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?

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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.


Friday 21st June 2019

It’s roses all the way in June…

A perfect pink polyantha

As it’s Midsummer’s Day, we were reminded that this is the time to prune spring flowering shrubs, such as kerria, forsythia, lilac and philadelphus.  Cutting off the old flowered stems/wood promotes the growth of new shoots – and it’s on these that next year’s flowers will bloom.  If a shrub is too tall, take out 1 in 3 stems to the base in order to encourage new growth.

Plant Ident.

With 68 roses in the garden here, there are always more to look at.  So we do.

Rosa Mundi

Also known as Rosa gallica ‘Versicolor’, this beautiful old rose has semi-double flowers splashed with pinks and white.  Bushy and compact; bears hips in the autumn.  Not many thorns – and fragrant.  Looks like raspberry ripple.  (Mmmm, raspberry ripple!)  Can’t beat it, don’t eat it.  0.9 x 0.9 m

Rosa ‘Clarence House’

Bred by Peter Beales in honour of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother for her 100th birthday.  This Modern Climber is repeat-flowering, highly scented and strong-growing.  The creamy-white double blooms have pale yellow centres and the leaves are a lovely glossy green.  3.6 x 3.0 m

Rosa ‘The Fairy’

A little beauty, which, though small in stature, is perfectly formed.  Repeat flowering.  In fact it flowers prolifically almost continuously throughout the summer.  Great for ground cover, and has lovely shiny foliage.  Get a Fairy for your garden.  0.6 x 1.2 m.

Rosa ‘Souvenir du Docteur Jamain’

An excellent climbing hybrid perpetual rose, much loved by the writer and gardener, Vita Sackville-West.  Probably one of the best climbers for a north facing wall, because the deep red flowers are prone to fading in full sun.  Repeat flowering, few thorns.  Loves regular and plentiful feeding.  That makes two of us.  3.0 x 2.0 m

Rosa ‘Maigold’

Glorious yellow-copper/orange blooms with golden stamens open from small, reddish buds.  This robust, repeat-flowering climber has glossy green leaves and is strongly scented.  Thorny.  Can take any aspect, including a north wall.  Belongs to the rose family Pimpinellifolia.  No idea what that means, but it’s a lovely word.  4.5 x 2.5 m

Rosa ‘Roseraie de l’Hay’

A repeat-flowering Rugosa old shrub rose.  Robust – good in coastal areas.  Large, perfumed crimson/purple flowers are followed by wonderful autumnal hips.  Good autumn colour too.  A beauty.  1.8 x 1.5 m

Rosa ‘Little White Pet’

Lives up to its name – a real little pet.  A repeat-flowering Polyantha rose, with many trusses of small white-cream flowers throughout the summer.  Fragrant.  0.6 x 0.6 m

Rosa ‘Harlow Carr’

David Austin Rose Harlow Carr

A fragrant English shrub rose bred by David Austin.  Bushy habit; strong, upright growth; flowers well all over.  1.0 x 1.0 m

Rosa ‘Ballerina’

Repeat flowering hybrid musk rose.  Generous sprays of small, pink/white, single flowers cover this attractive rose.  Good for ground cover/front of border.  Little fragrance but showy.  1.0 x 1.2 m

Rosa de Rescht

Portland rose family.  The roses of this shrub are the most beautiful, deep magenta-purple/pink.  Very fragrant, repeat-flowering.  Its flowers almost have a pompon dahlia look about them.  1.0 x 0.6 m

Rosa ‘Shailer’s White Moss’

Shailer's White Moss (Shrub Rose)

Another old rose.  This one is a Moss shrub rose, and is the white form of Rosa centifolia ‘Muscosa’.  Intensely mossed, this semi-double rose is strongly scented and has pure white flowers.  Summer flowering.  1.5 x 1.2 m.

Thanks to David Austin Roses for photo of R. ‘Harlow Carr’.  Thanks to Peter Beales Roses for all other rose photographs.  

