Posts Tagged ‘spring time’
Posted by editor on Wednesday, 12 June 2013
As part of our Plants for Places course we recently visited the allotments at Tenantry Down to get some more inspiration for creative vegetable growing.
What a treat – the sun was warm and the allotments were stunning – so many of the Tenantry Down allotments are highly imaginative, creative spaces. Of course very much about growing vegetables and flowers in lots of different ways, but also about personal expression, being creative, recycling, contemplation and friendship. There were even some hens – much to our delight!
We especially loved the huge variety of structures and the emphasis on recycling – check the plastic bottle greenhouse in the making! Also note the seating made from hazel and from wood salvaged from pallets.
NOTE: If you would like to join us for the last session of our Plants for Places course on Wednesday June 19 – talking naturalistic gardening with grasses and perennials at the wonderful Marchants Hardy Plants nursery in Laughton (evening session starts 6.15pm and finishes at 9.15pm) – please contact us ASAP!
Photos by Jan Mulreany (thank you Jan!)
Posted by editor on Sunday, 9 June 2013
What a delightful surprise to see swathes of alliums in Hove Park this month. Earlier fields of snowdrops and rivers of golden daffodils have been followed by hundreds of alliums standing above meadow-like grass and feathery cow parsley in a beautifully naturalistic planting. Well done to Brighton & Hove City Parks Department.
In B&H we have six Green Flag Award winning parks – criteria being: a welcoming place; healthy, safe and secure; clean and well maintained; sustainability; conservation and heritage; community involvement; marketing; and management. The parks are Easthill Park, Hove Park, Preston Park, Kipling gardens, Stoneham Park, and St Anne’s Well Gardens.
Of course we’re huge fans of alliums at The Garden House – they are so easy, and keep coming back year after year with little or no trouble once planted. Back in May 2011 we feature Allium cristophii as our Plant of the Month – it’s definitely one of our favourite perennial ornamental onions!
Posted by editor on Sunday, 19 May 2013
Columbines (Aquilegia) are members of the buttercup family; perennial wildflowers whose native habitat ranges from the woodlands of North America, Europe and Siberia to the mountains of China.
There are at least seventy species of Aquilegia, including Britain’s native Aquilegia vulgaris. When grown together most can form hybrids, producing a bewildering range of horticultural hybrid varieties of uncertain parentage that go under the general name of Aquilegia x hybrida.
Clump-forming herbaceous perennials with long-stalked, ternately divided basal leaves and erect, leafy stems bearing bell-shaped flowers with spreading, coloured sepals and petals with spurs, on branched stems
Common names include granny’s nightcap, granny’s bonnet and dancing columbine. Names that happily reflect the sometimes garishly coloured hybrids – their delicately pleated flowers waving on tall, wire-thin stems, often with curled and elongated spurs.
Among our favourites are ‘Nivea’ and ‘Black Barlow’. ‘Nivea’ is pure white; an upright plant to 80cm, with divided, light green leaves and abundant, creamy-white flowers 5cm in width, with short, curled spurs. It comes true from seed, and looks lovely in small colonies. June-July. 76 cm.
By way of a complete contrast Barlow forms are like spiky pompoms and are actually a full double stellata form. These ancient forms have been cultivated for many centuries, and include Nora, Blue, Black, Purple, Christa, and Rose Barlows.
Black Barlow’ is a particular favourite – an upright perennial, with grey-green divided leaves and distinctive, pompon-like, deep purple flowers in early spring and summer. June-July. 90cm.
- South, North, east or West facing
- Exposed or sheltered
- Moist but well drained
- Neutral, acid or alkaline
- Loam, chalk, sand or clay
- Propogate by seed sown in pots in a cold frame as soon as seed is ripe or in spring
- They can also be propagated by division in spring but the plant will be slow to recover
Suggested planting locations and garden types
- Cottage/informal garden, flower borders and beds
- They make excellent cut flowers if picked when half open
Though all columbines want well-drained soil, other cultivation needs vary with variety. A. alpina (alpine) types, which grow in mountainside scree, prefer a rich, gritty soil. A. caerulea, which grow naturally on mountainsides and in arid landscapes, can survive in sandy, poor soil, though they thrive in garden loam with a little more water than their native habitat offers. Caerulea varieties tolerate more sun than our native A. canadensis, which is predominantly a woodland plant that likes dappled shade.
Posted by editor on Monday, 13 May 2013
Having invited several of the best Sussex nurseries along to bring along many of their wonderful and often ‘hard to get hold of’ plants – trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, vegetables and succulents – to The Garden House Plant Fair, we had our fingers crossed for clement weather.
Well, as is typical in spring, the weather was sunny, but at times also chilly and windy, with a bit of rain thrown in for luck! Fortunately gardeners are a hardy lot, and tempted by great plants, all manner of garden paraphernalia, beautiful woodblock prints, a plant swop – and the most delicious homemade food at the pop-up café! – we were happily inundated with visitors.
This was our opportunity to join in the spirit of the Brighton Festival and it was a wonderful weekend – our thanks to all the nurseries and exhibitors who took part and to all our helpers and friends.
Fiona Wemyss of Blue Leaf Plants in Kent (Garden House workshop on 7 June, see DIARY) www.blueleafplants.co.uk
Bruce Jordan of Big Plant Nursery near Steyning www.bigplantnursery.co.uk
Pauline and Paul McBride of Sussex Prairies (Garden House workshop on 28 Sept, see DIARY) www.sussexprairies.co.uk
Plantsman Paul Seabourne (will be selling plants again at the Garden House 29/30 June)
Deborah in charge at the very busy pop-up cafe!
Vicky watering in the greenhouse – packed with annuals and vegetable seedlings!
Posted by editor on Sunday, 5 May 2013
Next weekend we’re joining in the spirit of the Brighton Festival, but in a uniquely Garden House way! Visit us on 11 & 12 May, 11am-6pm, for a wonderful weekend of specialist plant buying.
We have invited many of the best Sussex nurseries to bring along many of their wonderful and often ‘hard to get hold of’ plants – trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, vegetables and succulents. This is the perfect time to top up and refresh your planting plans, and the growers will be on hand to offer their knowledgeable advice as to the selection of right plant, right place!
We also have a small selection of makers selling ironwork, plant supports, pots, restored garden tools and a variety of garden paraphernalia.
Plus a pop-up cafe selling delicious homemade food – and a plant swop – bring along a plant to exchange!
