Category Archives: Gardening Thoughts

Colourful Crocus

spring splendider

spring splendider

In early March sweeps of champagne fluted Crocus across lawned areas, in creams, whites, pale mauve and dark purple, butter yellow and lemon cream and with delicate veining can be enjoyed to the max, also in pots and containers near the house. With a bright sunny early spring day their delicate beauty is transformed, as these sun seekers open their petals wide to form shallow stars of wonderful contrasting basal beauty and bright orange stamens. This early spring show brings a splash of colour to the March srping garden. There are so many to close from but here is a selection of some old varieties that are proved to be good performers year on year.

Large Dutch Crocus, this group have larger showier flowers and are better in longer grass, some getting to the dizzying heights of 10 to 12cm Most flower in early to mid March.

Crocus Joan of Arc

Crocus Joan of Arc

  1. Joan of Arc. A brilliant pure white with a dark purple basal splash and brilliant orange stamens, this is a very hansom corm, making a good solid colour contract in a lawn planting.

 Crocus King of the Stripe

Crocus King of the Stripe

  1. King of the Stripe : A dramatic crocus with white petals and dark purple veining, reaching down to a dark purple base. This crocus works well in a tall pot brought closer to eye level so the delicate beauty of the veining can really be enjoyed.

Crocus Pickwick

Crocus Pickwick

  1. Pickwick: A show stopper of a crocus with light mauve petals with rich purple veining. Idea for a special spot in a flower bed close he the house or on a raised bank where the veining can be fully appreciated.

Chrysanthus varieties, These crocus are smaller then the Large Dutch varieties listed above growing to 7 to 10cm approx, For that reason they may be best for natural looking sweeps set in grass. They tend to flower earlier, Late January into February and some into March.

 Crocus Advantage

Crocus Advantage

C. Advantage: This is a very striking looking crocus with it’s three colours, the main petals are buttercup yellow, sliding down to the bottom of the petal to light mauve and to am imperil purple base. Quite a sight when the crocus opening fully in the winter sun.

 Crocus Cream Beauty

Crocus Cream Beauty

C. Cream Beauty: This classic crocus is a reliable performer, producing beautiful rich cream flowers with a contrasting bronze green basal splash of colour.

 Crocus lady Killers

Crocus lady Killers

 C. Lady killer: A dramatic purple violet crocus with a striking white rim, make this a good choice for a bold block planting.

Like all bulbs/corms they are very easy to grow, order/buy September. Plant end of September into October. Planted 7.5 to 10cm below the surface. For lawn and flower bed planting, plant 3 to 5 corms in a group in a single wide hole, carefully arranging the bulbs with the growing tip to the surface. Plant as single corms in pots and containers. They should be placed close to paths and doors, where they can be easily enjoyed with out a track down a cold early spring garden.

 pots of colour.

pots of colour.

There is one little and possible slightly bigger problem, these corms and more importantly their tender growing shoots are much beloved by mice and squirrels. In pots cover with netting or mesh, with a spacer making sure there is a good 10cm of space for the tips to grow and not get eaten. Out in flower beds and lawns it is pot luck and a case of over planting to compensate.

glorious crocus

glorious crocus

But do not let that put you off as these are inexpensive jewels of delight and a MUST for any spring garden from the window box to the country arced Estate.

Enjoy!

Winter Berries

Winter berries

Winter berries

By February the winter can feel at it’s longest and possible it’s gloomiest with still short days and the leaden skies of possibly the coldest month. A splash of, knock you between the eyes colour is just what your garden needs to help lift your spirits. A lot of winter flowering shrubs are delicate and scented with much to commend them, but the vivid colour of the winter berries packs a strong punch. Here are some plants well worth adding to any winter planting.

 Skimmer japonica foremanii

Skimmer japonica foremanii

Skimmer japonica ‘Foremanii’: This slow growing evergreen shrub is worth the wait, Its glossy emerald green foliage makes a dense low mound. It has sturdy groups of white waxy flowers held upright in the leaf axils and is not really scented compared to other Skimmers. However it is it’s striking groups of shiny red berries which it holds through out the winter that are the show stopper. It will tolerate dense shade and will grow on any humus rich soils. This female form needs a male to produce the berries, plant with S.japonica ‘Rubinetta’

 Iris foetidissim

Iris foetidissim

Iris foetidissima: This iris is as tough as old boots and will seed about freely in any dry soil, it will cope well with thin chalk soils and semi-shade to dense shade. It makes thick clumps of mid-green leaves, which gently arch. It has small and frankly rather unimpressive white and creamy flowers. It is of course the berries that are the star turn, the ride fruit capsule opens in three segments to reveal row upon row of bright orange berries, these last well into late winter and will brighten any shady stop at a low level.

 Pernettya mucronata

Pernettya mucronata

Pernettya mucronata ‘Bell’s seedling’: This low growing evergreen shrub makes dense sweeps of ground cover. With upright stems up to 50/70cm tall, with small dark green almost pricakly leaves. It has small insignificant white flowers early autumn followed by the most amazing berries. Which are round large pink berries that look like tempting gob-stopper sweets, which last nearly all winter. Bell’s seedling, is self-fertile but it will produce more berries if it is planted in a mixed group with male forms, P. mucronata ‘Mascula’. Grow in full sun to get the best berries although they will tolerate a little dappled shade. They need a good acidic humus rich soil with good levels of moisture but not water logging.