Jobs for the week 

The garden was to be the venue for an event held by the Brighton Oasis Project in the afternoon, so had to look at its best – especially as the Mayor of Brighton was coming!  Tidying, clearing the pond, weeding, feeding, watering, cutting back were the order of the day.  All in aid of maximising  a marvellous Visitor Experience.

The feedback was Very Positive!

For some, the heat of the day proved too much, so a spot of immersion was called for.


Very funny


Come here and say that….

I think he’s just told her that old Two Ronnies joke about fork handles…


Little jewellery boxes of succulents


Such treasures


Here are two more treasures


Pricking out and potting on







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Potting up.

We must take time to notice the delights of little flowers

Like Nigella


She’s a lovely girl.

Friday 14th June 2019

“…he who dares not grasp the thorn

Should never crave the rose.”

                            (Anne Bronte)


Ah!  Looks like we crave roses at Garden House

Plant Ident.

We continued the theme of roses; Bridge has counted 68 different varieties in the garden. Can anyone beat that? This week we looked at:

Rosa ‘Wollerton Old Hall’

A wonderful, fragrant climber – its scent is said to be like myrrh with a hint of citrus.  Sounds mysterious!  Repeat-flowering, its large apricot blooms fade to cream.  Another winner from David Austin. 1.5 x 2.4m  (This photo courtesy of David Austin Roses.)

R. ‘François Juranville’ 

François Juranville (Rambling Rose)

A Wichurana rambler, 4.5 x 3m.  Many prefer this to R. Albertine.  Spectacular.  Double.  Dark pink.  Not much in the way of fragrance, but by way of compensation, the Peter Beales catalogue says it can be grown on a north facing wall.  (Thanks to Peter Beales Roses for all other rose photos in the Plant Ident section)

R. ‘Meg’

This is an outstandingly beautiful modern climber.  Its large, single flowers are buff-yellow flushed with apricot; repeat flowering and fragrant.  The foliage is dark and glossy.  The one in the garden here was planted in memory of Margaret Blyth, a member of Friday Group for many years.  2.4 x 1.2m,

R. ‘Veilchenblau’

This multiflora rambling rose is vigorous in habit, growing to around 4.5 x 3.6m.  Clusters of semi-double violet-blue flowers scramble through trees when allowed to do so, creating an extraordinary effect.  As they fade they turn blue-lilac then lilac-grey.  Few thorns.

R. ‘Crépuscule’

A Noisette rose.  Almost continuously flowering, producing orange-apricot blooms through the summer.  Few thorns.  Scented.  Can take partial shade.  3.6 x 1.5m.

R. ‘Jacqueline du Pré’

Another modern shrub rose, semi-double, repeat flowering and with strikingly lovely pinky-red stamens.  Musky fragrance.  Just beautiful…

R. ‘Bonica’

A modern shrub rose which repeat flowers over a long period.  Its semi-double blooms are fragrant and a lovely soft pink.  Grows vigorously, so is good for ground cover and hedging, but can be grown in a pot too.  An excellent little rose. 0.9 x 1.5m

R. ‘New Dawn’

New Dawn (Climbing Rose)

A lovely pale pink climbing rose.  3 x 2.5m.  Scented – and suitable for growing on a north wall.

R. ‘Buff Beauty’

An exquisite long-flowering hybrid musk rose.  Apricot-yellow and fragrant.  A vigorous sort, it can be trained as a small climber.  Lives up to its name – a beauty.  1.5 x 1.2m.

R. ‘Peter Beales’

A modern shrub rose.  Clusters of bright-red, single flowers are set off by attractive yellow stamens coming from the yellow centre.  Fragrant, repeat-flowering and produces decorative hips in the autumn if not dead-headed.  So, don’t dead-head.  1.2 x 0.9m.

