Thursday, 16 February 2017

Winter Blooms ...

Good Morning!
Over the past fortnight we've been graced with the appearance of some of my favourite blooms. The sight of these lovelies makes it known that Spring is around the corner, my favourite season!
Today I wanted to share with you a couple of photographs ...

Snowdrops pushing though the cover of Heuchera 'Black Knight'

If you've got Snowdrops in your own garden why not turn one of the heads over gently and take a look at the petals close up? This particular Snowdrop is Galanthus 'Flore Pleno'

The Hellebores are slowly starting to wake up, the following two have been in bloom for the past week with the rest in the garden patiently waiting in the wings ...

Helleborus Harvington Double White Speckled

Helleborus Blue Metallic Lady

A classic plant for this time of year is the Primrose, I have a few planted up in pots that add a great splash of colour, my favourite's are the simple white's.

Lastly another plant in flower is my Clematis 'Winter Beauty', unfortunately there's only a couple of flowers this year due to the resident garden birds nipping the buds off as they were forming ...

Thanks for taking a look, when the rest of the Hellebores come into bloom I shall share some more photographs to share with you all.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

February's Garden Checklist ...

Good Morning!
The daylight hours are getting longer and there are a few things you can be doing in the garden right now ...

1. Cut Back  - It's time to do a little bit of tidying up by cutting back a few faded stems! Plants such as Sedums can have their old flowering stems cut back to the base, along with them any ornamental Grasses that have been left standing over the winter months can be cut back before the new shoots appear. You could also divide congested clumps to produce new plants for yourself!

2. Transplant - Now is a good time to transplant any deciduous plants whilst they are dormant. For example if you've planted something in the wrong place or too close to another plant then now is your chance to get that sorted.

3. Late-Summer Flowering Clematis - If you have a late-summer flowering clematis in your garden give it a prune when you get a moment. Cut all stems back to healthy buds about 30cm from the base.

4. Winter Pruning - Keeping on the subject of pruning it's time to finish any winter pruning of your fruit and soft fruit trees by the end of the month.

5. First Early Potatoes - If your planning on growing some first early potatoes this year then it's time get them started! All you need to do is place the tubers into a tray or an egg box in a bright, frost free place to chit.

6. Feed - Give Fruit Trees and Bushes a little boost by sprinkling sulphate of potash around the base which will encourage fruiting.

7. Seed Sowing - You can get Sweet Peas started this month by sowing them into deep pots, 3 seeds to a 9cm pots or even singly in toilet roll inserts. Keep them frost free in a Greenhouse or if you don't have one simply place them on a bright, sunny windowsill. Alternatively if you sowed some back in Autumn then now is the time to pot on and pinch out the seedlings.
Along with these you can some other seeds started such as Antirrhinums and Lobelia, if you have a heated Propagator you could also get your Tomatoes & Chilli's going!

8. Weather - The weather can be pretty varied at this time of year and I've already had a few snowy spells where I live. If you get any heavy snowfall make sure that you knock it off any shrubs, trees and hedges to prevent it causing damage to branches. Wind and Frost can also cause some damage by lifting and loosening plants, make sure that you firm them back in and keep an eye out after any bad spells.

Thanks for stopping by, don't forget you can find all the previous Checklists on the page tab above.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Plant of the Month

Good Morning!
I hope you have all enjoyed the festivities over the past few weeks and are embracing the New Year!
The garden always seems to give a renewed enthusiasm at this time of year (well in my case at least) as you can finally start looking towards to the growing year ahead! After taking a back seat in regards to the garden over the past month or so I'm hoping to get back into the groove whenever I have a spare hour to two.

Today I thought I'd start us all off by bringing back the PLANT OF THE MONTH feature.
The PLANT OF THE MONTH that I've chosen for January is ... 
Sarcococca confusa also known as 'Sweet Box'
Photo from crocus

Sarcococca confusa is a Hardy Evergreen Shrub which throughout most of the year tends to provide structure more than interest with it's simple green, glossy leaves. However don't let this put you off, it really does come into it's own at this time of year and thoroughly earns it's self a place in any garden!

This particular shrub can grow up to 2m with an equal width, do be aware it can take between 5 and 10 years to do so.
However it is also one of those plants that is perfectly happy in either partial or full shade which can be problem areas in our gardens for some people, this gains it even more brownie points in my opinion!
This plant is also ideal in low maintenance gardens for those that don't always have the time to garden.

At this time of year it's stand out feature is it's perfume! Trust me when I say that you can smell it from a couple of metres away, maybe more so if there's a slight breeze. The sweet scent comes from it's tiny white flowers which can only really be seen when you're close up. These flowers are followed by glossy black berries which can remain on the plant until the following winter. The flowering period spans from December to March so your guaranteed more than just a fleeting display!