Symphoricarpos rivularis

Symphoricarpos rivularis

Symphoricarpos rivularis: The ‘Snowberry’ loved and hated it seems in equal measure, but perhaps it is just not used to the best effect in most gardens. A deciduous shrub with arching stems up to 1.2/ 1.3m tall, it will tolerate dry shade but will berry much more freely if in a sunnier spot. The small round green leaves, fall and give way to clumps of white berries borne along the upper reaches of the stems. There is also a pink form. It looks at it’s most striking planted with an evergreen backing like a yew hedge, so the almost opayic white berries glisten against the dark back ground. It does tend to sucker so it needs to be kept in check. It will cope with both very dry soils to heavy soils and will tolerate shade although the berrying is much reduced.

Gaultheria mucronata 'Procumbens'

Gaultheria mucronata ‘Procumbens’

Gaultheria mucronata ‘procumbens’: Beloved by the winter bedding sellers and popping up in pots and tubs outside pubs and in mixed plantings of winter flowering pansies, this versatile shrub is much more then a one trick wonder to be stuffed into a pot as a temporary bit of bedding. It makes a good dense creeping ground cover with dark green leaves. It grows in dry and dense shade so can be invaluable as under planting at the foot of mature trees. It needs acid soil. Tiny white flowers are followed by large ‘cherry’ like fruits of shiny red berries which look good enough to eat. But don’t be tempted as all parts of this plant are poisonous.

 Ruscus aculeatus

Ruscus aculeatus

Ruscus aculeatus: ‘Butcher broom’ A native low growing evergreen shrub with upright stems of small dark green leaves, With spiny tipped stems. Small bright red berries are held along the stems from September through the winter. It grows well on shallow chalk and will cope with dry shade.

To get the very best out of the winter colour these plants offer, they need to be carefully sited, either close to paths, near back doors, or the route to the garage, shed or log store or planted with an evergreen backing so the berry colour really stands out and can be easily seen.

A group of pernettya in containers that can be sited near the ho

A group of pernettya in containers that can be sited near the ho

I hope you feel inspired to look again at planting bright berry colour that lasts beyond the autumn months. If you want help extending the planting colour in your garden to include the Autumn, Winter and early Spring, I know just the person to help you. Give me, Emily a ring Tel;01273 470753, or contact me through the contacts page of my web site, to discuss your garden project and your planting needs.

Bare Root and Root Balled Planting Season.

Field grown nursery stock ready for bare root supply.

Field grown nursery stock ready for bare root supply.

January is slap bang in the middle of the busiest planting season, the bare root planting season, this is from mid- November to mid to end of March and down in the warmer climbs of the South East of England, 1st December to the end of February would be my cut off point.

Before the modern practise of being able to grow plant stock in containers so it could be planted all year round, this was the only time of year when planting could be carried out successfully.

 planting a bare root tree.

planting a bare root tree.

There is a lot to be said for still using bare root and and root balled stock. In my mind trees and hedges, establish much better, as the plants are being planted in the dormant season, They have an opportunely to get their roots well and truly saturated, and root growth and establishment can begin late winter and early spring, meaning that by the time the planting gets to June it has had the best possible nurtured start. The plant will cope better with it’s first Summer growing season, no matter what is throw at it, particularly if a prolonged hot summer like 2018, is in store.

planting root balled evergreens

planting root balled evergreens

Also you get a lot more plant for you money so planting bare root and root balled is cheaper. Traditionally, deciduous plants were bare root and evergreens root balled although often larger deciduous trees these days are root balled.

 Bare root Raspberries

Bare root Raspberries

Bare root fruit trees.

Bare root fruit trees.

So all trees, hedging, including evergreen can be planted as bare root or root balled. Also roses do very well planted bare root and traditional fruit nurseries supply must of their stock through the bare root season, with fruit trees and soft bush fruit supplied bare root, or for some of the larger trees and fan trained specimens possible root balled.

 Planting a bare root rose

Planting a bare root rose

Also quite a few of the smaller more specialist nurseries still supply bare root herbaceous, which can establish well. They traditionally used to arrive packed in damp news paper, sadly plastic segmented packaging has taken over but perhaps with plastic now rearing it’s ugly head the nursery industry is starting to really put its house in order and news paper may make a come back, only time will tell.

My top tips for planting Bare root stock.

  1. when the stock arrives, if you can’t plant it straight away then heal it in so the roots are protected from the weather, ready for planting.
  2. Soke stock for a couple of hours before planting, or over night so the roots can rehydrate.
  3. Prepare the ground, if you are planting into uncultivated ground than dig a hole about twice the depth of the root ball forking over and breaking up the ground at the bottom of the hole, the hole should be twice the width of the root ball. Fill the hole back with broken up soil and good organic material well rotted F.Y.M or horse manure is very good, it wants bulk if possible. So the hole is now 1.5 times the depth of the root ball.
  4. Put the tree in the hole and use a garden cane across the top to check the depth of the hole, the tree should go back at the same planting level as it was planted before, the tenancy is often to plant too deep.
  5. Stake, if 1 stack it should be on the prevailing wind side whether upright or angled stacking. Or for larger trees or very exposed sites 2 stacked and a cross beam. Remember to always ties the tree to the stack, allow extra length in the tree ties so it can be let out as the tree grows. Most trees will only need staking for the first 3 years of their life. Depending on the variety of tree and jow exposed the site is.
  6. Back fill with the soil and manure mix, firming in well. Label you tree, planted by who and when and variety.

