Friday 27th September 2019

OK.  Three guesses.  What season are we in now?


Beautiful and bountiful


Almost as nice as…..


But we’re getting ahead of ourselves

Plants and their names

All plants belong to a family, and the plants within that family have certain things in common.  However, they might not be immediately obvious to the naked eye!  For example, the Rose family (Rosaceae) is comprised not only of Roses, but also of Cotoneaster, Prunus, Alchemilla, Sorbus and Rubus, to name but a few.  As a rule, the flowers in this family all have five sepals and five petals.

Who knew?

The largest family among flowering plants is that of the Asteraceae.  Other families  include Ranunculaceae, Papaveraceae and Solanaceae.  Check ’em out!


This is such an important issue in horticulture and something we revisit every year at Friday Group.  The reason plants have Latin names (as well as common ones) is not to scare or intimidate gardeners, but so they can be specifically and universally identified.  Latin is an unchanging language and by using the system of ‘binomial nomenclature’ (a way of naming all living things), devised by Carl Linnaeus in the 18th century, we can specify exactly which organism we are concerned with.  Common plant names can vary from place to place and country to country, but the Latin name of a plant means that it can be uniquely identified anywhere in the world.

For example, a rose could be any number of colours, shapes, types.  However, Rosa moyesii ‘Geranium’ is this particular rose –  

Rosa moyesii ‘Geranium’


This is a wild rose cultivar, as should be apparent from the leaves.  A tall shrub rose with orange-red single flowers and pronounced anthers.  Come the autumn, it produces the most fabulous flagon-shaped hips – provided it hasn’t been dead-headed by an overly-enthusiastic gardener.

Labels are written as shown, using a fine, black, permanent marker.

Written on the label below is the name of a maple tree.  The first word gives the plant’s genus (a bit like a surname) and the second gives the species.  The species name tells us something about the plant – perhaps its colour/form, where it is from or maybe the person the plant is named after.  Here we can see that this maple tree (Acer) has leaves shaped like the palm of a hand (palmatum).  And we know that it is different from other types of maple tree.


The genus name is written starting with a capital letter, but the whole of the species name is written in lower case.  Other examples of the two-name system are: Helleborus orientalis; Campanula pyramidalis; Lavendula dentata.

When plant breeders develop new plants, often a third name is added, which shows that the plant has been bred by someone and given a name.  This cultivar (or variety) name, is written with a capital letter and is in single quotation marks.  For example: Betula utilis ‘Jacquemontii’ and Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’.


At Garden House we place labels in the 12.00 o’clock position, at the back of pots or trays.  When sowing seeds or planting seedlings, we also date the label at the top.

Plant Ident.

This week, Bridge talked about tender perennials – and below are examples of these.  (N.B. Note the labels which accompany them.)

Tender perennials are plants which have lifecycles of over two years PROVIDED they are kept frost-free over the winter months!  They can be kept in a heated greenhouse or indoors in a light and airy place, and can only go out into the garden again when all danger of frost has passed – usually around May (although this can vary from location to location).

One way of ensuring tender perennial plants will survive is to take plenty of cuttings.

Tetrapanax papyrifer ‘Rex’

The Chinese rice-paper plant is a tender perennial, and one of the best-looking exotics.    It has massive palm-shaped leaves; Architectural Plants describes it as a Fatsia japonica on steroids.


Salvia involucrata 

Salvias are part of the Lamiaceae family, members of which have lipped flowers and square stems – like Mint, Thyme, Phlomis and Lamiums.



Pelargonium ‘Paton’s Unique’


Helichrysum microphyllum


The (species) word microphyllum tells us that this plant has very small leaves.


Plectranthus argentatus


Plectranthus argentatus (the species word argentatus, means silver) is on the right, whilst on the left is Plectranthus ciliatus (careful how you pronounce it).

Jobs for the week:

Underneath the arches

We’re not going to dream our dreams away – because the beds there need weeding and clearing before being planted with Geraniums and Digitalis


Cornus mas

The Cornelian cherry needs its canopy raising – or, if you’re not terribly PC, its skirts need lifting.  Prune back the Philadelphus too.


We’re going in here, here and here…

Prune the Jasmine

It’s growing on one of the arches – and has got very “hairy”.  Cut back leggy stems to two buds.


Short back and sides?


