Author Archive | hortoris

Tzigane Best HT Rose


I have always assumed this Rose that I bought as Tzigane (Tsigane) was in fact that variety. When I recently compared it to pictures by other gardeners I found 4 totally different offerings under that name. I am happy with my rose, that it is a regular flowering rose of fair scent and pleasant disposition (no bugs or diseases  of note) and it is 10+ years old. Perhaps the inner petal shade should be pinker but the bicolour effect is still noticeable.

Tips on Plant Varieties

  • Even under the same name plants will vary. Parentage, growing situation, general cultivation and environmental factors will all influence a plant which may also vary of it’s own accord from one year to the next.
  • Plants can get mis-named by nurseries by accident, carelessness or even commercial imperative. If it is important buy from a specialist nursery and select your plant when it is in flower too check it is to your specification.
  • Do not be afraid to take a wayward specimen back to the retailer.
  • Even if the plant is not exactly what you want, by the time you find out it will have made a new home in your garden and it may be worth a compromise (a bit one sided as the plant can’t do much compromising)

Best Flowering Shrubs



Broom or Cytisus scoparius
is an old favourite shrub for the pea shaped flowers in June. The traditional yellow is now supplemented by many cultivars in red and bi colours. They are short lived shrubs and need to be pruned to stop energy going into seed production. They flower on wood produced in the previous year. In the wild they can be perceived as weeds and seed prolifically in the right conditions. Broom is sometimes confused with Genista or Spanish Broom which is similar in flower and habit.


I have included this Abutilon vitafolium for its height (20′) and its colourful blossom. They can be grown from the little hard, black seeds similar to lupin’s. The flowers are 1-2″ across and come in good bunches. The shrub retains most of its grey-green leaves through winter.


A good workhorse in my garden is the Pieris ‘Forest Flame’ or Lily of the Valley bush. It flowers a bit earlier than June with a host of small delicate white bell shaped flowers in large panicles. The leaves that follow the flowering are glossy, strong bright red or pink and give the shrub great character. After 5 years the evergreen plants will grown to about 3-5 foot and are well behaved easily controlled shrubs.


Bedding Tips


Bedding describes  plants  that are used en masse for a showy display of a temporary nature. They are often annuals but can also be bulbs like Begonia or biennials like wall flowers.

Tips on Bedding Plants

  • Plants need space to develop and you need to remember this when planting out – you do not want bare soil but you want developed flowers. Err on the side of being too close ( A 4″ diameter plant can be spaced every 3″-4″ but no closer).
  • If plants are very small when planted out or are grown in situ then ‘thin’ them out to make space. This means pulling out (or pinching at root level)  and throwing away weak  or over crowded plants.
  • To make a plant grow more bushy pinch out the growing tip. I do this too good effect with bedding Geraniums. More branches will equal more flowers.
  • Take off or deadhead flowers when they have finished. Once a plant starts to set seed it may stop all flower production and think ‘Job Done’.

Design of Bedding

  • Consider the colour scheme you are aiming for – white washes out cool colours like blues but highlights the pinks above.
  • It was common practise to put low plants at the front and tall plants at the rear of a Bed but it is your garden and a bit of variety can make the casual observer take a second look.
  • Consider if you want uniformity and rigid rows or a more natural planting.
  • Not everything needs to be a flower, grasses can add movement and refreshing greens or silver leaved plants can provide highlights.

Dwarf Pelargonium aka Geranium


This dwarf Pelargonium (called Geranium) is shorter than a paperback (I mean not as tall) and the leaves are correspondingly small. A perfect little miniature plant with all the habits and leaf colouring of a zonal Pelargonium.

Dwarf Pelargonium Tips and Hints

  • I guess you could grow them outside in summer in the rockery after the Aubretia and spring flowers have finished or in pots indoors and out..
  • I have several cuttings coming along very nicely that I took from this plant in March as I wanted to reshape it for this summer and couldn’t waste the trimmings. I used gritty compost and a normal window ledge and all 6 have rooted. I will cut them back in Autumn for growing slowly onward next spring.
  • I am looking  for other miniature Geraniums to complement this one as they are easier to maintain in good condition than the larger varieties.
  • The following varieties are suitable for exhibitions and I might give one or two a try; Dibbinsdale, Dovepoint, Barnsdale and Clatterbridge according to Fir Trees nursery where I buy my Pelargoniums.
  • I may also try a Dwarf Regal Pelargonium like Lily The pink or Tammy Ann

Continue Reading →


Save Water Garden with a Friend

Older gardeners may remember the water company slogan ‘Save Water bath with a friend’ used during the great water shortages of 1976. Are we in for another summer like 1976? Some thinks so others are still suffering floods and unseasonal cold still as Baden Powell said be prepared. I am suggesting help from friendly gadgets to save water in your garden this summer.

Watering Systems for Pots.

  • For a cheap system of ‘container watering’ use a big container (they hold more soil and water and have less pot surface area to soil) and mulch the top with 2″ of gravel, slate or bark. Plastic containers evaporate less from the sides but the soil gets hotter than with terracotta pots.
  • When you water make sure you give them a long drink. I stand all pots on a saucer and fill it up as well as watering from the top.
  • Self watering pots can be bought with a reservoir that avoid 2out of 3 watering requirements when compared to a normal pot.
  • The Rolls Royce system would be a full irrigation system from a header tank with computer control as used in commercial nurseries. An easy to use irrigation system based on a modular approach can start from less than £20 and be used in the greenhouse, garden or for pots and hanging baskets.

