Author Archive | hortoris

Growing Biennial Papaver nudicale & Eschscholzia


This is an easy to grow biennial. Plant seeds now, either where they are to flower, or under cover for planting out 9 inches apart later. Germination can be erratic but they also dislike being transplanted so you are caught between a rockery and hard-landscaping.

The reason I say they are easy, is because they self sow all over my garden and despite the delicate petals I think of them as weeds. So much so that I forgot to photograph any earlier this year.

Other Seeds to sow for next year

  • Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’ grey leaves with purple bell flowers
  • Eschscholzia – Californian Poppy
  • Calendula officinalis – Indian Prince mixed coloured pot marigolds

See also Tips for growing Iceland Poppies


Taking Late Autumn Cuttings

It is still not too late to take semi ripe and hard wood cuttings. Many perennials are short lived, like penstemon above, and they can be reinvigorated from new cuttings. Plants are not at there best in Autumn so results may not be perfect but I find it pays to experiment.

Gardeners Autumn Cutting Tips

  • Take more cuttings than you need to cover losses.
  • Add perlite to your  compost or use damp sand and peat
  • Hardwood cuttings of roses, hebe, choysia and other shrubs and trees can be taken and left outside under some shelter from a hedge.
  • Pelargonium and decorative Fuchsia need to be over wintered away from frost and I find it easier to do this with cuttings rather than large plants.

Confessions of a Gardening Gourmand

A gourmet is a connoisseur of delicacies and a judge of good food. Therefore a ‘gardening gourmet’ is a connoisseur of the garden and its impact on all your senses.

A gourmand is more like a gluttonous and greedy feeder who is hard to satiate. A ‘gardening gourmand ‘ acquires more plants,  grows more seedlings, takes more cuttings than needed and crams everything into a tight garden space.

I am a repenting garden gourmand at least until next spring.

Avoid the worst of Gardening Gourmandishness. Continue Reading →


Rhus typhina, Stag Horn Sumach

This tree in my neighbours garden is about 9 foot tall. The panticles looks spectacular in the evening sunlight but overall the plant is prone to suckers and consumes a lot of space.

Growing Rhus

  • If you get sucker problems try cut out at the root. They can become invasive.
  • As part of a large family select your Rhus from a reputable nursery avoiding the Poison Ivy ‘Rhus toxicodendron’ (several species have irritating sap)
  • Autumn leaf colouring of yellow, orange, red and purple can be spectacular. It is one of the main reasons for giving these plants garden-room.
  • I am happy to admire these plants in other gardens, at least until I have a lot more space to fill.

Gardening For Climate Change

After this wet summer what has happened to Global Warming? Are there any advantages of Global Warming and how should gardeners design for such changes.

What is Global Warming

‘Climate change’ is used as a catch-all phrase to encompass the effects of global warming, the increase in temperature caused by greenhouse gases and the Northerly drift of hotter climates. Continue Reading →


Floral Clock Bradford

For many years I have seen floral clocks at Cartwright Hall, Bradford but just realised they are seldom floral. The plants used are low growing, coloured leaf plants like short Lavender, Sedums, Golden Moss, Blue Festuca grass and Sage. Each year the clock celebrates an event, charity or organisation – perhaps I will have a theme for my garden next year.

This year the numerals were picked out with Echeveria see earlier post.

Debt clocks are the current fashion, they have little to do with gardening because I hope most gardeners tend to steer clear of debt problems.


Uses for Echevaria

Succulents often have neat attractive leaf forms. The range of rosettes available in the Echevaria group include red tipped points to the leaves and tight groups of offsets as they multiply. This leads to a common name of ‘Hens and Chickens’.

Where to Grow Echeveria

  • This specimen was part of a row at the front of a formal border.
  • They can be grown with success in old sinks or pots, both indoors and outdoors. Ensure it is well drained and never stands in water.
  • In rockeries or alpine gardens surrounded by gravel these plants can colonise neat areas and suppress weeds.
  • As greenhouse or indoor pot plants they flower with interesting spikes. Again keep them quite dry.
  • They make an interesting collection with enough variety to a maintain interest.


Jerusalem Artichokes Helianthus tuberosus

Helianthus flower

Jerusalem artichokes are related to sunflowers not artichokes. So you will often see them flowering on the edges of allotments. The stems are up to 10 feet tall and the yellow flowers in September are quite bold and eye catching.

  • The fleshy rhizomes or tubers are eaten like potato. They are knobbly in shape.
  • They have a nutty flavour and are best steamed or roast, with or without skins.
  • The plants are perennial but good tubers are grown when the soil is rich and fresh so replanting is encouraged.
  • The plants are quite easy to grow and will spread if you don’t dig up the roots
  • For information on seasonal vegetables


Growing Cactus Dahlia from your Own Seed

Cactus Dahlia

Tips on Saving Seed

  • Choose your parent plant and label the stem with variety and type.
  • Take off the last of the petals or wait for them to fall.
  • Leave the seed head on until it is dry and ready to take off the plant.This can be helped by squeezing excess moisture from the head.
  • Cut the stem about 16inch long with the label and leave to dry for a further couple of weeks.
  • When dry and loose you are ready to take the seed from the dry head .

Seeds Ready to Sow

  • The black seed can be packed in to packets with the name and type of one Dahlia parent.
  • By saving seed this way you do not know the cross pollinator or what you will get. Be selective when you have many plants to choose from next year.
  • For fun you can name the new variety but commercially cultivated varieties must follow naming protocols.
  • With luck you will be happy with the result and encouraged to try again next season.

Plan Autumn Flower Colours


Decorative Dahlias provide colour through to the first frost. This dahlia was snapped in the rain at Harrogate Valley Gardens which has a great show of Dahlias in their own raised bed. That may account for the six foot specimens that were on display.

I was taken with the two tone effect of this flower. Many of the other flowers at this time of year are the brash purples, striking pinks or strong yellows. Check now in parks and public place to see what colour schemes work. Then plan your own scheme for next year.

Begonia and  Sweet Alysum


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