- Blueleaf plants – wonderful succulents
- Big Plants – exotics
- Garden House plants – shrubs, perennials and annuals
- Paul Seabourne – perennials and annuals
- Sussex Prairie – grasses and perennials
From left: Lorraine Philpot, Adele Scantlebury, Chris Burchell Collins
- Adele Scantlebury – woodblock prints
- Amanda Saurin – specially made Garden House soaps and scrubs
- Chris Burchell Collins – contemporary nature-influenced ironwork
- Deborah Goodwin – all manner of gifts and garden paraphernalia
- Ian Swain – beautifully restored tools and garden equipment
- Lorraine Philpot – naturalistic ironwork garden supports
Bring friends and family, and enjoy a great day out!
Location: The Garden House, 5 Warleigh Road, Brighton BN1 4NT
Posted by editor on Monday, 29 April 2013
Spring is finally upon us – the rising sap is almost palpable throughout the garden as the buds start to open at last and reveal their bright green leaves or soft scented blossoms. The insects have become busy, seeking out food after the long winter and seeds have at last begun to germinate.
Plants to look out for at the moment in the garden are the delicate wild or species tulips – these always come back reliably and often self-seed throughout the beds. Next year they are going to be the ‘must haves’ when we look at the bulb catalogues!
These tulips may have smaller flowers but they are still among the best for value as many of them are reliably perennial in the garden – often spreading to form large displays. The earliest flowering species – Tulip humils and Tulipa turkestanica – start in late February whist Tulipa sprengeri is the last tulip to flower in late May.
Lamium orvala is another early spring favourite. It’s a wonderful plant with spikes of large, velvety purplish pink hooded flowers, like those of the wild dead nettle. Each whorl of flowers in divided by large, heart-shaped mid green leaves. A spring delight that thrives in part shade in well-drained soil and will give flowers through to June.
Prunus ‘Tai-Haku’, the most lovely of early flowering cherry trees has blossoms usually about 2in across that are at least double the size of the average cherry blossom – huge, pure white, straight-edged flowers. An ancient Japanese tree, sometimes called the great white cherry, it had become extinct in Japan, but has been revived from a single specimen found in a Sussex garden.
This tree grows well on chalk and has amazing autumn colour – it’s leaves turning yellow and orange. It is suitable for a smallish garden, although it’s spread is more than it’s height – and don’t plant too close to paving, cherries are shallow-rooting trees and will cause havoc with foundations and paths if planted too close. Suckers may form at the union with the grafted plant. These are clearly visible about 6in above the soil level and need to be removed.
Also out at the moment in The Garden House garden are clumps of pure white bleeding heart, Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’; arching wands of Solomon’s seal; and, growing under trees, the bright blue flowers of Brunnera and Pulmonaria ‘Sissinghurst White’ (the best cultivar to my mind).
And finally the delightful Epimedium, which has the most delicate of flowers, visible high above the leaves of this aptly named ‘Bishop’s mitre’. Look closely at the flowers and you will then see why it is related to Berberis and Mahonia – strange but true!
Posted by editor on Saturday, 2 June 2012
If you nip down to your local garden centre, it may not be too late to rustle up some red, white and blue bedding plants and even perennials to plant up a couple of pots or window-boxes (ideal for your front garden if your street is planning a party!).
The RHS website has some brilliant ideas – the following info is from their website:
Patriotic displays of red, white and blue-flowered plants are traditional favourites for British celebrations. Below is a selection of plants recommended by the RHS and the Horticultural Trades Association, who have been working together to promote the brightest and best to garden centres and nurseries for the summer celebrations.
|Begonia Semperflorens Cultorum Group||
|Begonia × tuberhybrida||
|Viola × wittrockiana (pansy)||x||x||x|
*’blue’ plants include shades of mauve and purple, as there are few true-blue flowers.
Images are from:
One Good Thing by Jillee – who also suggests painting your pots in red, white and blue!
Bill Flowers - love those ‘over railing’ pots!
Posted by editor on Sunday, 22 April 2012
April is magical time as plants emerge from their winter dormancy, some producing a beautiful show of flowers.
One such, and a favourite of ours, is Epimedium x perralchicum ‘Fröhnleiten’ - with its thin, wiry flowering stems that uncurl from the base of the dormant plant and produce small, deep yellow flowers. As the flowers begin to fade the emerging foliage has bright, coppery red shading between conspicuous green veins, creating an impressive effect. This Epimedium grows in a wide range of conditions and will tolerate shade beneath trees making it an effective groundcover plant. It is evergreen, but in late winter the previous season’s foliage should be cut back so the emerging flowers can be seen to their full glory.
Common name: Barrenwort, bishop’s mitre – you will soon see why – the emerging leaves look just like a bishops hat!
Family: Berberidaceae – this is the same family as Berberis and Mahonia, and one way of recognising plants in this family is the yellow pith in the centre of their stems.
Epimediums are clump-forming rhizomatous perennial that like moist, fertile soil and thrive in partial shade. They are fully hardy.
They are found in two main areas of the northern hemisphere – the Mediterranean, where four species grow in light woodland and shady, rocky places, and temperate eastern Asia, where they grow in similar situations to the western group but require more shade and moisture (33 species come from China, four from Japan and one from Kashmir).
In spring the fresh green foliage is often tinged with pink, bronze or red. In summer the leaves are deep green, turning to rich tints of yellow, red and bronze in autumn. Small saucer- to cup-shaped flowers are borne from spring to early summer in various colours including yellow, white, pink, red and purple.
The name Epimedium, first used by the Greek herbalist Dioscorides in the first century AD, derives from epi, upon, and Media, the country of Medes, south west of the Caspian Sea.
Even though it was named by a herbalist and appears in several herbals, Epimedium was not widely used in the west. The Oriental species have been used medicinally for centuries – even in modern Chinese herbalism several species are still used to treat ailments including paralysis of the legs and high blood pressure, while in Japan they are used to treat hypertension.
E. x perralchicum is a robust, evergreen hybrid with glossy, deep green leaves which are an attractive bronze when young. Bright yellow flowers up to 2cm (3/4in) across are produced in spring, showing above the foliage for some time before leaf growth tends to cover them up. It tolerates dry soils in sun or semi-shade (producing fewer flowers under these conditions). On moister soil it will tolerate more sun.
‘Fröhnleiten’ is a German cultivar selected by Heinz Klose and has bigger flowers.
- For the best display of foliage and flowers clip back the old leaves in late winter or early spring before the flower spikes have formed. Where frosts are prolonged or severe provide a deep winter mulch to protect the rhizomes close to the surface.
- Mulch and feed regularly.
- Divide and replant tight clumps every three to five years to ensure good foliage and flower displays.
- Vine weevils are the worst pest, attacking the roots in particular. Slugs, snails and rabbits will also feed on the young growth.
- Propagate by division in autumn when roots can establish quickly and the foliage is tougher and less prone to damage. Young leaves are brittle and easily snap off.
