Archive | My Experiences

A gardeners personal gardening life over 70 years

First time Sunflower Success Diminishes

In 2008 a google search for sunflowers would have found gardeners tips in the top 3 results. Now it would be luck to be found in the top 3 million. We are number 115th for the more specific ‘sunflowers gardeners tips’ as Tips for Easy Sunflowers from 2015.

So why are the mighty fallen?

  • We have not kept up with search engine etiquette, metrics and optimisation techniques preferring to have our fun with with 2000+ somewhat random posts.
  • There are a great number of tipster sites and commercial businesses whose need for  traffic drives them to focus and stylise there offerings.
  • Google algorithms and analytics are far superior to those of 10 years ago.’
  • We were not mighty and do not claim mightyness yet but we hope to keep sowing, growing and gardening.

Sunflower Titan

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Rabbits Don’t Eat Cyclamen

Rabbits do not eat Cyclamen at least not if they are stone replicas rabbits.

In front of the cyclamen I have just planted  100 Chionodoxa lucillia alba to provide spring sparkle and (rabbit food)!

The home made tufa pot has a plastic pot sunken in the center. I can replace this potted Auricula with another pot of the same size when necessary. The gravel improves drainage and the tufa looks natural now the moss has colonised the pot.

This form of cyclamen is one of my autumn favourites. The corm is now 4″ in diameter and you can see how many flowers one bulb can produce.

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Plastic and the New to Me Clematis Madame Le Coultre

The Shopping Experience

  • I had some birthday money from a brother-in-law and opted to but a clematis. One of the few spaces in the garden to accommodate a new plant was just alongside a conical climbing frame – that spot is now taken.
  • Initially I looked at a garden center chain which had a comprehensive stock but was well priced for the profit they would want. The information about each plant was quite comprehensive.
  • Then I visited and supported a local family garden center come nursery. They had bought in a fair selection of clematis at about half the cost of their bigger rival and that is where I made my purchase. I also bought some other plants that they had grown themselves ( there is a lesson there somewhere).
  • The label was 18″ long (or 46cm for the Dutch supplier’s benefit) but the gardening information was sparse, needed decoding and was not worth all the plastic used.
  • The label did not say from what group the clematis came. Clematis jackmanii group 2 as I found out.
  • There were no planting or growing aids just lame graphics with ticks and crosses, oh and a bar code but no price (I guess that changes to suit circumstances not buyers) .
  • There were 5 support canes that needed 2 plastic ties and a plastic label stake.
  • You could have guessed the pot was black plastic with an unusual and unreusable oval base designed to support growth and retail presentation.

The Plant Experience

  • This jackmanii hybrid is a real show stopper! It can also be trained to cover walls, trellises or arches.
  • The large white flowers with golden stamens are produced all summer from June to September or Vl -Vlll as the label has it.
  •  Clematis ‘Madame le Coultre’ grows to  Height: 3m (10′). Spread: 1m (3′) Pruning group: 2 ie. in late winter or early spring and after its first flush of flowers in summer to encourage flowers again later in summer.
  • Also known as ‘Marie Boisselot’ Clematis.
  • I will update progress quicker than my post from November 2011 which is still relevant.

Permission is granted to copy  this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

 

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It’s A Rambler From Manchester Way

It is not quite red enough to be Lancastrian but I am happy to call it ‘a rambler from Manchester way’ in tribute to the old folk song (and the very old folk of Lancashire). You knew there may be a sting in the tail!

‘I am not the only one who finds this rose attractive’ she said waspishly

‘A fine crop of pink blossom on this rambler or Rosa multiflora’ he said prickly.

Photographs actually taken on 27.8.19 at Brighouse Basin on the river Calder in Yorkshire.

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Diverse Use of Hostas

Hostas can be used for in a variety of situations due to their diversity as a species. As basically known as foliage plants they prosper in the shade but have other uses.

Use of Hostas

  • Available to the gardener as foliage plants from spring to the first frosts, hostas only miss out without a winter display.
  • Used as pot plants they can be moved around the garden and the right pot complements the colouring or leaf shape.
  • Pots can be grown indoors and even cultivated during winter.
  • Different varieties offer colour, size, shape, texture and form. This can be used to create architectural effects, ground cover  or lush tropical effects.
  • Add to this the flowers, the reverse colours and bicolours and you have some great design opportunities.
  • You can even grow your hostas in a window box.
  • Hostas combine well with water locations and as companion planting.
  • Hosta collecting can be an interesting pastime.
  • Flower arranging using hostas is very popular in Japan where many plants originate.