R. ‘Mermaid’

Glossy leaves contrast well with the stunning pale yellow fading-to-white flowers of this lovely climbing rose.  Long-flowering and scented.  Can be grown on a north wall.  Take care though – it’s prickly!  6 x 4.5m

R. x odorata ‘Bengal Crimson’

Single, light-crimson flowers adorn this China rose, which grows with a lax habit.  Should flower every day of the year!  Get one to check this out.  2 x 2m.

– and here it is in the garden


As usual, everyone at Friday Group was hard at work.  See evidence below:-






and here.

Excellent stuff.

Friday 7th June 2019



Dear old Flanders and Swann.  Their weather forecasting is sadly proving to be more and more appropriate.  “June just rains and never stops.  Thirty days and spoils the crops.”  As optimistic gardeners, we can only respond with the age-old adage: “We need the rain.  The gardens will be glad of it.”

The Garden Room provides a cosy shelter as we wait for a gap in the showers…. everyone is keen to stay indoors.



Well, I’m certainly not going out in that, thank you very much.  Indoors for me.


Purrrfect.  Lovely and dry

Even the pots are taking shelter


Well, it would be potty not to

So, on with the Plant Ident.  And given the huge numbers of roses at Garden House, this week we looked at more of them.

An extravagance of roses


Rosa ‘Chevy Chase’


This multiflora rambling rose is fragrant, vigorous and produces small, crimson, double roses in great profusion.  Flowers from early summer to autumn.  Holds its colour in full sun, but also able to contend with being planted in woodland.  (4.5m x 3m).  A big favourite with Bridge.  Get one.

Rosa ‘Pompon de Paris’

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Oh, là là! The name alone conjures up images of Gay Paree; a laugh, a song, a tiddly om pom pom.  A small, early-flowering climber.  Very pretty.  Lovely delicate leaves, which are described as “fern-like”, offset beautiful, bright pink blooms. (3.6m x 1.8m).

Rosa ‘Leah Tutu’


Bred by Peter Beales Roses as a tribute to the wife of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, this is a repeat-flowering modern shrub rose.  Fragrant, golden-yellow, with glossy, dark green foliage.

Rosa glauca


This species rose (wild rose) is sometimes known as ‘Rosa rubrifolia’.  The simple but elegant single flowers are carried on arching stems.  The foliage is glaucous in colour.  Lovely red hips appear later on, in the autumn.  (2m x 1.5m approx.)

Rosa ‘James Galway’

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A short English climbing rose, bred by David Austin Roses.  The large, beautiful, pink double flowers become lighter towards the edges and have an Old Rose scent.  Easy, disease resistant and an excellent repeat bloomer.  Can be grown as a large shrub.  (3.75m x 1.2m)

Rosa ‘Francis E. Lester’


This delightful climber is from the Moschata family of roses.  The numerous single white flowers, with bright golden anthers, are washed pink at the edges of the petals.  Highly scented.  Has glossy green foliage.  Small, decorative orange-red hips in the autumn.  (4.5m x 3m).  Gorgeous.

Rosa ‘Alan Titchmarsh’


Another David Austin rose, named for the well-known horticulturalist, writer and broadcaster.  An English shrub rose with large, deep pink, fragrant blooms held on slightly arching stems.  Tough and healthy with good disease resistance.  (1.2m x 1.2m)

Rosa ‘William Lobb’


A Centifolia Moss rose – ‘Old Velvet Moss’.  A vigorous shrub, which needs support.  Can be trained into a sort of spider shape by pulling down its branches and staking them.  This encourages flowering along the horizontals.  The buds have the appearance of being covered in moss, and open to reveal large, double, purple-magenta blooms.  Deliciously fragrant, but a somewhat thorny customer!

Rosa ‘Compassion’


This  superb Climbing Hybrid Tea rose was Geoff Hamilton’s favourite.  Best grown up a wall rather than on an arch, as it has a rather stiff, upright habit and its stems can snap when being trained.  Vigorous, healthy and with a strong, sweet fragrance, the flowers are pink/coral pink in colour.  Repeat flowering; disease resistant.  A good ‘un.

