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Gardening articles that may not include tips

Rose Year 2018

In the UK it has been a fantastic year for flowers, no more so than an English favourite the Rose.

Parks and gardens have been over flowing with stunning blooms and scents.

2018 may be the start of a rose resurgence and I will be tempted to buy a few more bare rooted rose trees this backend.

Have I just been fortunate or has the weather restricted pests and diseases? No rust, negligible blackspot and only one plant suffering from mildew.

It may be too soon to say farewell to greenfly but I live in hope for the second flush from the HT roses.

After generally a good year for fruit and berries I wonder what to expect from rose hips this autumn. My Rambling Rector put on a good show and now I hope for a surfiet of hips. Rugosa roses needed more moisture and were one of the few poor performance in 2018.


Georg Adalbert Arends Old German Plantsman

Georg Arends was a German nurseryman who bred many perennial plants. His business was successful until the second world war and has been regenerated to be one of the oldest in Europe. It still remains within the Arends family.

Among over 300 plants that Georg bred are included ‘Arendsii’ versions of Aconitum, Arabis, Phlox and Hosta sieboldiana. He also specialised in Bergenia breeding ‘Abendglocken’, ‘Morgenrote’ and the white flowered ‘Silberlicht’. (I was told Bergenia were called Elephant plants because an elephant could stamp on them and they would survive. However a more popular name is Elephant Ears after the leaves.)

One of Georg’s favourite Berginia (wiki)

Rhododendron ‘Georg Arends’ was named after him. Dobbies say that it forms ‘A spectacular evergreen shrub that produces masses of large bright red flowers in mid May, up to 7.5cm in diameter, on a round shaped and bushy plant with dark green foliage.’

David Austin sells an old rose called Georg Arends which he claims it is ‘A good shrub with large, rose pink blooms of perfect Hybrid Tea shape; the petals curling back at the edges in a most beautiful manner. Deliciously fragrant. Recurrent flowering’.

A recent article in the Financial Times celebrates 130 years of Georg’s nursery business – I wish I had plants that lived a tenth as long.


British View of American Landscape

Some time ago in the pre-Trump era the west lawn at the British Museum  showed plants from North America landscape. The plants were provided in partnership with Kew but the photographs were mine taken in September.
I now wish I had also visited to see and take pictures of earlier spring and summer flowers fro N America.

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Amongst the more colourful flowers were a range of ‘tickseed’ which is the American name for Coreopsis. I like to grow these airy prairie plants even in darkest Yorkshire and you may see why from these photos.

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Trust me to get a photo of mildew! Must try again.

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The Museum garden had a lot going on in both leaf and flower forms.
The signage was good but it wasn’t obvious to me which of three zones each plant portrayed; Woodland, Prairie or Wetland.
I am sure the wetland was represented by the wonderful insect eating Pitcher plants.
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Older Pitcher plants below.

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I am sure it wasn’t intentional on the part of Kew to include these British Rockies. I am sure the real thing are more awe inspiring.

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For me the September light set off these New England Asters a proper treat.

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Cone flowers Echinacea purpurea held there own!

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Orange Coneflower Rudbeckia fulgida. The seeds feed finches and Native Americans used a wash from the plant for snake bites, earache and for a variety of other medicinal purposes.
First known in England in 1789 when they were described by Wm Aiton the first curator at Kew and ‘His Majesty’s Gardener at
Kew and Richmond ‘.



Meadow Flowering Wild or semi-cultivated

One red poppy to add interest to this photo of a ‘sown’ wild garden. The effect is pleasing with the cornflowers just breaking into colour.


A spring bulb meadow in a tree line glade.


Blue bells and tulips make a good combination. The fritillaries are nearly over.

Sown seed in a field of meadow grass cultivated to help this floral display.

An unusual August Wild Flower Garden when most wild flowers are spring flowering.


Drink to the Gardeners

Or more aptly what can gardeners do with their drinks and any remnants.

Tea leaves can be composted of course but they can also be put around Camellias as a mulch. This may seem a bit like cannibalism as the tea plant is part of the family Camellia sinensis. Comfrey leaves soaked and rotted down in water make a good cheap fertiliser suitable for flowers or fruit and other leaves such as nettles have similar attributes.

Milk is slightly acidic (lactic acid) and washing out your old bottles and use the water for a mild liquid manure of indoor plant.

Coffee grounds and cup remnants can go on the compost heap or be used around small succulent plants to deter snails.

A beer after a hard session in the garden can refresh the jaded gardener but can a drop or two help any plants. The yeast in beer may have some benefit and it is worth rinsing the bottle of can onto hollyhocks or climber. In the unlikely event there is any beer un-drunk it is well known that slugs glug beer and can drown in a beer trap.

