Friday 24th April 2020

Lockdown continues. Baby Boomers have become Baby Zoomers. Times are strange, but in the Garden House garden? – well, it just keeps on growing and doing its thing.

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Plant ident.

Tulip acuminata

Not Tulip ‘Hakuna Matata’, although your troubles will certainly disappear once you acquire and contemplate it flowering in your garden.

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This spidery, delicate beauty is a perennial species tulip.  A bit spendy, but so worth it.  Why not invest some money in these bulbs and experience for yourself the frenzy of the seventeenth century’s tulip mania?

Allium cowanii

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Garden House rates this hardy perennial as a ‘good doer’. It very usefully appears just as the tulips go over.  About 40 cms in height, sprays of pure white flowers are held aloft supported by wiry stems. Long-lasting, good as cut flowers and a magnet for pollinators, planted en masse they are super duper.

Rosa banksiae ‘Lutescens’

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A near thornless, rambling rose and one of the very earliest to flower. Growing to about 10 m, it produces small, single, scented yellow flowers.  At Garden House, it’s situated on the terrace, where it provides a spectacular display in April / May.  Prune after flowering to shape and to keep in check. R. banksiae ‘Lutea’ is a double-flowered version of this.

Erysimum cheiri ‘Old School’

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A beautiful short-lived perennial wallflower, which flowers for months on end. Soft yellows, mauves and purples combine to great effect and make a wonderful planting in full sun on their own or, better still, interplanted with tulips.  Plant densely and in quantity to generate maximum admiration.

Myrrhis odorata

Sweet cicely is a terrific option for dry shade.  An aromatic, herbaceous perennial, it has umbels of white, frothy flowers and fern-like leaves.  Can be used as a sweetener when cooking rhubarb or the leaves can be added to salads – they have a mild aniseed flavour.

Lunaria annua ‘Chedglow’

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This glorious Honesty cultivar was featured in the blog for 3/4/20, and look at it now!

Tasks for the week:

Apply liquid feed to growing annuals and also to tender perennials like salvias and pelargoniums, such as Pelargonium tomentosum

Begin hardening off plants which are growing under cover.  Take them out during the day and tuck them back up at night until the temperature is reliably warm
Prune evergreens once all danger of frost has passed; Eleagnus, Euonymous, Box and Viburnum tinus will all respond happily to haircuts now. Water and feed them too.
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Prune spring flowering shrubs such as Kerria, Forsythia and Honeysuckle once they have finished flowering
Sow salad crops in bowls, colanders and boxes.  Don’t forget to provide drainage. Can be left outside now.  (This means it will certainly snow next week.) Salads can also be sown direct into the ground, but may appreciate a little protection.
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Deadhead daffodils and tulips  Use a trug for maximum Country Gardener style.  Play soft background music.  Eat a Flake.
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Plant out any species bulbs which have flowered in pots.  Feed and label.
Cut back Hydrangeas to a pair of buds and maybe thin them a little. Softwood cuttings can be taken now and should root fairly quickly.
Continue to prick out seedlings once their first true leaves have appeared
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Order bulbs for next year and plant. E.g. Lilies, Eucomis etc
Sort out compost heaps Turn them. Lovely stuff.
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Water, water, water (especially pots) and don’t forget to add a liquid feed every couple of weeks.  Maxicrop seaweed extract is good.
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Take cuttings of plants to increase your stock for free.  New shoots of perennials will root well. Remember to plant the cuttings deeply and firmly
Plant out perennials.  Dig some pelleted organic chicken manure into the planting hole  before planting. Water in well; label.
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So, there we are. That little lot should keep us all busy and out of trouble for a few days.
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Well, some of us, anyway.

Friday 3rd April 2020

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We’re still socially isolating.  But Friday Group gets round that little difficulty by having a Zoom meeting. Back in the day, a Zoom was a delicious ice lolly, but let’s not go there, it will only date this blogger.  Now, what’s going on in that garden?  Ooh!

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Aah!  Well impressed

Plant ident.: Banging on about biennials.