Rosa ‘Phyllis Bide’


This rambler bears sprays of small, semi-double apricot/pink flowers flushed with yellow at the centre.  Unusually for a rambler, it’s repeat-flowering.  Fragrant.  (3.6m x 1.8m)

Rosa ‘Ghislaine de Féligonde’


A Musk Rambler, and another one that repeat flowers.  Very attractive, with glossy, green foliage – and few thorns!  Profuse clusters of flowers which fade from apricot-pink to cream.  Can be grown successfully over an arch – as at Garden House.  Bridge loves this one.  (2.4m x 2.4m)


And here she is, the lovely Ghislaine, having a rollicking time of it out in the garden.  Breathtakingly beautiful.

Our favourites?  Well, we loved R.’Chevy Chase’ and R. ‘Francis E. Lester’ and also the wildness of Rosa glauca.  But ask us again next week, and we’ll probably have three different answers.

Jobs for the week:

In theory, despite the rain, we are going to ….

Plant and stake dahlias

Feed the roses

With Uncle Tom’s Tonic – and check that each rose has the correct label. (There are around 70 different types of rose in the garden now, so good luck!)

Water and feed our summer display pots

As per

Remove the alliums

…from the bed next to the greenhouse, as they have now finished flowering.   Do this carefully, ensuring their stems and seed heads are kept intact.  Add compost to the bed.  Plant Nicotiana, Amaranthus and Hordeum jubatum.

Prick out foxgloves and black violas

Sow more foxglove seeds and other biennials

Deadhead all euphorbias

…being careful of the milky white sap.  It’s highly toxic and an irritant to skin and eyes.

In fact, what actually happened was this…..



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Just kidding

In reality we were out and about in wetsuits, snorkels and flippers


The fruits of their labour


But we’ll have to wait until next year to appreciate them in all their glory

Like this


In the meantime, pop the seedlings into the greenhouse on regulo 2

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Meanwhile, somewhere else in the garden…..

Now, these must all be the same length


Don’t worry.  It’s simple

As easy as the C major scale on the piano


Around about there?


Crikey!  Watch out for my fingers…


Oh, sorry.  Do you play the piano?

It’s OK.  Someone’s keeping an eye on things


So, another good day, in spite of the rain


In fact, maybe because of it




Friday 31st May 2019

The photo below gives a little clue about the main topic at Friday Group this week.


The group were joined by, amongst others, Charles, Gertrude, Cecile, Paul, Geoff and Albertine.  All very exciting.  We need to go straight to the Plant Ident.







For the Plant Ident., there were posies of rosies to consider:

Rosa ‘Dublin Bay’


A beautiful, velvety, deep red modern climbing rose.  Repeat flowering.  Vigorous.  Keeps its colour well, even in full sun.  Sadly, no fragrance, but it’s a stunner. (h. 2.4m x w.1.5m)

Rosa ‘Paul’s Himalayan Musk’


This, on the other hand, has SCENT in abundance!  A vigorous rambler, some might say rampant, with delightful little double flowers, soft pink fading to white.  A Moschata rose (h.7.5m  x  w.3.5m)

Rosa ‘Blush Noisette’


A climbing Noisette rose.  Clusters of very pretty, small, scented, blush-pink roses.  Long flowering season. (h.2.1 m  x  w.1.2 m )

Rosa ‘Warm Welcome’


A patio rose with small semi-double flowers.  Does well in a pot.  On the patio.  Bright orange isn’t for everyone, but its light scent with dark foliage makes it an attractive proposition. (h.2.7m x w.1.8m)

Rosa ‘Parkdirektor Riggers’


