Friday 22nd April 2022

Cydonia oblonga, the Quince tree, is in full flower at Garden House. Nature’s way of reminding you to save all your empty jam jars now, ready for the benison to come in the autumn.

That’s if you actually managed to eat all the quince cheese you made from last year’s bountiful crop…

Plant ident.

Brought to us today courtesy of Paul Seaborne of Pelham Plants fame. A Nursery not to be missed.

Geum ‘Princess Juliana’

Geums are popular herbaceous plants which develop mounds of neat, dense foliage. Apricot-orange semi-double flowers are held on tall, wiry stems from April/May through to August. A great plant for the spring-early summer border. H. 70 cms

Pulsatilla vulgaris ‘Rote Glocke’

Pelham Plants describes this as the reddest of purple Pasqueflowers. Restrain yourself from dead-heading it, as you’ll want to enjoy the fluffy seedheads later on, and maybe even collect the seeds. ‘Pasque’ relates to Easter time, and it is sometimes known as ‘the Anemone of Passiontide’ for this reason. Loves chalky soils. Plant in full sun.

Lunaria annua ‘Chedglow’

Honestly, it’s ‘Honesty’. Rich burgundy-black leaves and seed pods contrast with glowing lilac-purple flowers. An easy biennial with decorative papery seed cases forming later. A fantastic choice for the spring garden; looks stunning with a froth of forget-me-nots around its feet and offset by a few white Honesty plants planted nearby. A must-have.

Osteospermum compactum ‘Irish’

Fantastic in a container or on a sunny bank. Needs well-drained conditions. Low growing silvery-grey foliage contrasts with bright purple/pink daisy-like flowers from late spring through to autumn. Compact in habit. Good in poor, sandy or gravel soils; it thrives in full sun in the summer. Hardy in well-drained soil. Ht 30 cms.

Geum ‘Scarlet Tempest’

Large, scarlet-orange flowers provide a hit of rich colour at this time of year. This form is a sterile hybrid and is an introduction from 2016 by Elizabeth MacGregor; reliable and repeat-flowering. Grow in moist but well-drained soil in full sun. Deadhead regularly. 50 – 60 cms

One wonders if there is a Mr MacGregor, and whether this plant is rabbit-proof? Peter Rabbit would know.

Jobs for the week

This weekend the garden is opening for the National Garden Scheme on both Saturday and Sunday. The call has gone out for plates of cakes (please), and for many hands to make light work of the refreshment stall.

And for Friday Group, today is all about preparation. We call it a V.E. Day, as the aim is to provide the perfect Visitor Experience.

But, oh dear! We’ve already been diverted by the tantalisingly tempting plants set out and ready to sell on the Pelham Plants stall.

Prick out seedlings

Artichokes looking good in the top right of the picture

An esteemed Friday Grouper looking good in the centre of the picture

And lots of little seedlings coming on a treat all over the picture

Clean the Cathedral Greenhouse until it gleams


Tidy the top garden

Glue individual petals back onto Tulips. (The recent windy conditions have taken their toll on some of the early flowerers.) Spray fully flowered Tulips with hairspray to maintain the display for as long as possible. Caution: these techniques are not widely recognised; do not try this at home.

Deadhead, feed and water the Pelargoniums in the upper greenhouse.

Little Dixter

Tidy and sweep area. Prettify the pots

Plant out Sweet Peas

These are Lathyrus ‘Mollie Rilstone’

Plant around the base of the finely crafted Sweet Pea Teepee. It’s a woven wonder.

Weed the cut flower bed and plant out more hardy annuals

General V.E. titivation

To encompass deadheading, weeding, sweeping paths and under no circumstances looking longingly at the plants for sale.

Meticulous weeding going on here

A beautifully posed reminder that perennial weeds go into a black trug for the garden recycling bin. Not into garden compost.

Pots being prettified

Beds weeded. Paths swept

The Boiled Sweets Tulip Bed

Looking delicious!

Peak pink perfection in a pot

And here are some photos from the N.G.S. opening. Photos courtesy of a genius photographer from the Fantastic Friday Forum….

A happy weekend was enjoyed by all

Friday 1st April 2022

Snowy Mespilus living up to its name

Well, guess what? April Fool’s Day, and it did indeed snow! Some couldn’t believe their eyes, tails, paws or whiskers –

And then, the next minute, the sun came out and lit up the Great White Cherry –

We do love the dear old British weather

Plant ident.

Prunus spinosa

Blackthorn. The hedgerows are frothing with it right now. Ebullient, uplifting, its appearance announces that spring has sprung. The branches are often decorated by lichen which thrives on its nutrient-rich bark. Sometimes mistaken for Hawthorn (which flowers later, in May), the Blackthorn’s white blossoms flower on bare wood before the leaves emerge. Fleeting, but gorgeous, and followed later by Sloe berries, used to make Sloe gin. A strange name for a drink which disappears so fast.

Lunaria ‘Corfu Blue’

Honesty. Stunning blue/purple flowers which are almost irridescent. Seems to be virtually perennial. Continues to please over a long period, as the papery seed cases, which form later, are beautifully decorative.

Another sought-after variety is Lunaria ‘Chedglow’, with outstanding deep chocolate/burgundy foliage, dark lilac flowers and magenta stems. A stunner.