Buy an Thompson MorganIrrigation system from Thompson & Morgan from this link.


Honeysuckle Climbing Lonicera Varieties


Lonicera Heckerottii 'Gold Flame'

Woodbine is the common name for this Honeysuckle that provides a strong sweet scent in the cottage garden from the end of May. The climbing twining Honeysuckles are part of a large family of Lonicera that also includes a range of shrubby plants.

For sweetly flowering honeysuckle in winter try Lonicera fragrantissima or Lonicera Standishii whilst the best flowering summer species are the evergreen Lonicera Japonica. Sacrificing some scent for colour tryLonicera tellmannianawith flowers that are orange with red streaks on the outside or ‘Dropmore Scarlet’ for a terrific summer show of long scarlet flowers.
Belgica or the later flowering Serotina are true Honeysuckles that with a little support on a wall will scramble away to 10 feet or more. They will twine through branches of other trees quite happily and combine with robust roses to good effect.
Honeysuckle can be cultivated from cuttings and I have one plant that has had progeny in 5 gardens over the last 50 years as I moved house.
Pruning tips: Continue Reading →


Legumes and Pea Flowers


I am kicking myself for not noting the name of this alpine flower captured on my camera during a recent garden visit. The familiar pea shape and colour are reminisent of Cytisus or Broom but with 727 genera of Legumes I can’t be sure.

Gentle Reminders

  • Inspect plants close up to discover the natural beauty and make associations and links to other plants as the old plant hunters used to do.
  • The next reminder to myself is to make a note of a plants name when you have the chance to do so. My memory is totally fallible.
  • My vegetarian children eat the growing tops of Peas and I have resolved to  try eating them as well.

Legumes of the World is an authorative text on the range of leguminous plants but it comes at a price of £56 even from Amazon.


Growing Heliotrope Plants


Heliotrope usually has dark green crinkled leaves and deep purple flowers. The flowers are among the most fragrant in the garden. I grow it as an annual from bought plants (a bit extravagant). Heliotrope were prized by our grandmothers in traditional cottage-gardens. There are several varieties with flowers in white and pale lavender. But I prefer the old-fashioned kind with dark green, crinkled leaves and deep purple flowers. It is quite dependable both in ease of care and reliable fragrance. Reminiscent of vanilla, the heliotrope’s scent gave rise to its common name ‘ the cherry-pie plant’.

Growing Tips

  • If over crowded they may suffer from mildew but are generally pest free.
  • Plant in plenty of sunshine.
  • Heliotrope needs pinching out when young . Pinch back the tips all over the plant early on, which forces lots of new side growth. You wait longer for flowers but get more of them eventually.
  • Removing faded blooms promptly results in a continuous show of pretty flowers starting in July.
  • Heliotrope  turns its flowers and leaves toward the sun over the course of each day. And at night it readjusts itself to face eastward, to be ready for sunrise. That tendency is at the root of the name heliotrope. It means to move with the sun.
  • Heliotrope is a member of the Borage family

Heliotropium arborescens or peruvianum are the species to consider growing but there are many species of Heliotrope not all of which are suitable for the UK.

Winter Heliotrope Petasites fragrans is native to the Mediterranean. As its name implies it produces attractive heads of fragrant, mauve flowers early in the New Year  however, the true character of the plant is thuggish. It is a large-leaved rampant perennial spreading by means of underground stems and is very invasive.

Seeds are now available from Thompson & Morgan


Solanum Potato Flower Climber


The plant family Solanaceae is large and diverse from the nightshades, through tomatoes, potatoes and peppers to daturas and Solanum there is a detailed explanation of these species on

Gardeners Solanum Tips

  • The Chilean potato vine Solanum Crispum is just the  vigorous climber to give your sunny wall an exotic look.
  • It has wiry stems which need tying up to wires or trellis for support. Prune and tie in to retain the required shape.
  • The small semi-evergreen leaves  remain on the plant in all but bad winters and easily reach 6 feet tall.
  • The potato-like flowers with lilac petals around a pointed yellow centre, appear continuously from mid-summer to mid-autumn. The variety ‘Glasnevin’ is the one to choose, as it flowers more prolifically and is also slightly hardier.
  • They are pest and disease free once established.
  • Plants like a moist but well-drained soil that is neutral to slightly alakaline in pH.
  • To propagate take cuttings from summer to early autumn. If buying from a garden centre buy when in bloom as some varieties have disappointing blossom
  • Continue Reading →

Flowering Currant – Ribes sanguineum


In my garden the flowers of the flowering currant are over for another year so this morning I started to prune the shrubs. The lobed leaves of the Flowering Currant are seldom of special merit although they look lime green fresh at the moment. Therefore I am happy to prune very hard immediately after flowering.

Pruning Tips

  • Cut out dead, damaged or diseased wood as a first priority.
  • Cut out some of the old thick blackened stems at ground level to reduce the thicket and open up the shrub. At least one third of the branches should be removed in this way.
  • For an over grown shrub prune all branches right down to the ground immediately after flowering.
  • Shape the shrub by reducing the length of the remaining branches to create an open framework with space for new branches .
  • From the pruned branches new growth will grow and buds form this summer and provide the base for blossom next year.

If you want to grow more plants stick some of the pruned branches into the soil in an out of the way spot and chances are good that several will root. I try get a cutting 6+ inches long with a bit of the older wood as it breaks in to new wood,  I strip off the leaves for the first 4 inches or so and plant in normal soil with no special effort.

History from The Daily Mail

Continue Reading →


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