Meticulous clearing up going on here

Work on cut flower border

Cut remaining flowers and remove some plants.  Dig over the bed, add compost, then set out Wallflowers so they can start to get their roots down.  Later, these will be moved to their intended flowering positions.


Work in progress


Labelled too!


Here’s one I prepared earlier

And the genus name?  Erysimum, of course!


Pot on Pelargonium cuttings in the upper greenhouse


Seed collecting

Collect seeds of Hollyhocks and Nigella papillosa ‘African Bride’


Nigella papillosa ‘African Bride’


Plant out Box plants

And plant up an old pair of boots with Sempervivums.  Well, why not?

Hope you used the right boots?


Excellent tool care

Remove teasels from beds

And take out all dead, damaged and diseased material.


Cut flowers to fill jugs in the Garden Room


Echoes of summer


As we worked, the Macmillan Coffee Morning was taking place, and we welcomed visitors in to enjoy the garden, coffee and cake.  Recipe books were on sale too.


It’s essential to check for quality…


Just a small piece, to see if it’s as delicious as it looks

It is!



someone’s been very thorough with their checking


Summer may have gone, but there are upsides to autumn


Friday 20th September 2019


Our second Friday back and we found ourselves basking in the warmth of an Indian summer.  But, this is no time for basking – we’re not sharks, after all.  Let’s get straight onto the

Plant Ident.  

Not so much an identification challenge this week, more a discussion concerning plants and their lifecycles.  We also considered how to define/describe them.  Sounds easy, doesn’t it?  Let’s see….



A tree.  Actually this is Prunus ‘Tai Haku’, the Great White Japanese Cherry, up on the top terrace at Garden House.  Spectacular in spring with its clouds of pure white blossoms.  In botanical terms, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated, woody, central stem or trunk.  Usually the stem is a single trunk which is surrounded by a layer of bark.  It generally supports a canopy of branches and leaves overhead.  Two obvious types of trees are deciduous and evergreen.



Small to medium-sized perennial woody plants with multiple stems.  Often rounded in shape, and generally smaller than trees.  Abelia grandiflora (above) is an example – as are Viburnum, Berberis, Hebe, Forsythia and Philadelphus.


A tongue twister.  These are even smaller perennial, woody plants, such as Rosemary, Lavender and Sage, with a soft top and a woody base.  When pruning them, it’s important never to cut down into the old stems.  Instead, cut back to about 2.5 cms above the old wood.

white potted purple petaled flower






A perennial plant is one which has a lifecycle of more than two years – so trees, shrubs and sub-shrubs fall into this category.

There are others too, which are the backbone of many garden borders as they are  good, dependable plants which can provide interest over many months:-

Herbaceous perennials


These are non-woody plants with a soft top which die down in the winter but return in the spring (they are deciduous) – and which come back year after year in the garden.  Generally these are the hardy plants found in a traditional herbaceous border, like Sedum, Phlox, Heleniums, Geraniums and (see above) Japanese Anemones.

Unfortunately, there are always exceptions to the rule – and some herbaceous perennials don’t die down in the winter as they are evergreen.  Bergenias and Hellebores, for instance.  Unhelpful but true.

Tender Perennials

Pelargoniums are tender perennials.  As with other perennials, these have a life cycle of over two years.  However.  They must be kept frost-free over the winter months, or they will die!  A heated greenhouse or somewhere light and airy indoors is perfect.  When all danger of frost has passed, they can be brought out into the garden again.  Heliotropes, Argyranthemums and some Fuchsias are also tender.  Basically, tender perennials require tender, loving care.

(N.B. Pelargoniums are NOT Geraniums!  Geraniums are hardy plants which can survive the winter outside.)



Pelargonium Palace



Plants with a lifecycle that takes two years to complete.  Foxgloves are biennials.  After being sown in May, June, July, they can be planted out in October and will flower in late spring/summer the following year.  They grow stems, roots and a rosette of leaves in their first year, and, after remaining dormant over the winter months, form spikes of flowers in the next.  Other biennials are:  Honesty, Sweet William, Wallflowers, Parsley.  They often self-seed.

Hardy Annuals

Hardy annuals don’t need heat to germinate.  By sowing them in pots/modules you have a better degree of control over them as they grow – and, by giving them protection from the elements over the winter in a greenhouse or cold frame, they will grow into bigger and better plants and will flower earlier.   They can also be sown directly into the soil in the  spring, and will flower the same year.  Examples are Calendulas, Cornflowers and Corn Cockles.  There are also other plants not beginning with ‘C’.