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Comments made about Overwintering

Irena Dorney a reader of my chrysanthemum post has asked ‘ Tell me do you overwinter your plants? I can no longer afford to keep buying new plants for my planters so I want to invest in plants with a perennial habit that will work hard in my raised bed.’

Overwintering Generally

  • I am a Yorkshire man so yes I try to over winter many of my plants. I want value for money and the thrill of getting or keeping ‘summat for nowt’.
  • A major proportion of my garden is planted with evergreen shrubs and they overwinter themselves.
  • Alpines are generally designed for cold wintery weather but HATE  wet so I don’t worry about frost but will shield or deflect rain from auriculas and damp haters.
  • Bulbs I leave in the ground or pots but take up begonias and dahlia tubers and keep them frost free for planting the following year.
  • You can forget about your tender annuals but the seeds are worth collecting. You then overwinter them as seeds or biannuals.

Overwintering Planters

  • Selecting ‘hardy’ plants that are more likely to survive to survive is a skill worth learning. Violas will last better than pansies for example and dwarf conifers and acers do well in my pots.
  • One of the biggest risks to plants in pots is death by frozen roots. A big pot holds more soil and is harder but not impossible to freeze.
  • I gather pots together for wind and frost protection. A group of pots can create there own micro climate.
  • Under a hedge row I store many pot plants where I am fatalistic. If they survive great if not then c’est la vie & I try to propagate more.

Overwintering in a Raised Bed

  • Selecting herbaceous perennials can fill your raised beds. Herbaceous plants die back every year when the weather gets cold but the right ones regrow next year. If the winter conditions are harsh then mulch around the root area. Delphiniums, alstromeria and primroses have done well this year.
  • Tender subjects like musa (banana) or ferns can be wrapped in hessian or covered in straw but that is too much bother for me.
  • I grow rhododendrons and deciduous azaleas in a raised bed for the want of a larger area. Like many woody shrubs they do fine.

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Aquatic and Aquarium Plant Tips

Like good gardeners, aquarists spend time and effort creating living conditions that approximate to those of the natural environment of their plants.

There are over 8000 species of fresh-water plants divided into 400+ genera and many are available for sale in Europe. Like garden plants some prefer max-min pH levels and others hard or soft water.

Tips

  • Plants do not enjoy being transported in packed conditions or transplanted to often. Try buy fresh plants as soon as they arrive at a trusted retailer.
  • The foliage of Myriophylles and Cabomba should be fresh green and errect. Vallisneria leaf edges shouldn’t be torn and Crypyto coryne foliage shoudn’t have brown markings.
  • Non-aquatic plants are sometimes sold as aquatic but cannot be grown properly in an aquarium. They include genera including Aglaonema, Didiplis, Dracaenia and Cordylina.
  • Plants can make useful breeding grounds for many fish species.
  • The heart or neck of the plant should not be covered in gravel.

Check out best and popular aquatic plants on aquarium advisor.

 

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Oranges and Lemons on One Tree

 

Sorry the title may be a bit misleading if you were thinking of citrus fruit (not something I try to grow).

This is one of my prized Acer Palmatums that cost me all of 10 pence when our local garden center was closing down some years ago. I believe this mini tree is called ‘Orange Dream’ but the ticket was missing still what can I expect for the price. Luckily it was one on several varieties of Acer whose leave turn a brilliant orange, lemon  or red in autumn. Well worth giving them a space in your garden.

As you can see it was planted near a Mahonia referred to in yesterdays post

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My Mahonia

My Mahonia

I have been a bit short of things to say since Christmas but I recently got the camera out to snap the rain on my favourite Mahonia.

Growing in some shelter by a golden conifer this mahonia doesn’t suffer from any wind. The shrub has grown dramatically over the last few years. In late summer I lopped four feet off the top and trimmed the side shoots that were taking too much space. Now a respectable six feet tall I am getting good flowers that are still a bit too high to get my nose into. I have two other lower growing mahonia growing in acidic soil with other ericaceous plants.

The prickly side shoots no longer reach over the path.

Wet Spines on Mahonia

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