Friday 31st January 2020

The last day of January


A bowlful of beauty

Things are on the move at G/House


Not this little chap, though

Plant ident.

Chaenomeles japonica


Japanese quince, (not to be confused with the Quince tree, Cydonia oblongata), is an easy shrub which provides a lovely shot of colour from early to mid-spring.  Pink or red flowers emerge on the bare, thorny stems, followed by green leaves.  The fruits, which come later, are edible. Part of the Rosaceae family. Will cope with any soil in any planting position, and can be trained against walls to grow upwards. Attractive both to us and to wildlife. Prune lightly in April to keep in shape – cut back ‘sticky-out-bits’ to 2 buds. Put one on the list, and, please, do write in if too much technical jargon is being used here.

Callicarpa bodinieri


Aka the Beauty Berry.  For obvious reasons.  Little violet beads are held in clusters from autumn onward, and remain on the shrub over the winter after the leaves have dropped. Planted en masse in the sun, they can stop you in your tracks. Rather a boring plant for the rest of the year, but a real zinger right now. Any soil, any aspect.

Magnolia no-idea


It’s a Magnolia, of that we can be sure.  But which variety this one is, remains a mystery. Magnolias are ancient creatures, and were one of the first flowering plants to appear.  Their spectacular blossoms emerge from buds which are like little furry sleeping bags.  So tactile. The flowers can vary from goblet to tulip to star-shaped, and from white to pink, red/purple, pale yellow and more. There are many different types of Magnolia, from shrubs to trees, from evergreen to deciduous; some petite and others just humungous (technical term). Most prefer a slightly acidic soil, but there are some which positively prefer an alkaline one. Breathtaking when seen from below, against a blue sky on a sunny spring day. They have some of the most beautiful scents you will ever come across. Visit Nymans Gardens in West Sussex for spectacular displays.

Interesting fact no. 973: they were originally pollinated by possums. (Does someone make this stuff up?)

Cyclamen coum


Such a joy to see from December and on through the dark grey days of winter.  Best in well-drained soil under deciduous shrubs and trees, where they benefit from light before the canopy of leaves grows. Varying in colour from white, pink, mauve to deep purples, they also have attractive, heart-shaped leaves – ‘Pewter Group’ is one particular cultivar with notable markings. If left undisturbed and happy, Cyclamen will naturalise – apparently, the seed is transported by ants who love the sugary coating. (Not possums?)

Jobs for the week

Planting up winter containers

See Cyclamen above. To enjoy in the theatre that is Little Dixter; later in the season, they will be planted out into the garden.



 Check out those birch twigs. Very fancy.

Bellis and Polyanthus in long tom pots join the display. Spot the Cyclamen.


Plant three new Hellebores 


Helleborus niger ‘Christmas Carol’.  Planted by just the right person.

Sort out the Potting Shed

Needs a good tidy up.  Let’s keep everything neat and in the right place.


Think Marie Kondo. Do these old bits of wood spark joy?


Yes they do!

Pelargonium Palace 

Clean out the greenhouse; dead-head plants – but don’t cut them hard back just yet; check for aphids and other nasties. Spray mealy bugs with diluted horticultural soft soap or diluted eco-friendly washing-up liquid. Alys Fowler suggests dabbing the little blighters with a paintbrush loaded with vodka. Surely, there are better uses for that liquid. Drink it, for example, and you just won’t care.  A.F. also recommends S.B. Plant Invigorator, a non-toxic pesticide/fungicide/foliar feed.  Safe to use on edible crops too. Can be applied to plants affected with whitefly, greenfly, aphids, woolly mammoths and mealy bugs. Do it early in the season, before ladybirds appear, or they will get hit too.

Must remember to get this proofread, in case of silly mistakes.


They’ve been invigorated just by holding that S.B.Plant Invigorator spray.

Remove leaves which have reverted to plain green on the variegated ivy

Some members are so proficient, they can do this by touch alone.


Planting under the arches

Digitalis lutea to go in along here.


and here


Weeds out. Plants in.


Indoors for cake.  Too mizzly-drizzly out there.


Continue work on the herb bed 

Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Foxtail’


Is everybody happy?

Oh yes. Ecstatic!


You bet your life we are.


She looks rather boxed in.

Weed and mulch the Lion’s Head bed near the arches


What a difference!

Work on bed under the crab apples.  

Self-sown seedlings of Nigella ‘African Bride’ now appearing in quantity. Thin out and transplant small clumps into pots.  Care needed, as they have a long tap-root.


Deep concentration

Plant Stipas on the back bed by the apple tree


So much better than being allocated the compost heap today

Alpine troughs

Check through, weed, add plants as required.  As usual it’s the attention to fine detail that sets everything off


This is what they call ‘a clean sweep’.


Paths become more visible when the stones are glistening


Yet another productive session, despite the misty-moisty rain.  And, of course, our complexions are now totally hydrated and perfect!


It’s all good