These seeds


become these plants.



Half-Hardy Annuals

These seeds need warmth in order to germinate.  Bottom heat, if you’ll pardon the expression.  Once sown in trays, pots or modules, they can be put on a heated mat or in a propagator at a temperature of about 20 – 22 degrees.  Some, like Nicotiana, need to be sown early (February), whilst others, like Cosmos, germinate and grow quickly – and these can be sown later on, in April.  They should be removed from the heat after the first true set of leaves have formed.

Plant out from the end of May, once all danger of frost has passed.


This lovely Mexican sunflower, Tithonia rotundifolia, is an example of a half-hardy annual, as is Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Sensation Picotee’, shown below


Monocarpic plants 

Now we’re getting properly technical… examples are Echiums and Angelicas.  Plants which have a 3-year lifecycle and die at the end of that period.  They can self-seed.


Definition: a known superfood / remedy for gardeners.  Appears fleetingly, beautiful to behold, but gone in seconds.  Provide in abundance for best results.


Jobs for the week:

Pot up Iris germanica


Looks like fun

Work on Pelargoniums in the greenhouse.

Deadhead; pot on; feed; water; label   


And pot on the Streptocarpus.


(It’s a plant, not a throat infection.)

Prune the raspberries


Cut out old fruit canes and tie in the new canes on which next year’s fruit will be produced.  Weed beds.

Work on Little Dixter

Transform into Great Dixter


Looks Great

Collect seeds from Sweet Peas and Red Orach


Cut back Mints and feed.  Feed Agapanthus plants


Use Maxicrop seaweed fertiliser.


Prune the yew tree 

Then cloud prune the Myrtle into (and I quote) “a blobby, fat shape.”

Those nice people from Niwaki would faint clean away


It takes a lifetime to learn cloud-pruning

No pressure

Sow hardy annual seeds into modules

First take your seeds and some module trays.


Sow onto a compost mixed 50:50 with perlite.


Sprinkle lightly with vermiculite; this is translucent so light can still get through.  Label and water.



Propagate Pinks from cuttings  


Pinks (or Dianthus) are easy to propagate from ‘pipings’.  These are the soft tips of shoots which haven’t flowered.  They should be about five pairs of leaves in length.  Here, pipings are being picked from old Pink plants.  I feel another tongue twister coming on.

Plant the Pinks’ pipings in potting compost.  A 50:50 mix of compost and perlite.


And who amongst you is Mrs Sinkins?  Oh, it’s the Pink!  Got it.  Dianthus ‘Mrs Sinkins’

And here she is –


Pretty Pink pipings – picked, properly prepared, planted and, hey presto, we have propagation.  Prolific and painless.

Sow vegetable seeds

Broad Beans, Chard, Rocket and Winter Spinach?


No problem!

Work in greenhouse

Clear the beds.  Apply some pelleted chicken manure as fertiliser.  Plant out Chrysanthemums.  Label and water.

Blue skies, sun, flowers and Sunflowers












Friday 13th September 2019


New term, new pencils, new faces and a new bottle of Radox.  (Other relaxants are available.)  And a warm welcome from Garden House greets Friday Group as they arrive for the 2019 – 2020 gardening year.  This is the 14th year since the group was first established.  Unbelievable but true.

21aa519e-2609-48d2-8b1a-d3ccd2637ef8 (2).jpg


So, after an introductory session concerning general info., health and safety, social media, plans for the future, The Toilet, Those Cats , That Tortoise and The Very Important Cake Rota….

Off we go –

This year’s projects will include:

  • Making a colourful border in the Top Garden
  • Creating a rose meadow behind the greenhouse
  • Creating a meadow with annuals at the bottom of the garden

Essential to the process will be blood, sweat and tears.  A bit like blood, fish and bone fertiliser, but more personal.


This lot don’t look deterred in the slightest

Plant Ident.

Bridge showed some examples of annual plants – ones which complete their life cycles within one growing season before dying.  This means they are sown, then germinate, grow, flower, set seed and die within the course of one year or season.  Just to make things more interesting, there are hardy and half-hardy annuals.   Hardy annuals can withstand frost and are often sown in the autumn or early spring.  They can be sown directly into the soil where they are intended to flower.  Half-hardy annuals, on the other hand, need to be sown in a frost-free place, ideally with a little warmth from a heated mat or propagator, and given protection from the cold and wet.  They shouldn’t be planted out until all danger of frost has passed.

