Tag Archives | perennial

Heuchera Uses, Facts and Varieties

I am hoping for some coloured Heucheras for Fathers day later this month – well hope is free!

Uses of Heuchera

  • Heuchera are commonly used as specimen plants or in small groups of the same variety.
  • They are at home in woodland gardens, rock gardens or as groundcover.
  • Heuchera are useful in patio pots or as components in mixed containers. They are often used at this time of year for winter containers
  • Flower panicles make fine additions to cut flower arrangements.
  • Heuchera attracts butterflies.
  • Heuchera consists of over 50 species and there are many new varieties so you could make a study and collection of these interesting plants.

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Aquilegia Growing


Aquilegia are growing and flowering in all parts of my garden at the moment. This Aquilegia canadensis or red columbine hybridises very easily and will self sow if left to its own devices. This Aquilegia Kansas looks very striking in tight groups.


When I saw this photograph of Aquilegia colombine growing with  Honeysuckle the significance of the names escaped me. The Honeysuckle will flower a bit later than the Aquilegia which I will cut down after it flowers in the hope of a second flush of flowers later in the year.


The horns of a dilema are shown on this close up of an Aquilegia flower. It pays to take the time to inspect individual flowers as well as the whole plant.
You can acquire or just admire plants as part of a collection


Aquilegia combine well with other plants and the colours of the Rhododendron work well with the shade of this Aquilegia.


Whilst it may not be obvious Aquilegias grow as small alpines 4 inches tall like A. Flabellata and as 3 feet high plants and various sizes in between. A good selection of seeds from many Aquilegia varieties are in the  Chiltern Seed catalogue.


The leaves have a pleasing shape and vary in colour from the yellow green above to grey green and dark green.


Give Aquilegia a try in your garden. They grow very easily from seed so poor specimens and colours can be weeded out.



Seed Suppliers and Specialties

Membership of a garden society can be a good source of good value seeds.
Not all seed companies are the same and many have distinctive specialties.
The big well known brands generally have a full range of annuals, perennials and odd selections. Most now offer higher value items including plugs and kinder or pot plants.

Many brands are now owned by the same company and the niche suppliers often offer more seed or better products in a narrower focused  range.

Choice Seed Companies

  • Thompson & Morgan wildflowers and  thousands of varieties of seeds with useful germination  guide available online.
  • Boston Seeds – Online seed shop offers grass seed mixtures for lawns, paddocks, sport, plus agricultural seed and wildflower seed. Volume orders
  • The Chilli Company – Sells a variety of hot chilli seeds including ‘Brain strain’ and collections to take advantage of a current trend for growing Hot Chillies
  • Chiltern seed  new web site but the old catalogue has flowery descriptions and an excellent range – no photos but great mail order catalogues
  • D. T. Brown and Co. Ltd. – Offers a range of flower and vegetable seeds, including organics. Order catalogue online.
  • Continue Reading →


Verbascum Banana Custard and Other Mullien

Verbascum banana custaard

This nine foot high perennial plant has a striking spire of yellow flowers. This variety has several smaller spikes in this case an impressive fourteen at the last count and still growing. This is a Verbascum hybrida and I also have a white which is less robust but still stately.

  • The leaves are hairy and can cause skin irritation
  • In the wild ‘Mulliens’ produce prodigious volumes of seed as do the hybrids. I treat good specimens as biennial although they are perennial as they are easy to grow from seed.
  • Flowers do not open evenly up the flowering spike but have colour for many weeks in summer. If dead headed there will often be a second flush later.
  • Mulliens like sun and space but are not fussy about soil conditions
  • Try grow a variety with multiple stems. Some have only one spike.

Design Tips

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Tips for Growing Pulsatilla the Pasque Flower


The Pulsatilla is also called the Pasque flower or meadow anemone and although related to the anemone it is a separate part of the buttercup family Ranunculus.

Also commonly known as the prairie crocus, Anemone Pulsatilla, Wind flower and Easter Flowe.

  • This clump forming herbaceous perennial is 6 inches tall and the flowers can be red, blue, purple or white and have six velvety petals with curled, pointed tips surrounding a ring of bright yellow stamens. Flowering around Easter they have the alternative native British name of Pasque flower.
  • All plant surfaces are covered in fine, soft hairs as can be seen in this images.The attractive seed heads which follow are spherical with silvery plume like styles raised on elongated flower stems.
  • Not to be out done the foliage is exquisite in spring.
  • The plant is best treated as poisonous although it is occasionally used in herbal medicine.
  • Protect from excessive wet winter weather. They tolerate alkaline soils and are found naturally in the wild.
  • They dislike root disturbance and can be difficult to establish. They can be grown from seed or propagated by root cutting but try not to disturb the main plant as they take several years to flower at their best. Plant when small and leave undisturbed.
  • Pulsatilla vulgaris Red Cloak is a great variety to grow from seed. Rubra is another red variety.

