All posts by Clare Lanchbery

Friday 15th March

A windy, drizzly day but we didn’t let that stop us from getting outside and enjoying the garden.9dc7ae8c-52b4-4602-a193-c6b05c811152.jpg

We started off the morning by having an in-depth discussion about the cultivation of Dahlias.

Dahlias are tender perennials/root tubers (not stem tubers, eg. potatoes).  They were first introduced into Europe from Mexico in 1791 and are thought to have been named after the Swedish botanist Anders (Andreas) Dahl.  All the energy for the growing season is stored in the tuber and they are often dug up and taken into a frost-free environment in order to preserve them for the following year.  However, over the last couple of years we have left many of our dahlias in the ground, protecting them with a good layer of mulch.  We have found that this produces fatter tubers and stronger, bigger plants.  (When we want to take up tubers in order to change displays the following year, we leave digging them up until the first frost).

The tubers should be planted up in pots in mid spring in a gritty mix of compost, just proud of the soil, about a couple of centimetres away from the rim of the pot (to enable watering).  Make sure the tubers are firm, not squidgy or shrivelled- somethimes the tubers dry out or rot off whilst they are in storage.  Place in a light, frost-free place and watch out for the first shoots to emerge when you can take cuttings if you wish.

Taking cuttings from a dahlia tuber – With a small sharp knife, remove the shoot growing from the collar of the tuber, making sure there is a small piece of tuber attached.  Plant shoots in a pot filled with gritty compost (to ensure good drainage) at the edge of the pot, encouraging  good root growth and water well morning and evening.  Dahlias grow fast and these shoots will make good-sized plants in one growing season.

When it is time to plant them outside, add lots of well-rotted manure and keep them fed (every couple of weeks) and well-watered.  Remember to stake them early on and protect them from slugs and snails!  Once the dahlias have grown four pairs of leaves, pinch out the tip above the third pair to encourage bushier plants.  Dead head regularly and you will be rewarded all summer long with blooms right up to the first frosts.

Richard told us about his visit to Lake Constance in Germany and the botanical garden on Mainau, an island in the middle of the lake.  Every year, thousands of dahlias are planted which make a stunning display.

Plants looking good in the garden at the moment:

Ficaria verna ‘Brazen Hussy’ or lesser celandine ‘Brazen Hussy’


Part of the ranunculaceae family, this compact tuber rooted perennial has dark, heart-shaped, blackish-bronze leaves with bright yellow flowers in early spring.  It is summer dormant, the flowers and foliage disappearing completely.  It grows well in partial or full shade in moist, humus-rich soil.  Divide or remove the basal bulbils in the spring or autumn to make new plants.

Chionodoxa luciliae or Glory of the Snow


Similar to Scillas, these little blue flowers are one of the first bulbs to bloom in spring.  They naturalise easily and do well under deciduous trees where they flower before the leaf canopy creates shade.  Plant in a sunny spot in well-drained soil and leave cutting back the plants until the foliage has died back, enabling them to self-seed.

Chiniodoxa forbesii ‘Pink Giant’ is another attractive cultivar.


Both hail from the easterm Mediterranean regions of Turkey and Cyprus.

Ribes speciosum or Californian fuchsia

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This medium-sized deciduous shrub has spiny, bristly stems with small, glossy, oval-shaped leaves and drooping, crimson, fuchsia-like flowers in late spring.  It looks good against a sunny wall and benefits from being sheltered and away from exposed sites.  It should be planted in fertile, well-drained soil and would benefit from the old wood being pruned out after flowering.  The new shoots may then be trained along wires on the wall.  It originates from the west coast of America and was thought to be pollinated by hummingbirds.  It arrived here on HMS Blossom back in 1828, brought back by a Mr. Collie who as well as being a naturalist was also a surgeon.  A lovely example can be seen at West Dene near Chichester.