Thunbergia alata ‘Superstar Orange’


Aka black-eyed Susan.  Used to be grown predominantly as a conservatory plant, but is now often grown outside in containers  (up a support) or in hanging baskets.  It can also be planted in a sunny, warm and sheltered corner of the garden.  This variety has large yellow-orange flowers with a dark central eye.  It will grow successfully in most soils, and is vigorous, so will climb happily up an obelisk/ trellis  Because it’s a half-hardy annual, it’s tender, so protect from frost.  Sow in March on warmth.

Rhodochiton atrosanguineus


With its purple/mauve bell-shaped flowers and long central purple/black tube, the  purple bell vine attracts much attention.  Sow in January, on heat (the seeds, not you).  It has quite a long germination period, so be patient with this tender lovely.  Grow in containers or in a border in moist, well-drained soil in full sun.  Next year, why not dazzle your visitors with this amazing climber?  They will be well-impressed.

Ipomoea lobata


Named Spanish flag, for obvious reasons, this half-hardy annual climber rollicks away in the summer, producing spectacular red/yellow flowers.  Plant in full sun in containers or well-drained soil.  Dead-heading (removing the old flowers) increases the flowering period.  Sow in April on warmth.

Nicotiana mutabilis ‘Marshmallow’


A lovely variety of the tobacco plant, producing masses of pink, pale pink and white flowers above tall stems from late June through to the end of September.  Once again, dead-heading will prolong the period of flowering.   Sow this half-hardy annual in January on heat.  Looks great in borders grown with roses.  Best in full sun and well-drained soil.

Scabiosa atropurpurea ‘Salmon Pink’


A hardy annual.  Scabious is also known as the pincushion flower, and this variety comes in a lovely shade of pink.  It’s great for pollinators, blooms for a long period – especially if dead-headed regularly – and performs well as a cut flower.  Heck, this one is a must!  Grow in full sun in well-drained soil.  Sow in September (for flowering the following summer) or in April/May.

So, that concludes our first five plant idents. of the year.  Learn, revise and beware.  You may be tested.  The Christmas quiz can be fiendish.

Jobs for the week:

Time to get out into the garden which is looking stunning in the sunshine.

43054715-cc40-43d9-a1e1-7d021707d4b8 (1).jpg

Hang on.  Jobs first – cake later!

This is more like it


Getting properly stuck in

4992843e-3ae1-40d3-9c87-be6d44ce0fee (1).jpg

Or maybe just properly stuck?


This week involved new members familiarising themselves with the garden and all its delights.  From the potting and tool sheds to the water butts and, naturally, our old favourite…

The Compost Heap


Some people love it more than others


Then introductions to Aniseed, of course


Did someone call?

And there’s a tortoise somewhere about


How do you do?

Then on with weeding and dead-heading


Always cut down to the next new bud or leaf


Time for the cake break


Then back to it….

Compostable waste in green trugs can go to the compost heap


Got it!

Green?  Go directly to compost heap.


Black trugs are just for weeds


I see no weeds


Me neither!

Well, in that case we might as well go home.

Until next week…















Friday 19th July 2019


It’s now time for Friday Group’s summer break at Garden House.  Some colleagues will be leaving, some remaining.  Sad to be at the end of another gardening year here, but just think what has grown in this fertile environment over the last twelve months.  Friendship, fun, knowledge, horticultural passion, seeds, flowers, fruit, veg., the compost heap, the pile of cake recipes…. the list goes on.

But, end of year celebrations can’t go ahead until we’ve done our end of year test.  Heck.

So, our Plant Ident. was to:

Name these


It’s, erm….


Oh, it’s on the tip of my tongue…


Hang on, I’ve got this…


Looks familiar…


Surely, that’s the hot stuff marigold?


I know, I know!  It’s a rose.

What do you mean, “What sort?”


Only a tenuous idea about this one


For some reason, I’m thinking Nigella Lawson?


It’s silver-leaved.  It’s soft and downy.

It’s no good.

Its name escapes me.