This hybrid modern climber was apparently bred for use in tropical gardens – so it tolerates strong light and heat.  Semi-single red/crimson flowers grow in clusters.  Good autumn hips – and, with support, can be grown as shrub. (3m x 2.4m)

Rosa ‘Charles de Mills’


This Gallica rose is a beauty.  It can get mildew as it grows very densely, so clever pruning is key.  Prune it in layers, so that it grows at different heights.  This will allow more air to circulate and will result in the quartered blooms growing all over the bush.  Sounds terribly technical, but really it isn’t.  Fabulous scent.  (1.2m x 0.9m)

Rosa ‘Cecile Brunner’


This China rose is on the trellis at the far end of the garden next to the wisteria.  A true delight, this soft pink climbing polyantha rose is just perfect at the moment.  (7.5 x 6 m)

Rosa ‘Albertine’


A Wichurana rambling rose.  Double flowers of golden-apricot/pink grow on a very vigorous plant.  (4.5m x 2.4m)

Rosa ‘Highgrove’


You can tell from the name that this one has real pedigree (introduced by Peter Beales Roses for Somebody’s private garden in Gloucestershire).  A prolific, repeat-flowering modern climber – and, in the right place, it can be grown as a large shrub.  Sumptuous, deep garnet-red with glossy green leaves.  Subtle fragrance. (2.4m x 1.5m)

Rosa ‘Gertrude Jekyll’


A stunning shrub rose, bred by David Austin, and named after the famous garden designer.  Old Rose scent.  Could this be Britain’s favourite?  (1.5m x 1m)

Rosa ‘Schoolgirl’

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Modern Climber.  Repeat flowering.  Well scented.  (3m x 2.4m)

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.  Lovely amongst informal plantings.  (2.4m x 1.5m)

Rosa ‘Geoff Hamilton’


A warm, soft pink in colour, the flowers change from cupped to rosette-shaped.  Strong- growing and disease resistant, it has a light Old Rose scent.  Repeat flowering.  Another David Austin introduction, named for the much-loved former presenter of Gardeners’ World.  (1.5m x 1m)

And here are some of the above having a lovely time out in their natural habitat.  Can you name them all?  Answers on a postcard please….







As far as roses are concerned: 1. Know your rose, so you know when to prune it.  2. Plant the graft 2.5cms below the surface of the soil.  3. Feed  4. Weed  5. Water, water, water.

Jobs for the week:

Cut back the chrysanthemums


Tall plants can be reduced by up to 50%; cut back to above a node.  Cuttings can be taken from the plant material.  Where cuttings have flower buds, pinch them out to encourage growth.  By the way, chrysanths are one of the top favourites on the menu for slugs and snails.  Just saying.


Cuttings going into the greenhouse

Continue to plant and stake the dahlias

Dahlias need air and light to grow effectively, so pinch out their central growing stems, or they will get long and leggy.  This will promote the growth of side shoots.  Cut out all stems to the base, except for five strong growing stems.  Counter-intuitive it may be, but you will be glad later on.


Now that’s what I call a stake-out

Remove leaf axils on bush tomato plants

An axil is the point between the upper side of a leaf and the stem from which it grows.  . Buds develop in the axils of leaves, removing them stops side shoots and encourages the plant to grow straight up and the trusses of flowers to develop into bigger fruits.  Start feeding the tomatoes from now.  (We use Maxicrop organic liquid feed.)  The tomatoes need plenty of space to grow, so make sure they are in a big pot.


Have these two straightened up at all since last week?

Prune Ribes speciosum

Also known as fuchsia flowering gooseberry.  Who knew?  A near-evergreen shrub with fuchsia-like flowers and ruby-red fruits later on.  Take out any dead wood and quite a lot of the old growth from the base.  Clip back recently flowered branches – but, because it grows with a loose, upright habit, endeavour to maintain a relaxed shape.  The shrub, not you.


We’ve certainly cut that one down to size!

Make wigwams and plant with Rhodochiton atrosanguineus and Thunbergia alata

Add white ammi and cornflowers.

