Friday 23rd September

It was a beautiful day in the garden this week.  We began the morning by having a quick reminder of everybody’s names. Everyone then named their favourite plant for this time of year.  Particular recommendations for late summer/early autumn interest are as follows:

Cyclamen hederifolium

Anemone hybrida (Japanese anemones)

Hesperantha (Kaffir Lilies) – used to be called Schizostylis

Gaura lindheimeri

Aster – many types

Salvia ‘Love & Wishes’ and S. ‘Amistadt’

Caryopteris ‘Sterling Silver’

Annual climbers including Cobaea scandens (Cup and Saucer Vine), Ipomoea (Spanish Flag) and Ipomoea ‘Grandpa Otts’ (Morning Glory), Rhodochiton, Thunbergia

Half-hardy annuals including Cosmos ‘Antiquity’, Nicotiana mutabilis ‘Marshmallow’, Phlox ’21st Century Blue’

Canna ‘Dunbar’ (these are tender and should be treated in the same way as dahlias)

Helianthus (Sunflowers)

Grasses including Stipa gigantea, Panicum ‘Heavy Metal’, Carex ‘Ice Dance’

Acers for autumn colour

Ivy which is in flower at this time of year and is a good source of late nectar for bees and butterflies

Hawthorn for attractive berries

In the plant ID this week we looked at common weeds.  It is important to get to know the young and mature stages of weeds so that they can be easily recognised and removed early on.

Bindweed are trumpet-flowered weeds which wind themselves around the stems of plants and plant supports.  They spread rapidly by creeping underground stems or rhizomes and will choke and smother plants in the process.  It is important to make sure that you do not carry even the smallest piece of root back to your own garden in order to prevent spreading.  Bindweed can be kept in check by the use of Glyphosate (not organic).


Annual Sowthistle are related to dandelions.  Their seeds are spread on the wind and they will accumulate rapidly if left unchecked.  As well as smothering other plants, they will take nitrogen and water from the soil.  Even though they have a spreading root system, they can be easily uprooted by hand.


Oxalis are small creeping weeds with yellow flowers and red clover-like leaves.  Even though they do root where the stems touch the ground, their main means of spread is by seed.  As well as removal by hand or by hoeing, one of the best methods of keeping oxalis in check is by spreading a good layer of mulch over the border.

Euphorbia peplus is an annual weed which seeds easily.  The sap can irritate the skin and so care should be taken when removing by hand.


Alkanet is a member of the boraginaceae family.  It has a deep tap root and is similar in appearance to the forget-me-not.  It is cultivated in Central and Southern Europe as a source for a red dye.  This is best removed by hand, making sure the whole of the tap root is taken away.


Borage is a herb and although it is loved by bees, it can be very invasive if left unchecked in the garden.  It is similar to alkanet with hairy, prickly leaves and stems and white or blue flowers.


Bridge demonstrated planting up forced hyacinths to be ready in time for Christmas.  To be in flower for December 25th, ideally they need to be planted by 25th September.  Choose a shallow container (no drainage holes needed) and half fill with compost.  Place each bulb on top of this and top-dress with grit or moss.  They should be kept damp and stored in a cool, dark place indoors or outside, covered to keep out the light.  When 2-4cm. of the shoots emerge, put them indoors in a cool, light place.

Activities in the garden this week included:

  • Pond clearing


  • Cutting back and weeding the rockery and taking cuttings


  • Pruning the bay tree and making a ‘window’


  • Tending to the sempervivums in containers


  • Thinning hardy geraniums and planting Verbena bonariensis in the Rose Walk


  • Weeding, cutting back and labelling perennials in the big herbaceous bed
  • Removing spent annuals from beds
  • Sowing Orlaya in modules
  • Removing annual climbers


The cat that got the cream this time!


Friday 16th September 2016



Welcome everybody to another year of gardening on Friday mornings.  The garden is still looking great after the summer and we’re looking forward to the months ahead.

As it was our first morning back after the summer break, we spent time introducing and getting to know new and returning members and going over the main aims and plans for the next few months.  We agreed that our principle aim is to get the garden looking good all year round and to learn off each other as we go along.  As well as our weekly activities, main projects will be to create a winter garden drawing inspiration from places like Anglesey Abbey near Cambridge; completely emptying and replanting the pond; being creative with some topiary as well as doing lots more container gardening.  Also, we will be carrying out research on a few mini projects which we will discuss over the coming weeks.

