Archive | Flowers and Plants

Annual, perennial and interesting flowers with advice on culture, information, tips and recommended varieties

Beginning Gardening Tips on Bulbs for Beginners

Narsicci

These short tips are designed to help you avoid failures and give you success without having to worry about too many rights and wrongs. You haven’t missed spring yet but to get going you need a quick win!

Quick Wins with Bulbs

It is hard to go wrong with bulbs. (The flower is already sealed within the bulb and they just need a bit of help and protection from you).
In February you can buy pots of daffodils, tulips, grape hyacinth and crocus that have been grown for you. It is easy to put them into bare soil, a container or bigger plant pot and wait for them to flower.
I would take them out of the retailers pot as they will have been grown tightly packed together but I wouldn’t try to separate them. Plant them at the same depth as they have been grown so you do not need to excavate a deep hole.
When planted in the ground or a new container water them gently.
Daffs and crocus will flower again next year but the tulips may not survive (it won’t be your fault, it is just nature)

Summer Bulbs

  • Summer bulbs are the next job to get great colour this summer with minimum know-how and effort.
  • In March or April clear weeds from a patch of garden  and you have made a flower bed.
  • Break up the top of the soil so water and air can get down to the plants then individually bury your bulbs twice as deep as the bulb . The soil on top of the bulb will be double the depth of the bulb.
  • I would start with some short stemmed Lilies and if I know my garden is very wet I would but some sand or gravel at the bottom of the planting hole. If you are not sure which way is the top and what is the root then lay the bulb on the side and let the plant choose.
  • Gladioli, Begonnias and Dahlia will all produce very colourful shows in summer. Glads have a nobbly bit at the top, begonias have a slight hollow and Dahlias have a twiggy bit to show which way up to plant them.
  • Read the instructions on the packet for general guidance but you do not need to slavishly follow everything they say.

Rosy

Beggars Begonias

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Free Roses

Climber

You can grow more Roses for free by taking cuttings but do not expect a 100% success rate. You should get more than 50% so just take more cuttings!

Roses from Cuttings

  • Select some healthy green canes that have become a bit woody in September.
  • Cut 8 inch lengths, just above a bud eye at the top and below a bud eye at the bottom. Remove lower leaves.
  • Fill plant pots with a mix of sharp sand and soil 2:1 and push in the cuttings half way.
  • Water and keep  in a sheltered spot until Autumn.
  • To over winter,  protect  the cuttings by burying the pots in a trench or keeping them in a lit, frost free environment.
  • In late April rooted cuttings can be transplanted. Do not let them bloom in the first year to build up some strength.
  • From a summer cutting that has not become woody remove lower leaves leaving a small part of the leaf stalk. Cut a cross in the base and hold it open with a grain of wheat to act as a natural hormone. Soak the stem in water overnight and plant in a soil & sand mix.

Roses By Layering

  • Ramblers and roses with very long stems can be layered in spring.
  • Choose a long stem that is growing close to the ground.
  • Leave it attached to the plant, lay it horizontally and remove the leaves where it touches the ground.
  • Carefully make an incision in the bark on the underside of the stem, cover with 2″ of soil and leave the tip of the stem exposed.
  • Peg the stem down with bent wire, water and leave until late Autumn or spring. When rooted it can be cut from the mother plant with secateurs.

This rose is available from

Plants from Thompson & Morgan not quite free.

Claude Monet Artists’ Rose. ‘This truly exquisite hybrid tea rose leaves you spellbound by its ever-changing colour combinations. Each bloom is a unique work of art, with layers of fragrance that form a pyramid. The first scent you smell is that of bergamot and lemon. Go back an hour later and discover rose, pear and vine-peach. If you cut the stem and put it in a vase, on the base notes of green almond, ivy and vanilla remain.’

Unfortunately it is not free at £11.99 but any cuttings from it will be.

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St Davids Day Flowers

St. David  is the patron saint of Wales and March 1st  is celebrated as his saints day and a patriotic & cultural festival by the Welsh. The leek is the national flower of Wales. Welsh people all over the world proudly wear the stalk, flower or a bit of leaf from a leek plant on March 1st.

The daffodil is quite a bit easier to find, yet the leaves look similar, so many use daffodils instead. It is now common to find both Leeks and Daffodils as national emblems for Wales.

History and Legend

‘Today the Welsh wear a leek in memory of some ancient battle against the Saxons where Bishop David advised them to wear leeks on their hats to distinguish themselves from  their enemies. Swords clashed as the men of Wales fought on for hours try to protect their land from the Saxon invaders. Despite their great efforts, the Welsh were slowly losing. In the heat of the battle it was difficult to tell friend from foe. The fact that both sides wore similar clothing made the fight all the more confusing.

