New year, new decade. It seems ages since we were last here, but we’re back and good to go
Well, once we get our dose of caffeine, we’ll be good to go
So, without further ado, it’s straight onto the…
And what’s in the garden now? Bulbs are starting to come through…
…and there are lots of other things to enjoy
This is a lovely form, believed to be Vinca major. This has been flowering every week of the year – and the present week is no exception. Upright in form, with a delicate blue flower, the glossy green leaves display marked veining. A delight, and an excellent choice for ground cover.
Arum italicum subsp ‘Marmoratum’
Its stunning arrow-shaped, variegated leaves are beautiful in their own right; in summer, creamy-white spathes (the flowers) emerge, giving way to a cluster of green berries which turn a vivid orange/red in autumn.
The Algerian Iris – a tough little performer. The rhizomes are happiest at the base of a sunny, south-facing wall. A real beauty, which flowers from November through to the end of February, and its lavender-blue flowers are scented. Very undemanding, it thrives on poor soil, dry conditions and neglect. The renowned gardener E. Bowles commented that, “the older a clump gets, the better it flowers”. Plant alongside drought tolerant shrubs and bulbs.
Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’
A winter-flowering variety, which can take its time to get established. But well worth giving it a go – just look at the results! Now is a good time to plant it. From the Ranunculaceae family – the same as Hellebores
Perfect small white flowers contrast with rounded, dark green leaves in the plant shown above, but a wide range of colours and foliage is available. Delicate loveliness, but don’t be fooled, this is a tough little perennial, flowering away in winter and early spring. Interesting fact number 5,193. Did you know that the seeds of these Cyclamen are actually distributed by ants and bees? (I know!) Apparently, the stems curl, bringing the seed pod down to the ground. The seeds are collected by ants and bees which eat the sticky seed coat, but leave the seeds themselves!
One other must-have for this time of year is a Daphne. If you haven’t got one, rectify the situation immediately. Either Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ or Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’. Scentsational!
Jobs for the week:
It may be gloomy and cold out there, but there’s plenty to do.
Compost control and management
First remove composted material
Easier said than done
Then on to the amber bay
Churn and turn
Apply newly retrieved compost to flower beds
Remove rose prunings (aka squirrel deterrents) from flower beds. They failed. Order cannons. This is war. Apply compost to improve soil structure and appearance.
Pot on Ranunculus ‘Pauline Violet’ seedlings
This time of year is when heated mats and electric propagators come into their own; just gives seeds a head start. We are sowing: Nicotiana mutabilis, Cobaea scandens, Cleome, Swiss chard, Spinach, Giant Red Mustard, Antirrhinums, Coriander, Parsley (soak the seeds in warm water prior to sowing). And Rue. Phew!
Better crack on, there’s a lot to do
Prune the hybrid tea roses and apply feed to all roses
Research materials – check
Tools for the job – check
Workers – where are the workers?
They checked out
Ah! That’s where they’ve got to
Back to it
Prick out seedlings
Here we have les amies des Ammis doing une tâche splendide. Friday Group aims to be trilingual by the end of the year. English, French and LatiYes! Oui! Ita vero!
These are Eschscholzia ‘Ivory Castle’. They are hardy annuals, so can be left outside through the winter – but keep an eye on them, they won’t like sitting in pools of water indefinitely. Would you?
And thick and fast they came at last
More and more seedlings. All looking good.
General potting-on work
Generally pottering on with potting on
Work on Little Dixter
Remove all existing pots. Tidy and clean shelving. Set out pots of Iris and Narcissi. New year, new term, new start.
Work in progress
Well, that’s a lovely job
Simple, elegant, refined
Deadheading as required; water the pots – but don’t soak them; tidy the greenhouse and sweep through
Taking them out for an airing?
Pelargoniums on parade
Cut back perennials in the top garden
Remove as much wild garlic as possible from the bed
Now, I don’t mean to be funny, but I could be here until 2030 doing that….
Weed and tidy the bed outside the shelter
Remove the green-leaved Celandine (Ranunculus). They tend to take over… these poor Cyclamen are being throttled
Leave R. ‘Brazen Hussy’
A dark form of the common celandine with shiny bronze/black foliage. Best not to make any jokes about brazen hussies.
Sort through seed boxes and organise
And I’m organising
Order restored, it’s time to leave
Garden House 10th January 2020
Autumn days – but winter is on the way,
All the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey…
…except for the leaves of the Field Maple, which are a bright buttery-yellow.
This week, the focus was on trees. Garden House finds Barcham’s ‘Time for Trees’ to be an excellent reference book.
Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’
An attractive, small, deciduous tree with large, purple, heart-shaped leaves. Fertile, moist but well-drained soils suit it, and it likes a sunny or partially shaded position. Looks great contrasted with lime-coloured plants. Can suffer from wind damage as it is a little fragile. A.G.M. (h. 8 m)
The tough, native Field Maple is frequently used in urban plantings as it is resistant to air pollution. Deciduous, it has small, five-lobed leaves which are dark green, but turn a beautiful butter-yellow in the autumn. It makes a good informal hedge and is a fantastic tree for wildlife. (h. 7 – 10+ m)
The Judas Tree. It loves chalk! Heart-shaped leaves are preceded by pink/purple pea-flowers which bloom on the branches – a stunning sight in the front garden at Garden House. Flattened pods follow later in the year. Deciduous. (h. 3 – 8 m)
Betula utilis var. jacquemontii
The Himalayan Birch. With its distinctive white trunk, this is a tree that sparkles at this time of year. Good as a standard, or multi-stemmed; good planted as an individual specimen, or in a group. Visit the National Trust gardens at Anglesey Abbey near Cambridge to see a magnificent glade of them, with their shimmering white bark against blue skies lit by winter sunshine. Makes you go all poetic.
The Cornelian Cherry. Deciduous. Wonderful for its tiny yellow flowers in the bleak days of February, followed by small, red, cherry-like fruits. Doesn’t grow too big. Nice shape. Lovely bark. A good alternative to Witch-hazel. Plant early flowering Narcissi underneath to complete the golden glow. (h. 3-8 m)
Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’
Also known as the Coral-Bark Maple. A large deciduous shrub or small tree, its stems and branches are coral red. Looks glorious at this time of year with the additional bonus of the beautifully coloured autumnal leaves. Not good on chalk.
The Strawberry Tree, named for its large red-berried fruits. The fruits from the previous year ripen in the autumn, at the same time as tiny, white, bell-shaped flowers appear. All-year interest is guaranteed as it is evergreen and sports a wonderful rough, brown bark which peels away in strips to reveal coppery-orange colours underneath. (h. 4 – 8 m)
Malus robusta ‘Red Sentinel’
A lovely tree for the garden. Beautiful and numerous bright red crab apples decorate this tree in the autumn, often remaining well into winter. Tolerates a range of soil conditions, including clay. (h. 3 – 7 m.)
Prunus serrulata ‘Tai-haku’
The Great White Cherry. Much loved by Garden House. Makes a magnificent specimen tree, bearing large single white flowers in the spring alongside coppery-coloured foliage. This tree was thought to have disappeared for many years, until ‘Cherry’ Ingram found one growing in a Sussex garden in 1932, after which it was re-introduced to its native Japan. (h. 7 – 12 m)
Jobs for the week:
Pot on propagated annuals in the greenhouse
Fill pots right to the top with compost then strike off the excess with one hand. Tap the pot so that the compost settles. Leave space for watering. Its important that each pot should be similar to its neighbours so that the same plants will receive exactly the same treatment and grow at a similar rate.
Plant the bare-rooted roses (ultimately destined for the Rose Meadow) into large pots
The selection chosen are: R. ‘Hot Chocolate’, R. ‘For Your Eyes Only’, R. ‘Cafe’, R. ‘Eyes For You’ and R. ‘Belle Epoque’. All hybrid tea roses. Prune hard back. Label and water, of course!
They look snug
Plant clematis and roses on the back bed.
It’s cold, it’s wet it’s… hey! Where’s my planting companion off to?
I’ll be right back…
I’ve been espaliered!
Continue planting bulbs
And more and more and more….
And plant species tulip bulbs in pots
These will be used as part of the Little Dixter display. The pots, not the ladies.
Check the Pelargonium Palace
We think the ladies would be terrific as part of the Little Dixter display.
Dead-head all Pelargoniums; remove any damaged or diseased plant material. Water.
Plant Narcissi in winter border
Plant up large pots with Tulipa ‘Chinatown’
Add some winter bedding on top for seasonal interest
Divide Allium ‘Ozawa’ and re-pot
Pull the clumps apart gently. Pot up clusters consisting of about 4 of these summer-flowering bulbs. Firm in well; label; grit; water. Put them into the cold frame.
She looks rather pleased with herself
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the garden…
Ooh, a nice quiet moment
I’ll just sit here for a while
Hang on a minute
What is that?
I don’t believe it
Believe it, baby!
It’s OK, puss, there’s an ally nearby…
To the rescue!
Prick out Californian Poppies and re-pot
Re-pot them quite deeply, ensuring their lowest leaves are resting on the surface of the compost. this keeps them firm in the pot and ensures they will grow away better.
