The focus of the our gardening work today was to ensure the garden was looking its best for the specialist plant fair at the Garden House on Saturday. However, before we went outside we did have some discussion about a range of gardening subjects.
Nanette brought along an interesting rose from her garden. As you can see from the picture rosebuds are forming from the centre of the flower almost giving the impression of a ready made bouquet. With a bit of research I have found that this is called ‘proliferation’ and is likely to be a genetic mutation in the reproductive parts of the flower. When this appears in roses not all flowers on the plant are effected and usually it does not appear if the rose has a second flush. While the reason for rose proliferation is still not known for certain, it is known that cold springs and too much nitrogen in the soil can cause problems with both the number of flowers as well as the health of the flower. Some roses are more prone to this and apparently it is best to avoid roses that have the word ‘prolifera’ as part of its name. Proliferation is not harmful to the rose but it is suggested that the effected blooms are removed so that they don’t divert energy from the remaining healthy flowers. Proliferation can effect other plants such as the daisy family and opium poppies. Here is another example although not quite as dramatic as Nanette’s rose.
Bridge also reminded us about the importance of feeding plants in containers, when planting up it is good to add some chicken pellets to the compost and then feed the pots about once per week. Ruth talked about a natural spray that she uses, SB invigorator, which works to control pests and reduce fungal diseases like mildew as well as provide a foliar feed.
Activities in the garden this week:
Planting up beds with summer bedding including dahlias and chrysanthemums
Transforming the bed by the garden room by making wigwams for annual climbers including Eccremocarpus scaber or Chilean glory flower
and Ipomoea or Morning glory
Working on the veg bed planting outdoor tomatoes and beetroot and rescuing the tortoise from over indulging on lettuces
Planting up the large pots with a range of plants including Pelargonium ‘Attar of Roses’ a lovely pelargonium that has rose scented leaves and purple pink flowers
The garden is looking amazing and very abundant at the moment and this is in part due to the work undertaken in recent months to improve the soil. Bridge has also adopted Helen Dillon’s philosophy that if you are tired with a plant or it is not really working in a particular place then do make changes. There have certainly been many changes in the garden this year – not least all the work to take down and lay foundations for the new shed which is now on order.
Activities in the garden this week:
Developing the bed under the Hawthorn tree with Vicky helping to devise some method of edging for this bed
Continuing to working on the orange bed
Planting up the new hydrangea glade
Pricking out seedlings
Planting annual climbers like Thunbergia (black eyed Susan) in pots to grow up the clematis
We had a quick look at a couple of plants before heading next door to tackle Carole’s rockery, a Friday group make over project.
Sweet rocket or Hesperis matronalis are fully hardy and like sun or partial shade. They will self seed and are very fragrant particularly at night.
Scabious can be annuals or perennials and they have a long flowering season and generally grow very well on chalk.
The rockery is very large and had become really overgrown with weeds, bluebells and ivy. It was also very shaded by shrubs that had grown too tall. The group set too and cleared the rockery and removed ivy, cut back a Philadelphus and removed a very large branch of a tree that was overhanging the rockery. New compost was added to improve the soil ready for planting up. Definitely a good mornings work!
The Judas tree or Cercis siliquastrum is looking wonderful in the front garden at the moment.
We discussed gardening tasks to do now such as sowing more peas as successional planting really extends the opportunity for harvesting peas throughout the summer. It is still too early to plant out tomatoes although if they are to be grown outside in pots or beds it is important to harden them off first by bringing them out just during the day then back into greenhouse or conservatory at night. It is also time to earth up potatoes to help protect the tubers from the sun and provide more of a bountiful crop.
Julia W read us some very useful common-sense tips from Helen Dillon from an article in The English Garden magazine. She says that ‘conventional garden wisdom says ‘the right place for the right plant’ but plants can be contrary. So go by the books to begin with, but if that doesn’t work, ignore the books and plant where you want. If that doesn’t work then throw the plant out of the window and plant it where it lands! and ‘Life’s too short to keep growing the same plants out of habit, so take a good look at your garden, dig up the plants that bore you or you have grown to dislike, and replace them with something better. Prioritise – don’t give really good spots in the garden to plants that don’t really need them. Keep them for plants that do.’
