Have a break. Once you have completed your Latin For Horticulture homework, maybe move on to Japanese? That’s what’s happening at Garden House. Check the labels.
The Pelargonium-flowered storksbill, native to the Pyrenees and belonging to the Geraniaceae family.
Perennial, although a bit on the tender side. Looks like a geranium and is a lovely thing; its white flowers have maroon markings. Lax habit. Likes sun, but not wet, and prefers a neutral / alkaline soil. Good for pollinators. Self-seeds gently or can be propagated by basal cuttings from April – September. Add it to your list.
Epimedium x versicolor ‘Sulphureum’ AGM
Bishop’s Hat or Barrenwort. Belongs to the Berberidaceae (Barberry) family. Native to Europe and Asia.
A vigorous, rhizomatous perennial which has bright yellow flowers held upright in an open spray. They are more easily seen if the leaves are removed in late winter. The leaves are the plant’s best feature – beautifully shaped and opening light green with red tints. Really tough, good ground cover and will tolerate dry shade. Propagate by division after flowering or in the autumn.
Athyrium pictum ‘Silver Falls’
The Painted Lady Fern, native to eastern Asia, belonging to the Cliff Fern family (Woodsiaceae). A deciduous fern with creeping rhizomes. Grey-green fronds have purple-red midribs, and are heavily overlaid with silver and a central, purplish flush that develops. More silvery than Athyrium pictum (the Japanese Painted Fern) and keeps its colour for longer. Likes a shady sheltered site. Propagate by division in spring
Aka, the Crimson, Red or Western Columbine is a form of Granny’s Bonnet. Part of the Ranunculaceae family and native to North America. The name ‘formosa’ means beautiful and this lovely plant is certainly that. Best raised from seed, its red and yellow flowers give a pop of colour in the border, and have a light, airy quality. A short-lived perennial. Likes sun or part shade.
Thalictrum delavayi album
Another great plant from the Ranunculaceae family, Chinese Meadow Rue is a favourite in this garden.
Not in flower yet, but its foliage is attractive, with deeply divided pale green leaves. Beautiful, airy white flowers create a frothy haze in the summer border. Can reach up to 2 metres in height, so needs support. Likes a rich, fertile soil in part or full shade and not too dry. Seed heads look good and it also makes a striking cut flower. Herbaceous, so dies down in the winter. Can divide in the spring or autumn if required.
Persicaria microcephala ‘Red Dragon’
Related to the edible buckwheat, Persicaria is from the Polygonaceae family. A dramatic and vigorous plant (estate agent’s jargon for “it’s a thug”) which grows to the owner’s height in her garden, but is kept in check. Exotic purple-crimson foliage is the main attraction as the white flowers are nondescript. Cut back in late autumn when the plant dies back. Grow anywhere, but good in light shade; propagate by cuttings or division.
Saxifraga x urbium AGM
Known from the 17th century as London Pride, this is part of the Saxifragaceae family. Bishop Walsham How (1823–1897) wrote a poem to the flower rebuking it for having the sin of pride. When told the flower had the name because Londoners were proud of it he wrote another poem apologising to it! A song by Noël Coward, celebrated London Pride and the plant became very popular in World War II. Much loved in this garden, it forms a mat which provides great ground cover, with a mass of small pale pink rosette flowers. A beautiful cut flower. Grows anywhere, even deep shade. Easy to propagate by offsets.
When you plant them out, fill a module tray full pf compost and strike off the excess. Ensure that you plant each seedling deeply. Coil the long root and stem all into the planting hole in a single cell. This is better than having an unstable long-stemmed seedling. Charles Dowding, the No-Dig guru, has some good You-Tube videos on this subject.
Lockdown continues. As do Zoom meetings. Friday Group remain supportive, encouraging and inspirational. Photos provide proof.