Remove the strawberry plants from the metal containers and move to fruit beds
Cut the plants back and re-plant around the edges of the fruit beds. A berry good idea.
Sixteen apples sitting on a wall
What if one should accidentally fall?
The leaves of Prunus serrulata ‘Tai-haku’
‘Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.’
It may be November, but there’s always something for Friday Group to enjoy at Garden House. Now’s the time for the woodburner and bunches of chrysanths.
First of all this week, we looked at leaves and branches from some unusual trees. Ginkgo biloba (the Maidenhair tree), Metasequoia glytostroboides (the Dawn Redwood), Larix decidua (the European Larch) and Taxodium distichum (the Swamp Cypress).
Q. Why are they unusual?
A. They are all deciduous conifers and, unlike most conifers, they shed their leaves in the autumn.
Time for some of the biennial seedlings sown earlier in the year to be planted out. Seeds of biennial plants can be sown in the May, June or July of the year prior to them flowering. These are some we will be enjoying next year:
Dianthus barbatus ‘Sooty’
Sweet Williams are always a favourite and these are no exception. Fragrant, deep red/chocolate flowers are borne above red stems and the leaves are mid green turning to deep ruby-black in colour. Eye-catching.
Erysimum cheiri ‘Blood Red’
Part of the Brassica family, the deep red flowers of this wonderful Wallflower will excite admiration from all your garden visitors. They fill the May-June ‘garden gap’ and, what’s more, have a deliciously spicy scent. They need to be hardened off slowly before being planted outside, ideally in full sun. Ensure good drainage and regular dead-heading, and you are on to a winner. Plant amongst tulips to evoke real garden envy.
Another member of the brassica family, Honesty can have either white or purple/mauve flowers. Lunaria means ‘moon-shaped’ – which its seed heads are. These are an added bonus, decorative in the border and when used for flower arrangements. The flat, papery seed cases are translucent and shimmer, both indoors and out. Will self seed around the garden.
Come next April, this Sea Stock’s brilliant white flowers will be floating over its grey-green leaves. Particularly effective in the low-light of dusk, its exquisite scent will fill the air. So, place this hardy biennial near a path, where it will be much appreciated. The plant shown above will become the plant below.
Sweet Rocket. This biennial (can also be a short-lived perennial) and its fragrant purple or white flowers appear in late spring/early summer. Another useful plant to have in the garden to fill the spring-summer gap. Beautifully scented, as its name implies, and a self-seeder.
Jobs for the week:
Basically, if you say ‘Plant bulbs’, you’ve got it covered.
See what I mean?
But, before you start:-
Add leaf mould to improve the condition of the soil and rake the beds to a smooth finish
Those beds look nicely raked
But of course!
Plant more bulbs
The bulbs are in, but not forgotten
They are planted deep in the soil. The Dianthus, and Aniseed, stand guard.
Something else is planted deep in this soil….
Wonder if we’ll get a Tortoise Tree?
Plant three or four different types of Narcissi under the Cornus Mas tree
Include ‘Jack Snipe’ and ‘Hawera’, to create a golden glow under its yellow blossoms in February.
(Is she praying or planting? Both are useful.)
Plant in groups of 5 to 7 bulbs
One, two, three, four… oh blast, have I counted that one already?
An additional Achillea will just add to the golden glow. This one is Achillea ‘Schwellenburg’.
Plant bulbs in pots
(If not already engaged in planting bulbs in borders.) This is ‘Avalanche’, for indoor flowering.
Bulbs tossed and mossed
And bulbs for outdoor pots. These are Crocuses.
Hyacinth bulbs planted in the rhubarb bed will create a sophisticated look next spring. Oh yes.
Remove Salvia uliginosa from large pots; plant up with a mix of orange/red tulips and orange and red Erysimum.
Five little wallflowers sitting on a wall…
Plant bulbs in the top garden near the Pelargonium Palace greenhouse.
Plant deeply – at least a trowel’s depth, wriggle the trowel about to create a hole, then plant the flatter side of the bulb against the back of the hole.
Design a scheme for perennial planting in the top garden
Hang on a minute. No bulbs???
Here are the plants in all their glory
First, lay out your scheme
Consider from all angles
Take tender plants into the greenhouse
This one might be Begonia luxurians
Some will need removing from their pots and re-potting
Prick out and pot on biennials and hardy annuals as necessary
(You mean Alcea rosea?)
Plant Sweet Williams in the bed behind the greenhouse
A last sweep round to create the perfect finish.
No sign of any bulbs now!
I wonder. Maybe more next week?
Those tulips don’t plant themselves, you know.
And who planted you there?
I’m not planted