A monk noticed that this was becoming a grave problem. As the Welsh lost more and more ground, the monk cried out to them, “Welshmen, you must mark yourselves so that you can better tell who is Saxon and who is Welsh. The monk plucked a leek plant from the ground and continued, “Here, wear these so you will know that any soldier who does not have a leek is your enemy.”

Some of the soldiers thought this was a rather odd idea, but the monk was one of God’s men so they went along with it. Soon every Welsh soldier was wearing a leek on his helmet. They attacked the invaders and before long, the Welsh had won the battle.

The monk who came up with the idea of wearing a leek was named David. David died on March 1st. After he died, the Catholic Church made him a saint.’

Read more about Leeks on Gardeners Tips

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Earth and the Art of Gardening

In 1569  Joachim Beuckelaer painted the Four Elements and this picture shows the bountiful earth.  The range of produce implies a market gardeners hand or a large garden capable of providing such bounty.

The 4 elements I need in the garden are Earth (hearty soil), Water (not too copious and not at the wrong time), Fire (or at least sunlight for photosynthesis) and Air (or  more space in which to grow).

The Market Woman with Vegetable Stall, 1567, by Pieter Aertsen shows lemons and more exotic produce that implies international trade rather than local gardening.

At least we can see how some people were able to eat in the mid 16th Century. I would be happy to grow half these fruit and vegetables on display.

This is actually the painting of Earth from the Four Elements. The painting shown above top is the Market Seller Fruit Vegetables and Poultry. Fruit and vegetables was a subject Joachim Beuckelaer used frequently.

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Growing Ranuculus calandrinioides

Ranuculus calandrinioides

Ranuculus calandrinioides has an AGM, originates from the rocky slopes of the Atlas mountains, prefers dry shade, grows 8″ tall and has broad white-grey leaves.

This member of the buttercup family is dormant in summer.
It is easily grown under cold glass but give it as much light as possible. Outdoors keep it dry.
The lax growth will be kept more compact if grown hard and started late.
Keep bone dry until mid winter so growth does not commence above ground until early spring
Ranuculus calandrinioides has a thick fleshy rootstock and a lax growing habit.
Flowers form a large goblet shape in pure white or a delicate pink.

Note
Aestivate means the plant spends the summer in a state of torpor
Cotswold garden flowers has a good data base on Ranunclus
Seeds may be available from B&T world seeds.

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Cabbages as Ornamentals and Flowers

London 083

These long stemmed cabbage flowers were in a large bunch at a local florist. Doubtless they were flown into England from many carbon miles away but you can easily grow your own  ornamental cabbage.

Growing Ornamental Cabbage

  • Large ornamental plants with frilled edges and an ornamental coloured heart. Colour vary with cream, pink and maroon being popular.
  • Sow seeds in spring for summer bedding or summer for late autumn planting to replace summer bedding. Sow seeds 1/16in deep in a good seed compost. Germination takes 14-21 days
  • When large enough to handle, transplant to 3in pots. Harden off spring sown plants and plant out 12-18in apart in the border. Pot up summer sown plants into 5in pots or containers and stand out of doors on a sheet of polythene to prevent root penetration into the soil.
  • Water regularly and give weak doses of a high Nitrogen fertiliser every 14 days. Plant out in late summer in beds, window boxes, containers, etc.
  • The leaf colour change occurs as the night temperature drops in late summer.
  • In late winter they produce a tall flower spike which makes an unusual floral decoration.

Cabbage Northern Lights F1 Seeds from Thompson Morgan
Nutritional Information

  • Eaten raw or cooked, cabbages are an excellent source of Vitamin C.
  • Try to use all healthy outer leaves as the darkest green leaves contain the most nutrients.
  • Ornamental cabbages are edible when young  although the flavour can be rather strong.
  • Vary the colour of your coleslaw with some chopped ornamental leaves.
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St Valentine’s Flowers but Aubretia?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so keep an eye open for unusual sights on the 14th February. Rather than Roses or posies this Aubretia plant has decided to grow a heart shape all of its own.

Aubretia is a compact low growing plant that flourishes on walls and rockeries in full sun. Aubretia is easy to grow at the front of the border on any reasonably drained fertile soil and will spread naturally by seed.

Aubretia deltoides or rock cress is good for ground cover and is available in shades of blue and purple.

Grow from seed by sowing from late winter to early summer in a good free draining seed compost just covering the seed. Make sure the compost is moist and not wet and seal in a polythene bag until after germination which usually takes 14-21 days at 18C (65F).

Aubretia is an evergreen perennial plant that is attractive to butterflies.