Tulbaghia ‘Purple Eye’
Known as ‘Society Garlic’, this Tulbaghia is a clump forming perennial with slender leaves and pale lavender flowers which have a deep purple centre. Suitable for borders or containers – it is valuable as it flowers for a long time, Full sun and fertile, well-drained soils suit it beautifully.
Geum ‘Scarlet Tempest’
Scarlet flowers held on long stems bloom prolifically from mid-spring. Regular dead-heading prolongs their lengthy flowering period – and, in fact, they may flower again later in the season. Plant in full sun. Good in most soils, including sandy ones.
Euphorbia x arendsii
A cross between E. walichii and E. griffithii ‘Dixter’, this splendid specimen flourishes and glows in the sunshine, which helps to develop its wonderful colour. Clump-forming and fully hardy, grows to around 120 cms tall.
Masterwort is best grown in semi-shade. Compact umbels of pincushion-shaped flowers are surrounded by bracts – in this instance, the flowers are a delicate shade of pink, whilst the bracts are white with green tips. A good cut flower which dries well. Grows to around 90 cms.
A spectacular architectural plant, with purple-bracted umbels of creamy white flowers which are followed by perfumed seeds. Fabulous foliage. Will grow in sun or partial shade. Monocarpic, which means it generally takes 3 years to flower, rather like Echiums. Sets seed and dies after flowering. Makes a real statement in the border – but why not try it in a pot? Go mad in Lockdown and give it a go.
Tasks for the week:
Lockdown continues. Baby Boomers have become Baby Zoomers. Times are strange, but in the Garden House garden? – well, it just keeps on growing and doing its thing.
Not Tulip ‘Hakuna Matata’, although your troubles will certainly disappear once you acquire and contemplate it flowering in your garden.
This spidery, delicate beauty is a perennial species tulip. A bit spendy, but so worth it. Why not invest some money in these bulbs and experience for yourself the frenzy of the seventeenth century’s tulip mania?
Garden House rates this hardy perennial as a ‘good doer’. It very usefully appears just as the tulips go over. About 40 cms in height, sprays of pure white flowers are held aloft supported by wiry stems. Long-lasting, good as cut flowers and a magnet for pollinators, planted en masse they are super duper.
Rosa banksiae ‘Lutescens’
A near thornless, rambling rose and one of the very earliest to flower. Growing to about 10 m, it produces small, single, scented yellow flowers. At Garden House, it’s situated on the terrace, where it provides a spectacular display in April / May. Prune after flowering to shape and to keep in check. R. banksiae ‘Lutea’ is a double-flowered version of this.
Erysimum cheiri ‘Old School’
A beautiful short-lived perennial wallflower, which flowers for months on end. Soft yellows, mauves and purples combine to great effect and make a wonderful planting in full sun on their own or, better still, interplanted with tulips. Plant densely and in quantity to generate maximum admiration.
Sweet cicely is a terrific option for dry shade. An aromatic, herbaceous perennial, it has umbels of white, frothy flowers and fern-like leaves. Can be used as a sweetener when cooking rhubarb or the leaves can be added to salads – they have a mild aniseed flavour.
Lunaria annua ‘Chedglow’
This glorious Honesty cultivar was featured in the blog for 3/4/20, and look at it now!
Tasks for the week:
Apply liquid feed to growing annuals and also to tender perennials like salvias and pelargoniums, such as Pelargonium tomentosum
We’re still socially isolating. But Friday Group gets round that little difficulty by having a Zoom meeting. Back in the day, a Zoom was a delicious ice lolly, but let’s not go there, it will only date this blogger. Now, what’s going on in that garden? Ooh!
Aah! Well impressed
Plant ident.: Banging on about biennials.
Erysimum cheiri ‘Blood Red’
A wonderful, deep rich red wallflower. Scented. Fabulous with tulips
Lunaria annua ‘Chedglow’ and L. annua
Honesty is a great filler for this time of year. The variety ‘Chedglow’ has superb dark foliage, which sets it apart. Comes true from seed. The striking purple flowers of Lunaria annua also shine out now – making it very far from ordinary.