Marchants Hardy Plants in Laughton has a great selection of Epimedium varieties – it is also an exceptional nursery and garden, do visit…
Marchants Hardy Plants, 2 Marchants Cottages, Mill Lane, Laughton, E. Sussex BN8 6AJ
Below are nursery-owner and plantsman Graham Gough’s personal descriptions – take your pick, they’re all great!
- E. ‘Amber Queen’ – a cracking E. flavum hybrid, the main body of the large flower being amber coloured with hints of pink, pale yellow and white. 40cm.
- E. grandiflorum ‘La Rocaille’ – ivory white suffused with palest celadon green, long spurred flowers. 35cm.
- E. g. ‘Lilac-Pink Form’ – a form with small leaves and pert, spidery lilac-pink flowers.
- E. g. ‘Lilafee’ – dark tinted new leaves act as a harmonious foil to the dainty violet-purple flowers. 25cm.
- E. g. ‘Rose Queen’ – inappropriately named, the large spurred flowers of this strong growing form are actually a fine crimson-purple. 25cm.
- E. g. ‘White Queen’ – a large flowered pure white form, yet to bettered. This, the true plant, is said to becoming rare. 30cm.
- E. membranaceum – a beautiful Chinese species with burnished spiny margined foliage and insect like, long spurred pale yellow flowers for months. Evergreen. 30cm.
- E. x oemeiense ‘Myriad Years’ – a naturally occurring hybrid in the wild (E. acuminatum x E.fangii) with handsome foliage and extraordinary, huge pale grey-pink and purple-spurred flowers. Requires a sheltered spot. 45cm.
- E. ogisui – introduced in the 1990’s from the flora rich province of Sichuan, China, this beautiful large white flowered species remains uncommon and is further enhanced by the bronze tinted new foliage. 25cm.
- E. x perralchicum ‘Frohnleiten’ – airy racemes of unspurred lemon yellow flowers in spring. The handsome evergreen leaves remain unblemished throughout winter, making it an altogether classy garden plant. 35cm.
- E. sp. Yunnan – a refined and incredibly free flowering soft yellow, long spurred species from China with noticeably pale foliage. Patiently awaits a name.
- E. versicolor sulphureum – evergreen foliage, copper and crimson tinted in winter, which should be removed in February to enjoy the clean yellow flowers in spring. 40cms.
- E. versicolor x versicolor – subtly contrasted flesh pink and amber-yellow flowers, a perfect match for the young copper coloured foliage. 30cm.
Posted by editor on Thursday, 19 April 2012
Now is the very best time to get your plant supports into place. With growth on most perennials just starting, you can clearly see where the plants are and more easily get stakes or supports into position.
Of course, not just tall perennials – climbers, certain roses, even vegetables like broad and runner beans will need careful staking to avoid the plants collapsing as they grow in heavy rain and winds. In March 2011 we wrote a post on decorative staking, CLICK HERE to read it again!
And note that we’re opening for the first time as one of Brighton’s myriad Artists Open Houses! Our garden will be host to many wonderful artists and makers showing and selling all manner of garden-related items – including Annemarie O’Sullivan’s willow balls and wigwams, and blacksmith Lorraine Philpott’s naturalistic structures – all ideal as plant supports…
Posted by editor on Monday, 9 April 2012
Spring in the UK has been wonderful, certainly in the south, with extremely warm weather enjoyed, but at the same time rather troubling with the hosepipe ban, along with freezing temperatures on a couple of mornings this week! Our gardens and the countryside have changed dramatically over the last ten days.
I spent the last week of March in the Pelion, Greece where the change in season has been slower, more typical and less extreme, with warm days, cool evenings and a recent history of plenty of rain. The wild meadows were glorious. One of the main contributors to this visual treat is the Euphorbia characias, with its zingy green punctuating the blooming of more delicate flowers.
Euphorbiaceae is the name given to one of the largest families in the plant world, with about 300 genera and 7,500 species and sometimes commonly known as spurges. Euphorbia range from annual to perennial plants, and from woody shrubs to trees – all share one feature in common, a caustic, poisonous milky sap. The botanical name Euphorbia derives from the Greek Euphorbus, the name of the physician to king Juba II of Numibia (52-50 BC – 23 AD), whose stomach disorder may have been treated with Euphorbia resinifera (one of the more “cactus” looking species).
Euphorbias can play a many roles in the garden, with a species for most situations: Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae brings early interest in a woodland border, with its bright green, unfurling, tips; architectural, tall, clumps of Euphorbia characias sub. wulfenii ‘John Tomlinson‘ can give structure, form and focus in an early spring border; Euphorbia griffithii ‘Dixter’ with its brilliant red/orange bracts adds colour and drama to a summer border; the Euphorbia myrsinites is low growing, offering soft grey/green sharply defined leaves and great contrast to more colourful plants in a gravel garden or in a very sunny border; Euphorbia polychroma, with its acid- green star shaped flowers looks wonderful coupled with maroon planting, and the Euphorbia oblongata is a great background staple in your cutting garden.
Think about bringing Euphorbias into your garden – the biggest warning being to be take care of the sap!
Posted by editor on Friday, 9 March 2012
March is here and it’s time to get organised in your vegetable plot…
- Check, repair or replace any rotten raised-bed boards, and build new compost bins. Clean, sharpen and oil secateurs, loppers and shears.
- Set up more water butts – you may need them this year!
- Chit early-maturing potatoes such as Charlotte, Vivaldi, Red Duke of York, Maris Bard and Accord – egg boxes make good chitting trays, put the tubers with the ‘eyes’ facing upwards.
- When chitted (sprouted) you can carefully plant your early potatoes under cover in special vegetable bags, or even use an old compost bag.
- Plant out individual garlic cloves 10cm apart in prepared ground and cover with cloches or fleece.
- Plant onion sets in modular trays of compost, keep under cover to plant out later.
- Last chance to plant out bare-rooted fruit trees and summer fruiting raspberries.
- Plant out cold-stored strawberry runners, sowing seeds of alpine varieties or even pollinate strawberry flowers under glass.
- Sow in trays and modules in the greenhouse (for growing on in the greenhouse): tomatoes, aubergines, peppers and cucumbers.
- Start sowing hardy veg outside or under cloches: carrots, beetroot, broad beans, salad onions, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, leeks, lettuce, rocket, coriander, mixed salad or stir fry leaves, radish, turnip, peas, lettuce and Swiss chard. Don’t sow too many at once, leave some space for a second sowing to extend your season.
- For early veg, grow some of the hardy veg under cover in your greenhouse beds: radish, rocket, lettuce and salad leaves.