Erysimum cheiri ‘Blood Red’

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A wonderful, deep rich red wallflower. Scented. Fabulous with tulips

Lunaria annua ‘Chedglow’ and L. annua

Honesty is a great filler for this time of year. The variety ‘Chedglow’ has superb dark foliage, which sets it apart.  Comes true from seed.  The striking purple flowers of Lunaria annua also shine out now – making it very far from ordinary.

 Lunaria annua alba

The white form of honesty. It shimmers at dusk. Fragrant. All these forms produce beautiful paper-like, translucent seedheads in the autumn, which can be used in dried or cut flower displays.

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Myosotis sylvatica

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How could we ever forget? The Forget-Me-Not is a welcome sight in gardens from mid- spring. Pale blue flowers with a bright yellow eye, and so commonplace that they are easy to overlook. Seeds about with ease. Looks great en masse with tulips and wallflowers; loved by bees, butterflies, caterpillars and moths. Basically, Nature’s gift.

Jobs for the Week:

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Cut back young Eucalyptus plants to about 45 cms to encourage new growth. Looks alarming – but watch it grow!  The juvenile blue-green foliage is particularly useful in flower arranging; delicate and rounded, it makes an attractive feature in a vase or bouquet. Dead sophisticated.
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Cut back Mediterranean plants
That means Santolinas, Lavendula, Rosmarinus, Helichrysum italicum (the Curry Plant), Salvias and other similar plants. Cut back to about 30 cms, just above the new growth. Harsh? No! This will prevent straggly growth and encourage a good, bushy shape.
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Cuttings can be taken at this stage (below, left).  Once rooted, (below, top right), the cuttings can be potted up. Bingo! New plants from old.
Sow courgettes, leeks, cucumbers and basil
A sieve is a useful item for removing the unwanted lumps and bumps in compost. Helpful if a very fine covering of compost is required over seeds
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Here is another very useful seed sowing item
Keep everything moving along! Most days, something will need pricking out or potting on. Remember, we love this!
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Sow sweet peas in loo rolls or long root trainers
Last chance saloon for sowing these. They’ll need somewhere warm to germinate.
Dead head Narcissi

 

Cut off stalks at the base, but leave the foliage, which will feed the plant as it dies back. A diluted dose of liquid seaweed feed (like Maxicrop) given now, encourages better flowering next year. Plant out forced indoor bulbs of Narcissi and Hyacinths that have finished flowering, and ditto any in outdoor pots. Now they can be transferred into borders.  Under the hedge is a good place for Narcissi to flourish  
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Stake Broad Beans
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The plants need support as they grow. These are a crimson -flowered variety.
Continue to sow half-hardy annuals
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These are tender and need warmth to germinate as well as continued protection from frost. Leave Cosmos seeds for another week or so, as they grow very quickly and can become leggy if sown too early.
Sow carrots, beetroot, parsnips
These thrive in raised beds, if you run to that sort of thing.  If not, make some! The seeds can now be sown direct into well-raked soil, which ideally should be warmed first with a cloche (And, no, that doesn’t mean one of your old hats).  Whatever, give them a go.
Sow lettuces every couple of weeks
Prick out seedlings and pot on cuttings ready for summer containers
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Gradually pot tomatoes on, into the next pot size up. 
Order Lilies, Nerines, and Acidanthera for later colour
Yum!
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Parkers Wholesale catalogue is one good source of bulbs like these
Plant out perennials and comb through grasses
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Time for their annual hairdressing appointment. Remove old thatch and any dead leaves
Sow annual climbers
Such as Rhodochiton, Mina lobata, Thunbergia, Ipomea.  They’ll need heat to germinate. Ipomea is also known as Morning Glory. (So, what’s the story?) Well, the story is that Morning Glory hates the wind, so make sure to grow it in a sheltered, warm place – maybe round a kitchen window?
Over the next couple of weeks:
Sow lettuce in a bowl with drainage.

 

Fill bowl or colander with compost. Collect together all half-empty seed packets of salad leaves, mix together and sprinkle on. Sieve over enough compost to just cover.  Water and wait for germination. Cut when you want to eat the salad, which will effectively prune the leaves, and then they will grow again
Easter Sunday onward: eat huge quantities of chocolate. Simples.
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Wishing you a very happy Easter