Friday 10th June 2022

Summertime – and the living is easy

Well, it is when it’s not like this…

We do love a spot of Great British Weather

Anyway, it’s looking good this week, which is just as well, because the garden has to be prepared for the Homelink Fundraiser which will be happening next week, on Friday 17th June.

But first the

Plant ident.

Today’s theme is:- the Rosaceae family. Simples, you would think. But you’d be wrong. Within this plant family, there are 91 different genuses. Each genus shares the same characteristics, but may not look the same; sometimes they are very hard to spot. Most are deciduous, but some are evergreen. They include Sorbus, Crataegus and Prunus amongst others. One defining characteristic is the fact that their flowers have five sepals, five petals and the stamens are generally arranged in a spiral. Many of the plants in the Rosaceae family produce edible fruits.


Firethorn? In the same family as Roses? Really?

Absolutely, dear reader. Count the petals on the flowers. There are five. Just one of the identifying marks of a plant in the Rosaceae family.

Who’d ‘ve thort it?

After the flowers, clusters of berries appear in the autumn; the fruits can be yellow, orange or red, depending on the variety. Below, the berries are beginning to form.

Cotoneaster franchetii

An evergreen/semi-evergreen shrub, which has white flowers in June, followed by orange-red autumn berries. Erect, with spreading branches, it has attractive foliage – the long leaves are clearly veined and are grey-green in colour. A good doer in the garden, providing many months of interest. Likes a fertile, well-drained soil.

Rosa canina

The Dog Rose. Wild, simple and utterly beautiful. Single flowers with five petals. A thorny climber which scrambles through hedgerows from May to August and then produces striking, oval, red hips. Insects love the flowers for their nectar and birds enjoy the autumn fruits.

Rosa ‘For Your Eyes Only’

From the wild, to a new style of bred Rose, one of a recently introduced group. This Floribunda Bush Rose has single, deep salmon flowers which fade to apricot, with a deep crimson centre. Thorny, hardy and can tolerate poorer soils. Useful as a hedge or can be grown in a pot or in the border. A.G.M.


Five petals? Check!

Strawberries. In the Rose family. A fruit-bearing plant producing clusters of fruit from a single flower. Pretty blossoms, but we are even keener on the fruit

Add cream and you have a match made in heaven.

Alchemilla mollis

To quote from the Crocus website: ‘Alchemilla mollis takes its name from the Arabic, meaning ‘little magical one’, as, in the Middle Ages, the water collected from its leaves after a morning dew, was said to have healing properties.’

Lady’s Mantle. A beautiful and useful herbaceous perennial. A stalwart in every cottage garden, and, come to think of it, in most gardens. Such an obliging, easy performer, popping up every year to display tiny, frothy, lime-green summer flowers and neat, pleated leaves which last all through the summer. Can be cut hard back and will appear again – and will self seed to the delight of some and the despair of others. (No matter, it is easily removed.) The leaves catch drops of water which look like quicksilver. Useful as a foil to other plants, particularly under Roses and mixed in with Geraniums. Likes sun to partial shade and has an A.G.M.

Jobs for the week

Work in the dry garden

There’s still quite a lot of planting to do. The very special crimson-flowered Gladiolus papilio ‘Ruby’ (it’s pricey!) has to go in, as well as the annual Nigella ‘Musical Prelude’. Scrape the gravel topping away, dig a planting hole, water the hole prior to planting, then plant, firm in well, water again and replace the gravel.

Rather like this –

Plant up pots

Two pots need to be emptied then planted up with the soft blue-flowered plants Plumbago (see below) and Salvia uliginosa, together with Acidanthera and its sword-shaped leaves. Going to be gorgeous.

Work on vegetable boxes near the greenhouse

Plant up Runner Beans and Lettuces

Those rabbits will be so pleased

Make wigwams for large pots

Rather like this one. No pressure.

No pressure? There’s so much pressure that this member of Friday Group has had to escape to the wildflower meadow for a moment of peace, tranquility and zen….


Potting on

Happily pootling, pottering and potting in the greenhouse.

Cutting back in the pond area

She’s in there somewhere

Some herbaceous perennials, like Geraniums, are becoming a little too enthusiastic in their growth and need taking in hand. Cut back those which are lolling about or have finished flowering. You can be quite draconian with your secateurs as the plant will bounce back in no time. Water well.

Work on cut flower bed

A lot of gerunds in this area today: weeding, assessing, cutting, raising, adding, removing. To find out more about gerunds, you need to sign up for a different class.

Take a moment to check out progress in the Dry Garden

It looks like it’s been here forever

Roll on those hazy, lazy, crazy days of summer

This kind of craziness is relished byFriday Group

Friday 27th May 2022

Another week has flown past and the Dry Garden is beginning to bed itself in a little; it looks nice and gravelly – and dry!

We’re even having to water the plants in. Whatever next?

Well, next is the Plant ident., of course. This week most of them are biennials, which can be sown around now for flowers next year.