Lunaria annua alba
The white form of honesty. It shimmers at dusk. Fragrant. All these forms produce beautiful paper-like, translucent seedheads in the autumn, which can be used in dried or cut flower displays.
How could we ever forget? The Forget-Me-Not is a welcome sight in gardens from mid- spring. Pale blue flowers with a bright yellow eye, and so commonplace that they are easy to overlook. Seeds about with ease. Looks great en masse with tulips and wallflowers; loved by bees, butterflies, caterpillars and moths. Basically, Nature’s gift.
Jobs for the Week:
To help prevent pests and diseases such as greenfly. Other invigorators may be available
Strange times, as Friday Group takes note of Jobs for the Week from a distance and does a virtual Plant Ident., via the good offices of Garden House. That’s what a coronavirus outbreak does for you. Thank goodness for I. T., social media and our inspirational leader who remains undaunted, calm and is carrying on by herself. And what a carry on…
We miss you, Garden House
Here we are in March, thus proving that time really is Marching on. Let’s go quickly to the plant ident., averting any chance of further wordplay nonsense.
The Snake’s-head Fritillary is such a welcome sight in gardens in the spring, and even more so in orchards and meadows, if your estate runs to that kind of thing. The delicate purple/white chequered flowers are reminiscent of snakeskin – but they also have an Art Deco lamp vibe going on. Moist soils suit it best – like the orchard at Sissinghurst and the moat/orchard area at Nyetimber. There is a pure white variety too.
Helleborus orientalis ‘Winter Wings’
The orientalis group of Hellebores are good strong growers, and add greatly to the late winter/early spring garden. Varied and beautiful in their colours and markings, they can be further appreciated by floating some well-chosen flower heads in a bowl of water. Neighbours, whom we’re always keen to impress, will be blown away by your tasteful exquisiteness.
Ribes sanguineum ‘White Icicle’
The Garden House view is that the white form of Flowering Currant is preferable to the pink or red forms. You might say, “Icicles are nicicles”. You might not. An important early source of nectar for insects, it’s a deciduous shrub which, like Forsythia, chronicles the start of the gardening year. For some, the scent is a reminder of childhood. Perhaps evoking fond memories of losing control on roller skates or falling off a bike and taking a dive into a Flowering Currant hedge. Happy days.
Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii ‘Lambrook Gold’
What an impressive name. This excellent sub-shrub is starting to look wonderful in the garden. An architectural plant, with fabulous blue-green foliage and zingy yellow/green flowers, good anywhere, but particularly in hot, dry areas. After flowering, the stems should be cut down to the base to encourage further growth. (Be careful as the sap can be an irritant to skin.) Effective as a means of pulling a planting scheme together. The word ‘cohesive’ comes to mind.
The spring snowflake is a bulbous perennial with slim, strappy leaves. White bell-shaped flowers dangle from arching stems, often leading people to confuse the plant with the snowdrop, especially since the tepals are usually tipped with green. However, it’s later flowering and taller. Likes moist but well-drained soils and looks great when naturalised in bold drifts.
Jobs for the week:
Sort out plants in the cold frame and take some cuttings
This little lot is Lavendula dentata. Love the organic dibber… These will go into the greenhouse for a little protection and warmth to encourage rooting. #welovefreeplants
Pot on hardy annuals
They are running out of energy in their current pots; they look tired, a bit pale and slightly weary. Sounds familiar. Ammi, Centaurea and Papaver seedlings now need the next size up in pots, fresh compost and a dilute seaweed feed.
Here are a couple of hardy annuals
Divide perennials and re-pot
Use an old carving knife to divide the root ball.
Steady now. That could be interpreted as threatening behaviour.
These are Heleniums. More importantly, they are free Heleniums
So-called because of those oh-so-regal Pelargoniums. Carefully inspect the plants, water and generally tidy them up. Continue to re-pot Pelargoniums into terracotta pots which are, as everybody knows, much classier.
