Friday July 21st

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Well it’s that time again as we arrive at the end of our Friday Group year.  We rounded it all off with our fantastic Charity Open Day yesterday when we raised money for Lewes Saturday Circle.  The day went extremely well and we were able to raise a substantial amount for the charity.  We raised over £600 on the gate alone and visitors and Friday Group members alike gave generously.  Despite the weather(!), visitors were able to enjoy many interesting stalls, delicious food, great music and of course our wonderful garden which looked fantastic. The much anticipated auction was a great success as usual and we thank all those who donated generous prizes.  Many people, not only Friday Group members gave up a great deal of time to ensure the day was a success and so thank you to everyone involved, both on the day and during the run-up to the event.  And of course huge thanks goes to Bridge and Graham who welcome people into their garden so warmly every year for this event. Here are just a few snaps of our day.

And for the last Plant ID until September, here are a few of our favourites lighting up the borders at the moment:

Tithonia or Mexican sunflower

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These beautiful bright orange daisy-like flowers grow best in full sun and can reach 2m high.  They can last well into autumn and look lovely grown with black dahlias.

Ridolfia segetum or False Fennel

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This striking fennel-like umbel will flower in full sun throughout the summer and into the autumn. The bees and other insects love it and it adds great structure to the border.  It also looks good as a cut flower.

Thunbergia or Black-eyed susan vine

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This annual climber originates from East Africa and used to be regarded as a conservatory plant.  However, it now grows happily ouside in a sheltered postion in full sun.  It likes to grow in well-drained soil and can be grown also in containers.

Geranium psilostemon or Armenium cranesbill

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This herbaceous perennial is a great addition to the border.  It is clump-forming in habit, its leaves taking on a reddish tinge as the summer goes on.  Cut back hard after flowering and you will be rewarded with fresh leaves to pep up your display.

Stipa gigantea

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And finally, one of Bridge’s favourites.  Growing in full sun, it can reach over 2m high with its graceful, slender grey-green leaves and oat-like flowerheads.  It introduces movement and texture to the border and its flowerheads can be left well after the first frosts to provide interest and structure.  Care must be taken when handling as the edges of the  leaves can be quite sharp.  Comb through in spring to get rid of all the old growth.

Thank you to all you Friday Groupers for all your hard work this year.  Many of you will be coming back in September but for those who are leaving us, good luck in your new ventures and do come back and visit us.

And thank you Bridge for another year of inspiration, great learning, friendship and above all fun!

 

Friday 14th July

 

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We started the morning off by having further discussions about our Charity Open Day next Sunday 23rd which is promising to be a great day and is coming together nicely. We’ll be raising money for Lewes Saturday Circle and want to make sure the garden is looking its very best.

A big part of the summer garden are the bedding plants which we use to great effect in summer containers.  Following on from last week, here are a few more of our favourites:

Plant ID

Sanvitalia procumbens or Creeping zinnia 

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This annual has yellow daisy-like flowers and dark red stems.  It is easy to grow and is tolerant of heat and drought and is an excellent filler for containers with its tumbling habit.  It grows to 20cm high and spreads to 45cm.  Keep deadheading to prolong flowering.

Ipomoea ‘Bright Ideas Rusty Red’

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These are great foliage plants and and look good in hanging baskets, patio containers and window boxes alongside other container annuals.  They are sun-loving but often benefit from some afternoon shade to prevent the foliage from bleaching.

Tagetes

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These clump-forming half hardy annuals have soft ferny foliage with a profusion of small yellow flowers.  They grow well in full sun to a height of 30cm and spread to 20cm.

Gallery Dahlias

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These dahlias are a recent introduction  and have shorter stems than many forms.  What they lack in height they make up for in their abundance of double flowers.  They look good at the front of borders or in containers.

Jobs this week

  • Cutting back foliage overhanging paths and removing of Honesty plants alongside the Garden Room.  These will then be dried and used in indoor arrangements later in the year.
  • Planting Actea and bright green Sesleria autumnalis in the Top Garden.
  • Planting around the pond.

 

 

  • Giving the Muehlenbeckia a hard prune.

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  • Planting up more summer containers.
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Fingers crossed now that the weather stays fair for our Open day on Sunday!

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Friday 7th July

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A beautiful day in the garden today.

Plant ID

The subject of today’s plant ident was summer bedding.  Please bear in mind that all bedding needs regular deadheading, watering and feeding.

