Archive | Flowers and Plants

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

Uses for Echevaria

Succulents often have neat attractive leaf forms. The range of rosettes available in the Echevaria group include red tipped points to the leaves and tight groups of offsets as they multiply. This leads to a common name of ‘Hens and Chickens’.

Where to Grow Echeveria

  • This specimen was part of a row at the front of a formal border.
  • They can be grown with success in old sinks or pots, both indoors and outdoors. Ensure it is well drained and never stands in water.
  • In rockeries or alpine gardens surrounded by gravel these plants can colonise neat areas and suppress weeds.
  • As greenhouse or indoor pot plants they flower with interesting spikes. Again keep them quite dry.
  • They make an interesting collection with enough variety to a maintain interest.


Jerusalem Artichokes Helianthus tuberosus

Helianthus flower

Jerusalem artichokes are related to sunflowers not artichokes. So you will often see them flowering on the edges of allotments. The stems are up to 10 feet tall and the yellow flowers in September are quite bold and eye catching.

  • The fleshy rhizomes or tubers are eaten like potato. They are knobbly in shape.
  • They have a nutty flavour and are best steamed or roast, with or without skins.
  • The plants are perennial but good tubers are grown when the soil is rich and fresh so replanting is encouraged.
  • The plants are quite easy to grow and will spread if you don’t dig up the roots
  • For information on seasonal vegetables


Growing Cactus Dahlia from your Own Seed

Cactus Dahlia

Tips on Saving Seed

  • Choose your parent plant and label the stem with variety and type.
  • Take off the last of the petals or wait for them to fall.
  • Leave the seed head on until it is dry and ready to take off the plant.This can be helped by squeezing excess moisture from the head.
  • Cut the stem about 16inch long with the label and leave to dry for a further couple of weeks.
  • When dry and loose you are ready to take the seed from the dry head .

Seeds Ready to Sow

  • The black seed can be packed in to packets with the name and type of one Dahlia parent.
  • By saving seed this way you do not know the cross pollinator or what you will get. Be selective when you have many plants to choose from next year.
  • For fun you can name the new variety but commercially cultivated varieties must follow naming protocols.
  • With luck you will be happy with the result and encouraged to try again next season.

Compost Tea – Tea’s Up

Compost Tea

If you click on the above link Doug will show you on a video how he makes a liquid compost. I use Comfrey leaves in my water barrel when I want an element of organic fertilizer from the compost.

To fertilise blogs we rely on links to other sites. Below are some other gardening related blogs that I read from time to time. We are happy to be linked to other sites.

GardenWeb’s Garden Voices

Daily highlights from the gardening blogs

Garden Rant
Firm opinions an American Grumpy Old Persons blog

Jane Perrone’s organic allotment and garden blog from England.

A bit different with photographs from the natural world in Yorkshire.

Irene’s Garden and Beyond
Irene Virag on her garden

Gardening and landscape design with attitude.

Cold Climate Gardening
Hardy plants for hardy souls from Kathy Purdy in New York state but could be UK.

A Study in Contrasts
Mostly garden-related musings on sandy soil

May Dreams Gardens
From Indiana, including the Garden Bloggers’ Book Club


    Growing Osteospermum – A Great Summer Performer

    My Osteospermum was donated by cutting from a neighbour about 10 years ago. The large daisy shaped flowers appear all summer long in a light purple shade. It would be hard to count the number of flowers each year and I am guilty of not feeding the plant.

    • The plant seems hardy and is evergreen with greyish leaves.
    • I have placed it in the sun to droop over a wall where the soil is well drained.
    • There is a new range of colours and many hybrids including yellows and variegated plants
    • Other common names include African Daisy or Blue-eyed Daisy so you could guess it is a member of the Compsitae family.
    • If you want to see other Osteospermum try the web site
    • The lax and blousy habit make them an attraction in seaside locations where they thrive. They can be pruned or trimmed back in September.
    • Dimorphotheca are annuals that look very similar to Osteospurmum but they are South African calendula and part of the Asteraceae family

    Growing Rudbeckia Autumn

    These Rudbeckia are grown as annuals or biennials but great perennial varieties exist. Some grow as low as 12 inches whilst Rudbeckia triloba Brown Eyed Susan is 5 foot tall and Rudbeckia maxima can be up to 10 feet tall.

    • Rudbeckia are easy to raise from seed. Resulting plants are well behaved, easy to care for and flower from August until late Autumn.
    • There are many varieties of Rudbeckia and I recommend hirta and fulgida types.
    • Rudbeckia are used as cut flowers and for growing in pots
    • Also known as Cone flowers most varieties do not need stalking
    • Rudbeckia sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ and ‘speciosa’ both around 2 foot tall have the RHS Award of Garden Merit. The ‘Green Wizard’ below is under test.

    Gardeners tips on Easy Autumn Rudbeckia


    Plum Picks are Victoria and Czar

    My Victoria plums have just been picked and the majority converted into jam. The wasps had not got at the sweetest fruit so I had a treat for dessert. The tree is now 10 foot tall and I will prune it back next May or June when the danger of fungal infection is reduced.

    Last years Victoria plum crop was so good I decided to try another variety and a Czar tree was planted last Autumn. Czar is a culinary plum with a distinctive blue skin and a sharper taste. This year there was no fruit but next year I hope to do better. Both varieties are self fertile but if you have difficulty there is a great web site for pollination information.


    Companion Plants for Clematis

    Some plants work well together for shape, texture or location and with others it is the colour combination that stands out. This Pholx and Clematis both look exceptional in the late afternoon light. The Phlox adds scent and this vibrant coloured clematis has been in flower since late July.

    Focus on Clematis partnerships

    • Climbing Roses and Clematis make  classic partnerships. Try the dark Clematis jackmanii ‘Superba’ with a light pink Rose ‘New Dawn’.
    • Consider the environment for climbing and parner the clematis accordingly. Warm stone will look  different to a rustic pergola so try Commtess de Bouchaud or Miss Bateman
    • Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’ can look good with Nicotianas
    • I have seen Clematis montana ‘Rubens’ intertwine with a Golden Ivy and hold its own.
    • Careful mixing of Clematis varieties can produce good companions. Clematis tangutica’s yellow lantern flowers and seedheads look fine with large hybrids Clematis Mrs N Thompson has a yellow centre to pick-out the yellow lanterns.

    Tips for Tomatoes in September

    I am picking more and more Cherry Tomatoes as the days get longer. I still have a lot of other vines in the greenhouse with fruit to pick and if they won’t ripen I will try some of these tips. Let me know if you have other methods.

    Encourage late ripening

    • If you haven’t taken the greenhouse shading off, do so and clean all the glass.
    • Bunny Guinness suggests you cover plants with horticultural fleece or perforated plastic.
    • Stop pinching out as it is too late and excess water can be transpired through the new leaves to help avoid splitting.
    • Reduce the plants work load by selecting the fruit you want to ripen and take the rest off.
    • If you pick green tomatoes hang vines in a dark dry place to ripen.
    • Wrap a tomato in newspaper and put in a drawer  or cardboard box. Tomatoes ripen best in the dark and sunlight will make the skins get tough.
    • Put a banana in with green tomatoes will speed up the ripening/decay process
    • Pick green tomatoes as they start to change colour. Hard, dark green tomatoes get to a point where they won’t ripen and are only good for Chutney.

    Gardener of the Week

    Michael J Berry

    Private gardening commissions in Morecambe and Lancashire over several years. Now semi-retired

    Specialises in home grown tomatoes in his own plot near the west coast.


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