Sort out plants on the second terrace
If you are keen on and interested in wildlife, there’s a chance you may end up in the pond. Blanket weed is living up to its name and needs Dealing With. Nets at the ready.
Looks a bit fishy
And how big was the one that got away?
Plant out Anemone blanda and Irises
Both plants grow from rhizomes. They’re going to look fantastic. Guaranteed.
Prune the fig tree
It needs to be encouraged to lie trained against the wall. Take out older wood, dead wood and any small shoots.
Ficus carica before
Prune the Sorbaria sorbifolia tree
The showy False Spiraea has attractive pinnate leaves which exhibit great colouring from their emergence in spring until they fall in late autumn. In summer, white, fluffy panicles of flowers appear. Now is the time to take out the shoots which flowered last year. Take secateurs, a ladder and care.
Collect seeds from Allium thunbergii
A variety. Catananche, Verbascum, Dianthus carthusinorum, Coryopteris tinctoria, Spanish flag, Salpiglossis ‘Black Trumpet’. Tiny seeds need to be sown with a little sand, as this helps to spread the seed out and makes it easier to see where they have been sown. Fill pots up to the top with compost, strike the loose compost off then tamp down the surface gently before sowing. Cover tiny seeds with vermiculite; larger seeds can be covered with compost. Water very sparingly and gently.
Plant Galanthus nivalis bulbs
There are some Snowdrop bulbs which need to be planted 5 to a pot for growing on. Eventually these will be planted out into the garden.
Plant up containers for spring
Orange primulas will give an immediate shot of vibrant colour
Clean and return tools to the tool shed
Tidy up time
A beautiful flowery wreath to welcome N.G.S. visitors to Garden House at 12.30. What could be nicer? Soup, home made bread, tea and cakes? Oh, they’re available too….
We talked about how to get your garden “eco-fit”. Having a compost heap is key: making compost results in waste material being recycled and the soil being improved. Community compost can be used – it’s very effective as a mulch. Well-rotted horse manure also gets the thumbs up. Best to keep weeds out of the compost bin to avoid grief later
To outwit pests and diseases, bring in: bees, insects, ladybirds, birds, worms, frogs, hedgehogs, moths and butterflies by growing the plants and flowers they long for. Use physical barriers to deter pests, like traps, cloches, fleeces, grit. No pesticides please, and flame throwers are right out. A reasonable level of tidiness and hygiene is A Good Thing (definitely in the garden, and preferably in the gardener as well). If you are inundated with snails, encourage more predators, or, alternatively, grow garlic and parsley, buy wine and butter, and eat the blighters.
Keep checking your plants. Let ‘vigilance’ be your watchword. Go ‘peat-free’ and spread the word to save the planet. Peat is a non-renewable resource, it locks carbon in and acts as a sponge to soak up heavy rains. Madness to dig it up. In the garden be bio-diverse. Recycle water and materials (see mosaic stepping stone below), collect seeds, divide your plants, dig a pond, make a bug hotel, maybe a wormery? Put up bird boxes, be curious, propagate your plants. Make leaf mould. The road less travelled may be organic, but it’s definitely the way to go.
Full of renewed ecological fervour and good intentions, we donned wetsuits, flippers and snorkels and headed out into the garden. (Still raining.) This is what we did:
Jobs for the week:
Work on Little Dixter
Plant up containers with plants to provide the ultimate Visitor Experience.
Plant up wire baskets with succulents
Divide Asters to increase stock
She’s using a calculator to check how good he is at division
Make a spring wreath to hang at the entrance gate
Next week, these two could be running a wreath-making workshop…
Well, at least they’ve found the seeds
Potting-on in the greenhouse
Potting on and on and on……
Organise the gardening books in the Garden Room
Hands up those who want to play librarians
Sow parsley in pots and plant up terracotta pots
It’s not as wet as it looks
Hunt down heavenly hellebore heads for bowl display
And all just in time for the visitors