Pulmonaria officinalis or common lungwort

This semi-evergreen perennial grows to 30cm with wide, spotted greeny-white leaves. Blooming from the top down, the pink flowers turn blue when they have been pollinated.  They like moist, humus-rich soil in partial shade and the leaves should be cut back after flowering to encourage growth of fresh foliage over the summer.  P. ‘Blue Ensign’ and P. ‘Saccharata’ are notable cultivars (see below).



Forget-me-nots, brunnera, anchusa and borage are all related to pulmonarias

According to the Doctrine of Signatures written during the 1600’s and arising from folk medicine dating from the Middle Ages, plants looking like parts of the body could be used for treating illnesses of these body parts.  In this case, the blotchy leaves of the Pulmonaria were said to reassemble lungs and so were used for treating lung disease.

Jobs this week:

Despite the miserable weather, we were busy in the garden looking ahead and preparing for the summer to come:

  • Sowing seeds in the potting shed.


We’re taking inspiration from Sarah Raven’s The Bold and Brilliant Garden and The Cutting Garden which includes a plan for a small cutting garden plot.  Today we were sowing Ricinus communis ‘Carmencita’ and annual Dahlia ‘Bishops Children’.  Also sunflowers and nasturtiums for the dahlia bed.

  • Bringing dahlias out of the summerhouse and potting them up for storage in the greenhouse.


  • Weeding the new Tulip Bed.


  • Weeding under the apple tree at the bottom of the garden and preparing sedums to plant later.
  • Checking the auriculas in the auricula theatre in the Top Garden, checking for vine weevils and repotting.
  • Sorting out Little Dixter


  • Replanting strawberries in wine boxes and giving them a good feed.


  • Checking the hanging baskets containing succulents, adding plants and topping up with moss and grit where necessary.


  • Sorting out seedlings in the greenhouse and harvesting winter salad leaves.



Let’s hope for some sunshine next week!

Friday 15th February


At last a dry day and a bit of sunshine to brighten up the winter garden.  It really feels like Spring is on its way with the early Spring bulbs just beginning to emerge to produce a beautiful tapestry of colour. (All the backache of those countless Autumn Fridays really was worthwhile as we are able to admire the fruits of our labour!).

Continuing the theme, Julia and Clare talked about some of the bulbs we can be planting in the garden over the next couple of months for Summer and Autumn flowering displays.

The term “bulb” refers to all bulbous flowering plants which include corms, rhizomes, tubers and true bulbs.  All bulbous plants have a part of the plant which is swollen into a food storage organ.   This enables the plant to survive when dormant or when conditions are unsuitable for growing.

Corms eg. Crocosmia ‘George Davison’

Crocosmia is a small genus of flowering plants in the Iradaceae (Iris) family and its bulb is an example of a corm. It is also known as Montbretia in the UK or Coppertops in the USA and is a perennial with branching heads of flowers and sword shaped leaves. Originally from the grasslands of Southern and Eastern Africa they were introduced to the UK 125 years ago.  C. ‘George Davison’ is a clump-forming perennial with branching stems carrying light orange-yellow flowers from orange buds.

They grow from a corm which is a swollen stem base, with the new corm growing on top of the old one, taking energy from this year’s foliage. Corms have a basal plate and one or more growing points at the tip and have no rings when cut in half.

They should be planted in spring when all danger of frosts has gone.  Plant with the pointy end up and water weekly.  Spent flowers should be removed by cutting back the whole stem to where the leaves are and they should flower for five to eight weeks. They flower best in full sun or partial shade, in fertile humus-rich well drained soil and do not like hot dry sites.

There are many varieties available which vary widely in height and colour: Jackanapes and Canary Bird can be as small as 69cm or 24 inches whilst Lucifer and Columbus can reach 120 cm or 48 inches.

Other bulbs grown from corms are gladiolus, crocus and freesia.