Bingo!  Helenium ‘Sahin’s Early Flowerer’


Answers?  Here they are: 1. Pelargonium ‘Attar of Roses’  2. Verbena bonariensis  3. Alstroemeria ‘Indian Summer’  4. Salvia ‘Amistad’  5. Tagetes ‘Burning Embers’  6. Rosa ‘Warm Welcome’  7. Stipa tenuissima  8. Nigella papillosa ‘African Bride’  9.  Plectranthus argentatus  10. Helenium ‘Sahin’s Early Flowerer’

Points mean prizes… 10 out of 10 anyone?  No?

Moving swiftly on then –

Jobs for the week: 

No rest for the wicked, so we crack on with a few things which need attention before enjoying our shared lunch together.

Sift, sort and turn that compost heap.

Tools for the job.


Coming through!


The engine room of the garden.

Work in the cutting garden


Tie in new growth on the espalier apples


Prick out the wallflower seedlings


They need pricking out now, before they become too etiolated

Look it up

Weeding, watering, dead-heading in the sunken garden



Little Dixter


Prettification.  It’s a word.

Check all the summer planting in pots


Check. Check. Check.

All good.

Remove self-seeded red orache from the dahlia bed.


She’s in there somewhere


It’s OK.  Rescue is on the way…

Sort through cold frame; clean, weed and water

 1.  Find the cold frame


    2.  Here it is


3.  Sort it, clean it, weed it, water it



Take a selection of cuttings for all to take home


We’ll need quite a few


A few more, maybe?


Looking good


Hey presto!  Plenty of cuttings to go round

Take a moment to appreciate the zen-like calm of the newly restored greenhouse


And breathe…. and relax……

Tailor-made for precious pelargoniums

Down tools, everyone!  Time for lunch.

Someone’s brought a small bowl for hers….


Just pop mine in there, please.  So kind.

Meanwhile, some have been busy with preparations


Revealing a range of delicious delicacies


Anything for afters?

Well, yes.  A morsel or two


Good grief!




               So, so good

And summer pudding too?

But of course!



Then some fond farewells, followed by a Grande Finale

Keyboard at the ready…


I give you….

  ‘The Wild Gardener’


That’s the Wild Gardener singing

Of course, we all joined in with a rousing chorus

So, did it all go well?


Frankly, my dear, it was outstanding


Until September then –


‘May the road rise to meet you,

May the wind be always at your back,

May the sun shine warm upon your face

And the rains fall soft upon your fields.’

















Friday 12th July 2019


Back together at Garden House, after spending last Friday tending the gardens of two Friday Group members.  There are still roses aplenty in the garden here, but this week our Plant Ident. featured: No Roses!

These plants, however, are all coming into their own right now.

Plant ident.

Salpiglossis sinuata ‘Black Trumpets’


Is it the deepest, plummiest maroon?  Is it black?  Burnished coppery-brown?  Whatever it is, this half-hardy annual is a beautiful, velvety thing with golden-yellow stamens.  Has the look of a petunia or nasturtium, because it too is in the potato family (Solanaceae).  Good in the border, in pots and also as a cut flower.

Salvia ‘Amistad’


A perennial sage (Lamiaceae family) which produces striking, deep blue flowers in the summer months.  Loves sun, but copes with partial shade.  Bees love it and it makes a great cut flower.  Cuttings can be taken from the side shoots (cut just under a leaf joint) – and in fact this is the best way to propagate them.  They are quick-rooting in a multi-purpose compost, either in a propagator or on the window-sill, with your bath hat over the top.  Sure, you will have wet hair, but also lots of lovely new plants.  Keep them, and yourself, frost-free over the winter months.

And here we see it en plein air


Allium ‘Red Mohican’


Featured in the top right of the photo

This variety is one of the last alliums to flower in the garden, so is good for extending the season of allium allure from May through to July.   Looks particularly good with its strong stems emerging from frothy blue clouds of nepeta.  Try it.   

Tagetes ‘Burning Embers’


Half-hardy annual.  Also known as Tagetes linnaeus.  Long stiff stems make these good flowers for cutting, but African marigolds can also be used for companion planting to discourage greenfly – especially with tomatoes.  These little beauties come true from seed, so collect it in the autumn ready for sowing in the spring.  Reliable, and produces masses of flowers.