When it comes to washing up after all that drink the soapy water can be used on the garden. Soda based cleaners are said to be good for use on brassicas.

After the Drinking

Micturation or the production of urine is an inevitable byproduct of all that drinking. Human urine is rich in nitrogen and urea. Fresh urine can be used to water plants diluted 1:10. Alternatively add it to your compost heap to enhance its nutritional content.

Victorian musical hall artist Marie Lloyd had a famous song ‘She Sits Among The Cabbages and Peas’. To over come complaints from the moral police of the time she sang a new version ‘She Sits Among The Cabbages and Leeks’.

‘Oh, she sits among the cabbages and peas
With a pretty little peapot ‘tween her knees
She’s a whiz at shelling peas
So she sits and shells with ease
Till the pretty little peapot’s full of peas.


Play Music to Your Grass

If Prince Charles can talk to flowers and plants perhaps your grass would like to listen to some classical music. Nocturnes may be more appropriate than ‘the floral dance’ or anything else that attracts weeds.

Grass & Lawn Music

  • Beethoven first movement (of the lawn mower) is  one of his lesser known hits.
  • 1812 is the best time of day to trim your edges.
  • To get neat patterns on the grass go Bach over it in opposite directions.
  • Fertilse your lawn with Schubert to give it some fizz.
  • Do not let your tuning fork Liszt .
  • Grass clippings are due for some Chopin before they adorn the compost heap.
  • I use a hook shaped knife to get grass out of cracks in pavement and flagstones. I call it a Mahler.
  • Do the twitch’, like Cubby Checker’s twist only spelt differently.’
  • Edelweiss should be rolled over in the clover not Mendelssohned with.




Transpiration for Gardeners

Transpiration is a basic and crucial function that moves water around plants to cool and keep them healthy. Leaves have pores or stomata that open to allow moisture to transpire or evaporate. Large trees can transpire up to 500 gallons per day, our garden plants transpire far less but enough to cause wilting if there is insufficient moisture for the plant. Stems and flowers can also transpire and loose water.

Transpiration Strategies

  • Many trees have wide spreading and deep roots to provide the moisture they need.
  • Tomato plants have a deep main root to gather water and surface roots for feeding. Leaves can also wither or be defoliated to reduce water loss.
  • Succulents save water by opening the stomata pores at night to reduce transpiration and often have  waxy leaves. Cacti don’t have leaves and few stomata elsewhere so transpire very little.
  • Many plants loose there turgidity when short of water and thus transpiration is reduced.
  • Other  plants have small leaves or hairy leaves
  • Mediterranean natives may have silvery reflective leaves, or produce volatile  oils to reduce transpiration by reduced evaporation.


Plants & Gardeners Water Strategies

  • Many plant leaves are designed by nature to funnel water to suit the plants needs. Check how Rhubarb leaves collect water over a large surface but it is channeled to the ridges that take it to the roots. You may have heard the saying ‘ water rhubarb even when it is raining’.
  • Soft leaves seem to loose more moisture and the more leaves then the more they transpire. Hence gardeners need to mulch and water plants during dry spells to sustain transpiration.
  • Plants in pots still transpire and water hungry plants may not be suitable for containers for that reason. Remember the bigger the pot the more soil and thus moisture it could contain.
  • Shade and wind breaks can reduce water loss by cutting down on transpiration. You can have too much of a good thing and wind and sun are an enemy to successful transpiration.
  • Evergreens transpire even in winter but our climate is generally able to provide the water needed but be wary of long hard frosts particularly for young plants.

Kale leaves are shaped to harvest rain.

Brugsmania build in a water trap

Pink Rose Dew by name and nature








Gardening Robots

Where would we be if there weren’t already numerous robots used in the gardening industry. Do you imagine there are thousands of Dutch gardeners pricking out the seedlings of the soon to be gaudy annuals on supermarket displays or thousands of Chinese coolies picking individual seeds for our packeted seed industry (well may be in this case).

Glasshouses have many automated facilities from sowing, watering and potting and these are becoming economic for some gardeners. Soon we will be able to do all our gardening from this position.

What of other robots to help individual gardeners in their own gardens perhaps for weeding? Early gardeners would be fascinated with the electronic tools now available not least the automatic programmed lawn mowers.

Robot Gardeners Questions

  • I wonder how robots will be propagated
  • What task would your first robot be programmed to do?
  • Farmers are gaining a new range of precision implements for spraying and crop management. Will the cost saving be passed on to consumers.
  • Will garden centers become full of robots instead of gifts and bric-a-brac

Fruit picked by human robot!

I will not be allowing robots to take on my favorite task of drinking a gin and tonic at he end of a session in the garden.


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