Rhizomes – eg. Canna ‘Wyoming’

Canna Lilies grow from rhizomes or underground stems which are swollen and lie almost horizontally.   C. ‘Wyoming’ is a strong growing plant with an erect stem, deep bronze ovate leaves and rich orange flowers  Growing to almost 1m and blooming from mid summer through to early autumn, it adds good structure to the garden and adds a tropical, exotic look to displays. It also looks good in containers.  This has been awarded a RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM).


For best results, plant in full sun in a sheltered spot, (4 inches deep) in humus-rich but well drained, moist soil. (The rhizome should be planted with the tips facing up).  Keep dead-heading regularly to encourage new blooms and an addition of a good mulch would benefit by keeping down the weeds and conserving moisture.

For those of you with a heated greenhouse, it can be started off in late March planted in a 20cm pot with its young shoots exposed.  It should be watered lightly and then moved to an unheated greenhouse in April to harden off until the danger of frost has passed.

Tubers – eg. Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ and Anemona coronaria De Caen Group

Dahlias are tubers which are irregularly -shapped underground storage organs for nutrients, providing energy for the plant throughout the growing season.  They are tender perennials and so will require protection during the winter months.

Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ is one of the most well know dahlias and was bred in Cardiff in  1924 by Fred Treseder for the then Bishop of Llandaff, going on to be awarded a RHS AGM in 1928.  It has dark blackish-red stems and foliage with semi-double bright red flowers and will flower from June through to September/October.  It grows to approx 1m.



The tubers should be firm and plump when planting and so discard any that are shrivelled or soft.   In April they can be planted in pots in a mixture of good potting compost and well rotted manure and kept under cover in the greenhouse until all danger of frosts has passed (usually in May).  They can then be brought out of the greenhouse and either left in their pots (in which case they would benefit from a good feed) or planted deeply in the open garden in a sunny spot.  They are greedy and so will need regular watering and feeding over the growing season.  Although they like a humus-rich soil, they also like good drainage and so an addition of horticultural grit when planting is good for heavy soils.  It is a good idea to stake them when planting.

Anemone coronaria (also known as windflowers, poppy anemones and Spanish marigolds and are native to the Mediterranean region) are tuberous herbaceous perennials growing to 40cm, blooming from April to June. The De Caen Group have finely-dissected, palmate leaves and red, blue/violet or white flowers.  They are valued by florists as they can be available nearly all year round.  Gardeners can achieve a similar long season of flowering by planting the corms during different seasons, eg. April for June and in June for September flowering.  They can be lifted after flowering but if left in the soil, they will naturalise to flower annually during the spring.



The hard black corms are very different from dahlia tubers and often benefit from soaking in a bowl of tepid water before planting.  This is said to encourage them to sprout faster and develop a good network of roots. They should then be planted in full sun or partial shade in moist, well-drained soil and mulched with well-rotted manure or compost.

True bulbs – eg. Nerine bowdenii ‘Ostara’ 

True bulbs are formed from swollen leaf bases and are made up of concentric rings of scales attached to a basal plate. (Some have a dry protective layer or skin, eg. daffodils and tulips).

Nerine, commonly known as the Guernsey or Jersey Lily is a species of flowering plant in the Amaryllidaceae family of herbaceous perennials such as daffodils and snowdrops.  Nerines are summer dormant perennial bulbs and have six narrow petals and prominent stamens.  There are 30 species although only a couple are hardy outdoors in the UK –  bowdenii and undulate. All are native to South Africa, particularly the Drakensberg mountains and were introduced in 1903 by Cornish Bowden, hence the name.   They are sometimes known as Guernsey Lilly as Nerine sarniensis became naturalised when a ship from Japan carrying the bulbs was wrecked on the coast of Guernsey – hence the name Guernsey Lilly.

