FRIDAY 21st MAY2021

We’re back!

Not at all excited or anything….but breakfast bubbles were the order of the day

We could get used to this

Caption competition?

“Thank you, Jeeves. That will be all.”

The Winner!

Who knew that prosecco could be such a stimulant to conversation and gardening?

There’s a lot to catch up on as we can see

And cakes? Steady now…

Maybe later. For now, let’s get on with the

Plant ident

Iris germanica

Currently the stars of the show. Blooming marvellous.

Bearded irises are statuesque, evergreen perennials with narrow, grey/green, sword-shaped leaves and erect stems. The latter carry three large, dropping petals, ‘falls’, and three smaller, upright, ‘standard’ petals in late spring. There is a yellow ‘beard’ in the centre of the flower, which guides insects towards the pollen. Best in full sun on well-drained alkaline to neutral soils (chalk, loam or sand).

Geranium pyrenaicum ‘Bill Wallis’

This tough Hardy Geranium is a great doer in the garden and will happily self-seed around – particularly into cracks on terraces. A good cultivar, it has red stems and a profusion of eye-catching, small, bright purple flowers. Attractive to butterflies. Much appreciated at Garden House. Grow in sun or shade in moist, well-drained soil.

Geranium macrorrhizum

A semi-evergreen Cranesbill which flourishes best in shady positions – even in dry shade. It has pink/purple flowers which emerge on long stems above shapely, aromatic leaves. Reliable and easy, these are very useful plants, the foliage also having the benefit of turning red in the autumn. Plants will bulk up to provide good ground cover and act as an effective weed suppressant.

Rosa ‘Bengal Crimson’

A chinensis shrub Rose which legendarily flowers for 365 days of the year in the Chelsea Physic Garden. And 366 in a leap year! Single, crimson flowers contrast with healthy, glossy green leaves. Robust and compact – and loved by many.

Anthemis punctata subsp. cupaniana

This will be a must-have plant for the new dry garden at Garden House as it grows quickly to make a sprawling mound of ebullient white daisies with finely-cut silver-grey foliage. Good on walls and terraces as it will drape itself attractively over them. Light, well-drained soil in full sun.

Akebia quinata

Aka the Chocolate Vine or Five-leaf Akebia. A fabulous, twining climber, which can become quite vigorous, so needs to be kept in check. Fragrant, deep purple/chocolate- coloured flowers emerge along dangling racemes. Exotic! If it cross pollinates with a neighbouring Akebia, it may produce sausage-shaped fruit after flowering. Semi-evergreen. Needs warmth. As do we.

The Chelsea Chop

Now that we have all become adept hairdressers over lockdown, we can put our newly-acquired skills into practice in the garden. Time for the Chelsea Chop. A process of cutting back herbaceous perennials in late May to avoid ‘floppage’ and achieve better flowers later in the summer. This pruning method can be applied to complete clumps of plants to delay flowering, or just to some of them, to spread flowering over a longer period.

Phlox, Penstemons, Achilleas Asters and Sedums all respond well to this treatment. Using clean, sharp secateurs, make a sloping cut just above a leaf joint, removing about one third of the stem. Horticulturally-speaking, you are removing the apical dominance of the plant. Hem hem.

Jobs for the Week

Plant Tomatoes using the ring culture method

The ring culture pot is put into the ground in the greenhouse, flush with the soil. Tomato plants are planted deeply into the centre of the pot. Water can be poured into the reservoir surrounding the central pot. When applying dilute feed (once a week, when the first trusses develop), this can go directly onto the plant. This will encourage the plants to produce more feeder roots from their stems, resulting in vigorous, productive plants.

By wrapping twine around the base of each plant and then tying it onto a cane near the roof of the greenhouse, you have a ready-made twining/support system for your cordon Tomatoes. If you don’t know how to tie a slipknot, now is the time to learn.

Or, you can always talk to an expert…

Pinch out the ‘hairy armpits’ in each Tomato’s leaf axils, or you will have a jungly vine on your hands. Pinch out the tops of the plants once five or six trusses have set.

Work on the herb bed

Cut back Parsley

Plant Rainbow Chard

Weed and water

Make time for coffee and cake

Carrot cake for those concerned about their 5-a-day

Chocolate cake for those less concerned about their 5-a-day

And tea cake for everyone else

We’re thinking about entering The Great British Bake Off, although maybe The Great British Rake Off would be a better bet.

Pot on mini Pumpkins

These Tromboncino and Jill-Be-Little varieties will take over from the Sweet Peas once the latter have finished flowering. They’ll love clambering up the wigwam structures.

Plant Nerine Lilies for autumn flowering

Make sure the tops of the bulbs are visible; Nerines are from South Africa and they will need to bake in the summer sun. Some of these will be bright pink and some white.

Sow biennials

Foxgloves, Honesty, Angelica, Sweet Rocket – all can be sown now for flowers next year.

Work in the Pelargonium Palace

Feed Pelargoniums with a dilute seaweed solution; remove any damaged or dead plant material; tidy. Take the darlings out for an airing. Use a perambulator if necessary.

Plant out Beetroot ‘Chioggia’ seedlings

Can be planted out a handspan apart in small clumps. Plant in well-prepared beds. Water carefully; label. Let them grow on and pick when small.

Summer Containers

Plant up from now on to ensure a dramatic summer backdrop. Tender perennials and annuals in all sorts of combos. They’re going to be stunning.

Summer awaits

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