Sunday, 28 February 2010
Commonly referred to as the 'Stinking Hellebore' or 'Dungwort' (charming), I'm not entirely sure which common name I dislike most actually. Either way this plants name does it no favours whatsoever. On this note, isn't it strange how plants receive their names? For example there's also a 'Stinking Iris', on which Robert Webber blogged about last week which is a great plant to grow. I think if that I was in charge I could rename a few plants, although I would probably be guilty of giving many blousy, over bred beasties a bit of a doing down.
As you may have already picked up, I think this plant is great. Here are a few qualities that make it worthy of a spot in your garden. It is evergreen, it has a lovely growing habit, it will grow in woodland settings, it will grow in alkaline soils and it is drought tolerant. Yes, it releases a little scent when you touch or crumple its leaves but it is in no way "stinking". In fact I held its flowers when photographing it and it left a scent on my hand which was not all that unpleasant. A fresh, spring foliage scent in fact, which is quite welcomed after a cold Winter.
If you have a difficult spot in the garden that could do with some interest then this may be the plant for you. I for one adore it and it is a much better grower than many of the popular H. orientalis species.
Now that I've had my unplanned rant, I hope I've inspired you to grow a plant with a rather unpleasant and unnecessary name.
Do you grow this plant? Do you have any views on this plant or the names of other plants?
Wednesday, 24 February 2010
Fashionably late as ever and just in time for the close of London Fashion Week, my gorgeous Hippeastrum 'Snow Queen' has decided that it would finally grace us with its presence. Blooming on a 2ft (60cm) flower spike and growing in an old terracotta pot sat on my hall console table, this really is a welcome sight when coming in from the cold on a wet and wintery day.
This beautiful bulb is often forced to produce blooms around Christmas time. I always think it sad that once the plant has finished flowering many of these bulbs are discarded in the general waste or composted never to bloom again. In fact these bulbs will grow for many years, flowering year after year if cared for correctly.
The easy part is starting your bulb off. When you have bought the bulb, plant it in a suitable pot, a pot a little bigger than the widest part of the bulb is fine. You then choose a suitable planting media, general compost or bulb fibre is fine, and then all that's left to do is water it.
But what do you do once it has finished flowering? My advice is don't throw it away. Just continue to care for it as a typical house plant. It may not be the prettiest of plants at this point but it will pay for itself in blooms the following year. Once the flowers have faded completely, cut off the flower stem, much like deadheading any other garden bulb. You will now be left with the plant leaves and it is important that you continue to water regularly taking care not to water log the bulb. Plants should be fed every 2-3 weeks, just as you would any other house plant.
The key to success is timing. July is the month in which we get ruthless. Well not really, we just want to reproduce a period of dormancy. Stop watering the plant and allow it to dry out completely. Move the pot to a cool place, such as a garage or shed, and forget about it until October. My advice to you would be to add a reminder in your diary, 'phone or calendar, telling you that your Hippeastrum is still lurking somewhere and needs bringing back to life. It's so easy to forget these things.
When bringing your plant back in from it's slumber it is a good idea to check its general health. Trim off any dead top growth, remove it from the pot ensuring that the roots are not damaged and look over the bulb for signs of rot or pest damage. If everything is fine you can repot the bulb in compost or bulb fibre, just as you did the first time, and away you go. This will lead on to another period of Christmas flowering and save you from having to buy new bulbs year after year.
If you follow these instructions your beautiful and graceful Hippeastrum should grow strong for many years to come. If you're anything like me though you will continue to buy more bulbs each year and end up with a house full.
Did you find this post useful? Do you have any other hints or tips?
Friday, 19 February 2010
- Group 1 - consisting of those that flower early in the year
- Group 2 - consisting of the early large-flowering hybrids which flower in early summer
- Group 3 - consisting of those which flower from mid-summer onwards.
