Ivy is a versatile green or variegated plant that climbs, trails or acts as ground cover. As an evergreen plant grown for its leaves the plants would need nitrogen based fertiliser but I have found Ivies grow well even in poor soil.
Purposes and Uses of Ivy
It makes sense to decide the purpose of your Ivy plant before selecting a variety.
- Ivy uses it’s aerial roots to cling rather than for sustenance and they can be used to climb tree stumps or cover unsightly sheds or walls.
- Ivy can grow even in shady areas so is useful for the awkward dark corners. The variegation will be better with good light.
- H colchica Persian Ivy is less hardy but have large leaves and a pleasant sprawling habit. Hedera hibernica also known as Irish ivy is one of the fastest growing varieties if you want quick results. Both can be used for ground cover.
- In containers and baskets they offer year round colour and a trailing habit
- Types of Ivy include Hedera helix English Ivy or Heart leaved, large leaved Algerian Ivy Hedera canariensis. There are numerous varieties with different features including white, yellow or cream variegation or crinkled leaves.
- I prefer smaller leaved species which can form an impressive feature
- I have found most varieties to be hardy, strong growers so keep them in control with hard trimming and pruning.
House Plant Indoor Ivy
- We grow several pots of Ivy in the house. The smaller leaved types look best and can trail out of various pots and survive in lower light conditions than other houseplants.
- Beware of too much water and too little light. Repot shop bought Ivies into a larger pot with compost that will hold moisture
- Traditionally Ivy is used at Christmas for decoration and festive wreaths. Gold or silver-leaved ivy can be draped over Christmas trees to make attractive and natural alternatives to tinsel.
- The National Trust maintains a National Collection of Ivy at Erddig Hall Wrexham
My Choice Varieties
- Hedera Helix ‘Buttercup’ a climbing yellow leaved variety.
- H.h. ‘Chester’ good self-branching with cream variegation.
- H.h. Green Ripple hardy with lush green leaves with 5 lobes.
Bought as Melody Dora but looks like Bantling
Still no complaints on the volume of flowers over a long period after plenty of deadheading and a bit of liquid feed. The pot was quite large so I put a wick through the drain hole and stood the pot on a big saucer to provide this heavy drinker with water.
The same plant late in the day with under light conditions
Useful supports in the greenhouse
Odd garden thoughts
- A weed is a plant that has no intention of growing in rows.
- Potato peelers and apple corers makeÂ useful weeding tools. Also I like home made wooden wodgers and splodgers for compost compressing.
- I haveÂ become a fan of raised beds for vegetables. The added benefit of less bending encourages me to give more effort to plants. If retaining with boards rather than blocks or sleepers pay attention to firm pegs.
- Consider reuse and repurpose for use in the garden including pop bottle, glass jars and old packaging. Even cardboard will compost with greenery to produce friable soil.
- After shredding the branches a Christmas tree trunk can be repurposed as a sturdy support or stake
- Thinnings of veg seedlings should be destroyed as the odour they give off attracts pests
- Put crushed egg shells under sweetpeas to increase the yield
- Pinch out plants that tend to grow long and spindly.
Up North we have the benefit of many keen dahlia growers and exhibitors. Better than that we have the national dahlia society (NDS) trials at Golden Acre park in Leeds and here is the video from this year.
Winning back Dahlias as friends progressively over the last decade we now have some of the best garden plants and some showy cut flowers from a cutting garden.
My Lessons in 2021
- I grew only from saved tubers not tubers left in the ground over winter. My worry was damp not frost.
- This method worked well when I started off the overwintered tubers in the same garage environment for potting up.
- I got lots of extra plants that I was able to give to friends and neighbors.
- Five top notch plants were grown in large pots and gave a ‘stonking display’. The last to tire, an orange pom pom is just about finished at the end of October.
- The roots and tubers I lifted this week had not yet been frosted. I have still many plants in flower and when frosted I will need the time later.
- The tubers and roots did not grow very deep and I hope I wont have trouble dividing up the clumps and or taking shoot cuttings.
- After a variable show from the small single tubers I had decided not to bother next year but they have come through in autumn with a blase of glory and earned a reprieve.
The recent history of my seed sowing is not a traditional gardeners tip more a recollection of my own gardening method or lack thereof. These seed sowing stories are neither best practice nor a road to success.
Allium Seedhead ready to Harvest
Sources of my seeds
- I don’t like waste so I collect a lot of seed from existing plants. Sweet peas, poppies, calendula, aquliegia and legumes feature regularly. I have had recent success with growing yellow tree peony lutea from seeds. I used to collect wild seeds when on holiday or where I thought I could get away with doing so.
- I buy more seed than I need or ever convert into plants. Salad and vegetable seed is usually a considered purchase as a result of previous success or catalogue recommendations. I am an impulse buyer of other seeds often for experiments or to try new flowers. I buy gardening magazines that have free seed packets on the cover.
- I obtain seed from societies such as the RHS, cyclamen or alpine seed schemes. I haven’t found anyone local with whom to swap seeds.
