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Category: Tips for Growing Series

Help with growing popular and interesting flowers and plants. Simple, easy guidelines for growing good plants.

Ideas Growing Hostas

Ideas Growing Hostas


Facts about Hostas

  • Hostas are attractive foliage plants that prosper in the shade from spring to the first frost.
  • Hosta varieties vary in height from the Blue Angel at 4 feet to  Thumb Nail at 4 inches.
  • Blue green and yellow leaved hosts all like water and the yellow & gold leaved varieties will stand more sunshine like Sun Power .
  • Varied textures are available from smooth, crinkled, puckered and leathery all  to tempt you.
  • Hostas do not seem to die of old age and require minimum maintenance.
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Tips for Growing Giant Vegetables

Tips for Growing Giant Vegetables

Book Cover

This is one of the many books in my collection but the only one to focus on growing big, bigger and biggest vegetables. If you want to grow giant vegetable for exhibition or to get large crops then there are many pointers in ‘How to Grow Giant Vegetables’ by Bernard Lavery and below.

If you want to see 14 feet long carrots or parsnips, the 28 pound radish or the monster cabbage weighing 120lbs then encouragement to join the monster vegetables growing movement may be our gardeners tip for you in 2011.

Starting with Giant Vegetables

  • A good big one will beat a good small one and that applies to seed so consider what you sow. Good genetic potential will grow good plants.
  • Pumpkins are a good starter vegetable as a heavy weight can be achieved in the first year. It is also fun to see them grow by inches every day.
  • You need to learn by experience so you improve growing conditions, feeding and watering based on your own observations.

Large Crops from a Small Garden

  • Harvested whilst still in peak growing condition, giant vegetables taste every bit as good as smaller varieties.
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Lobelia Russian Princess Perennials

Lobelia Russian Princess Perennials

Growing Tips

  • Plant in deep fertile soil which is reliably moist in summer.(You can tell this is moist by the moss)
  • Lobelia grow well in sun or partial shade.
  • Some varieties are a bit short lived 3-4 years but as they are so spectacular it is worth splitting clumps or taking cuttings to get re-energised plants at least in alternate years.
  • Perennial Lobelia species make good herbaceous border plants

Lobelia to Grow

  • Lobelia Cardinalis has deep burgundy foliage and rich pinky purple or red flowers for hot coloured planting schemes. RHS is currently offering Russian Princess variety at £15 +  p&p (so the colours need to be rich).
  • A three foot high Lobelia x speciosa Vedraniensis flowers with the traditional 5 lobed blue-indigo flowers.
  • Hadspen Purple is a more compact variety that need to be planted in swathes for best effect.
  • Lobelia tupa has beautifully felted leaves and narrow tubular brick-red to orange flowers which are borne from mid summer on long racemes. It is also called the Devil’s Tobacco.

With hundreds of species, varieties and named cultivars the Lobelia family is large and wide ranging – have a look at the family for yourself.

Other Resources

Royal Horticultural Society RHS ‘Gardening for All’
National Council for Conservation of Plants and Gardens ‘Conservation through Cultivation.’
Garden Organic National Charity for Organic Gardening.
BBC Gardening

Growing Convolvulus Cneorum

Growing Convolvulus Cneorum

Madiera mch11 220

Convolvulus is synonymous with bindweed that grows in poor soil and is notably hard to eradicate. However there are some species of Convovulus that are worth a space in a Mediterranean style garden.

Convolvulus cneorum is a compact evergreen shrub with narrow, oblong, silvery leaves. The numerous flowers are funnel-shaped white flushed with pink when in bud.
Grow in well-drained soil or gritty compost in a sheltered spot in full sun.
The plants are not frost hardy.

Convolvulus White Ensign (Flash Seeds) is a dwarf Morning Glory with clusters of white, trumpet flowers with yellow centres!

Convolvulus Eneorum will withstand a north facing or east facing wall but also dislikes heavy frost. The grey leaved shrubs can grow to 3 foot high and wide.