Photos from my garden

As mentioned earlier this Hardy Evergreen Shrub is happy to be planted in either partial or full shade. It can be situated facing any aspect but would prefer a slightly sheltered position in any soil type that is moist but well-drained. In Winter or Spring you can gently prune the shrub to keep it in an ideal shape and then mulch around the base with well-rotted compost.
If you'd like to produce extra plants for yourself it can be propagated by semi-hardwood cuttings in late Summer or by seed sown in outdoor containers in Spring or Autumn.

Generally pest and disease free.


Friday, 16 December 2016

December's Garden Checklist ...

Good Morning!
The days may be grey and chilly but if you're still itching for stuff to do in the garden here are a few things that you can be doing over the coming weeks.

1. Brassicas  - If like me you are growing Brassicas such as Cabbages make sure that you remove any yellowing leaves to prevent fungal diseases taking hold of the plants. Also if your garden is prone to visits from hungry pigeons cover the vegetable bed with netting to keep them off!
If you are growing Brussels Sprouts make sure that they are supported simply by attaching them to a bamboo cane to prevent them toppling over in strong winds.

2. Vegetable Plots - Carrying on with the subject of vegetable plots now is a good time to clear away any old crops and debris from your plots, composting only the healthy material.
Once this is done you can sit and plan what crops you would like to grow and where in 2017 then begin ordering your seeds!
Along with maintaining your veg plots now is also a good time to plant fruit trees as long as the ground isn't frozen or waterlogged. Why not try planting some espalier fruit trees on your veg area to make use of limited space? Now is also the time to do a little bit of winter pruning on your Apple trees by removing any crossing, dead or diseased branches,

3. Soft Fruit - Soft fruit such as Raspberries and Blackberries will benefit from a tidy up around the bases of the plants by removing all weeds and mulching with a layer of compost. Why not include some new plants to your garden too?

4. Terracotta Pots - Most gardeners will have terracotta pots that aren't frost proof and will need some protection from the winter weather. This can be done by simply bringing your pots under cover into a Greenhouse or Shed or if this can't be done by wrapping them up with bubblewrap. 
The pots can crack in freezing weather if not protected properly.

5. Fallen Leaves - Along with collecting fallen leaves for Leaf mould, there are other reasons why they should be gathered up. 
Fallen leaves that are left in place can not only become a cosy place for slugs and pests to congregate but if left on lawns or over plants they will damage what is growing beneath.

6. Planting - Along with planting fruit like suggested above there are other ornamental plants that will benefit from being planted at the time of year. Bare root Roses, Ornamental Trees and Shrubs can all be planted as long as the ground isn't water logged or frozen.

7.Plants Under Cover - If like me you are keeping some plants going through these winter months under cover in a Greenhouse or heated conservatory they will need checking on. 
Make sure that you check them regularly for signs of any over wintering pests such as Red Spider Mite or Aphids on both sides of the foliage and the surface of the compost. Remove straight away if spotted. Yellowing leaves and faded flowers will also need removing right away to prevent Botrytis. Try not to over water the plants too as doing so can also cause problems.

Pelargoniums need overwintering in a Greenhouse

8. Autumn Sown Sweet Peas - If you sowed some Sweet Peas back in Autumn they should be putting on growth by now. Make sure that you pinch out the growing tips on the plants as this will encourage bushier growth which is exactly what you want!

9. Greenhouse Temperatures - If you have a variety of plants over wintering in your Greenhouse make sure that you make a note of the lowest temperate that they can cope with. Most plants will start to suffer when temperatures dip below 0c and will therefore benefit from a little heat. This can be resolved simply by running a heater overnight when low temperatures are forecast and a max / min thermometer inside the Greenhouse is a great way to check that the correct temps are being maintained. 
On the flip side of this temperatures can soar on days where bright sunshine and blue skies are forecast, especially if you don't open any doors or windows! Make sure that you always open them during the day when this weather is forecast (and also for a couple of hours at midday on the days that it isn't) to allow for fresh air to circulate inside and to prevent any fungal diseases taking hold!

9. Garden Birds - Don't forget that garden birds need a little bit of extra help during these colder months too! 
Make sure that you keep a fresh supply of water outside for them (this can be as simple as filling up a gravel tray) and making sure that it doesn't freeze over. Try to keep a constant supply of seeds in any feeders, washing out frequently to prevent any diseases harbouring as this could do serious harm. 
Ground feeder Trays are another good way to feed birds such as Robins which don't like to use hanging feeders, just make sure that you bring the trays inside at night to prevent rats being attracted to the seeds.
Fat balls are also great for them at this time of year but please avoid those that are wrapped in netting or inside stretchy rubber holders as birds can become tangled in these, leading to death.