Plant ident.

Biennials are plants which grow over a two year period. They grow vegetatively during their first year, then fruit and die during the second. In other words, they are flowering plants which take two growing seasons to complete their biological life cycles.

Examples are: Lunaria, Digitalis and Dianthus barbatus – as well as

Hesperis matronalis

Sweet Rocket is, as its name implies, a scented biennial. Its flowers are similar to those of Honesty, attractive to pollinators and can be purple, lilac or white. The scent is strongest in the evening. The flowers look good in a cottage garden setting or in a wildlife garden and are best planted in drifts.

Papaver nudicaule

A biennial, or short-lived perennial, the Icelandic Poppy is best grown in a deep, fertile soil in full sun. They come in a variety of luscious colours and have wonderful crepe-paper-like petals. Regular picking ensures that you will have beautiful cut flowers for indoors and will also encourage the production of more flowers. Should self-seed. Ht 30 cms

Angelica archangelica

Many gardeners grow Angelica for its architectural qualities – it makes quite a statement in the border with its huge umbelliferous flowerheads held on ribbed, pale green/purple stems. The stems were traditionally picked and candied for use in baking, but many domestic gods and goddesses give this a miss nowadays. Grow in moist soil in partial shade. Good for using in a wildlife or prairie-style planting scheme; the flowers are attractive to pollinators and birds love the seeds. Ht 2.0m

Anchusa azurea ‘Loddon Royalist’

Much appreciated for its gorgeous azure blue colour, this Anchusa resembles Comfrey in that both plants have a bristly, hairy texture. (They are in the same family, Boraginaceae.) They have strong stems and don’t need staking (gardener’s bonus), and as they can reach 1.5 m in height, the vivid flowers can easily be seen and enjoyed. Attractive to wildlife and holds an A.G.M.

Gladiolus communis subsp. byzantinus

This gorgeous perennial grows from corms and comes into flower now, after the Tulips and before the Dahlias get going. Their striking magenta flowers complement Geraniums, Roses and Alliums and they make a strong perpendicular statement in the border. Their common name is Sword Lily, as the leaves are erect and shaped like curving swords. Plant corms in the autumn in light, well drained soil (they like a hot, dry situation) – the corms need to be 10 – 16 cms deep. Ht 1.0 m

Now then, who exactly is paying a visit to this Moss Rose?

Two rather lovely irridescent bugs – Rose Chaffer beetles to be precise. Beautiful creatures, but, oh dear, Roses are one of their favourite foods. The larval grubs, however, are important to the soil as they feed on dead and decaying matter and contribute to the decomposition process. If they become a nuisance, try organic pest controls and encourage birds into the garden and pray that they’ll prey on them.

Jobs for the week

The Dry Garden

Continue planting

Water in

And enjoy!

The Compost Heap

Ensure all that plant material is crammed into the correct bin

Here, our expert is doing the Horticultural Hop

Planting containers

Weaving Teepees

These are to support climbers in pots – like Thunbergia, Rhodochiton, Mina lobata.

Two sets of Friday Groupers are put on teepee duty. No element of competition whatsoever.

Ours is best!

Supporting cut flowers

The magnificent bamboo framework needs to be raised gradually as the plants grow

The supporters support the cutting garden support structure. And then…

they stand back to admire their handiwork

These two look like peas in a pod!

Planting continues

You can never have too many Roses

Sow biennials

Sow them annually!

A busy time in the garden; there is so much to keep up with, as well as planting and planning for the months ahead.

We love it!

Friday 20th May 2022

This week, it’s all about the Dry Garden. This approach to gardening was made famous in the U.K. by the writer, plantswoman and horticultural legend, Beth Chatto, who transformed a car park in her famous Essex garden into a gravel garden. This was by way of an experiment to deal with the challenge of being situated in one of the driest parts of the country. It succeeded, and is now famous for its spectacular display of drought-tolerant plants and the fact that it is not irrigated, despite having poor, free-draining soil.

Chatto first cleared the area and then redesigned it using hosepipes to create large curving shapes, reminiscent of a dried-up river bed with islands of planting. A similar approach was adopted at Garden House, and after a great deal of clearing, designing and some hard landscaping, the time is right for some planting.

So, drought-tolerant plants for a dry area. Looking good so far.

Oh dear. Looks a little damp. Maybe it will get better?

Let’s lay out some of the plants ready to go in

Er, is the weather improving?

Improving? Are you joking?

It’s not a joking matter. Unless you’re one of the few who gave some flimsy reason for not turning up today…

But we try to keep cheerful nonetheless



Downward doggy

Is she doing a raindance?

It’s supposed to be a dry river bed

Well, everything will be thoroughly watered in

Taking on its final shape

Raking gravel over the planted areas

Brushing to ensure an even surface

And, you know what? It was actually a lot of fun!

All we need now is some dry, sunny weather

Roll on summer