Re-plant the alpine roof garden

A very gritty compost mix is necessary to avoid all likelihood of the dreaded Soggy Bottom Syndrome.  Cold they can do; damp they cannot do.

No yodelling allowed.



Oh dear.  That doesn’t look great, does it?

Job underway


Ready to re-plant


Nearly there…


Admirable alpines

Descend from the mountainous region with crampons and care.

Plant a ‘display in a tray’


Once again, horticultural grit mixed with compost will ensure good drainage.  And, as in the Great British Bake-Off, watch out for S.B.S. (cf. alpine roof, above)


Success!  Succulent succulents

Work on the cut flower bed


Cut flowers and dead head plants as necessary.  Replace anything that has gone to plant heaven.  Check the string support system.  Weed.  Water, water, water.

These will look nice in the studio


And stake cornflowers in the adjacent bed.  Use a figure of eight string tie to attach them gently but securely to the stake


Exactly so.

Pot pelargoniums on into terracotta pots

Weed, feed and water


Never fear.  We are in complete control


Oooh!  Finished with grit too!

And back in the studio, there were these……

Picotee sweet peas.  In a jug.


The scent of summer round the corner

















Friday 24th May 2019

Bridge was inspired by her visit to Chelsea this week; lots of greens used everywhere, informal plantings and beautiful, layered textures.  Andy Sturgeon and Sarah Eberle particularly impressed with their gold-medal gardens, with Andy’s going on to win best in show.


Surely this is a candidate for best garden?

So, this week, the Plant Ident. was all about Chelsea-inspired plants.  Here they are in all their loveliness:

Valeriana officinalis


Not to be confused with Centranthus ruber and Centranthus ruber ‘Albus’, the red and white valerians commonly seen in cottage gardens, this one is the true valerian.  It’s official.  Growing on tall, erect stems to about 1.5 metres, it is a herbaceous perennial which loves to bask in the sun, but likes a moist soil.  The clusters of white flowers borne on the top of the plant are sometimes tinged with pink, and the serrated leaves are striking.  Self-seeds freely.  Best grown from seed as it has a tap root, so doesn’t transplant easily once established.

Dianthus cruentus


Known as ‘field pink’, this herbaceous and (largely) evergreen perennial can be grown from seed.  Loves the sun and loves chalk, so good in rock or gravel gardens.  Its dark crimson flowers are stunning, and are loved by bees and butterflies.  The leaves are grass-like and bluish-green in colour.  Cut back after flowering.  Don’t let it get wet and soggy, for goodness sake, or it will keel over.

Equisetum hyemale


Affectionately known as the ‘Lego plant’, as its sections can be pulled apart then reassembled.  Odd!  Rough horsetail loves damp, boggy conditions – though perhaps best not to place it where it will sit constantly in water.  (Think the expression is, ‘it’s a marginal plant’.)  Very architectural, its vertical stems are ringed with black, horizontal bands; it grows to about 1 metre.  It can be invasive, so take care and keep it under control; maybe in a container (could look very posh) or in a mesh basket if grown at the edge of a pond.  Apparently, it’s hardy even at 500 miles inside the Arctic Circle, though temperatures in Sussex rarely drop to those levels.  At the moment.  Who knows what May occur in May?  Anything can happen in the next half-hour.

Melica altissima ‘Alba’


An ornamental grass whose airy inflorescences dance in the slightest breeze, providing interest and movement in the border or under trees.  It likes dry shade, so is worth having for that alone.  Easy from seed, professionals who are trying to sell it, describe it as “gently spreading”.  Estate agent jargon for “quite invasive”.  But, it has to be said, beautiful.  A favourite at Chelsea, it is great for flower arranging.  Divide clumps in the spring – if you’re not too busy flower arranging.