Many of us have been busy visiting other gardens over the summer and here are a few (many) of our recommendations:

Woolbeding Gardens near Midhurst

Sarah Raven’s garden at Perch Hill, East Sussex

Bryan’s Ground in Shropshire

Wollaton Old Hall in Shropshire

Pashley Manor Gardens in East Sussex

Parham House and Gardens in West Sussex

Monk’s House in Rodmell

RHS Wisley

East Lambrook Manor Gardens – the late Margery Fish’s garden in Somerset

Mottisfont Manor in Hampshire

Sussex Prairie Gardens

Nymans Gardens

The Botantical Gardens in Hobart, Tasmania

RHS Rosemoor

Gravetye Manor

Packwood House near Birmingham

Levens Hall in Cumbria

Monet’s garden at Giverny, France

Hill House Nursey and garden, Devon

Westdene Gardens in West Sussex

Kew Gardens

The garden at Charleston near Lewes

The garden at The Red House, Bexleyheath

Morville Hall in Shropshire

We talked about cutting back plants such as helianthemums (rock roses) and santolina (cotton lavender)  in order to rejuvenate them.  Care must be taken not to cut into the old wood of these plants and Santolina will make a good hedge in time if cut back in this way.  Cuttings can be taken from the offshoots of some of these to produce new plants.  Bridge advised us to plant them in multipurpose compost mixed in with a little grit or perlite, place in a shadey spot and to keep them lightly watered.

Activities in the garden 

We had limited time for gardening this week but once the rain had stopped we got busy doing the following:

  • Cutting back, pruning and feeding the herbs, such as various mints in the top garden and the herb garden.
  • Removing  alstromerias in the sunk garden and planting a new rose up against the wall.
  • Investigating the pond and deciding what could be done with it in the coming months.
  • Sowing seeds of Euphorbia oblongata.
  • Clearing out the greenhouse and repotting some of the plants.
  • Tidying up the herbaceous border behind the hedge.
  • Planting up a new container.

And very importantly we ate Amanda’s delicious Ginger Polenta Cake….


Sunday 17th July 2016

The Friday group ended the year with a very successful charity day to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund. It was a beautiful day – the garden looked amazing and we had our usual variety of interesting stalls, fantastic food and lovely music to enhance the atmosphere. The auction and raffle were great fundraisers as ever and everyone was very generous in their support for this charity. We finished the day with an end of year meal – thanks to Bridge for another year of inspirational teaching and an opportunity to spend time every week in her beautiful garden.

Friday 8th July 2016

Roses are the star of the show in the garden at the moment so we spent some time looking at a few of the 60 plus different roses that Bridge has at the Garden House.

  • Rosa ‘Chevy Chase’ is a particularly spectacular rambling rose that is growing up one of the arches. It is currently in full bloom with large clusters of small double  crimson flowers.


  • Rosa ‘William Lobb’ is an old moss shrub rose with beautiful blooms that open to various shades of purple, mauve and violet-grey. It has a rich perfume and the stems have dense thorns.


  • Rosa ‘Charles de Mills’ is a shrub rose which has large opulent rich crimson/purple flowers. It can be prone to mildew so needs to be pruned carefully to ensure that that the air can circulate well. It has a light fragrance and benefits from some support. Bush or hybrid tea roses generally don’t do so well on chalk so they do need lots of feeding.


  • Rosa ‘The Fairy’ is a little shrub with graceful, spreading and fan-like growth. It has sprays of tiny, soft pink pompon flowers. It is tough, reliable and disease-free.


  • Rosa ‘Dorothy Perkins’ is a rambling rose with cascades of pink flowers. It can be prone to mildew so needs to be cut back hard after flowering and fed regularly.


  •  Rosa ‘Francis E Lestor’ is one of the most reliable of all rambling roses. It has huge bunches of small, single white blooms, delicately tinted with soft pink and a strong fragrance. It has orange hips in the autumn. These are pictures of the rose at Wollerton Old Hall gardens from a recent Garden House trip.