- Fork over your beds, clearing any weeds (don’t throw into compost bin!) – you could also warm your bare soil by covering with a sheet of polythene and pinning it down, just for a week or two before planting commences.
- Get your hazel or bamboo bean-pole structures in place – make sure they’re pushed well into the ground as they’ll be bearing a lot of weight once your beans start growing.
- It’s not too late to dig a compost trench for your runner beans. Dig a trench to about a spades depth, then fill with kitchen peelings and vegetable waste, rotten apples etc, also a bit of torn up old egg boxes or cardboard. Cover with soil to stop foxes scavenging. Leave to compost down until you plant your beans, around mid-May.
- While your beans and pea beds shouldn’t need any more feeding for now, you could enrich the other beds with garden well-rotted compost, manure or an organic fertilizer.
Posted by editor on Sunday, 4 March 2012
Hardy Annuals – are plants with a life cycle of one year that will tolerate the frost and can be sown without heat and will be fine to leave outside, though preferably with some shelter. Examples of these would be Nigella and Cornflowers. You can sow them in September/October or from now until end March. Some, such as sweet peas, are best grown in modules to avoid root disturbance. Most make great cut flowers.
Some vegetables have hardy varieties that are fine to leave outside in the cold weather – I have just picked some salad leaves, mizuna, mibuna, giant red mustard and pak choi that have been growing in the veg plot quite happily, unprotected, during all this cold weather. You can also get hardy broad beans, such as Aqua Dulce Claudia, and onion sets that will be fine outside during the winter.
There are also some lettuce varieties that do well outside. The following all survive in Brighton (if you live somewhere cooler and wetter, try these in pots or window boxes sheltered against your shed or grown in a greenhouse if you have one). Try ‘Green Oak Leaf’ – if you pick it carefully, just harvesting a few outside leaves at a time, you should be able to pick from six to eight weeks from sowing, right through the winter. Then, as spring begins, it really pushes out a ton of leaves from early March until at least the end of April. The same applies to the red-coloured ‘Cocarde’ which being red also keeps off the slugs and snails – for some reason they don’t seem to be attracted to red veg! The American variety, ‘Black Seeded Simpson’, is a surprisingly hardy variety with a lovely texture and taste, and the famously winter-hardy lettuce ‘Valdor’ is soft, rounded, and delicious.
These should keep you in salads through the winter.
Half-hardy Annuals – are plants that will not tolerate the frost and need heat to germinate (around 20ºc). Their life cycle, at least in our climate and like the hardy annuals, is one year from germination to dying. These include veg plants such as tomatoes, chillies, aubergines, peppers, runner beans, courgettes, sweet corn, and many of the brassicas – cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli. There are also many half-hardy flowers, often used in containers or bedding such as Petunias, Impatiens, Lobelia.
With half-hardy annuals the important thing is timing – some plants, for example chillies and Petunias, need a really long growing season and so, if you have a propagator, it is a good idea to sow them now. This will allow plenty of time for them to mature and you will be more likely to get good fruiting and flowering in the summer as they will have had maximum time to receive as much light and heat as possible.
Other plants, such as Cosmos, nasturtiums, sunflowers, sweet corn and courgettes, germinate and grow quickly, as do runner beans so leave these and sow them later on in March or April. They won’t be safe to plant outside until danger of frost has passed, around mid May in this part of the country, and so if you sow them too soon you will have a kitchen full of sprouting runner beans with nowhere to put them! The chillies and aubergines and other slow growing things, that you are sowing now will need to be kept somewhere frost free until mid May to – so bear that in mind and don’t sow too many seeds!
As with so much in the garden, planning is vitally important – be realistic about what you can manage – allowing for a few failures and some to give away.
At the Garden House we have seeds of many of the above for sale, so do contact us if you would like to purchase some.
We also have a workshop on Growing Your Own Cut Flowers on Saturday 21 April so do come along and learn how to make your own cutting garden.
Posted by editor on Tuesday, 14 February 2012
We are all eagerly awaiting the first herbaceous perennials of the year and the Pulmonarias always come up trumps! Pulmonaria rubra AGM (Award of Garden Merit) is always the first to flower, and needs to be observed at close quarters to see how lovely it is.
Pulmonarias are members of the borage family, (Boraginaceae). Along with their cousins, comfrey, borage, brunnera, forget-me-nots and anchusa, pulmonarias have hairy leaves and small funnel-shaped flowers. The common name is lungwort – The name Pulmonaria comes from the Latin ‘pulmo’, the lung. The plant was considered to be an effective remedy for diseases of the lung because the spotted leaves were supposed to resemble diseased lungs.
Pulmonarias are evergreen perennials and thrive in humus-rich, moist but not waterlogged soil and do well in full or partial shade, which is an added bonus. They make brilliant ground cover plants in woodland or at the front of a border and the bees love them! They are very hardy. Height & spread of up to 40cm (16in) x 90cm (36in)
The leaves are hairy and often spotted with white or silver. The leaves that develop after flowering have the best markings. Flowers can be pink, red, violet, purple, blue or white. They are funnel-shaped, 5-10mm (0.25 – 0.5in) across with 5 petals.
- ‘Redstart’ has coral-red flowers and is often the first Pulmonaria to flower in midwinter. ‘Barfield Pink’ has pink and white striped flowers and grows up to a height of 30cm (12in).
- P. r. var. albocorollata syn. alba has white flowers and ‘David Ward’ has white-variegated, sage-green leaves with cream margins and coral-red flowers. Both reach a height of 30cm (12in).
- ‘Bowles’s Red’, developed by Edward Bowles, has coral-red flowers and leaves faintly spotted pale green. It grows to 30cm (12in) and is similar to ‘Redstart. Remove old leaves after flowering and divide every 3 – 5 years.
To propagate Pulmonarias, divide plants in autumn or after flowering or take root cuttings in mid-winter. Powdery mildew may be a problem in dry conditions and slugs and snails may damage new growth – but don’t let this put you off, they are super-useful plants to have in the garden!
Posted by editor on Saturday, 11 February 2012
Here at The Garden House we have many lovely roses – climbers, shrubs, ramblers, miniatures – we’re passionate about them! But we also know that roses carry a certain mystique with regard to care – when to prune, how to prune, when to feed, with what etc…
If you know someone who would love to know more about roses and their care, why not buy them a Garden House Voucher (£10 upwards)? The Voucher can be put towards any workshop, course or garden visit – but would be especially appropriate right now put towards our “All You Need to Know About Roses” workshop, taking place Saturday 2 June. The workshop will be led by rose expert Simon White of Peter Beales nursery in Norfolk. www.classicroses.co.uk
Contact us now and we can email a voucher to you before the 14th…!