Orlaya grandiflora


Plenty of these were to be seen in Sarah Eberle’s Resilience Garden at Chelsea this year.  In Bridge’s view it’s one of the best umbellifers to be had, and she loves it.  A hardy annual, the white lace flower needs to be grown from seed every year, starting either in the autumn (which will usually result in a larger plant), or alternatively, it can be sown in the spring.  Lovely feathery foliage.  A brilliant cut flower.


Astrantia ‘Roma’


The common name for Astrantia is ‘Masterwort’ or ‘Hattie’s pincushion’ – and this one, ‘Roma’, was very popular at Chelsea 2019.  A beautiful cultivar of the type, the pincushion-like flowers of this herbaceous perennial are washed with pink.  Selected and much appreciated by Piet Oudolf, one of the leading figures of the ‘New Perennial’ movement, ‘Roma’ is longer flowering and more vigorous than many other Astrantias.  Cutting it back after flowering should result in a second flush of flowers later in the year.   Some people seem to be able to grow it anywhere, but many find that partial shade and a moist humus-rich soil are best.

Jobs for the week:

Make up more pots for summer

Fill to the brim with banana plants, ginger, petunias…..Cram plants into containers for summer displays with impact, then don’t forget to feed and water them regularly throughout the season.  In the metal basin below, for instance, there are yellow Crocosmia, orange Bidens ‘Beedance’, Tagetes linnaeus ‘Burning Embers’, Dahlia variabilis ‘Bishop’s Children’ and Helichrysum petiolare ‘Gold’.  Thrillers, fillers and spillers.


Now that’s what I call packing them in

Helichrysum petiolare ‘Gold’


This one’s a spiller

Tagetes linnaeus ‘Burning Embers’


And this one’s hot stuff

Now let’s get a move on everyone, time is precious, we need to get out there!

I’m going as fast as I can



Preparing to plant up pots


Work on the vegetable bed

Thin out the carrot seedlings; weed, weed, weed (as per); pick the radishes – they are ravishing and ready to eat



Radish, anyone?

On the rockery

Tame the Euphorbia plants and seedlings which threaten to take over the area.  Remove in those places where they are overpowering the Helianthemums.  Try to re-home if possible.  Elsewhere, completely remove the old flowering stems of Euphorbias which are now beginning to look a bit seedy.  This will create space for the fresh, new foliage to grow.

Continue working on the cut flower bed

The plants have been fed, watered and laid out on the bed within the string grid which will support them.  Stakes around the edges hold the whole thing securely.  We hope.  Ensure plants are upright, centred, and, once planted, that they are firmed in for maximum stability.  Afterwards, gently raise the net a little.  Water in.


It’s back-breaking work


We can’t actually stand up at all now!

Bring us cake!

How about birthday cake?


‘Happy Birthday’ a capella

for someone’s special day

Clear remaining tulip bulbs 

Add compost to the bed and prepare to…


Plant dahlias 

Thin to 5 stems per plant; this will result in bigger flowers.  Plant sunflowers to come through the dahlias.  Stake, water in and feed.  Later on, zinnias will join this happy planting scheme.


Firmly firming in

Meanwhile, somewhere close by, someone is checking on his compost heap –


He calls it “quality control”

A reminder

It’s always essential to be careful with spellings when it comes to horticultural nomenclature.  Just one vowel can make so much difference.  This, for instance, is



whilst this, is catnap


Has that cat moved at all today?


Absolutely I have

And now the month of May is nearly over, and just around the corner –

Sumer is icumen in….





Friday 17th May 2019


Plenty to do in the garden today.  More light means more growth and more plants.  Still, if there’s one thing we do know, it’s that you can never have too many plants.

We’re beginning to think about the cut flower bed, and the range of hardy annuals that have been sown to fill it.  Which leads us seamlessly onto the week’s……

Plant ident.