Organic Control of Bindweed

Weedkillers for Bindweed

Book Cover

Roundup Weedkiller concentrate

Book Cover

Handy spray gun,

Tips for Growing Ipomea – Morning Glory

Tips for Growing Ipomea – Morning Glory


Ipomea indica the blue form of Morning Glory is a cool clear blue, a startling colour in the garden. As you would expect from a member of the Convolvulous clan it is a strong twisting and binding climber.

Uses of Morning Glory

  • The plant was originally used to produce cloth die.
  • The seeds should not be eaten as they produce hallucinations
  • In the garden they are very good for screening walls and ugly sites during summer.
  • They do not last as cut flowers.

Morning glory
Growing Ipomea Morning Glory.

  • Grow from seed and collect your own seed for next year.
  • Pick off dead leaves.
  • Try some of the other colours including rose and red plants.
  • Do not allow white Convolulous to grow as it spreads and throttles other plants


  • Thompson & Morgan search for Morning Glory seeds and plants
  • Morning Glory ‘Carnevale di Venezia’ Ipomoea purpurea, Convolvulus purpureus,
  • A half-hardy annual which climbs to 6′ tall and flowers through summer with striped blue and pink blooms with intricate markings.

Morning glory by Arenamontanus CC BY 2.0

Flowers Grown for Your Vase

Flowers Grown for Your Vase

My perennial Phlox have been a good stalwart flower for cutting and filling a vase this last few weeks. I found the pink colours had more scent but all the Phlox seemed to drink copious amounts of water (I wondered if water and scent were related). The Penstemon in the same vase as the Phlox was not as successful as they had a far shorter life. Another successful long lasting cut flower is the Alstromeria. The Reds performed better than the yellows but both lasted over a week.

Our local garden center has been selling off Gerbera plants at £1 and I bought some just for the flowers that I could cut and put in a small vase. Even one flower in a bud vase looks good. There are now more buds to open and I think I got a good deal even though I will not bother to over winter the supposedly perennial plants. Gerberas come in a wide range of colors from light to dark yellow, orange, pink, brilliant scarlet and deep red ray flower centres.

The variety and colour of the Peruvian Lily or Alstroemeria, makes a colourful and long lasting display. Once established the plants continue to provide a good supply year after year. Pull the stalk up from the plant to encourage more flower stems. I grow my Alstroemeria in large pots.


Dahlias tend to flop a bit for me but Chrysanthemums can’t be beaten for longevity and impact.

Tip – Grow flowers that are easy to cultivate and flower in profusion but also last well when cut. Spray Chrysanthemums can give maximum pleasure for minimal outlay.

Growing ‘Just Joey’ Hybrid Tea Roses

Growing ‘Just Joey’ Hybrid Tea Roses

Just Joey

I love the formal Hybrid Tea Roses like ‘Just Joey‘.
Just Joey is a hybrid, bred from Fragrant Cloud and Dr A J Verhage. These parents gave the rose glossy green leaves and very fragrant, orange blooms.
Blooms arrive in flushes throughout the season each having 30 petals so they have an open appearance.

Growing Tips

  • Remove old canes, dead or diseased wood and canes that cross, in spring.
  • Cut back the remaining stems by about one-third or a half.
  • As with all HT  roses give them a good feed in spring then every 6 weeks and mulch to keep in moisture.
  • When buying a bare rooted or container plant look for at least 3 strong stems.
  • Soak in water before planting.
  • Just Joey may  occasional repeat flower later in the season but is a slow starter in very cold spring weather.

Description of Just Joey

Growing Campanula, Canterbury Bells or Bellflower

Growing Campanula, Canterbury Bells or Bellflower


Alpine or border Campanulas come in many species and varieties.

Campanula lactiflora ‘Loddon Anna’ above was grown from seed distributed free to members by the RHS. It grows four feet tall and has many very attractive open bell shaped flowers. The flowers are arranged on a stem in a loose cone shape but with each of about 60 flower about an inch wide the effect is light and flowing. This species is commonly called the Milky bell flower and is a lilac colour.

Growing Campanula.