Verbena ‘Aztec Blue Velvet’ 

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This herbaceous annual has a trailing habit, spilling over the edges of hanging baskets and containers. Plant in full sun and it will reach 45 x 45 cms.

Calibrachoa Million Bells Series

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These are tender woody-based perennials usually grown as annuals. Grown in full sun, they are mostly trailing in habit with simple leaves and petunia-like trumpet shaped flowers over a long period.

Trailing Nepeta

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This is a member of the mint family.  It is a vigorous trailing plant with cream and green foliage used as a filler to add contrast and structure in all types of containers and baskets.

Cuphea

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Sometimes known as the Mexican Cigar Plant, this is an attractive option for borders in sheltered parts of the garden and also good in baskets and containers. It has unusual tubular flowers of bright scarlet tipped with purple and white which are produced in profusion through the summer. Grow in full sun.

Scaevola

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This heat and drought tolerant plant is an evergreen tender perennial, usually grown as an annual. It has fan-shaped bluish flowers and spoon-shaped leaves. Grown in full sun or part shade, it reaches 30cms x 30cms.

Isotoma

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In the Campanula family, this bushy vigorous perennial grows to 30 x 30cms with coarse toothed leaves and beautiful star-shaped violet-blue flowers, produced from late spring to autumn. Grow in full sun.

Jobs this week

  • Continuing to perk up Little Dixter.  And bedding plants were planted in pots to place in spaces out in the garden.

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  • Sorting out the greenhouse – deadheading, cutting back, feeding and watering.  Pelargoniums from the conservatory were re-potted and placed in the greenhouse.
  • Working on Lil’s Bed – the white Wisteria was pruned, Lychnis coronaria removed and the bed was replanted with Cosmos, Zinnias and Nicotianas.  Everything was watered thoroughly.
  • Planting Dahlias and Ipomoea lobata in the Hot Bed behind the greenhouse.  Everything was watered thoroughly.

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  • Planting white Cleomes near the greenhouse and watering well.
  • Clipping the white Pittosporum.  This responds well to hard pruning and can be cut back tightly and shaped.

Friday 30th June

After much discussion around our upcoming Charity Open Day, we had a very good plant ident which this week was presented to us by Lynda.  We looked mainly at grasses, which she finds very useful in her windy coastal garden. She finds they need comparatively little maintenance, look good with perennial plantings and provide a very long period of interest. 

Stipa arundinacea – now renamed as Anemanthele lessoniana.

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This is also known as Pheasant’s Tail grass.  Providing year-round colour, movement and structure, it is a fountain-like clump of slender evergreen foliage which emerges green but develops red, orange and yellow streaking, especially noticeable in the winter.  It grows very quickly to 1m x 1m and produces airy flower-heads in late summer.  It needs dividing after 2-3 years.  

Calamagrostis acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’

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This deciduous grass will grow well in full sun or partial shade. It has a stiff, erect habit adding height and definition to borders.  It requires low maintenance and is one of the earliest perennial grasses to appear.  It has wheat-coloured stems with bronze panicles which add drama and presence to the winter garden. Cut to the ground in February, it can then reach up to 1.8m x 0.6 m.

Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal or switch grass ‘Heavy Metal’ 

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This deciduous ornamental fountain-like grass is known for its steely blue-grey/purple leaves which form stiff, upright clumps turning yellow in autumn.  In late summer and early autumn its pink flowering heads add airy elegance.  Grown in full sun, it will reach around 1.5 x 0.75 m.

Stipa tenuissima.  

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This is a versatile deciduous grass which grows to 0.6m x 0.3m.  It forms a compact, upright tuft of thread-like leaves with narrow, arching feathery-flowering panicles in summer. It is ideal for a gravel garden, large container or perennial border where its fluffy flower heads and foliage billow in the breeze.  It enjoys full sun in most soils.  Lynda likes it planted between lavenders.

Carex ‘Ice Dance’

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This is not a grass but a sedge.  An evergreen, it forms a low, slow-spreading tufted mound.  The green glossy leaves are edged with white and small inconspicuous brown flower spikes appear in late spring. It is very tough and a spreader, growing to 0.1-0.5m x 0.1-0.5 m.  It can be grown in all sorts of conditions, soils and aspects including under trees.