If you’re thinking of planting some new roses this spring, remember that, as with all plants, it is so important to consider ‘right plant, right place’ – below is a list of some of our favourites:
Climbers for north-facing walls:
R. ‘Alberic Barbier’ AGM (Climber/Rambler). Flowers rich cream, apple fragrance, some repeat flowering, some winter leaf persistence. Ht 6m (20ft).
R. ‘Dortmund’ AGM (Climber). Single, blood-red flowers; repeat-flowering. Ht 2m (6½ft).
R. ‘Félicité Perpétue’ AGM (Climber/Rambler). White flowers, buds tinged red, some winter leaf persistence. Ht 5m (17ft).
Very vigorous roses for climbing into trees:
R. filipes ‘Kiftsgate’ AGM (Rambler). Slightly fragrant; one flowering period; creamy white flowers. Ht10m (30ft).
R. longicuspis (Climber). Slightly fragrant; one flowering period; white flowers; semi-evergreen, tender. Ht 6m (20ft).
R. ‘Seagull’ AGM (Climber/rambler). Slightly fragrant; one flowering period; white flowers with golden stamens. Ht 4.5m (15ft).
Roses for training up pillars: (Need to be flexible-stemmed, produce flowers at the ends of all current seasons growth, and preferably be of moderate vigour.)
R. ‘Compassion’ AGM (Climber/Rambler). Double, fragrant, repeat flowering; pink, shaded apricot blooms. Ht 2.4m (8ft)
R. ‘Danse de Feu’ (Climber) Double; repeat flowering; orange to scarlet flowers. Ht 2.4m (8ft)
R. ‘Golden Showers’ AGM (Climber/Rambler). Double; fragrant; repeat flowering; golden yellow blooms. Ht 2.1m (7ft).
Patio climbers are useful for smaller structures up to 3m (10ft) or so high: In a sunny spot, try pale cream, pink-tinged ‘Penny Lane’ (‘Hardwell’), or mauve-pink, heavily-scented ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ (‘Ausbord’).
Roses with ornamental foliage:
R. ‘Highdownensis’. Large, single crimson flowers, ferny leaves. Ht 3m (10ft).
R. multibracteata. Pink, single flowers; neat rounded leaflets. Ht 3m (10ft).
R. primula AGM. Pale, small, yellow flowers; shiny aromatic leaves; one flowering period. Ht 1.8m (6ft).
R. sericea var. pteracantha. Red thorns; creamy-white flowers; small ferny leaves. Ht 2.4m (6ft).
Some roses suitable for hedges:
R. ‘Cornelia’ AGM. Double, fragrant apricot pink blooms. Repeat flowering. Ht 1.5m (5ft)
R. ‘Roseraie de l’ Hay’ AGM. Double, fragrant wine red blooms. Repeat flowering. Ht 2.1m (7ft).
R. ‘Zéphirine Drouhin’. Semi-double, fragrant carmine pink flowers. Thornless and repeat flowering. Ht 3m (10ft).
Roses with very decorative autumn hips:
R. ‘Fru Dagmar Hastrup’ AGM. Silvery pink single flowers; large red fruit. Ht 90cm (3ft).
R. rubrifolia. Pink flowers once a year; scarlet globular hips. Ht 2.1m (7ft).
R. rugosa. Cerise or white flowers once a year; scarlet globular hips. Ht 1.8m (6ft).
Roses for ground cover:
R. ‘Nozomi’ AGM. Single pink flowers; one flowering period. Ht 30cm (1ft) and spread 1.5m (5ft).
R. Snow Carpet ‘Maccarpe’ Single, double white flowers throughout summer. Ht 15cm (6in) and spread 90cm (3ft).
R. Surrey = ’Korlanum’AGM. Double pink blooms from early summer until late autumn. Ht 60–90cm (2-3ft) and spread 90cm-1.2m (3-4ft).
Posted by editor on Thursday, 2 February 2012
Seedy Sundays now include Seedy Saturdays too and are attracting more and more people. Primarily the event is about swapping seeds but they have grown and now make for a great family day out with workshops for adults and children and the opportunity to meet people interested in gardening, local food production, climate change and sustainability.
Lewes: Saturday 4 February 10am-3pm at Lewes Town Hall. Free for children, 50p for adults. All day workshops include: making paper plant pots, willow weaving, bug trays, children’s craft and art workshop – and lots more. www.lewes.gov.uk/business/9729.asp
Lewes talks include:
- 10.30 – Brighton Permaculture Trust
- 11am – James Greyson, making a Biochar cooker for soil improver while brewing a cup of tea
- 11.45 – Millennium Seed Bank, Kew at Wakehurst Place – practical talk about seeds
- 12.30 – Peter May, Sussex Apples and Good Fruit Tree Health – bring photos of diseased branches to get accurate advice
Hove: Sunday 5 February 10am – 4.30pm at Hove Town Hall, Norton Road BN3 4AH. Free for children, £2 for adults. Come and enjoy more than 50 stalls, lots of talks, demonstrations and children’s activities as well as the community seed-swap. Bring seeds to swap (in labelled envelopes, please) or make a 50p donation per packet. www.seedysunday.org
Hove talks include:
- 11am – Crop varieties – why do gardens matter? Bob Sherman, Chief Horticultural Officer, Garden Organic
- 11.40 – Seeds of Activism – campaigning for the seeds, agricultural biodiversity and food sovereignty of the world’s majority food providers. Patrick Mulvany, Chair, UK Food Group
- 12.15 – How to dry seeds from your garden and keep them alive. Vanessa Sutcliffe, Training Specialist, Millennium Seed Bank
Posted by editor on Wednesday, 22 June 2011
If nothing gives you more pleasure than checking out other people’s gardens, then the Garden Gadabout is for you! Two weekends – 25th/26th June, and 2nd/3rd July – over 70 local gardens around the Brighton & Hove (and many beyond!) will be opening their garden gates for charity.
The gardens are wonderfully varied, giving inspiration at every turn – from the smallest courtyard to large ‘wild’ gardens and allotments – each with its own unique mix of planting and hard landscaping ideas.
The Garden House will be open on the first weekend only, 25th/26th June. There’ll be plants and seeds for sale, fresh eggs from our hens, a tombola – and a whole lot more! Our garden is a unique and imaginatively restored old market garden, extending behind other houses to make a very large space filled with vegetables, flowers and many decorative ideas using recycled materials. We’ll also be offering lunches, wine and soft drinks – so make a date, bring some friends and come along! Find us at 5 Warleigh Road, Brighton BN1 4NT (side gate!).
