Archive for the ‘Plants’ Category
The heat has sapped my energy so completely that all I can manage are a few photographs I took from our visit on Tuesday; hopefully they speak for themselves:
And last but not least:
On Tuesdays I spend the day gardening in a wonderful garden that sits at the top of gently inclining hill and is surrounded by farm land. The garden is around one and half acres and has numerous and very large beds in which grow a tremendous variety of plants, including many very large shrubs which are impressive in their scale. I am particularly looking forward to the Autumn when Euonymous alatus will be a mass of fiery red foliage, though there is of course plenty of interest now and to come in the months ahead.
Today I noticed that since last Tuesday the Magnolias have suddenly burst into life; there are four in different parts of the garden, once of which is particularly large and impressive. I am not enirely sure of the species or varieties but have given my best guess:
The first two shots (not great as taken in the middle of the day!) of the grand old tree show what I think is Magnolia x soulangeana.
The following two pictures show what I believe to be two varieties of Magnolia stellata. The first is possibly ‘Waterlily’ [Update 24th April 2012: I have since discovered that the first of these is infact Magnolia x loebneri 'Leonard Messel] and the second ‘Centennial’, though this is just a guess and may be entirely wrong!
In the garden at home I noticed that the Osmanthus delavayi was a mass of frothy, delicate, scented white flowers. I do like this plant, its arching branches and evergreen glossy foliage are graceful and delicate.
And to finish, A shot looking across some of the many roses at Perryhill Nursery (where I also work a couple of days a week (there are not enough days in the week for all this working!!) as the day draws to an end.
The relatively warm weather through November and the start of December has meant that the Dahlias have kept going longer than might otherwise have been expected; the first frost was only experienced at the end of the first week of December, the Dahlias blackening under the touch of icy fingers.
Dahlia tubers will continue to grow until the first frost, after which the choice is either to lift or to mulch. This year we will lift and store the Dahlias; though planted in a raised bed, this part of the garden can suffer severe flooding during the winter months so the risk in leaving them in the ground is not worth taking as they will likely rot.
Use a fork to gently loosen the soil around the tuber and lift the clump, tapping off the soil. Place the tubers upside down in a crate to allow the water to drain fully from the hollow stems, and leave in this position for about week. Ensure that they are not left somewhere where rodents can get to them and that they are not left anywhere frosty.
After a week place them a box or crate and cover in old compost, coir or vermiculite, keeping the crowns uncovered. They must be dry but not left to dry out completely, so check the once every few weeks and give them a light watering if ncecessary. Store them in the dark, again in a frost and rodent free place.
Having dried them, and before packing them away for the wtiner, you can divide the tubers or they can be left in a clumo to divide in the spring.
When done properly, digging and dividing will keep your dahlias returning year after year. Dahlias left in the ground will create a massive tuber clump underground that will send up many weak, unproductive stalks that have small blooms. Eventually these won’t come back at all.
Tap and brush all the soil off the dahlia clump. When dividing dahlias, the first thing to do is to remove all broken tubers, remove the original ‘mother’ tuber and remove any tubers that are rotten. You can divide now or keep the cleaned-up clump in tact and divide in the spring. In the spring, the eyes are easier to see. It’s very important to get a piece of the swollen part that is attached to last years’ stem and from which the eyes will emerge. If your tuber does not have an eye, it will not sprout. Choose only strong, firm tubers. Weak tubers that show signs of rot, shriveling or decay should be tossed and not used in the garden.
Cut surfaces should be allowed to dry thoroughly before they are planted in the garden or stored for the winter. Lay out to dry for 3-5 days in a place that will not freeze, then store for the winter.
In the Spring
Another advantage of lifting Dahlias is that they can be potted up in early spring and with a little heat and protection forced into producing new shoots that can be taken for cuttings. These should root very quickly if cut off from the junction of the tuber when they are about 7cm (3in) long; do this every year and you’ll have a vast store of Dahlias to brighten your garden late into the year.
If using this approach, the cuttings should be ready to plant out in about July, whilst the parent plant should can go outside in mid-May, or once the risk of frost has passed. If you choose not to take cuttings in this way then the overwintered tuber can be planted out in early April in good rich soil and at a depth of about 15cm (6in).
The result will hopefully be this:
Last night was the first really cold night that we have had this winter, down to about -5oc or so. It seems odd to be writing such a thing on the 10th December when ordinarily the cold weather would have well and truly set in and plants would not be sending forth new flower buds; but then the weather of the last few weeks has been anything but normal.
I’ve been looking foward to the onset of frosts and sunny, clear days for some time; I prefer this kind of proper winter weather far more than I do the cloudy, not-warm-but-not-cold days that we’ve been experiencing lately, so this morning I went out with the camera to capture the work of a million ice crystals and more.
Still looking good in the garden and has put on substantial growth since being bought at Wollerton Old Hall earlier in the year.
Salvias are still providing some lovely colour at the moment: Salvia involucrata ‘Joan’ is a wonderful magenta colour and S. atrocyanea is a stunning blue (picture to follow when I get round to taking one!).
A little later to the party than its larger relative c. ‘Lucifer’ but a welcome splash of colour when many things are starting to go over.
Having a few different varieties of Salvia in the garden, and not entirely confident that they will be hardy enough to see through the winter should it be similar to the last, I have taken cuttings from all of them in the hope that should the parent plant succumb to an ill wind, I will at least (I hope, reaching for wood to touch as I write) have plenty of small plants to bring on and plant out next year.
So here are the little ones, potted in a mixture of quite fibrous compost with plenty of perlite and topped off with potting grit to help keep the moisture in:
I also came across some Eupatorium maculatum ‘Purple Bush’ at a local nursery that were on sale so I had to buy a couple (according to the label they were from Piet Oudolf’s nursery). They are fine looking plants already so I am hoping that by getting them settled in the ground now they will perform well next year. I also decided that it wouldn’t hurt to take a few cuttings from these in the hope that I can dot them elsewhere in the garden.
Yesterday Katherine and I visited Wollerton Old Hall Garden, a garden I had come across by chance whilst browsing the gardening sections of the various national newspapers. Bunny Guinness, writing in the Telegraph, enthuses about the place so on visiting my parents in Manchester we made the stop at Wollerton in North Shropshire to judge for ourselves.
To begin with I would recommend that anyone with even the slightest interest in plants and gardens visits Wollerton; it is inspiring and stunning, the planting combinations are bold and vivacious, and the design works to break down what is a large space into numerous rooms and avenues along a linear plan running from the house and also parallel to it.
As can be seen in the pictures below the planting is done in substantial blocks with repetition popping up throughout the various beds giving a sense of continuity as one wanders around. Much of the planting is given over to perennials, many of which are unusual varieties. Salvias are found throughout the garden and there are 81 varitites (of which we bought 4 from the attached nursery). Heleniums, Eupatorium, Monardas, Lysimachia, Phlox, Agastache, Achillea, Echinops, Actaea … the list goes on.
There are also strong architechtural features throughout the garden which contrast well with the planting and add extra interest.
The Rill garden is one of my favourite elements and in it we can see the influence of the Persian style (I say this because I have recently been reading Penelope Hobhouses ‘Persian Gardens’ and this part of Wollerton exhibits such elements and style that attune to that particular influence, consciously or otherwise).
So there it is, a fabulous garden that everyone should visit and from which all can take inspiration and pleasure … and buy plenty of plants in the process!