Friday 14th February 2020

 Season of Hyacinths and Hellebores

Plant ident.

Aesculus hippocastanum

Taking cuttings of the horse chestnut, or conker, tree is one of the easiest ways to propagate this wonderful tree.  Young softwood cuttings can be take in spring – or hardwood cuttings in the autumn. In spring, the new buds are emerging, their scales sticky with a kind of gum, which helps to prevent insect damage and also keeps the bud closed until it’s ready to open. Look below the buds and there is a little U-shaped indentation.  Just like a horse-shoe!  You can even see the marks of the nails.


Hardy annuals

It’s a busy time with these at the moment.  Sowing, pricking out, potting on, re-potting, and trying to find space to put them all. They don’t need to be under cover, as they can tolerate the cold, although some protection from Storms Ciara, Dennis the Menace, Ermyntrude, Fester etc. etc. might be an idea.  And they won’t want to get waterlogged. But they’ll be fine standing outside on wired staging where they can get enough light, drainage and be a little protected from the worst of the weather.  The clue is in the name – hardy annuals. Tough little blighters that germinate, grow, flower, set seed and (sniff) pass away all in one growing year. Successional sowings will provide continuity of colour through the season.

Ammi majus


A Garden House stalwart, Bishop’s Weed is like a more refined form of cow parsley.  Part of the carrot family, lacy umbels of white flowers are borne above delicate green foliage.  Great in borders and the cutting garden.  Good for attracting bees and other pollinating insects.  Plant in sun or partial shade. Essential.

Eschscholzia ‘Ivory Castle’


Another tough little h/a, which can, like all hardy annuals, be direct sown, as it’s not very keen on being transplanted.  However, sowing in modules and pricking out carefully into pots does give more control. Also known as the Californian Poppy, it has wonderful blue-green feathery foliage and gorgeous cream/white silk-like flowers which flower vigorously. Will tolerate poor soils but needs full sun.

Ammi visnaga

Like majus, it’s an umbellifer, but this variety is denser in form with bigger dome-shaped flower heads. A good filler. Birds love to feast on the seed heads in winter. Altogether, a nicely alliterative plant: its feathery, filigree foliage adds phenomenal finesse. Fab.


Centaurea cyanus ‘Red Boy’


An easy peasy hardy annual.  Easy to germinate, easy to grow and easy on the eye in a vase. Sow it, grow it.  Centaurea cyanus ‘Blue Boy’, ‘White’ and ‘Black Ball’ are also good.

Ridolfia segetum ‘Goldspray’


Flowering from summer to autumn, this far-from-humble umbel really does have gold sprays. Looks like dill, but even more so. Loved by all sorts of pollinating insects, it sparkles in the border and looks great as a cut flower. Contrasts well with burgundies and deep purples. Likes full sun; pinch out the tips to promote bushy growth. A must.

Calendula ‘Indian Prince’


A wonderful h/a and a great cultivar to choose for the garden. Deep orange with a darkly contrasting centre. Great on its own or as a companion plant. When potting on all hardy annuals, ensure that seedlings are centred in the pot and that their bottom leaves touch the soil. This deep planting helps to stabilise the young plants as they grow on.

Sow hardy annuals


But of course!



Take hardwood cuttings of deciduous shrubs and wait for the magic to happen

Rose pruning continues


Clean, sharp tools for the job

We can use those rose cuttings


Propagation: plant the rose cuttings. 

These are from Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’ and Rosa glauca.


Hey presto!


Then it’s just a waiting game


Tidying borders and perennials



Prune and tie-in new growth on roses

Encouraging horizontal growth promotes the formation of side shoots, or laterals, that extend from the main canes.  This will enable the plant to produce more flowers.


I thank you

Work on paths


Sharpen the edges, weed, clear, sweep. The results will amaze you.


Create a new bed for the new rose

Handily situated near the new watering system


Sometimes life is literally a bed of roses


– and Bergenias too


Work in the Engine Room continues


Aka the Compost Heap


Someone has to direct operations…


Plant up terracotta planters with succulents

In the greenhouse

Potting on tender perennials continues apace

Argyranthemum, Pelargonium quercifolium ‘Royal Oak’ and Helichrysum ‘Lime Green’

Tidy up time20200214_125845-1

Snug trugs

Meanwhile… someone has to keep an eye on the fire. It’s a job.


I got the lying on the table job

I’m so good at it

And, don’t forget. Garden House opens for the National Garden Scheme on Friday 28th February.  Pass it on.


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