Plants by Thompson Morgan

Seeds by Thompson Morgan

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Growing Sweet Bell Peppers

Pepper

Sweet Peppers or Bell peppers can be grown from seed in a range of colours. Ideal for a greenhouse or conservatory they may also thrive in a hot summer.

Seed Selection

Sweet Jumbo F1 Seeds  produce Peppers that are green turning red. Often fruit are more than 6in long and 3½-4in across, ‘Jumbo Sweet’ can ‘weigh up to 200g (½lb) and we are sure much bigger, and dare we say – world records may be shattered with this super new hybrid. It is vigorous, early and a prolific cropper. It is very crisp and sweet eaten fresh and because it has a small central core it is ideal for stuffing. Best crops will be achieved in a greenhouse or conservatory but it is worth trying a few outdoor plants if the summer is hot.

With a flavour so juicy, crisp and clean you’ll eat them right ofl the plant! Sweet Pepper Big Banana produces fruits up to 25cm (10in) long and 5cm (2in) wide mature to a deep shiny scarlet. Amazing yield – up to 50 full-sized fruits per plant.

  • Capsicums Chinese are some of the hottest Chilli Peppers around. Seeds from 10 Habanero vaieties and Scotch Bonnet are able to compete with C. annuum ‘Tepin’ and C. frutescens ‘Zimbabwe Bird Pepper’ for the hottest seeds around.  Available from Thompson Morgan a seed, Chilli and vegetable specialist.

 

Sweet Pepper Sweet Chocolate is a delicious sweet pepper with a ‘come and eat me’ appeal once the fruits have ripened from green to a rich chocolate colour on the outside and brick red on the inside with thick, sweet flesh. Sweet Pepper Sweet Chocolate plants are very productive throughout the summer.

Orange bell   Very productive plants producing typical ‘blocky’, thick walled fruits with delicious sweetness. Sweet Pepper Orange Bell is very productive, with fruits that start green, ripening to a gorgeous orange.
Sowing Instructions

Sow seeds March to April. Place seeds on the surface of a free draining compost and cover with a fine sprinkling of compost or vermiculite. Place in a propagator at 18-21C (65-70F) until after germination, which takes 7-10 days. Do not exclude light as this helps germination.
Growing Instructions

Transplant seedlings when large enough to handle into 7.5cm (3 in) pots. Plant in final situation when 10cm (4in) high, 45cm (18in) apart. For indoor crops, plant into growbags or pots. For outdoor crops, acclimatise plants to outdoor conditions for a few days before planting in sunny, fertile, moist, well drained soil , after all risk of frost has passed.
Aftercare

For a heavier crop, feed all peppers once the flowers have started to set fruit with a high potash fertiliser each week .

Read Gardeners tips
Book Cover
The Complete Chilli Pepper Book: A Gardener’s Guide to Choosing, Growing, Preserving, and Cooking

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Super Fruit Honeyberry not Honeybush

A recent arrival from Siberia, the Honeyberry is also called Lonicera caerulea and the variety edulis is the one to grow.
White flowers are followed by long ‘blueberry like’ fruit high in vitamin C
Pick in May June and eat raw or cooked in pies if you get a big enough crop.

  • Plant in sun or partial shade in any well drained soil.
  • Pollination is improved by two or more plants
  • Keep well watered whilst the shrub establishes itself.
  • Will grow to 4 feet tall and wide and should only be pruned when old wood needs removing.
  • Protect the fruit from birds who like the sweet summer delicacy.
  • Can be grown in large containers.

Do not confuse with the Honeybush a spectacular architectural feature plant that looks stunning planted in large ornamental or exotic borders and containers with its blue-green spiky foliage. Honeybush has a sweet peanut butter fragrance when crushed. Known as the Honeybush because its tall bronzered flower spikes project a beautiful honey fragrance seeds by Thompson Morgan

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Roses Masquerade as Resolutions

Masquarade

It is a bit late to be setting New Years Resolutions for 2010 but I intend taking more interest in Roses and more care of Rose trees this year. Normally the one thing I give up for lent is my new years resolutions but since I am a late starter this year I will stick to the Rose this time.
This month I will be ordering some new bare rooted roses of ‘Ruby Wedding’ and will leave you to guess why.


Masquarade Rose

Masquerade’ (above) is a floribunda rose with dark green foliage and semi-double flowers of mixed yellow turning red as they age.
As a climber the Masquerade will grow upto 6 feet tall and repeat flower through the season. It has fine colouring, negligible scent but is OK for a north facing position.
Baby Masquerade is a cross with tom thumb but retains all the Masquarade charecteristics on a 10″ high plant.

The velvety, deep red rose (below) was established in my garden when I moved in almost 30 years ago and I have never known its name. Perhaps I should do some digging through rose catalogues to find out.

Rose

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