Nerine bowdenii are the easiest to grow and can be planted outdoors or in a sunny sheltered position from autumn through to early spring.  Disappointingly, flowering is often poor in their first year.   They are fussy plants – disliking shade and do not compete well with other plants.  They dislike being moved and actually flower better when the bulbs become congested.  Leaves appear in the spring and then die down in summer, going on to flower in autumn. They are great additions to any garden as they extend the flowering season from September into November.

Nerine bowdenii ‘Ostara’ grow to 50cm high and have rich green strappy leaves which die away ro reveal erect stems bearing clusters of pale pink lily-like flowers.


Jobs this week:

Pruning was the order of the day this week as we sought to control and tidy before things really start growing.

  • Pruning the honeysuckle and rose over the arch near the potting shed.


  • Pruning the two apple trees, particularly looking out for water shoots – this is where a branch has been pruned previously and several whip-like shoots or “water sprouts” have grown up in its place.


  • Constructing a support out of bamboo canes for the cherry tree at the back of the greenhouse.


  • Securing down the old moss rose shoots and tying up Rosa ‘William Lobb’


  • Pruning and tying in Rosa ‘Albertine’ and Clematis ‘Alba Luxurians’.
  • Pruning the red and black currants along with the quince tree to open up the garden and reduce the risk of disease.


  • Potting on the chard and stipa in the greenhouse.


So good to be outside again and fingers crossed winter is on its way out…..




Friday September 28th


Today we chatted about which particular garden tool or piece of garden paraphernalia we really couldn’t do without.  The usual suspects came up such as secateurs/snips, brooms, garden clogs, a potting tray, trugs, dibbers, garden gloves, long handled loppers and so the list goes on.  Some of us are even lucky enough to own antique spades and forks which are especially cherished.  We particularly liked these pink steel capped boots; gardening apron with double holster(!) and mini snips – just right for when you accidently come across a stray stem of somethig gorgeous reaching out over a public footpath ……

We had a good discussion and demonstration from Bridge about how to take soft wood cuttings.  This method can be used for cultivating all sorts of perennials and shrubs as well as some trees.  It is usually carried out in spring and early summer but we are taking a chance now.  Other methods of taking cuttings are semi-ripe (autumn) and hard wood (winter) – we will talk about these another day.

Good plants to take cuttings from are herbs and tender perennials such as pelargoniums.  The best time to take soft wood cuttings is in the morning when the plants are full of water.  Look around the garden for suitable cutting material – it should be a healthy fast-growing shoot with short internodes.

  • Cut the stem just above a leaf node of the parent plant .
  • To prepare the cutting, cut the base of the stem 6mm below a leaf joint (this is where all the growth hormones and energy are stored) so that the cutting is no more than 10cm in length.
  • Remove the leaves from the bottom third of the cutting to minimise water loss (from the leaves) and pinch out the flowering central tip from the top of the stem (apical dominance).  Another way of minimising water loss from the cutting is to cut any remaining large leaves in half.
  • Using a dibber, make a hole for the cutting in a container of compost (ours included perlite) and insert the cutting with the first leaves just above the level of compost.  You can usually fit 5-6 in each pot.
  • Label, gently firm the cuttings into the compost and water with a fine-rosed watering can.

A similar method is to take a heel cutting where you gently ease the shoot away from the main parent stem, taking with it a bit of the stem (the heel) as you go.  Neaten the tail on the heel by cutting across it with a very sharp knife.  Place the cutting in compost as before.

The compost should be kept moist to encourage root growth.  Bottom heat would help to produce the roots but if done before the weather gets much cooler, the cuttings should do well under glass, propagator or perhaps enclosed in a sealed polythene bag.

Good plants for taking softwood cuttings now:

Salvia officinalis ‘Purpurascens’


This old healing herb was sacred to the Romans and remains an important culinary herb today.  Its young red-purple leaves look good in the border and should be well-clipped to maintain shape and encourage new leaves which have the best flavour.  It grows well in full sun/partial shade in light well-drained soil.  It will reach 80cm in height.