So there are still a few months of the bare root planting season left, enough time to get those planting orders in quickly over the New Year and get planting before the end of February. Be warned stock gets thinner on the ground as the season begins to draw to a close, so don’t delay. Happy Planting.

If you would like help with the re-design of a planting area or the design of a new fruit orchard, then I know just the woman who can help. Please do give me, Emily a ring Tel:01273 470753, or get in contact through the contacts section of the web site.

The Holly & The Ivy

Holly adding mid-winter colour and structure to the garden.

Holly adding mid-winter colour and structure to the garden.

As we head towards the throws of mid winter it is the iconic Holly and Ivy that bring a rich evergreen to the garden and with their variegated forms a much needed splash of colour on dreary winter days. With the added bonus of red berries, these two valuable plants can be a main stay of

the winter garden. Here are some variates that are well worth a spot in your garden.

 Ilex aquifolium 'Aurea Marginata'

Ilex aquifolium ‘Aurea Marginata’

Ilex aquifolium ‘Aurea Marginata’: Medium to slow growing, large shrub to small tree, with a compact bushy habit, it has small glossy dark green leaves with a thin yellow margin and red berries ( female)

 Ilex aquifolium 'Aurea Marginata'

Ilex aquifolium ‘Aurea Marginata’

Hedra canariensis dentata ‘Varigata’: A vigorous large ivy that commands a large spot. Large hand sized leaves a dark mat green, with silvery and cream edges. It not only looks striking grown on a large wall, it also makes excellent ground cover forming mounds, and grows well in dry shade.

Ilex aquifolium 'pyramidalis'

Ilex aquifolium ‘pyramidalis’

Ilex aquiflium ‘Pyramidalis’: A slow growing, hansom small tree with conical habit, it makes a good focal point in a small garden. Bright emerald green foliage with wavy, spiny edges and an abundance of red fruit (female)

Hedra helix 'Green Ripple'

Hedra helix ‘Green Ripple’

Hedra helix ‘Green Ripple’: A delicate ivy, with small mid green foliage, with rippled edges and deep lobs. Good on small walls.

Ilex aquifolium 'Silver Milkmaid'

Ilex aquifolium ‘Silver Milkmaid’

Ilex aquifolium ‘Sliver Milkmaid’: A Large shrub with open habit, spreading when mature, Dark green glossy leaves with white central splashes. Red berries freely borne (female)

Hedra helix 'Gold Heart'

Hedra helix ‘Gold Heart’

Hedra helix ‘Gold Heart’: A striking ivy, non vigorous, pink stems hold small neat dark green leaves with a bright yellow splash of colour in the centre. Ideal for a low fence or small wall.

ivy grown as ground covers

ivy grown as ground covers

Both Hollys and Ivies are low maintenance plants that thrive in semi-shade and in both cases will cope with some dry conditions, they will grow well in most soils but do not like water logging. Although holly has the dramatic berries the flowers/fruits of the ivy should not be missed, arriving mid autumn onwards and flowering in the winter months,it is a bonus to many insects. Of Course with Christmas not far off, holly will be brought into the home for festive decorations, Ivy can look equally good, either in it’s natural form or spayed silver or gold.

Holly& Ivy as Christmas decorations

Holly& Ivy as Christmas decorations

These two plants are often under used in the garden, which is a great shame as they have so much to offer, both as a back drop for other ‘showier’ plants and very much in their own right. I sincerely hope that will change.

Shelter Belts and Tall Hedges.

 

 A mature shelter belt.

A mature shelter belt.

Now is the time of year when autumn winds and winter gales start to threaten that it is a good idea to see if the planting of a shelter belt or taller hedge can help to protect your garden. These natural living barriers help to reduce the wind and when species of different heights are chosen the wind can be slowed down and filtered, to create a milder and more sheltered aspect with in the centre of the garden. Here are some suggestions.

Crataegus monogyna

Crataegus monogyna

Crataegus monogyna: the native ‘Quickthorne’ seen through out the countryside, with small mid green leaves, clouds of white blushed pink flowers in May, butter yellow autumn colour and round blood red berries produced from September onwards, beloved by birds. It can grow to a tree of 5-6m or be grown as a dense hedge up to any height or be used as the scrub under story in a shelter belt planting. Very hardy will cope with strong winds including sea gales. Grows in almost any soil sun to part shade.

Acer compestre

Acer compestre

Acer compestre: The native Acer to Britain. Makes a striking small to medium tree of 6-7m, with round habit. Also a very good hedging plant and it will be seen in mixed field hedging. Small palmate leaves of light green turning a golden yellow in autumn. Very hardy and will cope with strong winds. Grows on thin chalk soils to heavy water logged soils.

Thija plicata

Thija plicata

Thija plicata: A superb conifer, making a dense tall evergreen hedge that will cope with salt winds, or used in a mixed shelter belt, with mid green foliage and a conical habit up to 6m tall. Will tolerate a wide range of soil conditions from damp to thin chalk soils.

