Archive for the ‘Plants’ Category

Natural Splendour # 8

Trollius chinensis ‘Golden Queen’


RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2012

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:

The Satoyama Life garden by the Ishihara Kazuyuki Design Laboratory

The Satoyama Life garden by the Ishihara Kazuyuki Design Laboratory

M&G Garden by Andy Sturgeon

M&G Garden by Andy Sturgeon

The lavender walk in Arne Maynard’s garden

Pleached copper beech walk in Arne Maynard’s garden

The L’Occitane Immortelle Garden by Peter Dowle

The Telegraph Garden by Sarah Price

Dappled evening light in Sarah Price’s garden

Joe Swift’s garden

London Plane tree in Joe Swift’s garden

Topiary in Cleve West’s garden

Planting detail in Cleve West’s garden

Water detail in Cleve West’s garden

And last but not least:

Corgies for the Golden Jubilee

Mesmerising Magnolias

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.

Putting the Dahlias to bed

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 after the frost

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.

Dahlias cut back and ready to be lifted

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.

Can you tell what it is? Tubers galore!

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.

Dividing Dahlias
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:

Dahlia 'Rip City'

A frosty morning

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.

Frosted Hydrangea


Leaves of a climbing rose

Saliva involucrata 'Joan'

Seed head


Natural Splendour #6

Salvia atrocyanea


Still looking good in the garden and has put on substantial growth since being bought at Wollerton Old Hall earlier in the year.

Natural Splendour #5

Salvia involucrata 'Joan'


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!).

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