Seeds from Thompson & Morgan

Other Pulsatilla Facts
Pulsatilla vulgaris is the county flower for both Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire.
Single flowers are followed by attractive fuzzy seedheads resembling those of clematis.
There is one double cultivar called Papageno

Passion flower Pulsatilla

Other Pulsatilla species  include:

Pulsatilla alpina
# Pulsatilla chinensis
# Pulsatilla grandis
# Pulsatilla halleri
# Pulsatilla montana
# Pulsatilla nigricans
# Pulsatilla patens
# Pulsatilla pratensis
# Pulsatilla vernalis
# Pulsatilla vulgaris
# Pulsatilla subslavica
# Pulsatilla cernua


Spring Shoots of Dicentra


The economies of the world are waiting for a sign of the green shoots of a spring recovery. This Dicentra plant shows that not all good things are green and I love to seek out red shoots amongst my plants.

Other notable red shoots come in spring from the herbaceous Peonies and from Rhubarb plants but back to the Dicentra family or bleeding heart for a moment. The plants are easy to grow and reliable perennials whose clump grows each year. They resent disturbance so are hard to split for propagation but root cuttings from the edge of clumps are not too hard to strike.

Dicentra King of Hearts & Ivory Hearts

Dicentra Varieties to Try Growing

  • Dicentra spectabilis is the variety above that will flower with dark pink heart shaped flowers. There is also a white version sold under the unsurprising name of Alba but this is generally Dicentra eximia.
  • Dicentra formosa has cherry-red hearts that dangle like lockets on arching stems above mounds of fern like foliage. Also nicknamed Dutchmans Breeches.
  • Bulb forming Dicentra cucullaria and Dicentra canadensis are cream or white in flower but retain the distinctive Dicentra fern like foliage.
  • Dicentra scandens is a yellow flowered climbing species that I not found to be hardy.
  • There are 19 species of Dicentra from America and Asia.

Dicentra scandens

Growing Tips For Dicentra Formosa

  • The finer leaves grow well on the edge of woodland.
  • The grey leaved forms are OK under deciduous trees or shrubs but will stand more sun and can be used in alpine gardens.
  • Heavy clay soil needs improving with sharp grit and a granular feed in early spring.
  • The outer edges of plants are more vigorous than the centres. Use these to form new plants.

Dicentra cucullaria

Dicentra cucullaria (Dutchman’s breeches) is a flowering plant in the family Fumariaceae, native to North America. It occurs mainly in the eastern half of the continent, from Nova Scotia and southern Quebec west to eastern North Dakota, and south to northern Georgia and eastern Oklahoma; there is also a disjunct population in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. It typically grows in rich woods. The common name Dutchman’s breeches derives from their white flowers that look like white breeches.’

Dutchman's breeches - Dicentra cucullaria

Dicentra King of Hearts & Ivory Hearts by peganum CC BY-SA 2.0
Dicentra scandens by gnomicscience CC BY-NC 2.0
Dicentra cucullaria by aposematic herpetologist CC BY-NC 2.0
Dicentra cucullaria by dmott9 CC BY-ND 2.0



Tips for Growing Clematis all Year Around


There is a clematis for every season, every aspect and every place. The flower size and colour range is also wider than you may imagine.

Types of Clematis for growing all year around

Early Flowering Species like alpina or montana types.
Summer Flowering hybrids like patens and florida types
Late flowering Hybrids and species like jackmanii, tangutica and viticella types
Herbaceous clematis x jouiniana or Koreana lutea
Evergreen and tender species armandii, cirrhosa and tender plants from the southern hemisphere

Selected Varieties by Colour

White – Marie Boisselot, Montana sericea, Armandii or Clematis chrysocoma.
Red – Ville de Lyon, Madame Juklia Correvon or Ernest Markham.
Yellow – Clematis tangutica, Moonlight, Ligusticifolia or Otto Froebel.
Violet – Etoile Violette or Clematis alpina Francis Rivis.
Blue – Ascotiensis, Macro petal Blue Bird or Multi Blue.
Pink – Clematis montana Elizabeth, Bees Jubilee or Hagley Hybrid.
White and purple Clematis florida Sieboldii.

Soil and Growing Condition Tips

Soil for Clematis should not be too acidic but alkaline soil is fine. Impoverished soil near a wall or under a hedge should be improved with plenty of humus before planting. Sandy soil looses moisture quickly and also needs humus adding.
All clematis will grow better if the roots are kept cool. Plant a bit deeper than the soil level in the pot where they were grown and cover the roots area with a tile, rock or mulch.
Large flowered varieties will have stronger colours if the flowers grow in light shade.
Use a good Foliar feed every 7-10 days and a good root drenching weekly.

Types of Clematis Support

All clematis even the herbaceous varieties need some support. The easiest support is often other plants with matching characteristics – heather for small macropetala types or a tree for the more robust viticella varieties.
Walls are fine as long as the mortar and brickwork is sound for a network of wire. Clematis montana can cover a large wall quickly.
Trellis itself needs to be securely attached to battens but can be attractive when cloaked in Clematis or on it’s own in winter.
Archways, tripods and obelisks look great when covered with a climber such as clematis. Similarly pergolas can have both climbing roses and clematis co-existing.
Try a pillar made from a length of Oak or hardwood to train your clematis because you are bound to want to grow more once you start.