Elaeagnus x ebbingei

Elaeagnus x ebbingei

Elaeagnus x ebbingei: A wonderfully tough evergreen shrub, with a shaggy habit, which can be an invaluable part of the lower story of a mixed shelter belt or can be clipped to produce a tall wind break hedge. It will cope well with windy seaside conditions. Dark green leaves with a silvery white underside and small white flowers, there are many golden variegated forms. Grows in most soils but does not like waterlogging. 2.5-3m

 Prunus spinosa

Prunus spinosa

Prunus spinosa: the native Blackthorn/sloe. A dense spiky shrub for the under-story of a mixed planting shelter belt or as a small tree up to 3-4m. Seen in mixed field hedges though out the countryside. The first blossom of the season with small white almond scented flowers mid to February to early March, produced on naked stems. Small mid green leaves which go a light yellow in the autumn. Bitter small dark blue fruits produce late summer early autumn, good for making sloe gin. Tolerates strong winds. A valuable addition to a shelter belt.

 Corylus avellana

Corylus avellana

Corylus avellana: the native ‘hazel’ grown as a tall hedge, or coppiced under-story in a shelter belt or as a tree of 6m tall in a shelter belt. Catkins are formed in Autumn and then open in mid winter along the bare stems, round mid green leaves with golden autumn colour and nuts which feed wildlife. Tolerates strong winds, and almost all soil conditions, except very dry chalk.

cutting a tall Hedge.

cutting a tall Hedge.

For a mixed shelter belt, plant trees 2 to 4m apart in rows of staggered lines, plant groups of shrubs to form the under story, at 45-90cm apart. For wide shelter belts, plant the taller trees in staggered rows down the centre with under story shrubs in rows on the windy side and inward side of the belt, with lower under-story planting under the central rows of trees.

For tall hedges plant at least 2 staggered rows if not three, of the same species.

Now is the time of year to get planning your shelter belt or wind break hedge, with the best time to plant in the bare root season which is the end of November early December up till about the end of February or the first half of March. Use bare root or root balled stock, to get the best value for money. Also planting small stock helps aid establishment. Also use, grow tubes, rabbit guards and mulch mats. Don’t forget your new planting may well need watering through the summer months for the first few years to aid establishment and it will need grow tubes removing and rabbit spirals and mulch mats checking. Also it will need on going maintenance over the years.

If you want help planning a shelter belt and windbreak, and need it planting, I know just the woman who can help you. Give me, Emily a ring on 01273 470753.

Glorious Grasses

 

glorious grasses

glorious grasses

Grasses are a wonderful addition to any garden, adding texture and leaf colour, movement and sound. They add structure to the winter garden and are particularly useful in smaller spaces as they give height and privacy with the taller varieties without the space garbing that a shrub would do. At this time of year they particularly come into their own, with great flowers and seed heads that catch the autumn sun and some varieties have good autumn colour. Here are a few varieties;

Carex oshimensis 'Evergold'

Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’

Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’: A wonderful low growing clump forming evergreen variety. With emerald green thin leaves with a golden yellow central stripe. Dose best in semi-shade, with humus rich soil but will cope with some drying out. 30 x 40cm, small flowers with brown tusks 40cm.

Festuca glauca 'Elijah Blue'

Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’

Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue: A superb low clump forming grass for the dry garden with dense tufts of fine blue-grey evergreen foliage. With strong upright flowers with steely blue heads fading to a light tan are produced in June. Grows well in free draining soil in full sun. 20 x 30cm flowers 40cm.

 Hakonechloa macra 'Aboaurea'

Hakonechloa macra ‘Aboaurea’

Hakonechloa macro ‘Aboaure’: A medium sized lax clump forming grass that has a real wow factor for a sunny or semi-shade spot. Clumps of shaggy light green leaves with golden stripes with red tints in the autumn. This deciduous grass likes a good humus rich soil that will not dry out. Flowers are needle like spikelets are produced August to October. 30 x 45cm flowers 35cm.

 Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus'

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’: A distinctive grass which is a worth while addition to any garden. It is particularly useful in a small space for screening and adding privacy. Clumps of grey-green arching leaves reaching to 1.20m high that have an attractive orange tint in the autumn. Plumes of white twisted flowers are produced on slender stems July to October. This grass looks very good with winter light and frost and is a good over winter habitat for wildlife. Full sun to dappled shade. Grows in most soils but does not like to dry out. 1.20m x 1m x flowers 2m.

Chasmanthium uniola latiflia

Chasmanthium uniola latiflia

Chasmanthium uniola latifolia: This unusual deciduous grass forms slow growing clumps. With broad mid-green leaves held on the stems to give a ‘bamboo’ like look to the plant. The leaves have good autumn colour. The flowers are produced on tall drooping stems and are like wild oats in shape and a soft green colouring and hang from the stem like drops of water. Needs good humus rich soil which will hold moisture and needs semi-shade. 90Cm x 75cmx flowers 1.10m

Stipa gigantea

Stipa gigantea

Stipa Gigantea: A striking grass that makes a good focal point: It forms a large clump of evergreen foliage, with thin grey arching leaves. By mid June stems arch above the clump, with delicate flower heads of golden oat like flowers. This grass needs full sun and is draught resistant and needs free draining soil to thrive. 75Cm x 90cm x flower 2.m.

