Friday 13th September 2019

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New term, new pencils, new faces and a new bottle of Radox.  (Other relaxants are available.)  And a warm welcome from Garden House greets Friday Group as they arrive for the 2019 – 2020 gardening year.  This is the 14th year since the group was first established.  Unbelievable but true.

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Lovely

So, after an introductory session concerning general info., health and safety, social media, plans for the future, The Toilet, Those Cats , That Tortoise and The Very Important Cake Rota….

Off we go –

This year’s projects will include:

  • Making a colourful border in the Top Garden
  • Creating a rose meadow behind the greenhouse
  • Creating a meadow with annuals at the bottom of the garden

Essential to the process will be blood, sweat and tears.  A bit like blood, fish and bone fertiliser, but more personal.

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This lot don’t look deterred in the slightest

Plant Ident.

Bridge showed some examples of annual plants – ones which complete their life cycles within one growing season before dying.  This means they are sown, then germinate, grow, flower, set seed and die within the course of one year or season.  Just to make things more interesting, there are hardy and half-hardy annuals.   Hardy annuals can withstand frost and are often sown in the autumn or early spring.  They can be sown directly into the soil where they are intended to flower.  Half-hardy annuals, on the other hand, need to be sown in a frost-free place, ideally with a little warmth from a heated mat or propagator, and given protection from the cold and wet.  They shouldn’t be planted out until all danger of frost has passed.

Thunbergia alata ‘Superstar Orange’

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Aka black-eyed Susan.  Used to be grown predominantly as a conservatory plant, but is now often grown outside in containers  (up a support) or in hanging baskets.  It can also be planted in a sunny, warm and sheltered corner of the garden.  This variety has large yellow-orange flowers with a dark central eye.  It will grow successfully in most soils, and is vigorous, so will climb happily up an obelisk/ trellis  Because it’s a half-hardy annual, it’s tender, so protect from frost.  Sow in March on warmth.

Rhodochiton atrosanguineus

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With its purple/mauve bell-shaped flowers and long central purple/black tube, the  purple bell vine attracts much attention.  Sow in January, on heat (the seeds, not you).  It has quite a long germination period, so be patient with this tender lovely.  Grow in containers or in a border in moist, well-drained soil in full sun.  Next year, why not dazzle your visitors with this amazing climber?  They will be well-impressed.

Ipomoea lobata

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Named Spanish flag, for obvious reasons, this half-hardy annual climber rollicks away in the summer, producing spectacular red/yellow flowers.  Plant in full sun in containers or well-drained soil.  Dead-heading (removing the old flowers) increases the flowering period.  Sow in April on warmth.

Nicotiana mutabilis ‘Marshmallow’

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A lovely variety of the tobacco plant, producing masses of pink, pale pink and white flowers above tall stems from late June through to the end of September.  Once again, dead-heading will prolong the period of flowering.   Sow this half-hardy annual in January on heat.  Looks great in borders grown with roses.  Best in full sun and well-drained soil.

Scabiosa atropurpurea ‘Salmon Pink’

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A hardy annual.  Scabious is also known as the pincushion flower, and this variety comes in a lovely shade of pink.  It’s great for pollinators, blooms for a long period – especially if dead-headed regularly – and performs well as a cut flower.  Heck, this one is a must!  Grow in full sun in well-drained soil.  Sow in September (for flowering the following summer) or in April/May.

So, that concludes our first five plant idents. of the year.  Learn, revise and beware.  You may be tested.  The Christmas quiz can be fiendish.

Jobs for the week:

Time to get out into the garden which is looking stunning in the sunshine.

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Hang on.  Jobs first – cake later!

This is more like it

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Getting properly stuck in

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Or maybe just properly stuck?

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This week involved new members familiarising themselves with the garden and all its delights.  From the potting and tool sheds to the water butts and, naturally, our old favourite…

The Compost Heap

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Some people love it more than others

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Then introductions to Aniseed, of course

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Did someone call?

And there’s a tortoise somewhere about

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How do you do?

Then on with weeding and dead-heading

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Always cut down to the next new bud or leaf

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Time for the cake break

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Then back to it….

Compostable waste in green trugs can go to the compost heap

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Got it!

Green?  Go directly to compost heap.

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Black trugs are just for weeds

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I see no weeds

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Me neither!

Well, in that case we might as well go home.

Until next week…

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