Julia also read from The Morville Year by Katherine Swift as the Garden House trip had also included a trip to the Dower House garden at Morville Hall in Shropshire. It was a very appropriate piece about losing control in the garden which we could all relate to. Katherine Swift wrote “I admit that my garden is wilder that most supposedly formal gardens, especially this year, when everything has made yards of extra growth. The long grass has fountains of feathery seed-heads weeks earlier than usual. The roses are lolling forwards cascading on to the paths….Not what I had intended, but it’s too late now: disarrange a single shoot, attempt to prop things up, try to regain control, and the spell is broken. It is a beautiful tangle. My garden has a life of its own, independent of me. I like that.”

Activities in the garden this week:

  • Planting out in the cut flower bed
  • Taking cuttings of Erysimums
  • Feeding the pots
  • Planting pumpkins in the compost heap
  • Planting out in the veg bed – more mangetout, leeks and beetroot
  • Planting Dahlias in metal pots
  • Pulling up some of the Lysimachia punctata in the yellow bed which was taking over and planting out Coreopsis


Friday 24th June 2016


Discussion today focused on Dianthus which are plants that do well on chalk. Dianthus is a  genus of about 300 species of flowering plants which are mainly native to Europe and Asia. The species are mostly herbaceous perennials but a few are annual or biennial. After flowering it is important to cut over the tops of the plants to stop them getting leggy.  Most Pinks with typical dianthus foliage are propagated by taking ‘pipings’ in early summer. Pipings are the top 2” of non-flowering stems. Just pull them off, making sure that you have a node at the base where all the energy for growth is stored. Put round the edge of small pots in compost mixed with Perlite to make it free-draining.

Dianthus carthusianorum is a variable evergreen perennial with  stems that grow to 50cm or more, rising from a woody base. Leaves are dark green, clustered and numerous at the base and the flowers  are light magenta pink. They work well to give an airy feel amongst other perennials  and can be easily grown from seed.


Dianthus ‘Mrs Sinkins’ is an old-fashioned type of Pink, with glaucous foliage, pure white flowers and very fragrant.


Activities in the garden this week:

  • The heavy rain has made very lush growth everywhere and also made some foliage collapse, so, general tidying up, dead-heading and weeding.
  • Tidying Little Dixter and changing the display.
  • Sowing biennial seeds.
  • Moving succulents out of the conservatory where they were getting too dry.
  • Feeding the pelargoniums with diluted liquid from the wormery.
  • Potting up fuchsias for display.
  • Potting up more vegetables from the greenhouse for the large-pot display, which is looking very good.
  • Weeding the big herbaceous & rose border, and collecting rose petals fro Rose Petal jam.




Friday 17th June 2016


Back in the Garden House this week with lots to do to ensure the garden is looking good and to keep up with the successional planting plans. The weather has resulted in an explosion of slugs and snails and rapid growth of weeds. However, the beautiful planting is shining through – the poppies and dianthus in ‘Lil’s bed’ are looking stunning and the sweet peas should soon be in full flower. Elsewhere the new rockery is really taking shape and the sunk garden is looking stunning with the roses in full bloom over swathes of nepeta.  The garden will be open again on 17th July for the big charity event so the next few groups will focus on planning for that event as well as ensuring the garden is at its best for this important fundraising initiative and finale for the Friday group of 2015/6.


We looked at some alpine plants that had been bought to plant in pockets in the new rockery. There are many alpine dianthus that will grow well on chalk including Dianthus Bath’s pink


and Dianthus anatolicus which is a hummock forming pink with tiny flowers.


We also looked at Dianthus cruentus which has tall spikes of red flowers – this will be planted as part of an arrangement in a pot.


Another plant for the rockery is Helianthemum ‘Apricot’ which is a great ground covering plant ideal for a sunny spot in a rock garden.


Activities in the garden this week:

  • Planting in the rockery

FullSizeRender (13)

  • Pricking out herbs and other annuals in the greenhouse

greenhouse herbs

  • Potting up containers
  • Weeding and sorting out the tulip tree bed

tulip tree bed

  • Sorting out Little Dixter and the arrangements of different vegetable crops in pots




A weekly account of the activities of the Friday Gardening Group at the Garden House in Brighton