Archive | Flowers and Plants

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

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


Roses Masquerade as Resolutions


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.



Beginners Seed Tips

Easy Annuals ‘Fairy Mixed‘    by Thompson Morgan

Beginners and novices can grow some colourful annuals quickly and cheaply. If the packet instructions says ‘can be sown direct outdoors then do so when the soil warms up.  If you want to get a quick start use a tray on a warm window ledge.

Starting  with Seeds

  • Always read the instructions on the packet of seeds.
  • Use a good quality seed or potting compost with a level surface.
  • Water with a fine spray and leave to drain.
  • Scatter seed evenly or place individual seeds in each cell and use a clear lid to maintain humidity.
  • Maintain an even temperature, generally 20º C will suit most seeds but again read the instructions.
  • Allow air to circulate once leaves start to appear.

Continue Reading →


How to Prune Rambling Roses.

Rambling Rose

Rambling roses tend to flower only once a year (not once a season as I once heard). Therefore it pays to optimise the flowering for next summer by judicious pruning and training.

Gardeners Tips for Pruning Rambling Roses

  • Prune from November to February, ramblers are pruned earlier than most other roses.
  • Choose a still day or the branches will lash into you and the thorns can hurt. This is a job where protective clothing including a face mask may be worthwhile.
  • Use sharp secateurs and a pruning saw for thick stems.
  • Remove dead, dying or diseased wood and any stems that cut across one another. This improves air flow and reduces the chance of disease.
  • With ramblers you are aiming to replace upto 3 older stems from the base and to encourage new growth that replaces them. Best blooms flower on this new growth.
  • The newer olive-green stems should be supple enough to bend and they should be tied in or coiled around upright supports. This bending restricts sap flow and encourages more flowers so it is worth spending some time on.
  • Ramblers are vigorous so reduce the laterals if you need too.
  • Clean up all the debris after pruning.

Growing Anemones

phot by Lynne Pettinger

Anemone has over 100 species with several interesting varieties that produce colour and a light form. I have picked out 3 contrasting sorts that are worth seeking out.

Wood Anemones, Wind Flower and Anemone Blanda

  • Daisy-like flowers in white and purple to form a carpet of dazzling colour.
  • These low-growing Anemones are extremely free-flowering and produce an eye catching mass
  • With lush, fern-like foliage, they’re great for planting beneath Daffodils and Tulips, shrubs and trees.

Japanese Anemone

  • Named varieties to look our for Prinz heinrich a semi-double with purple flowers. Queen Charlotte semi-doule pink, September Charm pink, Whirlwind semi-double white and Honorine Joberet the popular white with golden stamens
  • Unlike the spring varieties they flower in Autumn on long stems up to 5′ tall
  • The white Honorine Jubert is a striking plant and flowers in a shady position
  • Propagate economically by root cuttings from established plants

Blousey Florists Anemones

  • Anemone De Caen ‘Hollandia’ a scarlet flower on 10″ stems and St Brigid The Governor have performed exceptionally well this year. I have grown them in peat and peat with some grit to keep the compost open and they have remained reasonably moist.
  • In pots the flowers are less robust than those in the garden.
  • You can grow them from dark wrinkled tubers bought later in summer.
  • Soak overnight in rain water before planting will speed up germination.

Anemone de Caen at T&M

Blue and white wind flowers

Anemone blanda


Send Your Us Favourite Gardener

Harlo 121

Use the comments section
below to send us the name of your favourite gardener (not the gardener themselves).
We will add it to our list of 100+ Top Gardeners

Your nomination may be a gardener who inspired you or has left a legacy in the form of an outstanding garden. Both are true for me with Geoffrey Smith and his Rhododendron garden at the Royal Horticultural Garden Harlow Carr where this memorial stone is displayed.

Celebrity gardeners are well represented in our list but you may know of one we have forgotten. As we admit the plant hunter/gatherers are not well represented and we would appreciate nominations is this category.

Sponsors of gardens are becoming a regular feature at shows like Chelsea but the well-to-do have long financed the gardening exploits to create beautiful surroundings for their homes and estates. Do they deserve more recognition or should that only go to the more earthy recipients of the Victoria medal (VMH).

International gardeners deserve a bigger profile and multiple nominations would be welcome. We would all like to know whose work to look out for when visiting new places.


Alpine Plunge Bed

Double Plunge Bed

The new Alpine House at Harlow Carr has a plunge bed to be proud of as you may expect from the RHS. This Dionysia Curviflora has been double potted to facilitate watering and it’s flowers will be purple with a white inner ring and dark centre.

The plunge bed is at a good viewing height and the display can be changed as plants develop and seasons change. As a purpose built, alpine house plunge bed there are several features it would be hard to incorporate in my glasshouse but the rake from front to back and the use of rocks builds up height to provide a landscape rather than a flat two dimensional display.

The sand and gravel mixes vary depending on the plants being grown. Some free planting around the plunged pots adds to the attraction of this type of alpine display. The alpine house is climate controlled but much of the daily watering is done by hand before visitors arrive to view the gardens.

I am now keen to develop a better plunge area for my alpines. That is one of the joys or costs of visiting a best of class display like RHS gardens.

Tip – Study the best and think how you can incorporate new ideas in your gardening. The photo below shows how different coloured chippings and grits can work with your display.

Plunge Bed


Crab Apple Trees for Fruit & Ornament

Malus Red Sentinel

The flowering crab apples, Malus Rosaceae, are excellent floral trees with the added bonus of small usually edible fruit. The Malus Red Sentinel above has a profusion of small hard red autumn fruit that can be admired in the garden, left to feed birds, converted into a jelly or added to other food dishes. Crab apples generally contain a deal of pectin and are seldom eaten uncooked.

Favourite Crab Apple Varieties

  1. Golden Hornet is a small tree with white flowers producing a large crop of small yellow fruit.
  2. John Downie perhaps the best fruiting large conical crab apples of bright orange to red.
  3. Jay Darling is ornamental with large, deep red flowers and crimson tinted foliage.
  4. Eleyi has purpleish shoots and very decorative purpleish fruit in Autumn. Slightly later flowering and a good pollinator.
  5. Profusion is a fragrant hybrid with large wine red clustered flowers. Ox-blood red fruit make this one of the best Crab Apples.

Continue Reading →


Alpine Troughs and Plant Selections

Alpine trough

Outside Harlow Carr’s new Alpine house are a collection of troughs, stone sinks and other containers suitable for a collection of Alpine plants. The planting varies and is related to the soil and rock conditions each plant prefers. One container has old rotting logs and a richer soil for small rhododendrons and other species. Others have carefully inserted rock slivers to replicate mountain conditions giving shade and more importantly deep root runs and drainage.

Alpines in trough

Whilst the troughs vary in size they are all less than 6 feet by 4 feet and could fit into virtually any garden. There is also many more outdoor containers full of selected plants. I was amazed at the number and variety of plants on display in the middle of November. They are all carefully named on these black labels with a white fiber tip pen which I resolved to try in my garden. On some plants there is a topical note that explains why it currently features or how it is grown. ( An autumn flowering variety of snowdrop fit into that category)

Trough for alpines

The photographs can be enlarged using flickr by double clicking on the image and going to all sizes. I hope the name tags are then visible.
A picture inside the house is available on the RHS website. and for Alpine plant lovers Harlow Carr is now worth a special visit.
The Alpine garden society have a good article on your own Alpine trough


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