 Sweeps of glasses make a dramatic planting.

Sweeps of glasses make a dramatic planting.

There really is a grass for every garden situation from the damp shady corner to the dry shade of a woodland area to the thin soils of the coastal garden and the boggy wet area of heavy soils. To the full sun of a chalky bank, all will find a grass to inhabit it. They can be used as focal points or statement plants, as a privacy screen or a low growing sweep of foliage colour and texture though a woodland planting. They look wonderful planted on mass or as an important addition to a well planed planting scheme. They are widely versatile plants that are easy to grow, and Should have a place in nearly every garden.

So I hope I have inspired you to look at grasses in a new light.

If you want help with planning new planting scheme or updating and renewing existing ones, then please do contact me. Tel:01273 470753

Naturalising Narcissi and other bulbs

 'A host of golden Daffodils'

‘A host of golden Daffodils’

Now is the time of year to get the bulb catalogues out and start to think about the spring display. Bulbs look great in pots and flower beds, but they come into their own when planted on mass. Sweeps of bulbs along a winding drive, clumps in long grass under fruit trees, or lining the bottom of a hedge, naturalising bulbs make their impact. Here is a selection of good naturalising bulbs, that will bulk up and increase in number, from late January to April.

 G. nivalis

G. nivalis

Galanthus nivalis: The native snowdrop. Plant in sparser grassy areas so they do not get over come, or in woodland margins Plant in groups, well spaced to allow for the bulbs to bulk up. Flowering mid- January to mid-February.

G. 'Atkinsii'

G. ‘Atkinsii’

G. ‘Atkinsii’: taller plants with larger white flowers and green tip markings, than the common snowdrop. Again a good nationalising bulb, plant as above . Flowers January to February.

 C. ancyrensis 'Golden Bunch'

C. ancyrensis ‘Golden Bunch’

Crocus ancyrensis ‘ Golden Bunch’: early Dutch crocus, plant in short grass in clumps, in sunny areas. Thin dirk green leaves with central sliver stripe. Egg yolk yellow bowl shaped flowers that when the sun is shinning, open flat to show orange stamens. Flowering February to March.

C.etrusus 'Zwanenbury'

C.etrusus ‘Zwanenbury’

C. etrusus ‘Zwanenburg’: again an early Dutch crocus, plant as above. Wider leaves with a more pronounced sliver stripe. Soft mauve flowers with lower grey/white base, again stunning when the sun is shinning and they open up fully.

Both these crocus bulk up well, as long as the mice do not get feeding. My top tip, would be to plant them on a south facing bank, where they can really be seen at their best in the early spring.

 N. 'Mount Hood'

N. ‘Mount Hood’

Narcissi ‘Mount Hood’: A good naturalising mid season Daffodil. With white/cream trumpet and white slightly refluxing petals, at 35-40cm tall. Plant in dense sweeps or irregular clumps to give a natural look. Allow room for the bulbs to increase. Flowering late March to mid- April.

N.poeticus recurvus

N.poeticus recurvus

N.poeticus recurvus: The old fashioned and much loved ‘Pheasant eye’ Narcissus. This late flowering bulb looks wonderful planted in an orchard in great sweeps under fruit trees which will have blossom at the same time. Tall at 40-45cm. An open flower of flat white almost papery petals and a small shallow orange red tinged central cup and low soft yellow stamens, with a delicate scent. Flowering mid April into early May.

Sweeps of on mass planting of snow drops and crocus.

Sweeps of on mass planting of snowdrops and crocus.

All these bulbs do best in a sunny spot,apart from the snowdrops that can cope with the woodland edge. So get ordering your bulbs now for October/ November planting. Follow carefully the bulb nurseries planting instructions, particularly about bulb planting depths. Most people tent to plant their bulbs to close to the surface, in shallow scoops particularity when planting in grassland. Always wait till there has been a good quantity of autumn rain to help soften the ground up first. Also if you are planting a lot, which you will have to do if you want sweeps of natural looking bulbs, it will be in the hundreds, a bulb trowel or bulb planter will be invaluable.

So get cracking now for a wondrous bulb displays next spring.

Plums and GreenGages – The taste of High Summer!

 

The joy of growing and picking your own fruit!

The joy of growing and picking your own fruit!

There has to be nothing quite like picking a ripe, juice laden plum from a tree in your own garden, to make the heart quicken a little in all gardeners. While vegetable gardening is hard work, fruit growing is retentively easy and the most work you will have, will be in the harvesting. Here are some firm favourites

Plum opal

Plum opal

Plum Opal: Oval medium sized fruit, yellow with a purple flush and a strong sweet flavour. Middle of August, good reliable cropper. Partially self-fertile.

Green Gage

Green Gage

Green Gage: The original old gage. Small very juicy round green fruit, with a rich sweet aroma. Produced mid-season, end July early August. Partially self -fertile.

Plum Victoria

Plum Victoria

Victoria Plum: A firm old favourite. Medium sized fruits rosy pink, with blue bloom, sweet yellow juicy flesh. Harvey regular cropper. Dual use, cooking or dessert. Late August -early September. Self-fertile.