As well as being a caterpillar plant food, Lunaria is good for attracting bees, butterflies and moths. It has nectar /pollen rich flowers. Ht. 0.9 cms

Euphorbia myrsinites

A semi-prostrate perennial, with close-set leaves spiralling from base to tip. Flowers with the usual panache of Euphorbias, having vivid, acid green/yellow bracts. Quirky and architectural. Needs full sun and good drainage. Ideal for a dry/gravel garden. Beware the milky sap which can be toxic.

Pachyphragma macrophyllum

Single, pure white flowers appear in a domed form from late winter. This attractive plant is described as having a slow, dense, creeping habit (we know people like that). Pelham Plants say that it is one of the most underrated, shady, evergreen groundcover plants they grow. If it’s recommended by them, then it’s worth getting five of them immediately. Ht. 30 cms

Epimedium ex ‘Spine Tingler’

Raised from seed taken from the strong and reliable E. ‘Spine Tingler’. Copes with dry shade once established, and therefore invaluable, although it prefers a moist, well-drained soil. A low-growing, evergreen perennial with lance-shaped leaves which emerge bronze-red in colour. Sprays of long-spurred, pale lemon flowers dance over the leaves in April/May. Cut back in late winter, before the new flower stems emerge. Pelham Plants comment? “Should be interesting.” Watch this space. Ht. to 50 cms

Anemone nemorosa

Commonly known as Windflower, it’s a spring showstopper. Go into mature woodland anytime now to enjoy carpets of these beautiful wild flowers. They grow in deciduous woods and flower before the leaf canopy develops overhead and reduces the light. Star-shaped petals surround golden-yellow anthers, and green leaves offset the beetroot-coloured stems. Wood Anemones are ancient-woodland-indicator plants, signifying that the area is a rare and special habitat. Legend suggests they were named for the Anemoi, the four Greek gods of the wind, who used the flowers as harbingers of spring.

It’s a busy time in the garden right now. Seed-sowing, potting-on, planning pots for later, cutting back, feeding, planting, making plant supports, cosseting and caring for the precious compost heap. It’s all going on.

Jobs for the week

Cut back Jasmine on arch

Before it engulfs everything in its path.

Plant Gladioli corms

These are Acidanthera, or Gladiolus murielae. Graceful late summer gems, which have wonderful, white, starry-shaped flowers with purple central markings. The elongated leaves are sword-shaped. Lovely in borders and in pots, they also make an excellent cut flower. Scented. Plant in trays in the greenhouse to get them going – they’ll respond well to a little warmth. Nerine bulbs can also be planted now.

Feed Auriculas and Pelargoniums

We’re talking organic liquid seaweed or, alternatively, worm leachate – the liquid which drains off from a bin full of worms. Liquid gold. Dilute in water in a ratio of 1:10. Plants love it.

Sow seeds

There’s all sorts going in today

Dahlia ‘Bishop’s Children’, Tithonia, Orlaya grandiflora, Heliotrope ‘Marine’, Rudbeckia and Nicotiana. It’s going to look beautiful. Hold off for another week or so on quick-growers like Cosmos, Tagetes and Zinnias, or you’ll be swamped by seedlings all jostling for your attention.

And as she sows, it snows

Cripes! What the hecky decky is that? Oh – Amaranthus Tricolor ‘Splendens Perfecta’? Obvs.

Plant new Jasmine in pot. Make a support for it

Cut back Salvias, Lavenders etc

This job is largely centred on the herb beds. All sorts of Mediterranean plants can be cut back, Salvias, Lavenders, Phlomis, Ballota and Artemisia amongst others – although watch out for cold spells. (Like now!) Count back to 2 shoots from the ground and prune at this point. Sounds harsh, but they need a firm hand to prevent them from becoming spindly and leggy. This will keep them nice and bushy. Unless you’ve killed them.

Well, it’s no good telling us that now. We’ve just cut them all back!

Take cuttings from the prunings or use the herbs in your next culinary cook-up.

We ache for Cake Break

Thirsts and appetites slaked! Thanks to a ripping raspberry, blueberry and lime drizzle cake and a marvellously, marbled marble cake. That’s Friday Group for you!

Plant out spent indoor Hyacinth bulbs and Lunaria

These look well spent

There are no short-cuts when it comes to adding extra va-va-va-voom to the garden

Hang on, where’s she going?

Ah. Taking a short-cut to the plants

Some are more risk averse, thank goodness, and have read the G/H Health and Safety Manual (951 pages).

Alpine sinks

Weed, tidy, re-grit surfaces. Plant Thrift and Alpine Crocus. Take cuttings from alpines and place immediately into plastic bags to prevent them drying out before planting them.

Sempervivums and Succulents

These can be used in alpine troughs to great effect too. Add some slates and grit to top it all off and you have a display fit for Chelsea.


Cut back Phygelius and hardy Fuchsias to about 10 cms from the ground. Again, watch out for extended cold spells – you may need to throw some horticultural fleece over the newly-shorn shrubs just for safety’s sake. Use the cuttings to propagate new plants. Waste not, want not.

Feed plants after pruning. Pelleted chicken manure is just fine.

Cut back the stems of established Cornus before the new leaves come through. Either cut all stems hard back, or take out one third of the stems every year. Propagate new plants from the prunings, or use them to weave decorative edgings on obelisks, wigwams or in borders. Or, let the inner florist in you run amok –

Oh, I say.

We may have had four seasons in one day, but here at Garden House you can always find sunshine in a pot.