‘Burning Embers’ – all aglow

Helianthus annuus ‘Magic Roundabout’


A tall and multi-stemmed hardy annual, this sunflower is a stunner, with bi-coloured flowers which attract loads of insects.  Birds love the seed-heads during the winter.  A great cut-and-come-again plant.  Good in a vase, as it has stiff stems, but also very suitable in a front garden or the back of a border.  Not a bad idea to stake the plant as it rockets upwards; it can reach 1.8 m.


Zinnia elegans ‘Meteor’


This really is a zingy zinnia: bright red and in your face.  Grow this half-hardy annual in full sun for best flowers and impact.  Loved by butterflies.  Strong sturdy stems make it a good choice as a cut flower.


Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Picotee Rose’


A very pretty half-hardy annual; useful in the cutting garden.  White with a delicate wash of magenta-pink.  Dead-heading increases its longevity as it encourages further flowers to form.

Here they are as nature intended


Jobs for the week:

Pot on abutilons and pelargoniums

(N.B. these are pelargoniums and NOT geraniums!)


Pelargoniums.  Right.  Got it.

Also, check the new greenhouse.  Admire it in all its restored glory; no longer a listing building – more of a listed one.  Weed/water as necessary.

Prune the pittosporum.


There’s a pittosporum problem requiring prompt pruning.  (Try pronouncing that after a glass of Pimms.)  It’s overhanging the compost heap, which cannot be blocked under any circumstances.  Take out some of the older stems and reduce its height.  And do take care!  Falling off the ladder could result in you being composted.

Prick out foxglove seedlings.  Some can be taken home.  Stand well back as the hordes descend.


Finish sowing biennials


There are verbascum seeds to sow along with a few others.  This is just about the last opportunity to sow biennials this year.

Cut out flowered heads of euphorbias in the apple tree bed


Take out old stems to allow new growth to develop.  Take care with the milky sap which can cause an allergic reaction.  Water.

Work on the cut flower bed


Remove the calendulas which have mildew and replace with new plants.  Weed, water , support.  Plant out nasturtiums.

Weed the herb bed


Especially around Shailer’s White Rose.  Plant nicotiana and salvias.

Dead-head and tie-in the roses in the sunken garden


Some of these are prickly devils, so wear armour and keep the first-aid box to hand.    Water and feed.


Another lovely sunflower in the garden at the moment is ‘Black Magic’.  Memories of a Little Mix of chocolates in a box….


Careful.  All this ‘Black Magic’ could put a spell on you.















Friday 5th July 2019

Unkempt, untidy, absent-minded,
Soaked through with smell of dill and rye,
With linden-blossom, grass and beet-leaves,
The meadow-scented month July.


July.  How did that happen?


This week Friday Group played away from home, working in members’ gardens.  The results?  Need you ask?

One team played in Hove.  Here they are, having a serious horticultural discussion, planning the day’s work.


Another team were over in Woodingdean.  Ditto the planning.  No mention at all of interesting films seen recently, good books to read, great restaurants to visit, politics, religion, the State of the Nation.  None of that.  As if.

So, straight down to it then.

Here we are, clearing and shearing.








More bending






Removing the weeding


And how are they getting on in Hove?

Here they are.  Gone.


Here they are.  Back again.

Being fed and watered.

But it’s not all beer and skittles…


More bending. (What is she doing?)


Garden redesign


  Before                   and                     After

Victory is ours!


And mine!


We’re always saying how Friday Group is a kind of horticultural support network.  This is another kind….


Living proof that lessons learned at Garden House are absorbed and transplanted elsewhere

All back to Garden House next week


Friday 28th June 2019

The summer mantra.  Water, weed, feed.  Water, weed, feed.  Repeat.


The garden is starting to glow….

Plant ident.

It’s still June – so, obviously there are more roses to identify.  We’re pretty much drunk on roses by this stage….


Rosa ‘Red Letter Day’


A really good shrub rose from Peter Beales.  It bears double blooms of deep red (could it be the colour of a post van delivering the red letter?)  Healthy.  Reliable.  1.2 x 0.9m

Rosa x odorata ‘Mutabilis’


Exquisite.  This shrubby China rose has petals like pink taffeta.  Long golden stamens set the flowers off to perfection.  Glossy foliage.  Flowers for months on long, lax, almost thornless stems.   Best in full sun. 1.5 x 0.9m

Rosa ‘Gloria Mundi’

Sprays of semi-double scarlet flowers adorn this small Polyantha shrub rose.  Repeat-flowering, but no great shakes on the scent front. 0.6 x 0.6 m


Rosa ‘Alberic Barbier’

A Wichurana rambling rose which repeat-flowers.  Very disease resistant with lovely glossy, green leaves.  At Garden House it greets visitors as they arrive at the front gate, where it romps over the archway.