Varieties of Clematis from Thompson & Morgan

Clematis urophylla ‘Winter Beauty’ also known as Old Man’s Beard flowers is a superb evergreen clematis bears its delicately fragrant, waxy, bell-shaped flowers in the depths of winter.
The foliage is so lush, that you’ll think its summertime all year round!
Plant Clematis ‘Winter Beauty’ against a warm house wall so that you can appreciate its winter flowers from your window. This sought after variety will appreciate a sheltered site with some winter protection.
Height: 4m (13’). Spread: 1.2m (4’). Pruning Group: 1

Clematis ‘Bill MacKenzie’ really couldn’t be easier. Watch it scramble over fences, covering unsightly sheds with ease. From midsummer this versatile climber is covered in small canary yellow blooms, which give way to large fluffy seedheads for an attractive autumn display.

Clematis ‘Crystal Fountain’™ are quite extraordinary.A fountain of crystal-blue stamens radiate from the centres of the dazzling blue, 15cm (6”) wide blooms. Terrifically floriferous, this clematis continues to bloom throughout summer and into early autumn. It’s compact habit makes it ideal for containers and small gardens.

Clematis armandii flowers in spring with exquisitely fragrant, star-shaped white blooms literally smother this beautiful evergreen clematis in spring. The new foliage emerges bronze tinted, gradually maturing to glossy dark green that will quickly cover walls and fences within a few years. Best suited to a sheltered position, this vigorous clematis requires plenty of space to twine its long evergreen stems.

Companion plants for Clematis
Tips on Pruning Clematis

Cultivating Clematis All Year Around

  • Pot up small clematis plants and grow them on until large enough to plant in their final positions.
  • When planting clematis, choose a position in sun or semi-shade and plant the climber deeply in moist, fertile, well drained soil.
  • Position the top of the rootball at a depth of at least 3″ below soil level to encourage new shoots to form from the base of the plant and prevent wilt.
  • Clematis dislike soils that are particularly wet or dry. Soil can be improved by the addition of plenty of well rotted manure or garden compost.
  • Train clematis plants onto a suitable support such as trellis, wires or a freestanding climbing frame.

See also The Climbing Clematis Family


Tips for Growing Astrantia

golden acre gardens leeds

Astrantia are unassuming garden perennials now coming into flower from June .

Tips for Cultivating Astrantia

  • Astrantias are superb perennials for the stream edge or a moist border.
  • They may tolerate drier soils as long as the plants are mulched
  • ‘Claret’ is a beautiful variety with deep red pincushion flowers.
  • After flowering, plants can be rejuvenated by cutting them back close to the ground – fresh new foliage and a late crop of flowers start appearing shortly after.
  • Plants do not make big clumps or spread but they can be split in early spring.
  • Grow from fresh seed or buy as plants. Thompson Morgan

Astrantia Varieties and Features

  • Astrantia have star-like flower heads in reds, pinks and pastel shades.
  • The variegated form has an AGM Astrantia major ‘Sunningdale Variegated’
  • Continue Reading →


Growing Different Daisy Flowers “Townsendia”

Townsendia formosa

This genus of conspicuous Aster like flowers deserves to be better known.

Growing Habits of Townsendia

  • This perennial genus comes from North America and Mexico.
  • Some Townsendia are tall, erect plants, like typical daisies, others form small, leafy rosettes, or have a sprawling, prostrate appearance.
  • The plants like a sunny well drained spot or they will be short lived.
  • Sow seed in gritty compost and surround plants with grit or gravel.

Some Species of Townsendia.

  • Townsendia formosa shown above has lilac coloured flowers above thin narrow foliage.
  • Townsedia grandiflora has large violet flowers 1-2″ wide on 5-10″ stems in summer.
  • Townsendia exscapa has white or pale pink flowers.
  • Information on the other 20+ species by L M Shultz

Grow Ericaceous Cassiope

Cassiope Badenoch

Cassiope are a valuable group of small wiry stemmed ericaceous perennials with white bell-like flowers blooming in spring. Leaves are unstalked and densely overlap.

Tips for Growing Cassiope

  • Grow in lime free sandy or mossy soil. Very hardy if given good drainage.
  • The smaller varieties are good alpine house and pot plants growing below 12″ high.
  • Plants are cheap to buy and can be propagated from cuttings or by pegging down.
  • Plants hybridise quite easily.
  • Grow in a cool shady or semi-shady places in the rock garden or shrub border.

Hybrids and Species to Grow

  • Cassiope Randle Cooke is a super little Cassiope with deep green leaves closely clasping the stems.
  • Cassiope Badenoch shown above has a mass of off-white bell shaped flowers
  • Cassiope Edinburgh another wiry stemmed ericaceous perennial with tightly packed deep green leaves and larger white bell-like flowers in spring.

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