friday 25th september 2020

Wet. Chilly. Are we deterred? Are we heck as like. This is Friday Group we’re talking about.

Still plenty of beauty in the garden

So true

And at Garden House, preparations for a new project are already well underway. The rather sick box hedge around the border in the lawn area has been removed; the box has been boxed up and is gone. Now the rest of the plants need to be dug out before work goes ahead on the planned dry garden.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves; first it’s time for the

Plant ident.

This week it’s all about plants suitable for dry conditions. How timely.

Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Blue Spire’

Russian Sage. Such a great plant for this time of year. Long silver-grey branching stems and delicate foliage contrast wonderfully with blue flowers which shimmer in the sunshine. A sub-shrub, with a woody base and soft upper growth, and part of the Lamiaceae family (commonly known as the Mint, Sage or Deadnettle family) many of which are culinary and/or aromatic. Square stems are a characteristic feature of this group. Attractive to birds, bees and other insects. Grow in full sun and well-drained soil; cut hard back in March. ‘Little Spire’ is an attractive smaller version of the type.

Atriplex halimus

Related to Red Orach, this evergrey Tree Purslane has strikingly beautiful silver-grey oval leaves, which are its main attraction. It grows to around 2 metres, creating an effective anchoring point in a Mediterranean-style border. Thrives in hot, dry conditions and enjoys a saline environment – hence, good near the coast. Try taking cuttings…

Ballota pseudodictamnus

Soft silver-grey leaves make this a very tactile plant. Known as False Dittany, this sub-shrub in the Lamiaceae family can often be confused with Phlomis. Whorls of pink flowers emerge on the stems in the summer. Likes full sun and flourishes in poor, well-drained soils. Easy from cuttings. So take them!

Gaura lindheimeri ‘The Bride’

Easy from seed, this popular but short-lived perennial is useful in any herbaceous border and especially in cottage garden planting schemes. Can also be grown from cuttings (from non-flowering side shoots). Spectacular when grown as a combo en masse with Erigeron karvinskianus. Wildlife friendly, simple, effective, a must! Don’t cut back until March.

Glaucium flavum

The Horned Poppy, familiar in eastern seaside locations in the U.K., has ephemeral, brilliantly coloured flowers and amazing, long, curved seed pods. Flowers can be orange or yellow, whilst the ruffled leaves are silver-grey-blue. Great in gravel gardens.

Jobs for the week

The same as last week, but groups swap their jobs. The Digging Group were tasked with removing Red Hot Pokers from the border and taking out the bottom branches of an Olive tree.

Clearing the border

Plants set aside and ready to be re-located

Pruning the Olive Tree

Do it mindfully

But of course!

Ah. He’s clearly relishing a bit of pruning. Looks rather jolly for our liking

Hmm. Much too jolly

Meanwhile, the Cuttings Group continue to take cuttings of tender perennials, like Salvias, Fuchsias and Plectranthus, as well as other perennials.

Plectranthus ciliatus

Needs care with pronunciation, but propagation is easy from cuttings.

Gently insert the cuttings into a free-draining 50:50 mix of perlite and compost. Try to ensure the bottom leaves of each cutting are just touching the soil’s surface. In a propagator they should root in 1 – 2 weeks. Over the winter months, they will need protection in an unheated greenhouse or cold frame

Sometimes it’s hard to communicate whilst wearing a mask

So alternative forms of communication are evolving

Sorry. Absolutely no idea what’s going on there.

Sometimes it’s helpful to discuss concerns with a friendly face

It’s very cathartic

The Jiffy 7s which were sown with seeds last week are on a heated mat in the greenhouse. More will join them this week

They’re doing well

Quality Control checks the temperature is exactly right

Looks purrfect

A well-prepared Friday Group member reveals her work/health & safety bag.


Although a low tub trug such as this is also useful, for taking home any Garden House goodies. There always seem to be some.

Better than sweets – and less calorific