- Old stock of previous seasons remnant seeds (kept in an airtight tin) last longer than expected particularly tomato and salad crops. I don’t worry about fertility, if they germinate it is a bonus.
- I suppose my garden benefits most from self seeders although many are weeds or unwanted specimens.
Reasons For Seed Sowing
- My prime seed sowing is for vegetables.
- Flower sowing is usually to meet an aspiration for shock and awe from the results. Seldom achieved but fun to attempt.
- Some I sow intending to obtain more cut flowers but only really successfully with sweet peas which I recommend as well worth the effort.
- I silly reason for buying them is because they are cheap. A local garden center treats them as a loss leader and all year they are 50% of the packet price. I buy more than I need and sow wastefully. I did well this year on a variety pack of sunflowers.
- If I want perennials or gap fillers like Lupins I will try seed even though it may work out more economical to buy plants.
I have been reading the Penguin Encyclopedia of Gardening which aims to provide ‘….an explanation of words used in a technical sense in a horticultural context in the UK and USA.’ Set out as an A to Z this resulting post, missing a thousand definitions, is unlikely to rank highly with search engines.
The separation of a leaf or fruit from it’s stem. Most notable as a deciduous tree sheds its leaves in autumn. Two layers of cells are formed to facilitate this process, an abscission layer and a corky tissue layer. The corky layer cuts off the food supply to the fruit or leaf and protects the the wound formed when the drop occurs.
A botanical termÂ referring to a flower having floral parts that are capable of division into essentially symmetrical halves by only one vertical or longitudinal plane passing through the axis. Examples includeÂ Peas , Snapdragons and Orchids.
The biggest butterfly in my garden is undoubtedly me the gardener. Whilst working on the beds or landscape I can flit from task to task or pause and forget what I intended doing. Even with ‘to do’ lists at the starts of the day I complete very few and add onÂ many supplementary things instead. The garden’s requirements take precedent as I flit about with spade or watering can but I also ‘butterfly’ in another key direction.
Over the years my preference for plant or species come in and out of fashion and I favour certain groups for a few seasons and then move on or more specifically move off. I think of these as my specialties but in truth I don’t specialise and never really learn or attain the best results before changing. It is more a case of the garden will be greener and my horticultural pleasure multiplied by variety and change.
Flitting about in this manner has led me to collect books on specific species in a vain attempt to excel. To this end I often join a specialist society for a period of time that currently includes;Â the National Auricular and Primula, Cactus, Cyclamen, as well as RHS and AGS (alpine garden society). Added to this are my memberships of local clubs and societies where my enthusiasm last for about 5 years before I move on.
Current and Past Specialties
- Rhododendron and deciduousÂ Azaleas
- Patio and miniature Roses and Rambler varieties.
- Carnations and Dianthus
- Dwarf Hosta
- Dwarf Conifers
- Primroses and Polyanthus
- Daisy Compositae family of 30,000+ species
- Soft fruit and apple trees
- Shorter lived interest in Heuchera, Ivyies, African violets, Cistus,
I am not against garden gnomes, they can brighten up your mood and dark wintery days. From a gardeners view I offer the following comments.
- Use gnomes for friends family and your own pleasure and amusement.
- I don’t take gnomes too seriously and have just a couple to keep one another company.
- Large families of gnomes seem better if you have the space.Â The weeds of a gnomery are other frivolous ornaments and I stay clear of them particularly fairies, witches and elves.
- You can name you gnome three times with a personal name, a clan name, and a nickname.Â The picture is Mumple chops the fourth from the clanÂ gardenfoot with the nickname hortoris.
- Keep your gnome clean and they will live in your garden without needing special fertiliser or pruning
Latest news on Skunk Cabbage
Repeated below is our post from 2009 when I first reported on the water loving skunk cabbage. In 2021 the RHS have decided that the proliferation of this plant is endangering native species and they should not be grown in the UK. The RHS say ‘after floweringÂ seed heads should be cut off and burnt’ this should help the spread of the rouge amongst our aquatic plants in areas such as the Wye Valley and Lake District.
If you followed our tip to grow this plant I leave it to you what you may wish to do. I am not changing my mind as it is not yet a plant on the banned listÂ under Schedule 9 of The Wildlife and Countryside Act
‘American Skunk Cabbage Lysichiton americanus is planted in groups along the streamside at the Valley Garden Harrogate. Over the years the plants have seeded themselves freely and now make a fantastic display covering the full length of the stream and beyond. The yellow flame-shaped flowers really called spathes, are 18 inches high and look magnificent reflected in the water in April and May. Then the flowers are followed by enormous paddle-shaped, leathery green leaves which remain until dieing back in autumn.
Lysichiton camschatcensis has a hypnotic white spathe and lime green flowering head and a cross between the two species produces a cream spathe (I like to call a spathe a spathe). This spathe surrounds a cigar shaped stem called the spadix which bears many small, bisexual green flowers.
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