Parthenocissus tricuspidata with it’s red autumn leaves and hiding place for the birds.
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Tips for Growing Acer – Japanese Maples


Acer trees and shrubs can be spectacular from Spring through Autumn due to the leaf colours and patterns.  This Acer Palmatum Taylor’s leaves with pink foliage will last through summer turning into rich Autumn colours at the backend. It will grow to about 10 feet in 10 years and is suitable for even a small garden.

Top Low Growing Acers

  • The cut leaf  maple Acer Palmatum Dissectum is an umberella shaped shrub with unusually shaped fresh green leaves. The leaves develop a red stripe in the Autumn. The name gives away a description of the shrub – Palmatum refers to the 5 segments of the leaf like the palm of your hand. Disscetum indicates that the leaves are disected into thin often feathery shapes.
  • Acer Pamatum Orange Dream is a slow growing Japanese maple with vivid orange spray foliage which turns golden yellow in Autumn.
  • Acer Palmatum Atropurpureum is a slow growing purple leaved variety grown for both the colour and the attractive shape of the tree. There is a Dissectum variety Garnet which combines the leaf colour with the feathery foliage.
  • Beni Maiko is a dwarf Acer Palmatum growing to  2-3 feet in 10 years and can be kept in a large pot or used in even a small garden. The scarlet leaves progressively turn dark red and green.

Top Tips for Acers

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Plum Blossom


Spring is well underway but I must take care of my blossom on the Victoria plum. It looks fantastic at the moment and speaks of a good crop this summer but a nip of frost just now would be a real let down. Plums are prone to frost damage and as I am prone to eat Plum jam I will try protect this tree and its blossom.

As the tree has grown above a safe picking height I will trim the upper branches later in summer when the danger of silver leaf disease is much lower.

To augment my plum crop I planted a Czar plum (see below) at the beginning of 2008 and it is showing a very upright habit. This I will encourage into a bowl like shape to get air and light into the centre of the tree for future years. At the moment the rhubarb is a bit too rampant under the plum so I think it will have to come out .

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Topical Gardening Tips – Mid-Spring


Mid Spring Garden

Garden waste composts best and quickest in a hot heap. Cover the heap and insulate the sides if practical. Mix hard and soft waste if you have mainly grass clippings tear up some cardboard or newspaper to avoid a soggy mess.

Keep sowing summer bedding indoors. Half hardy annuals can be sown out doors in May. Prick out seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle.

Start a weed suppression routine. Hoe out any weeds or hand remove any pernicious perennials. Mulch to suppress and avoid weeds.Spot spray weed killer on hard to get at weeds in paving and wall cracks. Treat patios and paths with algicide or moss killer to remove slippy green paths.

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Fuchsia from Cutting to Show


My Fuchsias didn’t over winter very well so I wanted some new ‘cheap’ stock. My first attempt was to buy strong looking plants from a nursery but foolishly left them to get frosted in a very cold greenhouse. These cuttings were on sale in there own nifty mini greenhouse with the roots in a water-gel to sustain then through the retail lifecycle.

I got 12 plants for less than £3 and I have potted them on on a window ledge and 4 days later the largest is already for ‘stopping’. I will pinch it and then others out at the growing tip to encourage branching.  If you are wanting a ‘standard’  shape ie a single bare stem topped with a globe of flowers, then do not pinch out the top but remove all the side shoots and main leaves on the stem until the stem is 12 inches tall and the head has been formed.

Training Fuchsias

  • Standards have already been discussed and they follow the training of a bush fuchsia. The bush fuchsia will be trained to have a stem of about 1.5 inches without branches and all growth then eminated from a selected number of laterals.
  • A shrub has multiple growths from below soil level. training starts ater 2 or 3 pairs of leaves have formed by pinching out the growing tip. this process is repeated until the plant is the size and shape required.
  • After every stop give the plants a nitrogenous feed to promote new branches. Plants flower 6-8 weeks after the last stop and in that time the feed can be changed to a 1:1:2 ratio with more potassium to encourage flowering.

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Allotments Replaced by Trees


We used to have allotments in our village until the blight. That was not a gardening blight or a problem growing anything but a planners and local politicians blight.

A large green open space surrounding an old hospital ‘High Royds’ was too good an opportunity for power broking and developers profits so the old hospital and the village allotments all had to go. I blame ‘careless of the community’.

Now the ‘new’ village is built and called Chevin Park (not High Royds because the hospital was a former lunatic asylum. Windscale and Sellafield also springs to mind.)    Many properties are empty partly due to the property recession but also due to the paltry size of the gardens and lack of allotments that could so easily have been restored.

What has replaced our allotments? As you can see a veritable forest of platic tubes protecting newly planted trees and the flimsiest stakes you could imagine after 3 foot canes.

Tips for Planting Trees

  • Dig a good sized hole and incorporate some slow release fertilizer like bone meal. The tree should be there for a long time.
  • Spread the roots of a bare rooted tree or tweak the edges of a container grown tree to give roots the encouragement to spread. Trim off any broken roots.
  • Plant at the same depth to which the tree has been grown.  There is usually a soil mark on bare trees to help. Do not bury any graft.
  • Drive the stake into the bottom of the planting hole before planting the tree and try to ensure that 2/3rds of the stake is underground when the soil is returned to the hole. Continue Reading →

Wallflower Bowles Mauve


Bowles Mauve is a wallflower Erysimum linifolium that performs for several years unlike its strongly scented cousins. It is a short lived evergreen perennial that gets a bit leggy if not kept in check. The plant flowers all summer long and it seems as though it is flowering itself to death.

  • Take regular cuttings which are easy to root and grow on.
  • It grows 2 feet high and wide in most types of soil preferring alkaline to acid
  • Also try  other Perennial Wallflowers, Bowles Yellow or the shorter ‘Little Lilac Kiss’ from seed
  • Erysimum perofskianum Gold Shot as its name suggests has golden yellow flowers
  • Butterflies are attracted to this plant of the brassica family
  • As a member of the Cruciferae family the flowers grow from stems originating in the centre of the grey leaves and have 4 petals each in the shape of a cross.



Read also Everlasting Wallflowers


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