Cambridge Gage

Cambridge Gage

Cambridge Gage: Green/yellow round fruit, very juicy sweet yellow flesh,. An excellent early gage, a prolific cropper. Early August. Pollinators Laxton gage, Merryweather Damson.

Plum Marjorie's Seedling

Plum Marjorie’s Seedling

Plum Marjories Seedling: Enormous blue/black plums with blue/grey bloom. Yellow juicy flesh. Cooker, excellent bottling plum. When very ripe easily good enough to eat straight from the tree, as a dessert plum. Late, end September into October, and the fruit can last on the tree into November. Self -fertile.

 Luxton Gage

Luxton Gage

Laxton Gage: A large green fruit with yellow/green sweet flesh. Good cropper, Mid August. Self-fertile.

The taste of High Summer. Enjoy!

The taste of High Summer. Enjoy!

Now is the time, to make your selections, taste your way through different variates growing in friends gardens, taking notes of the ones you want to grow. Most come on dwarfing root stock, so are suitable for a small garden and a lot are self-fertile, so you don’t need the added room for a pollinator tree. Order your trees early autumn for winter delivery and planting. Top tip, Stone fruit like lime, so if your soil is heavier, then add some lime.

This is the time of year when the crop begins to ripen for early gages and plums are just around the corner. Enjoy!

Coastal Planting

dramatic coastal planting

dramatic coastal planting

Living by the sea, has many advantages, bracing walks and fine views amongst them, but many find gardening in exposed coastal areas a challenge. But it is still possible to have a garden, that can be fully enjoyed and planted with dramatic planting. Here are some plants that cope well with salt laden winds and the hash environment of the sea side garden.

Hippophae rhamnoides

Hippophae rhamnoides

Hippophea rhamnoides: This is a hardy deciduous upright shrub, that lives up to it’s common name of ‘Sea Buckthorne’ .It can become a large shrub or even a small tree and is ideal as a first defence against sea winds. It has an open habit, with thorny dark brown branches and narrow sliver leaves. Late summer clusters of small round orange berries are produced along the branches and persist long into winter. Will tolerant most soils, but is not keen on waterlogging.

Tamarix pentandra 'Rubra'

Tamarix pentandra ‘Rubra’

Tamarix ramosissima Rubra: This seaside classic, produces a large upright shrub with slightly sprawling habit. It has fine mid green foliage borne on shiny brown branches and is deciduous. It is covered in fluffy pinkish red sprays of flowers from August into September. It copes well with sea winds and again is a good shrub to plant around the boundaries of your seaside garden. Grows on most free draining soils, sunny aspect.

 Cistus x purpurens

Cistus x purpurens

Cistus x purpurea: This beautiful medium sized evergreen shrub, grows into a mound of aromatic grey green foliage which is slightly sticky to the touch. It produces large pink/purple saucer shaped flowers. Bourne freely from June to July. It does well in seaside gardens and can cope with sea winds. Grows in any free draining soil. Full sun.

Brachyglottis 'Sunshine'

Brachyglottis ‘Sunshine’

Brachyglottis (Senecio) ‘Sunshine’: This is a must have for any coastal garden, with it’s ability to cope with sea salt and strong winds. A low growing evergreen shrub with a mound habit but happy to spread. Of sliver slightly furry leaves, and clusters of brilliant sunshine yellow daisy like flowers from June to September. Good free draining soil. Full sun.

Centhranthus ruber

Centhranthus ruber

Centranthus ruber: No seaside garden would be complete with out this very pushy and hardy herbaceous plant, it will grow almost any where and with only the merest suggestion of soil, from cracks in the pavement to on shingle banks at the top of the beach. Some may consider it a weed, but a very stunning one it is. Upright growth of mid green with almost succulent mid green leaves, and pink/red wide heads of clustered small flowers freely borne from May up to the first frosts. It is not that long lived, but as it seeds freely, it will always be present. Sunny position, free draining soil.

Eryrgium maritimum

Eryrgium maritimum

Eryrigium maritimum: ‘Sea Holly’ A stunning statement herbaceous plant for any coastal garden. Mid green, and sliver spiky leaves make a base pad from which tall branches of stems with smaller spiky leaves almost like brats emerge, Small multiple thistle like flower heads appear from July, the stems below and flowers turning a silvery blue. The colour and thistles will last into late summer. Full sun, free draining soil.

the very best of seaside planting.

the very best of seaside planting.

These plants will cope well in seaside sites, the trick of planting by the coast is to layer your planting and get good planted wind barriers in place to help protect some areas of the garden, this can of course be a bit of a challenge if you still want your sea view as well. But it is possible to have stunning seaside gardens and great views and even the odd nock out of the wind as a spot to have a patio and garden bench. I hope this has inspired you to think of the potential of your coastal garden. If you need help to create your seaside garden then do give me a ring Tel:01273 470753.

I would be delighted to discuss your garden project with you.

Paeonias-Flowering Beauty

 

 A mass of paeonia colour.

A mass of paeonia colour.

Nothing says mid-summer exuberance in the garden quite like peonias, whether the herbaceous or the shrub/tree paeonia, their fleeting beauty is to be embraced and celerbrated. Here are just a few suggestions.