For info on all the gardens and downloadable guides, go to www.gardengadabout.org.uk
Carole Klein, patron of the Garden Gadabout, says: “I’m thrilled to be patron of The Sussex Beacon’s Garden Gadabout once again. This year over 70 gorgeous gardens and community spaces will be opening across the two weekends, and there’s a wealth of wonders to discover. As well as scrumptious lunches and teas, many of the gardens this year will be offering something a little bit extra to make your visit even more special.
There’s nothing quite like being a part of making things grow, watching and waiting for the changes that unfold day to day, season to season. The Gadabout is a great opportunity to gather ideas from all sorts of spaces. From bold and stunning contemporary designs, to quiet havens of wildlife – of all shapes and sizes. I’m a passionate enthusiast of sharing our green spaces, it’s just so inspiring to discover what other people have lovingly created. So take a good browse amongst these pages and plan your visit, not forgetting of course where to stop for teas, cake and lunch.
The Garden Gadabout also fulfils an important role in raising essential funds for The Sussex Beacon, enabling them to continue their work, meeting the changing needs of men and women living with HIV. This year the funds raised by the Garden Gadabout are more important than ever, as new diagnosis of HIV continue to increase and fundraising becomes even tougher.
A big thanks goes to all the lovely gardeners who open and share their gardens, to all the volunteers who help them, and to all of you who come along and enjoy this wonderful event.
So go on….get Gadding!”
Posted by editor on Thursday, 16 June 2011
With the recent winds and rain, this week may be the last opportunity you have to make elderflower cordial this year. We love it – it’s so redolent of spring and it goes down well on our garden Open Days!
- 20 elderflower heads – choose ones from trees away from roads and ones where the flower heads are in full bloom
- 1.25 kg sugar – granulated or caster
- 4 satsumas or 2 oranges, sliced
- 2 limes, sliced
- 2 lemons, sliced
- 1.2 litres of water
- 30g citric acid (bought from a pharmacy)
- Wash the flowers carefully to make sure there are no little creatures caught up in the flowers.
- Put the cold water and sugar in a saucepan and gently heat to dissolve the sugar completely. Add the flowers and bring to the boil. Take off the heat immediately.
- Put the sliced fruit into a large bowl. Add the citric acid powder and then pour over the hot liquid with the flowers.
- Stir well and cover with a clean tea towel. Leave it somewhere cool for 24 hours, and then strain it into warm sterilised bottles and seal.
Posted by editor on Saturday, 28 May 2011
Well, 2011′s Chelsea Flower Show extravaganza is over – the year’s inspirational kick-start for new gardening ideas, plantings and structures – we loved it!
Cleve West’s garden for The Daily Telegraph was awarded Best Show Garden – quite an accolade and well deserved, this was a beautiful garden and one of our favourites. We always expect the unexpected with Cleve’s gardens, yet they still have recognisable qualities – strong sculptural forms (last year remember those huge concrete planters? And the year before his dementia-friendly sensory garden with a giant sculptured ball at its centre?), moving water and sensitive planting.
This year his garden’s warm off-yellow plastered and dry-stone walls and flowing water framed an open space containing three 10ft high columns by French artists Serge Bottagisio and Agnès Decoux, with one lying on the ground, that appeared to be ruins but in fact mix the old and new in concrete and terracotta.
The planting looked so unconscious, almost self-seeded in effect, and the colouring exquisite – a soft blend of yellows, silvers and soft-whites – highlighted by the occasional dark red-pink Dianthus cruentus, grasses and airy umbellifers (including parsnip flowers from his own allotment!). Specimen trees of Styphnolobium japonicum (the Japanese pagoda tree), gave scale to the planting, rising up from the sunken gravel area to soften the effect of the monolithic columns.
Posted by editor on Thursday, 19 May 2011
At the moment many members of the borage family are looking wonderful – we love their simplicity, the way they flourish – popping up everywhere and so easily – and we love the often bright blue borage flowers, which look wonderful in salads!
This is a family of around 2000 species, occurring mainly in Europe and Asia, especially in the Mediterranean region. Most of them are herbs, although there are some woody plants. Many are grown as ornamental plants, although some are a source of dye or have medicinal uses.
Take a look at some of the plants from this family in your garden and look at the characteristics.
Members of this plant family usually have:
- Blue flowers in a coiled inflorescence – the lower ones always opening first
- Stems and leaves covered in rough hairs
- Four seeds
There are many different cultivars and most of them seem to have blue or pink flowers. The most well known include Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis), Heliotrope (Heliotropium), the Comfreys (Symphytum), Borage (Borago), and Hound’s Tongue (Cynoglossum). Brunnera and the Anchusa are also in this family…
At the moment Anchusa ‘Loddon Royalist’ is looking fantastic – it is one of our favourites and is growing well in the garden. It is grown as a biennial so don’t forget to sow it in June or July to look good next year. The Garden House will soon have the seeds for sale.
Posted by editor on Friday, 13 May 2011
The Garden House currently has a stunning display of different kinds of ornamental onions – hundreds of blooms, and flowering around three weeks early!
Our mass plantings include: Allium ‘Mont Blanc’, A. hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’ AGM, A. atropurpureum, A. nigrum, A. schubertii and our favourite – Allium cristophii.
- Common name – Star of Persia
- Family – Alliaceae
- Height & spread – 30-60cm (12-24in) x 15cm (6in)
- Form – Bulbous perennial
- Soil – Fertile and well-drained soil
- Aspect – Full sun
- Hardiness – Fully hardy, but may be tender when young
Allium mainly come from dry and mountainous areas in the Northern Hemisphere, and have adapted to live in almost every plant habitat, from ice-cold tundra to burning, arid deserts.
There are perennials and biennials, ranging in height from 10cm (4in) to 150cm (5ft) or more – the taller species looking particularly good in groups in a border. After the leaves die back tiny pink-purple star shaped flowers appear clustered together at the top of the stalk, giving this Allium its characteristic ‘lollipop’ look, which in botany is called an umbel.
Typically they have upright to spreading linear-shaped leaves. The tubular based flowers are bell, star or cup-shaped and are borne in spherical umbels 1cm (3/8in) to 10cm (4in) across. Many take on a metallic colour in early summer.
In most species, a single bulb produces clusters of offset bulbs around it, which gradually form clumps. Many Allium give themselves away with the distinctive smell of onions when the bulb or foliage is bruised, and several species have culinary uses, including A. sativum (garlic), culinary onions, shallots and chives.
The Romans are sometimes held responsible for their wide distribution, while the whole group was valued by ancient civilisations as possessing medical and aphrodisiac qualities plus flavour.
Flower stalks dry well and can be used in arrangements or they can be left outside to provide frost-tinged winter interest.
