Author Archive | hortoris

The Garden Museum formerly Museum of Garden History

The museum of garden history in St Marys Church at Lambeth Palace London reopens after refurbishment on the 18th November 2008. Renamed The Garden Museum, extra space has been created inside the medieval church to display paintings, drawings and ephemera related to gardening.

Visit to The Garden Museum (Garden)

  • I arrived a week too soon expecting the refurbishment to be completed ( I should have checked). It had been several years since my last visit when it was still called the museum of garden history.
  • The Cafe and garden were still open and the graveyard was planted up with lots of plants including some strong growing Acanthus.
  • The knot garden contained a large spirally pruned Ilex altaclariensis Golden King as a center piece.
  • Evidence of the links to the Tradescant family were all over the small garden and for the most part the plants were well labeled.
  • My favourite feature was an old stone seat that had been surrounded by a small hedge clipped to make it look like a sofa.

See more pictures
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Nearly Free Seeds

RHS Seed Distribution

One of the joys of RHS membership is the annual free seed distribution. A 24 page listing of available seeds, collected from the RHS gardens, provides a wide and unusual selection.

The descriptions are short and the official Latin names send me off to look up the species in books or the internet before deciding. At the beginning of next year I will receive the 20 packets together with a germination guide. In addition to recommended temperatures and likely germination times there are many tips on covering seeds, chilling to break dormancy and other influencing factors.

I have just ordered my 20 packets from the catalogue of over 500 different options. Half of my selection this year are trees or shrubs as I like to have something different and taller than usual from the RHS. This was my selection:

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Peace the Top Rose

Named ‘Peace’ after the second world war this ‘Peace Rose’ could have been named not for the absence of war but for the tranquility of a peaceful garden.


In 1935, Francis Meilland cross-pollinated a french  rose with Margaret McGredy, from which was born a seedling of unknown qualities. Some eyes were budded in 1936, and by fall one of the plants had developed into an especially fine specimen with lush dark green, glossy foliage, and it had magnificent blooms of the most delicate ivory-yellow brushed with pink at the edges. From Kitty Belendes.


Purple Cabbage

This ornamental cabbage is grown for winter colour. For a Red Cabbage with heart try Kalibos, Red Drumhead or Red Jewel varieties grown from seed.

Cabbage Tips

  • Red cabbage usually stands well in the ground from summer to early winter.
  • Solid hearts with fewer wasted leaves are also normal with Red cabbage.
  • Pickled or ‘shredded raw’ are two favourite ways of eating these Red cabbages.
  • If you grow 2 rows in your veg garden is it a dual cabbageway?



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 →


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