Friday 12th November 2021

Friday Group are back at Garden House. Hip hip, hooray!

And it’s a bit on the damp side

Although the Cornelian Cherry is putting on a fine, fiery display

And what is this glasstastic vision we see before us?

Coo! It’s a beauty

Plant ident.

This week we concentrated on those plants which really should be brought under cover NOW, to avoid death by frost.

Fuchsia microphylla

The small-leaved Fuchsia is a late and very welcome flowerer. It’s got itsy, bitsy, teeny, weeny pink flowers and evergreen foliage going on all over. Small black berries form in the autumn, which, apparently, are edible. ‘After you’, as one F/G member appositely commented. Get this little lovely indoors now; hopefully you already have some cuttings growing, but try again if not. It may survive outside in very mild areas, but why take the chance? It’s great in our Little Dixter area, and in pots around the garden.

Gomphrena globosa

An unusual, tender perennial which is easy to grow from cuttings. Its sprawling habit is shown off best when grown in a large container. Best in full sun, the flower stems can be cut and will last for a long time in a vase; the flowers will also hold their vivid purple colour when dried. Stays in bloom right up to the first frosts.

Plectranthus ciliatus ‘Nico’

A very tender perennial, often treated as an annual, with cuttings easily taken and struck to ensure more plants next year. Invaluable in pots as a foil for Dahlias, Cosmos, Salvias or other flowering plants, but equally arresting on its own. It’s sometimes used as ground cover, as it has a large footprint, and will quickly carpet an area. The dark green leaves have pronounced purple markings, with undersides washed in the same dark purple. Attractive flower spikes emerge in the autumn. Will grow in sun or part shade quite happily. How about trying it as a houseplant on a sunny windowsill over the winter months?

Tibouchina urvilleana

A spectacular tender, evergreen perennial, with the most glorious irridescent violet/purple flowers in late summer to autumn. A somewhat lax shrub with soft, elliptical, grey-green leaves, it will grow in most soils. Brings a touch of the exotic with it, and looks great in containers and on patios. Better still in conservatories or orangeries; surely it’s worth getting this plant if only as a reason to acquire the latter. Will grow outdoors in frost-free situations, but should really be brought in as the weather gets chilly. A.G.M. Ht 2.5 – 4 m

Cuphea ignea

This spreading, evergreen sub-shrub is the Mexican Cigar Plant. Striking scarlet/orange, tubular flowers are produced in quantity throughout the summer and autumn and complement the lance-shaped, vivid green leaves. Grows best in full sun in a sheltered position or in a pot. Attractive to pollinators. A.G.M. Ht. 40 cms


The time for planting is upon us. They have been ordered, delivered, hidden in wardrobes, cupboards and under benches. And counted. How many are there?

‘Never you mind.’

Planting schemes have been meticulously planned for various parts of the garden. Beds, pots, containers will all host dramatic displays, which we hope will be at their peak next spring when the garden opens for the National Garden Scheme.

So, let’s plant!

Jobs for the Week

Plant bulb lasagnes in large pots. This will provide interest from February to May, as the different layers come through. Ensure the pot has good drainage and add a layer of compost; arrange 15 Tulip bulbs at a depth of around 30 cm; add a 10 cm layer of compost and put in a further 15 Tulip bulbs. 10 cm more compost will cover those bulbs, then top with white Narcissi bulbs; yet another layer of compost will take Crocus bulbs. Finish the whole lot off with another layer of compost and plant pansies as a final hurrah! Add a generous layer of grit. (Anti-squirrel tactics.)

Secure wire mesh over the pot. Those squirrels have a fight on their hands.

Plant bulbs for forcing

One group were allowed exclusive access to the enviable new structure to plant prepared bulbs. These have already undergone a period of cold temperatures to encourage early flowering. Aka vernalization.

Once the bulbs have had their cool period, they will begin to sprout. When they have grown a few centimetres they can be brought into slightly warmer conditions where they will continue to develop slowly, and then come into bloom. Grow in pots or shallow pans. (October’s Gardens Illustrated magazine has a feature on this.)

Bulb lasagne. Encore.

Plant a mix of pink and purple Tulips in layers in the large black pots.

Remember to label. And grit. And add wire mesh deterrent. Squirrels Keep Out!

Plant Galanthus

Snowdrop bulbs can be planted now under the Birch trees and amongst black grasses (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’, since you ask) to provide a wonderful effect in the spring. Plant them deeply, to about three times their depth. This is where the rather alarming-looking Niwaki Hori Hori tool comes into its own. A knife with an extremely sharp blade, it can be used to dig, plant, weed and prune. And you can use it to stir your tea.

Plant bulbs in woodland bed

Scatter Narcissi bulbs for an informal scheme. Plant in Downward-Facing Dog Pose, if possible. That’s Adho Mukha Svanasana, just to be clear.

Develop an orange themed area in the top garden

So suitable when using Dutch Tulips

It’s going to look bulbalicious

More lasagnes, one suspects.

Little Dixter

Time to clear the decks and start preparing for a spring showstopper

And, yes, it does involve bulbs… Muscari, Iris, Chionodoxa. These little beauties are going to shine.

Are these bulbs planted in layers?

Well, yes, in a manner of speaking

Allow time to tidy up


and out

And then home for a hot bath. And tea in a real cup and saucer. Not the horticultural type, like these –