Jobs this week

  • Dead-heading roses and then tying in and watering.  Those which will provide good hips in the autumn were left alone.  Special attention was given to Rosa ‘Dorothy Perkins’, R. ‘Chevy Chase’ and Rosa glauca.
  • Potting on chillies and tomatoes in the greenhouse into 1 litre pots.  They were then staked, fed with chicken manure and watered. Nicotiana langsdorffii also needed potting on and were then left outside the greenhouse to acclimatise.
  • Tying in the crab apples and step-over apples.  The raspberries outside the greenhouse also needed attention.
  • Clearing the peas and beans from the veg patch.  Cavalo nero, kale and lettuces were planted in their place.
  • Tidying-up and weeding the large herbaceous border behind the hedge.  Plants were staked where required.
  • Tidying and watering everything in the greenhouse.  The Alpine beds were also tidied up and cuttings were taken where possible.
  • Sorting out the Auricula theatre and planting up small Fuchsias on Little Dixter.
  • Tidying up the Acanthus bed under the tree and removing all the snails!

Unfortunately, rain stopped play and members retired for an early bath…

 

Friday 23rd June

Last week a large group of us travelled to visit the lovely gardens of Norfolk.  While we were away, the remaining Friday Groupers helped Lil in her garden and a good job they made of it too.

Back at the Garden House, we were amazed at how much everything had grown in our absence.  Needless to say we were all on watering duty today after all the hot weather.

We didn’t have a plant ID today but we looked more closely at a couple of annuals commonly used as summer bedding in pots.

Helioptrope – Cherry Pie Plant

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This has compact dark green leaves and deliciously-scented small custers of purple flowers.  These are said to smell like cherries and vanilla – hence its common name.

Plectranthus

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This is grown for its foliage and is used mainly in this country in containers and hanging baskets or grown at the front of borders.  It is best grown in semi-shade with protection from hot sun.

Jobs this week

  • Staking hardy annuals by the greenhouse and planting Ammi and Larkspur.

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  • Planting Salvias and annual Cosmos in the Hot Bed behind the greenhouse and staking the Dahlias.

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  • Planting lettuces under cloches, weeding and generally tidying up the veg bed.

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  • Cutting back the Alpines in the sinks and Rockery, feeding and watering well. Euphorbias and Sisyrinciums were also planted in the Rockery.

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  • Deadheading, feeding with liquid seaweed and watering the hanging baskets.  
  • Tidying and sorting through the plants in the cold frame, deadheading and watering as we went.
  • Little Dixter was given a makeover – sorting through plants and making sure they were positioned correctly according to light and shade. Argyranthemums and Plectranthus were planted in pots along with Heliotrope and Lobelia.

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Friday 9th June

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It was good to be back in the garden after the Half Term break.  The plants seem to have gone mad with so much growth after all the heavy rain and periods of hot sunshine we’ve had.

We talked about future plans for the garden and Bridge revealed that the purple-leaved plum tree in the Top Garden Garden is to be removed and a line of Silver Birch trees put in its place – all very exciting.

Plant I.D.

As the roses are looking so beautiful at the moment, we looked at some of them in more detail.  We have around 64 different varieties growing in the garden and we’re rather proud of them.   After our discussion, we had a vote to see whether there is a clear favourite.

Rosa ‘Compassion’

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This is a climbing hybrid Tea rose with glossy dark green leaves and coppery-pink fragrant flowers.  It has lovely dark red stems which are quite stiff as opposed to bendy.  As the stems can snap fairly easily, is more suited to growing up a wall or trellis as opposed to an arch.

Rosa ‘Francis E. Lester’

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This vigorous rambler looks great growing over arches.  It has quite a simple flower and as is the habit of most ramblers, it doesn’t repeat flower.  It produces lovely little orange hips in the autumn.

Rosa ‘Highgrove’

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This beautiful rose can be grown as a short climber or large shrub.  It will repeat flower and has a lovely light fragrance.

Rosa Harlow Carr

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This old fashioned-style bushy shrub rose has very fragrant double pink blooms.  It flowers well from summer to autumn and has been proven to be particularly disease-resistant.

Rosa Gertrude Gekyll

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This is an upright small shrub rose with lovely double pink flowers which are very scented.  It flowers prolifically from summer to autumn.

Rosa James Galway

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Another very scented pink rose with rosette-shaped flowers with densely-packed petals.  This rose is almost thornless and does well in shade.