10. Garden Equipment - Finally don't forget to bring inside any hosepipes or garden furniture that could crack and split in freezing temperatures, provide some insulation to your garden tap too otherwise you run the risk of damaging a pipe.
Now is also the perfect chance to clear out any garden sheds and clean up your garden tools if you haven't done so already!

Thanks for stopping by, don't forget you can find all the previous Checklists on the page tab above.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

November's Garden Checklist ...

Good Morning!
We're halfway through November already so here are some jobs that you can be getting on with in the garden over the next few weeks ...

1. Tulips  - November is the ideal time to plant Tulips!
It's recommended that you plant them no earlier than this month due to the risk of the bulbs developing a particular disease called 'Tulip Fire'.
For those unaware this is a fungal disease which results in the plants developing twisted and distorted leaves with brown spots.

When planting Tulips first check that the ones you buy don't have any signs of mould / damage and aren't too small as this can affect flowering ability in the first year.
Plant them atleast twice the size of the bulb apart and two to three times it's own depth. If planting in pots the bulbs can be closer together but make sure that they aren't touching and are three times their own depth.
Also if there are any other Spring Bulbs that you haven't had the chance to plant yet then why not get them in the ground at the same time!

2. Buddleja - Over the Summer months Buddleja's can put on lots of growth and Autumn & Spring is the ideal time to give them a cut back. 
I like to reduce my plant by a third in November and then by another third in the Spring. It may seem drastic but by reducing it's height it helps keep it in control and you can remove any dead or diseased branches. Flowers also are only usually produced on the end of current seasons growth so if your plant is left to it's own devices all the flowers will be at the top! 
Pruning Buddleja's also reduces it's chances of self seeding for those of you that don't want any more plants popping in around the garden!

3. Dahlia's - By now most of us in the UK will have been hit by our first hard frost, ours was last week! If you still have Dahlia's in the ground a sure sign that they've been hit by a frost is that the foliage will have been blackened. If you live in an area of the UK with a slightly warmer climate and well - drained soil then you might be able to get away with leaving the tubers where they are with just a covering of mulch once cut down. 
However if you live further North like myself now is the time to get them lifted! 
If you are wanting to save some for next year cut the stems to 2inches from the base and trim away any thin roots. Lift the tubers from the soil using a fork being careful not to cause any damage. Remove soil from the tuber by hand and store them somewhere cool and dry upside down for a couple of weeks, this allows excess moisture to drain away. Once dry make sure you label your tubers with the variety names and store in a tray or wooden box covered with dry sand or compost leaving only the old flower stalks above the surface. keep them in a cool but frost free space until next year.

Dahlia 'Cafe Au Lait'

4. Plan - Plant companies are sending out their catalogues for next year which is the perfect oppertunity to start planning what you'd like to grow! It's also a good way of still being involved with the garden if you can't actually get outside to be in it due to the weather. It's always a good idea to make a list of what you'd like to grow such as old favourites and new varieties to try for the first time.

5. Leaf Mould - You can find a fuller description of Leaf Mould in the October Checklist but you can still carry on collecting leaves for it throughout this month. It really is worth doing!

6. Bare Root - Whilst the soil is still warm November is a great chance to get bare root plants in the ground and established over the winter. Bareroot plants are often cheaper to buy than containerised plants which is another advantage! Roses, Hedging, Fruit and Trees can all be bought in this form.

Rose 'Champagne Moment'

7.Hardwood Cuttings - This time of year is perfect for taking Hardwood Cuttings of plants such as Climbers, Fruit and Shrubs. You can take this particular form of cuttings between now and late winter aslong as it isn't during a severe frost. For a detailed explanation of how to take these cuttings simply click this link HERE to go to the RHS website.

8. Weeds - It's one of the least enjoyable jobs but it really is a good idea to get on top of weeds before they become established. 

9. Soil - Soil needs a little help at this time of year to keep your plants performing to their best. After you've done some weeding dig in some Leaf Mould or well rotted Garden Compost into your garden borders. You can also apply a 'Mulch' of the above or Composted Bark to the surface of the soil which is atleast 2 to 3 inches thick, be careful not to pile the mulch up against the stems of plants.

10. Displays - Finally why not brighten up a corner with a colourful planting display? 
Here I have made a quick and simple display using two different coloured Cyclamen which will sit next at my front door.

Thanks for stopping by, don't forget you can find all the previous Checklists on the page tab above.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

October's Plant of the Month!

Good Morning!
I know this is a little later than it should be, time is something I've had very little of recently!
Anyway without any further delay here it is!