- Grow in fertile, well-drained soil in full sun
- Plant bulbs 5-10cm (2-4in) deep in autumn
- Plant clump-forming species with rhizomes at or just below the soil surface in spring
- Alliums are susceptible to white rot, downy mildew and onion fly.
- Propagate by offsets, removed when dormant, or by seed in spring at about 13°C (55°F)
- Keep moist and well ventilated, and dry progressively as foliage dies back
- Prick out and pot on when dormant. Seed grown plants, however, may not come true to the parent
- Alternatively, divide clumps of spring-flowering species in summer
The RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee awarded Allium cristophii an Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
Posted by editor on Friday, 29 April 2011
Love it or loathe it, endure it or enjoy it – today’s wedding was a great opportunity to again admire the beauty of our seasonal native trees and flowers.
London-based floral designer Shane Connolly masterminded the floral arrangements, leading teams of florists in decorating Westminster Abbey and of course, designing the bride’s bouquet. Connolly is known for his “sustainable approach to floristry,” and often uses live growing plants and trees in his designs.
The overall impression was of natural elegance, simplicity and seasonality – white and cream, scented and full of meaning.
At Westminster Abbey the nave was lined with an ‘avenue’ of eight 20ft-high trees, six English Field Maples and two Hornbeams, all growing in planters made by craftsmen at Highgrove, the Prince of Wales’s house in Gloucestershire.
Kate’s bouquet was white, scented and simple. It was a shield-shaped wired bouquet comprising myrtle (signifying love and taken from an original myrtle planted at Osborne in 1845, which still thrives within its sheltered terraced gardens today), lily-of-the-valley (humility, purity), sweet William (gallantry) and white hyacinth (loveliness). The majority of the flowers came from Windsor Great Park’s Valley Gardens, a flowering forest in Surrey.
The flowers and plants will remain in the abbey for public viewing until 6 May, when the trees will be taken to Highgrove Gardens for planting. Most of the cut flowers and greenery and growing plants will be given to charities or replanted.
Posted by editor on Monday, 11 April 2011
This fascinating genus contains over 100 species of bulbous perennials, from the tall and dramatic F. imperialis (Crown Imperial) to the delicate F. meleagris (snake’s head fritillary) with its distinctive chequered flower. In the main they originate from around the Mediterranean, Asia and North America (F.meleagris is the one species of fritillaria thought to be native to Britain).
The majority bloom in spring and have distinctive flowers that are generally bell-shaped and pendant. These hardy bulbs need deep, rich and well draining soil and should be planted in autumn to a depth of at least twice that of the bulb. They can also be successfully grown in pots, which in the case of F. imperilais is helpful, making them easier to move under cover during the winter months.
Other favourites include F. persica, a deep dusky mauve, and F. persica Ivory Bells. Flowers are held in long racemes of up to 30 narrowly bell-shaped somewhat conical flowers, about ¾” long with a waxy bloom.
Also look out for Fritillaria michailovskyi, it has up to five, pendant reddish-purple bells with a yellow edge on the outside and a shiny yellow interior. Like F. meleagris it is only 8-10” tall, an exquisite woodland or river meadow gem.
Posted by editor on Sunday, 3 April 2011
In Japan, where the cherry blossom is respected, there is an annual festival in its honour, where everyone goes out into the countryside to sit beneath the blossom and picnic and party with very un-Japanese abandon.
Cherries are one of the most attractive and versatile of garden trees, giving delightful spring colour when they are in full blossom and, in many cases, outstanding autumn colour as well.
At the Garden House we have a stunning Prunus serrulata ‘Tai Haku’. Its spindly branches hanging with extraordinary bundles of huge white blossoms, delicate explosions of petals freeze-framed in mid-air.
‘Tai Haku’ is a cherry with an astonishing story too: a legendary tree in Japan until it disappeared at the end of the 18th century, it was apparently unknown anywhere else in the world. Then, in 1923, the owner of a Sussex garden showed Captain Collingwood Ingram – an expert on Japanese cherries – an unidentified cherry with gorgeous white flowers. He was unable to recognise it but took grafts and passed the resulting saplings around.
The next time he went to Japan he was shown an 18th-century book of flower paintings and recognised the unidentified white cherry from the Sussex garden. As far as the Japanese were concerned, however, ‘Tai Haku’ had disappeared and could not possibly have popped up a hundred years later in England. It really does appear, though, that every ‘Tai Haku’ in cultivation – which vanished from Japan 200 years ago – inexplicably comes from that Sussex tree found 87 years ago.
- Prunus ‘Kursar’ AGM – this stunning small tree was one of the best trees raised by Captain Collingwood Ingram. It has masses of small deep pink flowers and fantastic autumn colour.
- Prunus incisa ‘The Bride’ – in spring this small cherry, which has a dense shrubby growth habit, is smothered with large single white flowers. The anthers of the flower are a very vibrant red colour and this is emphasized against the white petals.
- Prunus ‘Shogetsu’ AGM – this is one of the finest Japanese cherries and has a wide spreading growth habit. It has large double pink flowers which hang from the branches in clusters providing a breathtaking display. The double pink flowers quickly fade to a beautiful pure white.
- Prunus ‘Accolade’ AGM – this cherry has a spreading growth habit. During April the tree is covered in masses of large light pink semi-double flowers. It will also add value to your garden during the autumn when its green leaves turn a vivid rich orange/red colour.
- Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’ – this delightful small cherry is very slow growing and compact making it suitable for growing in containers. Its branches have a fascinating zigzag growth habit and these are covered in small blush pink flowers. In the autumn this cherry will reward you with great foliage colour.
- Prunus ‘Pink Perfection’ AGM – this stunning cherry has bright double pink flowers which hang in drooping clusters from the branches. The leaves are a delicate bronze colour when young, before turning green and then a bright fiery red and orange in the autumn.
More cherries for small gardens:
- Prunus x subhirtella ‘Fukubana’ – this is an elegant miniature tree to about 3m that will fit into a small space and give it scale.
- Another good choice is Prunus x subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’ (winter-flowering cherry) – this is a real harbinger of spring that will repeat flower in any mild spell between January and March. It makes an elegant small tree of about 6-7m with an open head casting light shade. The single white flowers have pink centres and the bark is dark brown and shiny.’
- Prunus incisa ‘Fujima’ – this shrubby-crowned small tree is smothered in masses of pink-tinged flower buds, followed by stunning white flowers. It is very free-flowering, quick to establish and adaptable – it grows on heavy clay. The cultivar also offers good autumn colour.
- Prunus ‘Spire’ AGM – a fine choice for a small garden. This cultivar is no more than 2m wide when it is 20 years old. It has an upright crown meaning it will fit into the smallest space and give height or screen a view. The pale pink blossom covers the tree in spring and the autumn leaf colour is orange to yellow.