Santolina chamaecyparissus – cotton lavender


This rounded compact shrub has grey-green foliage which is aromatic when crushed.  During July and August, its yellow button flowers push up through the foliage on wiry stems.  It is perfect for a hot, sheltered border with poor-moderately drained soil.  It looks particularly good in gravel gardens.

Lavandula – lavender


This is another sun-loving plant which thrives in hot, sunny borders and gravel gardens.  It prefers poor-moderately fertile borders (or containers) and will do well in  chalky/alkaline areas.  If you garden on clay, add organic matter mixed with gravel to improve darinage and to prolong the life of the plant.

Teucrium chamaedrys – wall germander


This low-growing plant can be either deciduous or evergreen in warmer areas.  It is mainly grown for its aromatic dark green foliage and produces pink-light purple flowers.  It looks good in containers, planted as low hedging, knot gardens, rockeries or as edging.  It prefers a sheltered site in full sun and should be cut back hard after flowering.

Jobs this week:

  • Planting Narcissi Thalia bulbs under the arches, along with apricot coloured foxgloves.


  • Underplant the box plants with yellowCrocus crysanthus ‘Romance’.
  • Collecting seeds, eg Bridge’s runner bean seeds, Cerinthe, white sweet pea ‘Royal Wedding’, Agrostemma (corncockle), Tagetes.
  • Taking soft wood cuttings of salvia.


  • Sowing hardy annual seeds for next summer’s cut flower bed.  (One seed was sown per module into multi purpose compost and then placed in the greenhouse or cold frame.  They will be overwintered outside).3d7422aa-7c2f-404a-a61d-eac9f96a6df8.jpg
  • Planting up containers for autumn interest.
  • Cutting willow to make into an autumn wreath for the front door.


  • Pruning the Sorbaria.
  • Sorting out “Paul’s Bed” – dividing and replanting 
  • Pruning the roses underneath the arches.


Many thanks to all of you who came to support our coffee morning last Friday to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Care.  It’s always good to welcome visitors into the garden and especially for a good cause.

Friday 21st September

More new faces and introductions continued with a discussion about what is our favourite garden of the moment?

Among others, there were many votes for the Sussex Prairie Garden which is possibly at its most beautiful now as the seed heads ripen and the autumn sun shines across the grasses.  However, it is striking how many of us nominated small private gardens which we pass by or visit on a regular basis.  It just goes to show that our favourite gardens don’t have to be huge spaces designed on a massive scale – gardens are very personal and speak to us all in very different ways.

To ease us into the morning, Mary read us an excerpt from Ambra Edwards’ book called “Head Gardeners”.  Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain are the couple behind the beautiful garden at West Dean College.  It was fascinating to hear how their joint passion for gardening has shaped the garden and how it has become so much a part of their lives.

As it is peak Dahlia season at the moment, it is necessary to keep dead heading regularly in order to prolong flowering.  To make sure you remove flowers that are dead and not buds which are about open, look for squishy, pointy flower tops which are the seed heads and need to be removed to concentrate energy into the emerging new flowers.  The picture below shows a spent flower head (right) and a new bud which is rounded and firm.


Cut the stem back to the nearest leaf joint, so removing the apical dominance of the main stem.  This will extend the life of the plant.

The Plant I.D. today concentrated on grasses.  Valued in the garden for their texture, sound and movement and providing a long season of interest, it was interesting to focus on a few examples we have growing in the garden.

Pennisetum macrourum or South African fountain grass.


These sun-loving plants with their thin, spikey panicles are not totally frost hardy in cooler climates.  They grow in clumps and send out runners which go on to produce new clumps of narrow green leaves which turn yellow in autumn.  The flower panicles are produced in late summer/early autumn.

Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’


These neat, clump-forming deciduous grasses have vivid green and yellow stripes, turning slightly red in autumn/early winter.  They do best in full sun although will tolerate partial shade.  Growing to 30cm, they look good planted in terracotta pots.  They will disappear completely during the winter.

Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’ or swith grass ‘Schenandoah’


These deciduous perennials are proper ‘prairie grasses’ and grow to 90cm in full sun.  Characterised by their blue-grey narrow leaves, these take on a reddish tinge in late summer.  The delicate flowers spikes are produced on tall stiff stems which last through the winter in clumps.

Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’


These rhizomatous perennial grasses grow well in full sun and form clumps of upright blue-grey leaves which turn a reddish colour in autumn.  They produce weeping pannicles of purple-tinged flowers in late summer/early autumn.  In the right conditions they can grow up to a metre.

Pennisetum alopecuroides viridescens or Black Fountain Grass


Growing to around 60cm, these are slightly smaller than the regular species and are a good choice for the smaller garden.  In late summer, the purple-black flower plumes emerge, contrasting well with the slender green leaves.  The leaves turn more yellow in the autumn and the seed heads provide a valuable food source for birds.  They prefer a sunny position and look great in containers.

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’


These are probably the oldest cultivated form of Miscanthus and originate from Japan.  Their leaves are slightly variegated but as a whole they give off a greyish effect.  In warmer climates, reddish-pink flowers are produced in late summer although in cooler areas they seldom flower.

When choosing grasses, check their growing conditions as some dislike growing in chalk which is tricky in our Brighton gardens!

Jobs this week:

  • Pot on hardy annual seedlings which have self-seeded, eg ammi and escholzia.
  • Pot on wallflowers into individual pots (adding chicken manure).  The tops were pinched out to remove the apical dominance and to make the plants more bushy.  These will be planted eventually amongst the tulips.


  • Cutting back the catmint and jasmine underneath the arches.


  • Potting on cuttings of dianthus.


  • Cutting back the mints in the Top Garden.
  • Replanting the containers in the front garden.


  • Major action in the compost heaps.


We are trying to keep to a strict toutine with the compost heaps and are continuing with the ‘traffic light’ system to organise the heaps in terms of readiness.



Green waste for the compost heap should only be placed in the green bin.  The amber bin is work in progress and the red bin is full of compost ready to be used.



This rose has been pruned for winter interest.  Its name is Rosa serecia subsp omeiensis pteracantha – try remembering that one…..

Friday 13th July




Nearing the end of the Friday Group year, it was our last morning in the garden until September.  Next week we’ll be at Parham House and Gardens to relax and spend time in the beautiful garden and nursery before sharing a picnic lunch.

The Plant I.D. this week concentrated on plants we’re using to fill the gaps left by late spring plants and those that have suffered in this hot weather:

Begonia ‘Renoir’ (Impressionist series)


This striking architectural plant is often grown just for its foliage (although it sometimes produces small pink flowers above its leaves).  It loves the shade and should be grown in free-draining soil and watered and fed regularly. However, it does benefit from a good mulch, eg. a mixture of mushroom and standard compost.  If grown in full sun, it should be watered in the evening to avoid scorching the leaves.

Lemon verbena


Often confused with lemon balm (which can be very invasive), lemon verbena is a sweet smelling tender perennial and is often used for making herbal tea.  It is best grown in a container in full sun and kept under cover during the winter months.

Senecio cineraria ‘Cirrus’


This is an evergreen sub-shrub which is often grown as an annual in full sun.  It has silvery-grey furry leaves with clusters of daisy-like flowers in summer.

Alstroemeria ‘Indian Summer’


This clump-forming perennial grows to about 1m and has dark green/purple lance-shaped leaves. The yellow-orange funnel-shaped flowers appear from summer through to autumn.  They have red markings and brown streaks on the inner petals.

Streptocarpus saxorum ‘Concord Blue’


This indoor (in this country) plant originates from South Africa and has dark green fleshy leaves and delicate violet pansy-like flowers.  It should be kept in shade or semi-shade and will flower all summer if kept moderately watered.

