Friday 15th September

Welcome to another year of gardening with the Garden House Friday Group.

It was good to see everyone back last Friday – many familar faces and a few joining us for the first time.  It seems a long time since we were last here in July and the garden has certainly come on a lot since then.

We have many exciting plans for the garden this year and will keep you posted on how the garden is progressing .

After welcoming everyone to the group and explaining a little about what we’ll be doing over the coming months, we had a good discussion about the life cycle of certain plants.

Annuals – plants whose life span, from seed germination through to death, is completed in a single season.

Hardy Annuals (HA)

These do not need heat to germinate and can be sown directly outside in the spring.  The seeds can survive in the ground and may even come back again the following year.

A good example of this is Nigella (Love-in-a-mist).

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This cottage garden favourite is great for filling the gaps in a summer border.  It is also good for drying and using in dried flower arrangements in the home.  The seeds can be sown in the autumn or in March either in situ or in modules under a cold frame.  Once flowering, you will be rewarded with blooms which can last up to eight weeks between July – September if you keep dead-heading.

Other examples of HA are: Calendular, Cornflowers, Ammi majus and Orlea, Sweet peas, Californian poppies and Tithonia.

Half Hardy Annuals (HHA)

These plants cannot withstand frost and so need to be sown and raised under glass in a heated greenhouse or on a window sill until the threat of frost has passed. They can then be planted outside.

A lovely example is Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Dazzler’

These beautiful Cosmos have large open flowers and light, feathery foliage.  They can grow quite tall and so may need staking later in the summer.  If you continue to dead-head, flowers will  keep coming from June right the way through to November.

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With HHA, it depends entirely on the plant when the seeds are sown.  For instance, Cosmos can be sown quite late as they grow very fast.  However, the tiny seeds of Nicotiana need to be sown in January.

Other examples of HHA are: Tagetes (African marigolds), Cleomes, Petunias and Kiss-Me-Over-The-Garden-Gate (annual Persicaria which is doing very well in the garden at the moment).

Perennials – these plants complete their life span from seed germination to death in three or more years.

Herbaceous Perennials 

These plants are non-woody and survive in the ground due to their good root systems.  Their foliage is soft and some herbaceous perennials retain their leaves in winter, for instance Hellebores.  However, some perennials are more tender, such as Fuchsias and Pelargoniums and need to be placed under cover during the winter months.  In colder climates, Dahlia tubers are lifted and stored once the first frosts arrive.  These are all known as Tender Perennials.

A good herbaceous perennial to look out for at this time of year is Symphyotrichum ‘Little Carlow’ (Aster ‘Little Carlow’).

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This Aster is one of the few which will withstand some shade  as most Asters need plenty of sunshine to thrive.  The foliage will start to break down after the first frosts but it is a good doer and looks very pretty at this time of year.

Other examples of Tender Perennials are Cuphea Tiny Mice which are perfect for patio containers and hanging baskets

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and Dahlia ‘Pooh’ which we have here at the Garden House and is looking lovely.

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Shrubs

These plants have a woody structure and can be evergreen, ie. retain their leaves in the winter, eg. Abelia x grandiflora.

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These are medium-sized shrubs growing to 3m.  They have small, glossy leaves and produce pale pink flowers during the summer which are slightly fragranced.

Semi-evergreen shrubs will retain most of their leaves in a mild winter, eg. Privet.

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This tough shrub can be used as hedging and is often used as a substitute for Box hedging.

Deciduous shrubs shed all their leaves in the winter, eg. Philadelphus ‘Belle Etoile’.

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This is a medium-sized shrub with highly-scented white flowers in late spring-early summer.  It has an arching habit and grows well in sun-partial shade.

After our talk about plant life cycles, Bridge sent us out into the garden in small groups to (re)familiarise ourselves with the garden and all the changes which have taken place in our absence.  We now have a ‘hot’ composter as well as our usual composting system and so Richard’s kingdom is expanding!

Part of the familiarisation process involved choosing a small patch of the garden and looking at it closely to see which plants should be saved and looked after and which ones should be moved or got rid of altogether.  Often it isn’t until you really look at an area of the garden carefully that you really appreciate what is actually growing there.

Here are a few photos of us refamiliarising!

It was great to be back in the garden on Friday – here’s to another year of happy and fruitful gardening!

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