Friday 21st November 2014

leaves

This week we talked about hardy and tender plants:

  • Hardy plants can withstand winter temperatures down to -15oC
  • Frost-hardy down to -5oC.
  • Half-hardy down to 0oC
  • Tender down to +5oc

Half-hardy plant seed can be sown April-May to miss the last frosts. Ideally sow over bottom heat of 20oC for germination (under-floor heating is perfect!). Although we don’t get very cold winters the British Isles has highly changeable weather which can throw all sorts of challenges at plants e.g. one night frost, next day warm and wet, then very windy etc. with little time to adapt. Where plants are placed in the garden makes a lot of difference to their hardiness – e.g. shelter of a wall, close to house, free-draining soil. Don’t put camellias or fleshy-leaved plants in east-facing sites as they will get damaged when the sun reaches them quickly after frost.

Plant Identification:

  • Cobaea scandens – cup-and-saucer plant. (A tender climber)

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  • Tibouchina (Conservatory plant)

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Both of the above are pollinated by bats in their native countries and have similar flower structures.

  • Echeveria (frost tender succulent)

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Hates wet but can stand some cold if kept dry. All plants in Crassulaceae family can be propagated from single leaves. Put in gritty compost (or leave dry in a plant saucer) – will produce thread-like roots and tiny new rosette forms at base of leaf.

  • Begonia luxurians (tender) Good in pots. Can give a dramatic effect eventually reaching 2m. White flowers.

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  • Tagetes ‘Cinnabar’ – half hardy annual which was sown late and is just ending its flowering.  It is a tall, branching marigold with finely cut deep, rich green leaves. Copper orange bordering on rusty red single flowers are produced usually from July to October.

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seeds

 Seeds like porcupine quills!

Activities in the garden this week:

  • Making obelisks
  • Rose pruning
  • Sowing broad beans, spinach and rocket
  • Tending compost heaps
  • Pricking out wallflowers
  • Bulb planting in pots and top garden
  • Tidying and planting ‘winter bed’
  • Emptying summer pots and taking cuttings of tender plants
  • Tidying willow arch so that winter-flowering clematis is visible

Vicky

Val

Mandy

Mary and H

Nanette

Dawn

 

 

 

Friday 14th November 2014

garden

Now is the time to get forced bulbs like Narcissus Paperwhite and Grand Soleil D’Or going for indoor Christmas displays. They should take about 6 weeks from planting. These bulbs can be planted in either soil, stones, gravel, pebbles or glass marbles – they just need anchoring and some water. Containers don’t need to have drainage holes – just need to be about 3-4 inches deep. They look good in glass bowls for example. Put the bulbs in pointed end up on top of the stone layer or in soil with top protruding. They need water to start the growing process. The bulbs don’t need light at this stage and like to be kept quite cool. Check daily to ensure they have sufficient water. When roots start to develop move container to sunny window but try not to let them get too warm or they’ll grow leggy. Once plants flower they will last longer out of direct sunlight. Use twigs pressed into the gravel to support growth.

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 We also looked at some evergreens – they are very important in garden design and can be the backbone of the garden providing structure.

  • Taxus baccata fastigiata ‘Aureomarginata’ or Golden Irish yew-is a large, bushy, upright evergreen shrub with erect shoots bearing radially arranged, dark green leaves. Ultimate height 2.5 – 4 metres.

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  • Thuja plicata ‘Zebrina’ or Western or Pacific red cedar. Thuja are fast-growing evergreen trees of narrowly conical habit, with flat sprays of tiny, aromatic, scale-like leaves and small knobbly cones. Zebrina has flat sprays of aromatic leaves with creamy yellow bands.

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  • Camellia – evergreen shrub with glossy leaves. They need an acid soil – so ericaceous compost.

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  • Myrtus communis subspecies tarentina -a small evergreen shrub of dense growth, with small, narrowly ovate leaves, and pink buds opening to white flowers followed by white berries. It is very fragrant.

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  • Viburnum tinus is a dense, evergreen shrub with dark and oval, glossy leaves. It  is a popular for hedging and bears strongly fragrant pinkish-white flowers.

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  • Viburnum davidii is a small spreading evergreen shrub, with elliptic, deep green, leathery, three-veined leaves and heads of small  white flowers followed by long-lasting  blue-black berries.

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  • Prunus lusitanica variegate or Portuguese laurel is a dense, bushy, spreading, evergreen shrub or small tree with dark red shoots, glossy, dark green leaves and, in early summer small,  fragrant, white flowers followed by red fruit that ripen to black.