 P. delavayi f. Lutea

P. delavayi f. Lutea

Paeonia delavayi f. lutea: This wonderful tree paeonia, it may be a little on the slow side but it is worth the wait. A great addition to the back of the border. Tall up right steam reaching to 2m or above, in dense thickets, with new growth of red stems and deeply cut  leaves. Large tea-plate size sulphur yellow flowers are born freely from late May into June. Grow in full sun and it will be happy in free draining soil from acid to alkaline.

P. officinallis ‘Rubra Plena’

Paeonia officinallis Rubra Plena: Perhaps the most common of garden grown paeonias, this herbaceous paeonia grows to 60/75cm tall, making a sturdy upright clump, with mid green leaves. These crimson double flowers are a splash of colour for the middle of the border. Flowering May to June. Full sum well drained soil.

 P. lactiflora 'Bowl of Beauty'

P. lactiflora ‘Bowl of Beauty’

Paeonia lactiflora Bowl of Beauty: herbaceous paeonia a strong grower to 80cm/1m tall. Mid green foliage. Large sugar pink open flowers with clusters of creamery white central petals, make this a show stopper for any planting scheme. Flowering June to July. Full sun and well drained soil.

 P.lactiflora 'White Wings'

P.lactiflora ‘White Wings’

Paeonia ‘white wings’: this wonderful elegant herbaceous paeonia with dark green palmate foliage has large open dinner plate single flowers with delicate almost paper like white petals and a mass of golden stamnes at it’s cemtre. Flowering June. All good drained soils full sun.

 P. lactiflora 'Duchess de Nemours'

P. lactiflora ‘Duchess de Nemours’

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Duchess de Nemours’: This old garden classic adds a touch of elegance to the mid summer border a stand of stems up to 1m tall with glossy mid green foliage. Large cup shaped flowers of creamy white are freely born from June to July.

Peony border with Paeonia lactiflora 'Kelway´s Supreme', Alchemilla mollis and Geranium magnificum

Peony border with Paeonia lactiflora ‘Kelway´s Supreme’, Alchemilla mollis and Geranium magnificum

They may have gone a little out of fashion in recent years, considered to be a bit ‘blousy’ and fleeting, but I would argue they are a spectacular addition to any mid- summer planting scheme, whether used in a modern block planting along side grasses and over fashionable long lasting perennials or in a more classic traditional planting, they earn their place. The Japanese revere them with Paeonia festivals, but perhaps we can just start to plant them again.

Evergreen Hedges-Great and Small.

 

 Evergreen hedges, edging and screening

Evergreen hedges, edging and screening

Hedges are an important part of any garden, from wind breaks, to dense boundary hedges, to the screening of unsightly areas like the compost heaps and shed, to dividing the garden into’rooms’, to the back drop of a border or to an ornamental hedge in it’s own right. A good hedge is a asset in any garden. The evergreen hedge has the added bonus of all year round beauty. There are many to choose from, here are a few favourites.

Taxus baccata

Taxus baccata

Taxus baccata: English Yew, a traditional formal hedge, of up to nearly any height, small dark green needles as leaves, with small red cup fruits (which are poisonous to humans, as are the leaves to cattle and horses) makes a good dense hedge. It will grow on shallow chalk to acid clay and although considered slow, it is faster then you think, and can make a good hedge with in 5 to 7 years particularly if planted as a double staggered row. Sun or part shade. Cut once a year, August.

Prunus laurocerasus

Prunus laurocerasus

Prunus laurocerasus: ‘ Laural’, A good large formal hedge, large glossy emerald green leaves, followed by red/black cheery like fruit (which are poisonous to humans). A quick growing hedge, which forms a dense structure. Will grow in all moist soils and sun or part shade. Cut mid to late summer. Either with shears or a hedge trimmer, if you are worried about the look of cut leaves then you may want to tidy the cut up a bit by using secretors.

Elaeagnus x ebbingei 'Coastal Gold'

Elaeagnus x ebbingei ‘Coastal Gold’

Elaeagnus x ebbingei ‘Coastal Gold’: A good medium to large formal hedge for growing in coastal areas, as it copes well with the wind and salt. Mid green leaves, with a sliver underside and a large splash of golden yellow in the middle of the leaf, gives this hedge a wow factor and can brighten up even the darkest of winter days. Fast growing on most damp soils sun to part shade. Cut Late spring to August.

CoCotonester frigidus 'Cornubia'

Cotonester frigidus ‘Cornubia’

Cotonester frigidus ‘Cornubia’: This makes a wonder free-flowing/informal medium to large hedge. With dark green leaves, sliver underside, the new leaves are held upright on the arching branches like ‘candles’ in the early spring. Followed by clusters of white flowers May- June. However possibly the best bit is the freely born great clusters of red berries that hold on into early winter. Grow on any moist soil. Sun or part shade. Prune carefully only shortening some of the longer branches, with hand tools in December/January.

Berberis x stenophylla

Berberis x stenophylla

Berberis x stenophylla: A good medium sized free-flowing/informal hedge, with the added bounce of thrones, so good for boundary planting or problem areas. Arching branches of small neat dark green spine like leaves, with grey underside. In mid to late spring there are cascades of canary yellow flowers borne freely all the way along the stems. Followed by small blue fruits. Grows in any good moist soil and will tolerate thinner chalk. Prune late summer, taking care to keep the arching habit, prune with hand tools

.

