Friday 24th January 2020

Heading the bill this week:

Narcissus papyraceus


The support act is Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’

Sounds like a Death Metal band

Plant ident:

Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’

Aka ‘Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick.’  Don’t ask.  If you were to meet it in the summer, you might pass it by with a pitying glance, but the structure of its winter silhouette is fabulous.  Golden-yellow catkins grace the small tree from late winter until its rather nasty-looking leaves appear. Pity. The Corkscrew Hazel can only be propagated by grafting, not cuttings.

Ranunculus ficaria


Or, Common Celandine.  Many consider this to be a weed, a true weed and nothing but a weed.  Looks innocuous enough, but the little brute is invasive and then some.  The tiny nodules (tubercle/bulbils) on the roots, are on a mission to take over your garden and then the world.  However, they come and go in a flash, and their bright yellow flowers can be a welcome sight in the grey days of winter.  But not recommended, unless you absolutely love weeding.  Try its naughty relation Ranunculus ‘Brazen Hussy’ instead.

Valerianella locusta


Corn salad. Pull the bally stuff out. Nuff said.

Grevillea rosmarinifolia


An evergreen, prickly, acid-loving plant from Australia.  Hates chalky soils!  Loves poor sandy soils. Thrives on neglect.  Good for hedging and coastal areas.  Its needle-like foliage resembles that of Rosemary, and it has curiously-shaped bright pink/flame coloured flowers.

Euonymous japonicus


Somewhat ubiquitous – and regularly seen in unglamorous public spaces like car parks, this tough little bruiser is nonetheless worthwhile.  A good windbreaker, great for coastal planting and has those fascinating pink berries from which bright orange seeds burst.

Osmanthus x burkwoodii


The calmly elegant Osmanthus is a great garden shrub. Evergreen, bears small, beautifully scented, flowers in spring and responds well to pruning and to having its canopy raised.  Full sun or partial shade.  Likes all sorts of soil types, including chalk.  Very tough and very useful.

x Fatshedera lizei


A cross between two plants of different genera, Fatsia and Hedera (Ivy), the Fat-Headed Lizzie can be encouraged to climb or recline.  However, it won’t cling like ivy, so ideally needs a little support.  Produces flowers like those of its parents.  Evergreen and best in shade or semi-shade.  Responds well to hard pruning.  Interesting Fact no. 972:  it’s fine as an indoor plant too.  Interesting Fact no 973: it’s fly pollinated.

Jobs for the week:

Nothing to do this week.  It’s winter, so we can sit around, read magazines, drink coffee and eat cake.

Just kidding.  There’s always something to do

Construct new teepee to support Rosa ‘Wollerton Old Hall’

First make the teepee.  Then prune the rose and tie-in to new structure.


Exemplary knot-tying skills

Nota bene


Or maybe that should be Knota bene?


Jokes in Latin now?

Prune Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’

Using clean, sharp pruners, take the three oldest stems right down to the base.  All deciduous shrubs can be cut hard back in this way around now.  So, we go from this…


to this


Which will look and smell wonderful indoors.  A win – win situation.

Prune Wisteria

Dealing with Wisteria can be a bit of a mysteria.  Needs pruning twice a year – once now, and again later, during the summer.  For now, the laterals on the main stems need to be shortened.  Take back to about two buds.  The long, whippy growth can be dealt with later in the year.


Cripey! That looks like a serious piece of kit.

What’s it called?



A feminist discussion on the inappropriate naming of tools followed


Clear the area around the pond

Cut back dead material and do a general tidy up.


She’s literally reflecting


Work at an angle of 45 degrees

Then it’s on to the paths and some precision weeding.  It takes years of training to achieve this level of perfection.


And hours of osteopathy to recover from the after effects.


Work on rockery 

Things have got a little out of hand and somewhat overgrown.



It is looking rather crowded. One might, perhaps, opine that this garden feature has become ever so slightly overplanted? Best to keep ones opinions to oneself. One might find oneself working in the compost heap next week

I’m saying nothing


Lips sealed.

Plant alpines in two wine boxes

Holes have been drilled into the box bases. Use a free-draining mix of compost and horticultural grit. Let your creative urges run wild


But first, find the grit

Plan the layout of the plants


Slate will complete the alpine vibe


Wine box upcycling at its best


Now that’s a bonzer job! Must be an Australian wine box.

Sow more Lathyrus odoratus

To extend the flowering season, successional sowings of these seeds are needed – thus sustaining summer Sweet Pea scent. Super!


Then it’s time for a quick look around the garden


Sow radish seeds into compost in lengths of guttering

Sounds strange, but works like a dream.  Put the guttering into the greenhouse for an early crop.  So easy to slide out.


Work on the herb garden

Tenderly tend the herbs. Weed, cut back, tidy.  Plant Oregano


Pray it survives

Transplant Gaura lindheimeri 

We have grown the cultivar ‘Whirling Butterflies’ from seed, and the seedlings will now be moved into pots. Gauras are beautiful short-lived perennials, generally lasting from 3 – 5 years.  Those already growing in the garden need cutting back now.


Oh dear! More praying going on in the greenhouse….


All is well


Plant up containers ready for the G/H Open Day for the National Garden Scheme 

Winter plants like Hedera and Polyanthus can go in, and some Narcissi too. Those dratted squirrels have already eaten the tops of the crocuses which were planted in them last year.  Now it’s personal.




Cut back old leaves on Hellebores. Tidy up the Periwinkle

And feed the Hellebores with a little pelleted chicken manure.


Not sure who’s winning here; that periwinkle seems to be growing even as it’s being cut back.


Pretty as a picture

Excuse me?


Oh, but not as pretty as you.


Glad we got that sorted out.  Categorically.












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