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  • Choisia ‘Aztec pearl’ is a small evergreen shrub of open rounded habit, with bright green leaves. Flowers are fragrant, white, tinged pink in bud, in small clusters in late spring, and again in autumn. It grows to 1.5 – 2.5 metres and is good for smaller gardens.

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  • Fatsia japonica ‘Variegata’ is a sized evergreen shrub with leathery leaves  narrowly edged with cream. Small white flowers in spherical clusters, followed by black fruits.

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Activities in the garden this week:

  • More work on edging the beds
  • Sowing winter salads in greenhouse
  • Planting blueberries in ericaceous compost in pots
  • Planting allium spiders, and cutting back nepeta and geraniums in sunken garden
  • Lifting and storing dahlias
  • Planting out plumbago
  • Maintaining Little Dixter

ann and vicky Garden 2

  dahlias

  Julai 2

  Karin new fencing

  ann and vicky

Ann  Julia

  chinese

 

 

 

 

 

Friday 7th November 2014

Hilary and Sally

The Friday gardening group is back in action after the half term break and we talked about the many things there are to do in the garden at this time of year- cutting back, raking up and collecting leaves, planting shrubs or perennials whilst the soil still has some warmth, taking in and protecting plants like pelargoniums that are not frost hardy,  planting winter bedding and getting the bulbs in the ground. If you have heavy clay soil then add a mulch to the garden now, for chalk soils it is better to add a mulch in spring so the nutrients will not all be washed away by rain.

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We had some discussion on making leaf mould and compost.  Leaves can be collected and kept in a chicken wire enclosure or even just in a black bin liner with some holes punctured  to allow the air in, they will take about a year to rot down. Leaf mould is an invaluable mulch or soil conditioner and can also be added to compost or used on its own for some plants.

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Compost is a valuable source of nutrients that plants need for growth and compost heaps need a balance of carbon and nitrogen – so there needs to be a mix of vegetable kitchen waste and plant matter which are nitrogen rich and cardboard and paper or wood ash that are carbon rich. Lots of interesting suggestions about what should or shouldn’t be added to the compost heap. Top tip from Vicky is to add old jeans which break down rapidly or human hair or feathers. Don’t add potato peelings as you may get potato plants popping up all over the garden.

Plant identification:

  • Pelargonium Tomentosum- a spreading plant  with velvety, peppermint-scented, heart-shaped leaves  and small clusters of tiny white flowers.  It will need to be kept frost free over winter.

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  • Heuchera ‘Prince’ has bronze purple leaves and produces tall purple stems with small white flowers in the spring. It can be planted out in the garden in full sun or partial shade.

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  • Callicarpa giraldii ‘Profusion’ or Beauty bush is a medium-sized deciduous upright shrub that grows to 3m in height. It has small lilac flowers and purple berries  in compact clusters. It can be grown in full sun or partial shade.

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Activities in the garden this week:

  • Sorting out and cutting back some of the pelargoniums in the greenhouse to slow down winter growth
  • Making cuttings of Erysimum ‘Bowles’s Mauve’, the perennial wallflower
  • Sowing peas in guttering to put in greenhouse
  • Making edging around the redcurrant bed
  • Sowing sweet peas
  • Planting white narcissi and erythronium bulbs in woodland garden

Cathy and Clare

Ally and Elaine Vicky

Greenhouse

 

Friday 24th October 2014

We started to think about bulbs to be planted in the garden with plans for  major bulb planting activities in the borders and in pots over the next few weeks. Erythroniums (dog’s tooth violets) will be planted in the newly created woodland garden as they can do well in shade or sun with moist soil. They are perennials which if left undisturbed in the same position will become well established.

erythroniums

        Erythronium oregonum

It is also time to think about planting forced narcissus bulbs for indoor displays – such as Paperwhite or Grand Soleil D’or. They are both very fragrant and easy to grow, and will flower about 6 or 7 weeks after planting. They can be planted in soil and grit or even just water as the bulbs contain all they need for growth.

Paperwhite

                 Narcissus Paperwhite

 Grand s

Narcissus ‘Grand Soleil D’Or’

We also looked at some of the tulip bulbs that will be planted in beds and in pots. Tulips don’t need to be planted until November as the colder temperatures help to eliminate any viral or fungal diseases that may be in the soil and could infect the bulbs. If they are to be planted in flower beds then they can be put in holes up to 8″ deep. Deeper planting means they are more likely to survive from year to year. If the bulbs are to be planted in pots they can be planted much more densely just avoiding the bulbs touching each other in the compost. Two of Bridge’s favourites are the bright and vibrant Doll’s Minuet and the creamy Sapporo.