Rosa ‘William Lobb’

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This medium-sized shrub rose has magenta, almost purple blooms through midsummer. The buds and arching stems are covered in an almost moss-like growth and its habit is very open.

Rosa ‘Chevy Chase’

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This rambler is ideal grown against a house, pergola or trellis and flowers through until autumn with highly-scented blooms.

Rosa ‘Albertine’

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This vigorous rambler blooms during midsummer on attractive thorny red stems with dark glossy leaves.  Its flowers are a salmon-pink colour and the scent is captivating.

Rosa x odorata ‘Mutabilis’

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This is a small open shrub rose with almost thornless stems.  The single flowers start off as a soft yellow and then turn to pink and crimson.  Again, the stems of this pretty rose are almost thornless.

I have to say that there was no stand out winner in our pole as opinions were divided.  Which is your favourite?

Jobs this week:

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  • Tidying up the veg patch and planting beans.

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  • Sorting out the compost heap and implementing a red/amber/green system to the order of each bin.  This is to make it easier to know which bin to throw fresh waste into and which bin ‘mature’ compost should be taken from.

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  • Revamping ‘Little Dixter’ by planting Gladioli ‘Muriale’ in pots and adding to the display.  These will bring beautiful interest and scent in late summer.
  • Tying in the Clematis after the strong winds last week.
  • Adding to the Exotic Bed by planting Gladioli, Crocosmia and Cannas.  The area was then protected from slugs and snails by spreading Strulch.

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  • Planting Ammis and Orlayas into the Garden Room bed.
  • Clearing weed and debris off the pond.
  • Pricking out and tying up tomato plants in the greenhouse.  Also in the green house, Streptocarpus were brought out and placed where they would be protected by the shade of a shelf.

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  • Potting on Zinnia, Cosmos and Cleome in readiness for planting in Lil’s Bed. These will replace the Lychnis which will be taken out in a couple of weeks.

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Lots of cake and homegrown strawberries were our reward today…..

 

Friday 26th May

Today we had a good discussion about the plants and flowers in our gardens which are particularly attractive to bees and other pollinators.  Hilary came up with this great list of plants in her garden which demonstrates the variety of plants we can grow which are beneficial to bees:

Geranium macrorrihizum which performs well in most soils and is happy in full sun to almost full shade.

Geranium pratense ‘Mrs. Kendall Clark’ – this variety with pale violet flowers loves the sun in Hilary’s garden.

Geranium phaeum – again this is happy almost anywhere with its upright habit and delicate flowers ranging from purple through to white.

Antirrhinums – these annuals are very easy to grow and will flower from the beginning of summer right the way through to autumn.

Iris sibirica – this flowers from late spring to early summer with its striking purple blooms veined with yellow and white.

Alliums – these are grown for their showy flower heads with lots of tiny star-shaped  blooms which form to make the main flower head.  They range from white through to vivid blue and are a stunning addition to the late spring garden.

Iris pseudocorus – these are useful pond plants.  Another variety of Iris which thrive in completely dufferent growing conditions but which are great for attracting bees.

Alstroemeria – these lily-shaped flowers are a great edition to the summer border with their bright colours.  They are herbaceous perennials and flower from June through to the first frosts. They make useful cut flowers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also talked about many so-called weeds we have in our gardens which the bees absulutely love, eg. herb robert (native geranium) and speedwell.

Nectar and pollen from flowering plants are bees’ only food source (unlike other insects) while flowers need bees to pollinate.  By including a few bee-attractive flowers in our own gardens we are doing our bit to help this most essential of insects.

Jobs in the garden this week:

  • Making a trellis support for the tomatoes outside the greenhouse.

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  • Weeding and clearing underneath the large obelisk, followed by planting of courgettes, nasturtiums and gourds at the base.  We covered the area with a layer of bark and slug pellets to protect the young plants.
  • Staking and weeding the tomato bed in the greenhouse.  We also planted Tagetes and watered everything well.
  • Removing the Crocosmias from the bed ouside the Garden Room.  These were stored in trugs with soil to be replanted elsewhere soon.  Sweet peas were planted in their place with the addition of plenty of slug pellets.

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  • Planting Scabious and Cleome in large pots – these were then placed outside the entrance to the greenhouse.

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  • Tidying up Little Dixter – including deadheading and removing bulbs from pots.
  • Planting out sweetcorn and lettuce in blocks.
  • Removing plants from the greenhouse to harden off outside.

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