  • Most Campanulas bloom in June and July, but some varieties continue all summer.
  • Plant seeds or seedlings in May, though they can be sown in August and protected during the winter.
  • Most Campanula plants tolerate full sun but like some moisture in the soil. The smaller varieties grow in walls and rockeries.
  • Thompson Morgan have a fine seed collection.
  • There is a white Campanula persicifolia alba

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Extraordinary Leaves in Pictures

Extraordinary Leaves in Pictures

Book Cover
Extraordinary Leaves by Armytage and Schrader is available from amazon.

The horticultural industry put most of it’s effort into flowers, trees and shrubs. Leaves however appear on all most all these plants and repay close inspection.
As this book Extraordinary Leaves shows there is an amazing world out there for those who look closely and want to find new visual and sensual experiences.


Ptilostemon casabonae

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Top Ten Violas to Grow

Top Ten Violas to Grow

Viola self sown

Violas are more than just small pansies in fact Pansies are just over blown Violas. They are both in the family that also includes many species of Violets, Violas and Violettas.

Benefits of Violas

  • Many varieties and colours to select from without being overwhelmed by choice.
  • Masses of small flowers from spring / summer that virtually cover the plant.
  • Sweet scent on many varieties particularly the blue and purples.
  • Perennial habit on most varieties but annual varieties also set viable seed.

Viola profusion

Top Ten Viola Selection.

  1. Viola Tiger Eye with deep yellow petals and black veins radiating from the centre.
  2. Viola Scentsation lives up to it’s name with bright yellow scented flowers.
  3. Viola hybrida Rose Shades is bushy, compact and free flowering in various rose shades. Each bloom has an attractive yellow eye and darker whiskers, plus the bonus of a sweet fragrance.
  4. Viola Meteor is a compact form suitable for hanging baskets and containers.
  5. Viola Friolina will trail for up to 3 feet and is available in yellow, blue, orange, white or bi-colours.
  6. Viola x williamsiana Singing the Blues is an annual in several shades of blue.
  7. Viola Amber Kiss looks great in the catalogue but I have yet to try grow this semi double golden Viola.
  8. Viola x wittrockiana Jolly Joker with purple outer petals and orange inner petals has become a firm favourite.
  9. Viola x wittrockiana Water Colours Mixed F1 is another popular variety in pastel shades.
  10. Viola sororia ‘Albiflora’ is hard to track down but is a small white flowering species with purple whiskered petals.

Many of these seed and plant varieties are available from Thompson & Morgan Other suppliers include Gardening Direct or your local nursery.

Yellow Violas

Growing From Seed

  • Germination is not easy and some experience is useful.
  • Sow December to March or July to September on the surface of lightly firmed, moist seed compost in pots or trays.
  • Exclude light by covering with paper for 2 weeks.
  • Germinate around 65-70 °F too high a temperature prevents germination .
  • Overwinter late sowings in a coldframe then plant out the following spring.
  • Easy to grow on and care for.

Viola profusion

Pansies Violas and Violettas The Complete Guide from Amazon.

Description of Violas

  • Half-hardy annual or hardy perennial
  • Flowers in  Spring and Summer.
  • Green fleshy, leaves are heart shaped with jagged edges.
  • Ideal for  border edges, containers, patios and hanging baskets
  • Height  3-10 inches dependant on variety

Wikipedia lists over 200 species of viola for further exploration.

A Viola odorata national collection is maintained at groves Nurseries in Dorset where this cultivation guide can be found.

More pictures from Google


Book Cover

Viola Photographs and Species

Violas and Violettas

Ilkley 002

Viola palustris
Viola palustris by pastilletes CC BY-SA 2.0

Viola riviniana
Viola riviniana by Jörg Hempel CC BY-SA 2.0

Viola uliginosa_3
Viola uliginosa_3 by amadej2008 CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Bog Violet

Viola ocellata Western Hearts-ease
Viola ocellata Western Hearts-ease by davidhofmann08 CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Viola purpurea ssp. quercetorum Mountain Violet
Viola purpurea ssp. quercetorum Mountain Violet by davidhofmann08 CC BY-NC-ND 2.0