Jobs this week:

  • Removing the sweet peas as they are dried out and putting them on the compost. We will save the sweet pea seed pods for next year and squashes will be planted in their place.


  • Tidying the herb bed, dead-heading and clipping the box hedging which surrounds it.  Cuttings were taken from some of the herbs, eg. rosemary and sage.


  • Planting out exotic containers with Tibouchina urvilleana, gingers and cannas.


  • Cutting back and watering in the Top Garden.
  • General dead-heading around the garden.
  • Weeding and watering Lil’s Bed.
  • Cutting back and dead-heading under the arches.



It feels strange to be leaving the garden for the summer but we’ll be back in the autumn, fresh from our holidays and with renewed enthusiasm for the challenges and creativity which lie ahead.

Friday 6th July


As we reach the height of summer, the garden is looking amazing with colour everywhere.  The pots in particular are looking great, benefitting from the long sunny days and plenty of feed.

Other plants are coming on well, including the dahlias which were left to overwinter in the ground.  We made sure that they were mulched well and they seem to be all the better for being left undisturbed – they are growing into big, strong plants and promise to be a highlight in the late summer garden.

The plant I.D. today featured some of the stars of our containers:

Heliotrope ‘Cherry Pie’


This half hardy annual has dark green, deep-veined leaves and tiny purple flowers with the most delicious scent – just like cherry pie.  In warmer areas it can be grown as a perennial but is best grown as an annual as it can become very leggy and straggly in later years.  It is at its best planted in a container on the patio where its scent can be enjoyed on a hot summer day.

Plectranthus argentatus


This sun-loving member of the mint family from Australia is fantasic in containers.  Its velvet-textured silvery foliage looks great with our Heliotropes and Pelargoniums, being a great foil to their rich colours.  Our Plectranthus have been grown from cuttings taken from plants bought by Bridge from the shop at East Ruston Old Vicarage in Norfolk.  Its insignificant pale lavender blooms are often pinched out but if left, they are a great pollinator.

Pelargonium ‘Tip Top Duet’


This compact Pelargonium has pale pink flowers, the upper petals being edged in wine-red and the lower petals veined with violet.

Geranium ‘Rozanne’


This stunning violet-blue Geranium can grow to 60cm and will spread vigorously if given free reign.  Its white-centred flowers can reach 5cm across and will bloom right the way through the summer.  It was short-listed for the Plant of the Centenary for the decade 1993-2002 and won the peoples’ vote.

Tagetes ‘Cinnabar’


This half hardy annual has fiery red flowers, tinged with a yellow edge.  It will grow right up until the first frosts in well-drained soil in sun or part shade.

Ipomea – Morning Glory


This tender climbing annual can be tricky to grow and is very sensitive to the cold.  It can look lovely scrambling through other plants in a border but at the Garden House we grow it in a terracotta pot.  It needs heat to germinate and is unlikely to flower in a poor summer.  It needs to be established to flower and so it is a good idea to sow the seeds in March and keep them in a a heated greenhouse or on a warm window sill.

Phygelius capensis – Cape fuchsia


  • This semi-evergreen small shrub has triangular ovate leaves with tubular orange-red flowers.  It grows well in most soils in a sheltered sunny position but may need to be protected during the winter in colder areas.  It can also be quite invasive so must be kept in check in restricted areas.

Jobs this week:

  • Sorting out the compost and spreading it on the hedge border, ready for new planting.


  • Refreshing the hedge border with new plants and cutting down early summer seed heads.


  • Removing the allium heads from the bed by the greenhouse, storing them for Christmas.


  • Pruning the espaliered fruit trees in Lil’s Bed.


  • Picking the blueberries and red currants and weeding and feeding the blueberry pots.
  • Pruning the Rosa banksiae on the terraces.  As it is an early-flowering rose in May, it really needs to be pruned now in order to produce blooms nest year.



  • Sowing biennials.


  • Clearing the weed from the pond.