C. ‘Elsa Spath’ , can also be pruned in a similar fashion but this is not as essential.
Pruning has two main functions. It increases general vigour and helps to ensure a good flowering season. Like many other garden plants, Clematis appreciate an annual structural overhaul. Not only does this allow us to keep unruly plants in check and remove dead or diseased plant material, but it also reduces the opportunity for stems to overlap, form open wounds and become infected. By pruning the plant back to two strong buds on each stem, around 8-10” from the ground, we can encourage plants to flower profusely. Group three plants flower on current years growth and by pruning in this way we improve the plants overall health and help it to put its energy in to creating new healthy shoots and blooms.
*The main photograph is new growth from Clematis 'Madame Julia Correvone' taken in my garden today.
Wednesday, 17 February 2010
Sunday, 14 February 2010
As it is, the disparate architectural elements, since they lack in themselves a cohesive style, need somehow to be linked up and with some conviction. As you pore over the painting that inspired the restoration you sense other follies and linking hedges and paths which might somehow have made rather more sense of it. But you are also tempted to think that even if they put it all back together it would still be a hotch potch, because that is what the original style was. The word ‘rococo’ itself as a term applied to the arts and architecture derived from a combination of the words rocaille meaning rockwork and coquille meaning shell, themselves two very different materials. In the world of Rococo garden design there appears to be a similar incompatibility of elements.
Wednesday, 10 February 2010
But what has this got to do with dogs? Well, I can only imagine that both my dogs also read the post as they have taken it upon themselves to point out areas of the garden that they are not happy with and have attempted to remedy my design. Yesterday I ventured in to the garden only to find that there had been a few changes coupled with some guilty faces. I am not entirely sure who contributed to each element of the design but I have my assumptions.
Maggie, my Border Terrier, has pointed out that she is not amused with the many pots of propagated plants from last years material. Occasionally, I have witnessed her destroying the odd potted plant, however, this time she has gone one step further. She made her point by systematically removing each plant from its pot, removing the root growth and then chewing the plastic pot. It appears that she is some what of a minimalist design fan, having no tolerance for clutter in the garden and disapproving of my use of many plant species. I'm guessing that it was also Maggie who uprooted and shredded a Viburnum davidii that has barely had time to put down any roots.
On the other hand, Millie my Golden Retriever, has focussed mainly on the hard landscaping element of the redesign. She has very kindly identified areas that require ponds or reflective pools. Excavation was performed very well and I must commend her for the amazing effort. As a result of such effort, I am now the proud owner of three new "pond sites" in my borders and she has also kindly spread the remaining earth over the rest of the garden so that there is no need for me to mulch this year. It appears that although she enjoys creating a habitat for pond creatures, and wildlife in general, her appreciation for naturalising bulbs has dwindled in recent times. Clumps of Galanthus nivalis and Narcissus pseudonarcissus have forcibly been removed.
Both have helped to fertilise the garden in the way dogs do best, and who knows, this may have removed the problem of the visiting felines?
Do you have pets with a flare for design? Do you appreciate their efforts? I would love to read your stories.
* The main photograph is of a spent Hydrangea flower head taken at the National Botanic Garden of Wales.
Sunday, 7 February 2010
I've made a preliminary list of six shows to visit including: RHS Orchid Show, RHS Cardiff, Chelsea, Malvern Spring Show, BBC Gardener's World Live and Hampton Court Flower Show. I have been to RHS Cardiff a couple of times and although it is only a small show it improved year on year and is particularly accessible for me as it's just down the M4. Last years visit to the show can be seen here. Last year I also attended 'BBC Gardener's World Live'. This is a different kettle of fish altogether. Coupled with the 'Good Food Show' this show is quite busy but none the less enjoyable. All the other shows on my list are new to me, in the sense that I've never attended before. All my visits will be posted on the blog as they happen so keep your eyes peeled.
If you are already thinking of visiting the Malvern Spring Show, you may be interested in this added incentive. 'Meet @ Malvern', set up by the wonderful VP and Helen, is intended as a get together for garden bloggers. Our friends across the big water have regular meets and this is sure to be an exciting date for the diary. I will be in attendance on one of the days, probably the Friday, and it has all the makings of a great day out.
What do you have planned for the coming year? Will you be attending any shows?