 Hebe 'Red Edge'

Hebe ‘Red Edge’

Hebe ‘Red Edge’: This makes a neat low dense hedge, in curving mounds. Tiny grey leaves with thin red/purple edges which colour more in the cold winter, occasional small white flowers in mid to late summer. Draining soil, with some moister, humus rich. Full sun. It can be tender so do not prune hard or late in the season. Trim, mid summer.

Pittospormum tenuifolium 'Tom Thumb'

Pittospormum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb’

Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb’: A superb low hedge, with dense burgundy purple foliage. The new grow is a striking lime green before becoming purple. Grows in sun or part shade, a good draining soil, which is humus rich. It can be tender so do not prune hard or late in the season. Trim mid summer.

 different Evergreen hedges

different Evergreen hedges

Now is a good time of year to plant an evergreen hedge, as long as the ground is not waterlogged or frozen solid, it will give it a chance to settle in before the start of the growing season. Plant either as container grown or normally a cheaper option as root ball stock.

hedge cutting

hedge cutting

Hedge cutting: Think about the time of year you are going to cut your hedge not just for the look of your hedge or what suits you, but more importantly think of the birds. A hedge is a great bird habitat from roosting, to feeding and of course nest building. So all hedge cutting should be out of the way by the second week in January and not starting again until late June or early July. If in doubt, have a look at your hedge with out disturbing the occupants and see that all nests are empty and chicks have fledged before you start the hedge cutter.

 small hedges, for edging.

small hedges, for edging.

So I hope I have inspired you to get out there and plan where your new hedge is going and to get planting. For all aspects of planting design I am happy to help, just give me a ring. 01273 470753.

The First Flowers of the New Year- The Snowdrop.

 

Carpets of Snowdrops.

Carpets of Snowdrops.

As winter is beginning to turn the corner and the days are beginning to stretch, the first signs of the Spring that is to come, begin to appear. In the form of clumps of snowdrops, pushing up through the leaf litter and soggy winter turf. This humble common bulb must surely gladden even the hardest of hearts and the coldest of winter days. It may be plentiful and seem almost nondescript, but there are many varieties and for the Galanthus groupie they go positively wild about the snowdrop. Here are a few varieties that you may like to try.

G. Caucasicus

G. Caucasicus

G. caucasicus: A NEW, variety. Clumps of broad leaves to 100mm, with flower stems rising above with delicate white flowers, with horseshoe- shaped green markings on the inner petals. Early flowering, January.

G. S.Arnott

G. S.Arnott

G. S. Arnott: An old favourite with large globular white flowers held above glaucous green leaves.150/200mm tall. Flowering Feb-March.

G. elwesii

G. elwesii

G. elwesii: Turkish snowdrop, Strong growing clumps of mid green/grey leaves with flowers held above the foliage, the flowers are large and open petalled. 100/200mm. Flowering Jan-March.

 G. Lady Beatrix Stanley

G. Lady Beatrix Stanley

G. Lady Beatrix Stanley: One of the very best double snowdrops. With fine leaves and long outer petals. 100/150mm. Jan-Feb.

 G.nivalis Charotte

G.nivalis Charotte

G.nivalis Charlotte: Good for naturalising, a twisted on the native snowdrop this new Dutch variety, has strong growing clumps of grey leaves and dense groups of white pendulous flowers. It increase well. 100-150mm. Flowering Feb- March.

 G. Green Brush

G. Green Brush

G. Green Bush: One of the very best green marked snow drops. Clumps of greyish foliage, flowers held slightly above. 100/150mm. Flowers are delicate and pendulous with the tips dipped green. Jan-early March.

snowdrops and other early flowering bulbs.

snowdrops and other early flowering bulbs.

Snow drops, tolerate most soil conditions but do best with some moisture and semi-shade conditions. They associate well with other early bulbs like winter Aconites, Chionodoxas and Leucojums.

Snowdrops in pots.

Snowdrops in pots.

Apart from growing the bulbs in groups, in flower borders or allowing them to spread into glorious carpets over areas of lawn, they also look very good in pots. Tall containers or ones set at eye level are best, so you can really appreciated their delicate beauty with out having to crawl about on your hands and knees! Also think about where you are going to grow them or have the pots, make sure it is along side a path or near the back door or on route to the garage, somewhere you are likely to venture even on the coldest of winters days.

So if you are keen to become a Galanthus groupie then here are a few places you can visit, also check local listing for your nearest garden offering snowdrop trails. Don’t forget to take your notebook and camera so you can decide which varieties you want to add to your collection. The good news is as snowdrops are planted in the ‘green’ you may not have long to wait.

National collection of Galanthus, Cambo Estate Gardens, Kingsbarns, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 8QD.

Something more local. Nymans, Handcross, Nr. Haywards Heath, W.Sussex.

The national garden scheme are running a snowdrop festival with 80 gardens taking part. To find one near you click on http://www.ngs.org.uk/

Or if shopping is what you have in mind. Harveys garden Plants, Great Green, Thurston, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, IP31 3SJ. http://haveysgardenplants.co.uk/

Delicate beauty!

Delicate beauty!

ENJOY!