Ammi majus


How marvellous to have an opportunity to use the word ‘umbellifer’.  Very much as it sounds – an umbrella-like froth of flowers over long stems.  The umbels themselves are actually made up of many tiny flowers held together on stalks and they are attractive to many pollinators in the garden.  And to humans.  Coming from the Apiaceae family (e.g. celery, carrot, parsley), good examples are fennel and cow-parsley.  Tall, airy, elegant – the umbel is not at all humble.  This one is a pretty annual, growing to about 1 metre.

Cow parsley


This is it in the wild.  Grrrr!

Orlaya grandiflora

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A superior kind of umbel, this.  Makes a lovely cut flower.  One of Bridge’s favourites.

Ammi visnaga


These were sown last autumn and overwintered under cover, then potted on into FP7s, and later, FP9s.  Now these hardy annuals are ready to be planted in the cut- flower bed.  They have a larger, denser umbel than Ammi majus.

Daucus carota ‘Purple Kisses’


This is a beautiful flat-topped umbellifer, whose common names include ‘wild carrot’, and the rather more elegant, ‘Queen Anne’s lace’.  The cultivar ‘Purple Kisses’ produces attractive crimson/blackcurrant and white flowers on long stems, perfect for flower arranging.  Attractive to insects.

Euphorbia oblongata


Aka Euphorbia palustris ‘Zauberflote’, this is Sarah Raven’s top recommendation when it comes to growing hardy annuals for cut flowers, particularly for foliage – “my number one all time favourite and most picked plant”.  Praise indeed.  It’s easy to grow from seed and flowers continuously from spring right through to the autumn, provided it is picked regularly.  Its acid green flowers complement so many others, and in cut flower arrangements, it provides bulk and structure.  Actually a short-lived perennial, but frequently grown as a hardy annual.  But.  Beware!  Euphorbias have a milky sap within, which can cause an allergic reaction on the skin.  Keep those gloves on, and handle with care!

Jobs for the week:

As you can see, this week it’s all about putting in the work –

Work on the cut flower bed


Looks like a complicated game of noughts and crosses.  Oh no, hang on – it’s a horticultural version of that game ‘Sequence’. (Recommended)


Now you each take a plant in turn, and decide where to place it…..


Now what?

Orlaya to quadrant 5:4.  Victory!

Work on the vegetable bed

Stake the broad beans, with a kind of cat’s cradle grid of twine.  Try not to make a dog’s dinner of the cat’s cradle.  (I think we’re talking macramé.  Who’d have thought it?)  And while you’re at it, could you plant some kale and purple beans?  And make a teepee for the beans.  And give the bed a bit of general t.l.c.


Is she having a laugh?

Well, we’d better crack on



Knit one, purl one, knit one….

Work on Little Dixter

Who’s on it this week?


Oh, heck.  It’s the dynamic duo.

Re-pot tomatoes


Take cuttings of succulents 

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Echeveria glauca, looking fabulous crammed into a wavy-topped pot.  A great plant in the conservatory, if kept in full light and warmth – and fabulous on a south-facing patio for the summer.


Busy making offspring

And here they are!


Snip off at the stem with a sharp pair of secateurs or snips.  Push into a very gritty mix (about 50:50) of compost / horticultural grit.  Succulents will stay looking succulent, provided they have very good, sharp drainage and are kept fairly dry.  They can cope with cold spells, but hate being wet.  Like us, really.


Gone for cake

Work on remaining big pots


I’m working.  I’m working.

Work on removing those blasted tulip bulbs. 

Funny how we are less keen on them by this stage.

Set out dahlias to harden off.  Watch out for slu-s.


We’ll pop those in next week

And just add a little compost to the bed to prep it for the dahlias…


Enough is enough

Work on pricking out zinnias


Painstaking work, but we’ll have zillions of zingy zinnias

And elsewhere in the garden this week….?

Performing just behind the greenhouse, for your delectation, we present –

Rosa ‘Pompon de Paris’


Pretty as a picture.  Pink perfection plus
















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