The PLANT OF THE MONTH for October is ... Salvia greggii 'Royal Bumble'
I've chosen this plant for October even though it has been flowering for a couple of months beforehand for one simple reason ... it's been the main performer in my garden when everything else has took a step back. We haven't had the best growing season this year so it's shown which plants are the star performers!
Oh and do you want to know what makes them even better ... this plant and the one behind were actually grown from cuttings that I'd taken two years ago.

Salvia greggii 'Royal Bumble' is a Hardy Perennial which has a slightly scented green foliage and bright red flowers held on stems touched with purple.
This particular variety of Salvia is tolerant of coastal conditions which makes it a good plant if you garden in windy conditions. Once estabished this plant is also tolerant of drought conditions!
It does prefer a position in sun but it can cope with dappled shade, the other plant that I have of this variety in my back garden is in a slightly shady position and is doing just fine :)
One last thing that makes this plant even better ... it's also loved by Bee's!

Photos from the border in my front garden

This particular variety is a Hardy Perennial, happy in well drained soil types and aspects in either full sun or partial shade.
This plant will grow approx 60x40cm tall which is great for a border, to prolong flowering dead head the faded flower stems throughout the summer months.
In Spring apply a generous mulch around the base of the plant approx 5-7cm deep of well - rotted garden compost or manure.

This plant can be propagated by cuttings which is a great way of giving yourself free plants!

Photo from Crocus


Wednesday, 12 October 2016

October Garden Checklist ...

Good Morning!
I've decided to change the weekly checklists into a monthly version,
that way you can spread out what needs doing over the month!

1. Spring Bulb  - During September - November is the time to get your Spring bulbs sown.
Whether it's direct into the ground or into pots it's time to get sowing! If you have some bulbs left over and you don't think you have any space for them simply plant them up into 9cm pots which can then be used to fill any gaps or containers next spring if a space comes up! If not you can simply give them away to friends and family as gifts.
The general rule of thumb is to plant bulbs at a depth of two times their size.

Iris reticulata 'Alida'

2. Indoor Bulbs - Carrying on with the theme of bulbs why not try some indoor bulbs this year? Bulbs such as Amaryllis and Indoor Narcissus are perfect for this! When planting Amaryllis use either John Innes no.2 or Multi-Purpose Compost in a container only just slightly larger than the bulb, keeping 2 thirds of the bulb above the surface. Keep in a well - lit warm place and water sparingly until the leaves appear, turning regularly to allow even light levels.
When planting Narcissus bulbs plant them just below the soil surface.

Amaryllis 'Apricot Parfait' & Narcissus 'Erlicheer'

3. Greenhouse - With the cooler weather approaching it's time to give the Greenhouse a good clean! Many tender plants won't survive the winter months so the greenhouse is the perfect place to keep them ticking over! To prevent any Pests and Diseases from Summer sticking around you need to remove all the plants and equipment from the inside and give everything, including the glass and good clean with a scrubbing brush and warm soapy water. Make sure that you get rid of any old compost and clean pots and trays as these can harbour any pests and diseases too. 
When bring plants under cover make sure that you check them over for signs of any Pests and Diseases too so that you don't end up bringing them back in! With most problems you can simply remove affected parts and squish any nasties.
Once clean you can put up specialised bubble insulation to help keep the greenhouse that couple of degrees warmer which is important if you have plants that are at risk if exposed to certain low temperatures. Once you've finished don't forget to wash the outside of the greenhouse to allow for maximum light levels over winter! 
I know it may seem like a lot to do but if you have certain plants that you really don't want to lose then trust me it's worth doing.

4. Autumn / Winter Displays - If you haven't thought about them yet then why not plant up some Autumn / Winter displays into pots and baskets? It's a great way of adding a pop of colour over the coming months. I've planted up some baskets with a mix of Perennials and Annuals and a couple with just one permanent plant as I felt the foliage deserved all the attention!

Coprosma 'Pina Colada' 

5. Leaf Mould - Leaf mould is one of those things that you can't get enough of! It's perfect for digging into borders a soil conditioner or as a mulch and is extremely beneficial! The only things is that you can't buy it ... you have to make it yourself. 
All you have to do is gather up the fallen leaves in your garden and designate a corner somewhere for it to break down. This can be done simply by creating a bin out of plastic / windbreak netting held into place by 4 bamboo canes, or you can bag it up into specifically designed sacks or at the very least a black binbag pierced with a few holes!
Simply add the fallen leaves to whatever you'd prefer to use, water each layer in then leave to break down, this can take up to 1 - 2 years but once you start doing it each year you'll have some ready to use all year round.

5. Lawn Care - If your lawn is looking a little worse for wear after summer then now is the time treat it with an Autumn feed.

Thanks for stopping by, don't forget you can find all the previous Checklists on the page tab above.