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Wallflowers combine very well with tulips – they can be bought now in pots and divided or as bare root plants. Any bare root plants need to be planted out really within a day or so of purchase as the roots will dry out. If they can’t be planted straight away just put them in a pot with soil as a temporary measure. Wallflowers or Erysiums are part of the Brassicaceae family so they are related to cabbages. They are generally grown as biennials although Erysium Bowles Mauve is an evergreen perennial. It has grey green leaves and very fragrant flowers with a long flowering season and likes full sun. It can get rather woody after a few years but is very easy to propagate from cuttings.

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We also looked at Elaeagnus pungens ‘Maculata’.  This is an evergreen shrub that is great in autumn or winter to lighten up a dark corner of the garden. It has bright yellow leaves outlined in green and has tiny white fragrant flowers in autumn.

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Ceratostigma plumbaginoides or hardy plumbago is also a very beautiful autumn flowering herbaceous perennial. It has vibrant blue flowers and the leaves turn red or purple in autumn. It is great as an edging plant in borders and needs full sun.

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This is also a wonderful time to put together your ‘autumn nature table’ and we looked at some amazing seed pods from tree peonies and also some crab apples from Sue’s Crab Apple ‘Red Sentinel’ which is a good tree for a small garden. Check out Sarah Raven creating an autumn wreath.

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Activities in the garden this week:

  • Making edging for the dahlia beds

Vicky and Sue on fence Vicky

Sue S edging

bed edging

  • Planting out spring onions and lettuces

preparaing the beds

veg beds

  • Planting out wallflowers

planting wallflowers

  • Pruning climbing roses

Katy rose pruning Dinah

  • Sowing hardy annuals – ammi, cornflowers, nigella, calendula, sweet peas

seed sowing

 

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and finally … admiring Julia’s new boots

Julia's boots

 

 

 

Friday 17th October 2014

Late flowering perennials and ‘plants that die well’ was our focus for discussion today. Umbels are particularly good at dying well and provide wonderful structure in the border so think about what needs to be cut back and leave plants that still have architectural interest.

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Umbels are defined as ‘an inflorescence in which a number of flower stalks or pedicels, nearly equal in length, spread from a common centre’. They are often flat topped with flower stalks that are splayed like ribs on an umbrella. Examples of umbels are fennel, angelica, cow parsley, ammi, astrantia, flowers of carrots and parsnips.

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 Angelica gigas

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Umbels at Great Dixter

Plant identification:

We looked at a number of plants that Bridge had collected from her recent visit to Sussex Prairie Gardens in Henfield. The garden is closed now until next June but does include a section within the main garden which demonstrates how prairie planting can be done on a smaller more domestic scale.

  • Echinacea purpurea ‘Virgin’ – or white coneflower. They are sturdy and easy to care for and need full sun or partial shade. They have large and fragrant blooms from July to October which are very attractive to butterflies.

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  • Amsonia or ‘bluestars’ are clump forming herbaceous perennials. In spring they have star shaped blue flowers, the foliage stays green in summer but in autumn it turns yellow/bronze

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  • Panicum elegans ‘Frosted Explosion’ an easy to grow dramatic frothy grass which is good with cut flowers. It is an annual that can be grown from seed – sow indoors in seed trays from Feb to April, prick out and harden off in May and it will flower from July to Sept.

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  • Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’ or switch grass. It is an upright clump forming grass with red/ brown leaves that are blue /green when they emerge in spring. In autumn they turn a deep burgandy. It has red/pink flowers which later turn beige.

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  • Calamagrostis acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ is a feather reed grass. It is a clump forming perennial that loves shade and stays upright, it grows to 90cm

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  • Rudbeckia triloba is native to United States, it gives a fantastic late summer/autumn display and is good combined with grasses. It can tolerate shade.

rudbeckia triloba

  • Aster lateriflorus horizontalis, has stiff stems set with small, dark green leaves and forms compact, bush-like plants. By October, they are a  mass of tiny, silvery flowers with clover-pink, fluffy centres. grows to 61 cm. It is used in Great Dixter as hedging

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  • Aster ericoides – a white aster native to N. America and Mexico

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Activities in the garden this week:

  • Further compost work – digging out the heap and spreading on beds
  • Cutting back the euphorbia
  • Making more fence hurdles for the veg beds
  • Sorting out the path to the shed
  • Clearing bed at end of sunken garden
  • Clearing the ammi and cutting back aquilegia
  • Taking more rosemary and fuchsia cuttings
  • Planting out the panicums
  • Maintaining Little Dixter

Suzanne and Val Lil

Hilary Julia

Vicky planting out

Ruth and Sally

 drinks

 N & K

Compost 2

inside compost 2

 

Friday 10th October 2014

Dixter 2 wild carrot

Lots of discussion about a recent visit by some group members to Great Dixter and how inspirational and extraordinary the garden is even in the autumn in the pouring rain. The plant identification featured some plants bought at their plant fair.

Plant identification:

  • Thalictrum yunnanense- a low growing clump-forming Chinese perennial  with upright slightly hairy slender stems to 60cm tall. It has whitish flowers, from tight pinkish buds. It likes full sun or part shade in any type of drained soil and will do well on chalky soil. Flowering July to August. Thalictrums are a genus of about 130 species and are part of rununculaceae family, common name is meadow rue. Most thalictrums are tall and excellent background plants in the border.

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  • Begonia modestiflora- a hardy perennial that does well in shade. Begonias are a genus of about 900 species and many cultivars of fleshy annuals, perennials, evergreen shrubs and climbers including some succulents. (See picture of begonias in Ann’s garden)

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  • Fuchsia  ‘Pumila’ is an upright, bushy, deciduous, compact shrub with  dark green leaves and throughout summer, small red and purple flowers. It is hardy and good for low hedging.

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  • Cotinus coggygria Golden spirit. This smoke bush has  golden-yellow round leaves that turn coral, orange and red in autumn. In July and August smoke-like plumes of green flowers appear. It needs a sunny spot and well drained soil.

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Activities in the garden this week:

  • Sorting out compost bins
  • Refreshing Little Dixter
  • Emptying cold frames
  • Starting work on an ‘Orsan’ inspired vegetable garden – planting spring cabbages and leeks
  • Pruning rose in woodland garden, planting out the thalictrums and Japanese anenomes
  • Taking cuttings of hebe and fuchsias
  • Panting out foxgloves in sunken garden

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The compost team, Hilary and Lil, at work

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Mary, Clare and Sharon working on new woodland garden

Mary

Clare and S

Karin admiring pelargonium sidoides

karin & peli

Ali and Susan planting foxgloves in sunken garden

Ali

Ann and Sue worked on Little Dixter this week

Ann

New fencing on veg beds

fence

 

vicky cat

Friday 3rd October 2014

We discussed plans for the garden over the forthcoming year – there is still quite a lot of colour in the garden but when the flowers in cut flower beds are over this area will be used for vegetable growing. The bed at the back of the garden near the shed will be planted with shrubs and plants that thrive in shade will be planted under the cherry tree in top garden.

Salvia ‘Nachtvlinder’

We also talked about  salvias which are part of the lamiaceae family. The genus of salvias contains about 900 species including annuals, biennials, herbaceous and evergreen perennials and shrubs. They are usually grown in sunny sites and many are aromatic and most have distinctive square stems. They can be fully hardy to frost tender. Julia talked about the BBC Gardeners World’s 25/9/14 visit to Great Comp Garden, Kent which holds the national collection of salvias. Recommended as the hardiest for British gardens are: Salvia ‘Jezebel’ (bright red flowers ) and Salvia x jamensis ‘Nachtvlinder’ (dark purple flowers).

Plant identification:

  • Dahlia ‘Honka’ an unusual dahlia with starry flowers

Dahlia Honka

  • Zauschineria californica ‘Dublin’, (California fuchsia). This is a spreading, deciduous dwarf sub-shrub that grows to  25cm in height.

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  • Salvia patens – a half hardy annual with deep blue flowers, it needs full sun  and well drained soil.

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  • Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Beaute Nivelloise’, a vigorous, clump forming perennial that can be grown in full sun to partial shade. It is fully hardy and will flower from June – September.

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Activities in the garden:

  • Planting asters
  • Clearing cold frame
  • Pruning back under the arches
  • Pruning the Charles de Mille roses
  • Starting work on making a shrub bed at end of the garden
  • Maintaining Little Dixter
  • Working on top garden and taking out and potting up plants that are not doing well
  • Propagation of roses by harvesting rose seeds
  • Taking mint root cuttings

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