Its semi-double flowers are creamy-white in colour, with a wash of yellow.  A great choice for a rambler – and good on north walls as well as other aspects.  And it’s scented.  Looks like you’ll have to get one.  4.5 x 3.0m

Rosa ‘Dorothy Perkins’


The last rose to come out at Garden House – this is another Wichurana rambler.  Small, double blooms – not much in the way of fragrance, but a spectacular display of pinkness. Can get mildew, but if you cut back hard after flowering and water/feed regularly in growth and flower, then it should be fine.  3 x 2.5m

Rosa ‘Chevy Chase’

A strikingly beautiful multiflora rambling rose bearing large clusters of small, double flowers in the early summer. Vigorous.  Flowers profusely over a long period.  Deep crimson.  Fine on a north wall.  Little fragance.  4.5 x 3.0m

Rosa ‘Roundelay’


A very good, healthy, Modern shrub rose.  Repeat flowering and very fragrant.  Its large, deep red blooms are fully double.  Good in the shade too.  1.2 x 0.9 m

Rosa ‘Munstead Wood’


Award-winning rose, named for the Surrey home of the famous horticulturalist and gardener, Gertrude Jekyll.  This is a beautifully fruity-scented English shrub rose, bred by David Austin.  The petals are fully double and a deep, rich, velvety crimson.  Good disease resistance.  Much loved, praised, and purchased.  Good as a specimen or in a mixed border. 1.0 x 1.0m

Rosa ‘Graham Stuart Thomas’

Another stunning English shrub rose from the David Austin stable, named for the famous writer, horticulturalist and gardener Graham S. Thomas, who chose the rose himself.  Beautiful double, cupped, yellow blooms with a delicate scent. 1.3 x 1.3m

Rosa omeiensis pteracantha


Sounds like a dinosaur.  Looks a bit like one too.  Terrifying thorns glow red with the sunlight on them – particularly spectacular in the winter.  (Not something most roses can boast about.)  Delicate fern-like foliage; small, single white flowers.  3.0 x 1.8m

Gillenia trifoliata


This attractive perennial shrub lives beneath the apple tree in the garden.  But why are we talking about it here? –  you may well ask.  It’s because, (and here comes an Interesting Fact), it’s in the Rosaceae family.  Fancy!  Bears delicate, white, star-shaped flowers over a long period in the summer and its leaves have good autumn colour.  Likes part shade, so would look good in a woodland border.  Dies down in the winter months.  1.0 x 0.6m

Jobs for the week:

Prick out and pot on


These are wallflowers – Erysimum, to be completely accurate.

Working in the top garden – improving privacy.

Plant up the new raised beds e.g. veronicastrums.  Add compost.

Work on cut-flower bed.

The cutting garden isn’t really doing as well as we’d like.  I wonder why?

‘Coming through! Outta my way.’


Ah ha!  That would explain it.

Stake plants where necessary. 


Adjust the string support system.  Cut the flowers so they will come again – especially the  sweet peas


Not so much string support – more a sculpture in string.  This one won the Mrs Joyful Prize for crocheting.

Work on Little Dixter

….making it even more decorative – if at all possible.


Oh, wow!  It is possible!

Pot up more dahlias

More dahlias?

20170830_131611 (1).jpg

Yes.  Like these.

Plant new rose and clematis outside the Garden Room


Weed the bed first, adding any non-weedy waste to the compost bin.  All good stuff.

Plant tomatoes in a pot.

Stake.  Tie in.  Pinch out side shoots.  Once trusses form, feed every week with a dilute solution of tomato fertiliser.  Water every day.

Take a break


 Strawberries?  What a good idea!

Weed the bed with the lion-head water feature.


Cut back old flowered stems of euphorbias. Plant Nicotiana mutabilis.

Plant salvias in metal pot.

Then home for a shower and a restorative cup of tea


Perfect Papaver.


A weekly account of the activities of the Friday Gardening Group at the Garden House in Brighton