Astrantia major or more commonly known as Hattie’s Pincushion or Masterwort are clump-forming herbaceous perennials, they are long flowering and can cope with semi-shade
Alchemilla mollis or Lady’s mantle are perennials with sprays of tiny, yellow or greenish flowers which are often used in flower arranging. They look good in the front of the border and can be grown in sun or semi-shade. They do seed freely!
Helianthemum ‘Henfield Brilliant’ is a vigorous, spreading evergreen shrub that grows to 30cm in height, with dark grey-green leaves and has single, bright orange flowers in late spring and early summer
Activities in the garden this week:
Continuing the work to build the base for the new shed
Tying in the clematis
Removing the forsythia
Working on cut flower bed to remove tulips and wallfowers and to plant ammi majus, corncockles, cornflowers, calendula and poppies
Preparing the veg bed with compost for pumpkins, beans and sweetcorn
The plant identification this week focused on 3 plants from Miranda’s plant stall:
Briza media – annual self-seeding grass that can be invasive. Pretty drooping seed heads but before they emerge it is hard to tell the clump from the weed, couch grass.
Ajuga reptans (Bugle) – a creeping hardy perenennial that can take some shade and looks good with orange crocosmia. Good cultivars include ‘Caitlin’s Giant’, ‘Chocolate Drops’, ‘Black Scallop’.
Armeria (Sea Pink, Thrift) – cushiony hardy perennial. Best grown within 5 miles from the sea, only thrives in poor soil and enjoys salty air.
There was also a discussion about three very invasive weeds, the last two of which are near-impossible to get rid of:
Ragwort – tall stems with yellow flowers. Tends to grow in meadows and roadsides. Poisonous to cloven-hoofed animals.
Japanese Knotweed – tall strong plant, for some reason no longer notifiable where it appears. It will grow through concrete!
Ground Elder (Goutweed) – Supposed to have been brought here by the Romans, it cures gout and can be eaten. The tenacious roots break easily and every bit will grow; so best treated by cutting off the top growth (green leaves) weekly to weaken it, but this will take 2 years plus.
Activities this week included:
Planting horseradish in pots because it is invasive
Planting dahlias in pots then back to greenhouse
Sowing seeds- beans, sweetcorn and cosmos
Pricking out seedlings from greenhouse
Taking over wintered pelargoniums out of greenhouse and placing in sunny spots
Hilary also demonstrated her gardening scarf which doubles as hairband and mask! It doesn’t have trailing ends to get in the way of garden tasks. Available from outdoor clothing suppliers etc.
Today was all about getting the garden ready for the open day on Sunday as part of the National Garden Scheme. So lots of weeding and tidying up the paths and beds and taking out some tulips in pots that were past their prime. In the veg beds the broad beans needed staking and the back bed needed to be prepared for the ‘three sisters method’ of planting.
‘The tradition of growing sweetcorn, beans and squashes together is laid down in the legends of the Iroquois people (Native North Americans) who believed that corn, beans and squash were three inseparable sisters and would only grow and thrive together. Bringing things right up to date it is actually easy to identify that the method is a sustainable growing method providing long-term soil fertility and maximises growing space.
The sweetcorn provides a natural support for the beans whilst the beans help to stabilise the corn plants, making them less vulnerable to blowing over in the wind. The shallow rooted squash plants become a living mulch, smothering emerging weeds and reducing water evaporation from the soil – thus improving the overall crops’ chances of survival in dry years. The beans fix nitrogen on their roots, improving the fertility of the soil for the following year – couple that with the huge amount of vegetation produced by the combination that can be dug in or composted and the sustainability of the method soon proves itself.’ ( from Victoriana Nursery Gardens)
The garden certainly looks very impressive with so much to see for the visitors on Sunday.
A weekly account of the activities of the Friday Gardening Group at the Garden House in Brighton