It is worth noting that ornamental cherries budded on to wild cherry rootstocks have large root systems, whilst trees on their own roots have much smaller root systems and are therefore better for smaller gardens.
Posted by editor on Monday, 28 March 2011
Now is the very best time to get your plant supports into place. With growth on most perennials just starting, you can clearly see where the plants are and more easily get stakes or supports into position.
Of course, not just tall perennials – climbers, certain roses, even vegetables like broad and runner beans will need careful staking to avoid the plants collapsing as they grow in heavy rain and winds.
- Simple and relaxed – consider birch or hazel twiggy sticks, bendy and easy to twist around to create loose supports.
- Dramatic – tall supports like wigwams or tripods – use straight hazel sticks pushed firmly into the ground and tied at the top. Wrap wide mesh or twist soft twigs around the bottom half of the structure to give seedlings something to cling to as they grow.
- Metal structures – we prefer rusted metal, though in the right setting stainless steel can look very dramatic – metal can be formed into wonderful natural shapes mimicking seed heads or leaf structures, blending with the plant shapes themselves.
- Wooden structures - obelisks can look very good in more formal settings, often best painted in soft mid-tones.
- Arches and arbors – made from young living willow. Pushed firmly into the ground and watered in well, willow will root very easily to form a living structure. As it grows, twist and plait in the shoots to form a robust structure.
- Practical supports – simple grids made using bamboo canes are perfect for the cutting garden where practical considerations are more important than aesthetics.
We love creative and decorative supports – maybe hang small bits of mirror, glass or foil milk bottle tops from your structure to move and glitter gently with the wind. Paint bamboo canes or panels of wooden trellis in bright colours and use amongst the flowers in your cutting garden – or why not use rusted bed-springs to support your broad beans in the vegetable patch?!
The key thing is to let the support structures flow with your planting, give great thought to which material suits your planting, enjoy building your structures and be experimental.
Posted by editor on Thursday, 24 March 2011
Visit the delightful and inspiring Garden House garden on the afternoon of Sunday 27 March!
While an all-year-round opening is neither practical or desirable for smaller garden owners, the long running National Garden Scheme allows many proud gardeners the opportunity to show off their skills for a couple of days each year – and all for good causes.
The ‘Yellow Book’ Scheme, as it is known, was established in 1927 and so has a long history of people opening their gardens to the public. The scheme supports a variety of charities including Macmillan cancer care, Marie Curie nursing service and Perennial – the Gardeners’ Royal Benevolent Society.
We will have plants, dahias and seeds for sale. Plus, of course, a range of delicious homemade cakes and refreshments!
Opening times: 1pm to 5pm. Come with a friend! You can also find out about the many workshops and courses that are on offer at The Garden House as well as meeting our hens and seeing the progress that we have made in the garden over the past year!
Location: The Garden House, 5 Warleigh Road, Brighton BN1 4NT
Posted by editor on Friday, 18 March 2011
Daphnes are invariably grown for their delightfully fragrant flowers, which most have in abundance, but some are grown for their foliage, fruit, or upright, rounded or prostrate habit.
Daphne as a genus consists of about 50 deciduous, semi-evergreen and evergreen species, from Europe, North Africa and Asia. Their natural habitats range from lowland woodlands to mountains. There are many species and cultivars in cultivation, and some are at their best in the depths of winter, when there is little else to compete with.
- Family – Thymelaeaceae
- Height & spread – 1.5m (5ft) high and wide
- Soil – Moderately fertile, humus rich, well-drained soil
- Aspect – Full shade to open
- Hardiness – Hardy in some areas, may require protection in winter
Of the deciduous cultivars D. bholua var. glacialis ‘Gurkha’ displays pink-flushed white flowers. Another Daphne that flowers without the obstruction of leaves is D. mezereum, or mezereon as it is sometimes called. A flush of colour appears in late winter through into early spring before the leaves begin to grow. The purplish pink blooms, or white in the case of D. mezereum f. alba, cover the spreading stems that can reach up to 1.2m (4ft).
Daphne odora is a rounded evergreen shrub and another wonderfully scented example that flowers in the winter and early spring. It has clusters of white flowers edged with carmine and darkly glossy evergreen leaves.
The cultivar ‘Aureomarginata’ AGM has leaves with narrow, irregular yellow margins, it was awarded an Award of Garden Merit (AGM) for its scented flowers and variegated foliage. It bears fragrant, deep purple-pink and white flowers, to 1.5cm (1/2 in) across, in terminal, sometimes axillary clusters of 10-15 or more, from midwinter to early spring. These are followed by fleshy, spherical red fruit.
The hardiness varies as well as the leaf retention, flowering period and shade tolerance.
Daphnes grow well in borders or in woodland settings and once planted do not like to be moved. They will also perform well in containers. To gain the maximum pleasure from growing daphnes, plant them near paths and buildings where both the sight and scent of their flowers can be easily admired and appreciated.
The inner bark of the daphne can be used to make good quality paper, and rope. All parts of the plant are poisonous and skin contact with the sap can cause dermatitis in some people.
Daphne prefers a cool lime-free well-drained sandy loam and a sunny position.
It succeeds in neutral soils and tolerates partial shade. Some species also succeed in quite deep shade. At least some forms, especially the sub-species D. bholua var. glacialis tolerate alkaline soils. It flowers well when grown in dry shade, and likes plenty of moisture in the growing season.
It grows well in urban areas, tolerating the atmospheric pollution. Plants are resentful of root disturbance and should be planted into their permanent positions as soon as possible. Keep pruning to a minimum.
Aphids, leaf spot, grey mould (Botrytis) and viruses may be a problem.
Photo credit: www.rhs.org.uk
Posted by editor on Sunday, 13 March 2011
We love their exuberance, their beautiful colours and their form. If you haven’t yet switched on to dahlias, do it now, I’m sure you won’t regret it!
- Plant dahlia tubers (or cuttings) in March or early April, in a generous pot. Plant the tuber stem upwards, 5cm deep, in a light, frost-free place.
- Alternatively, plant out tubers in the ground after mid-April 5cm below soil level, when danger of frost has passed.
- Plant dahlias in a free-draining, open, sunny site, avoiding overhanging trees.
- Add plenty of organic matter and apply bonemeal to the top 5cm
- Use good quality stakes – one per plant – canes are too weak. Tie in plants loosely as they grow.
- Watch out for slugs, snails, aphids and earwigs. Upturned flower pots , filled with straw and placed on top of the stake will attract earwigs. Empty out every few days away from the plants.
- Remove dead flowers to encourage further flowering and mulch around the plant (spent flower buds are pointed, new flower buds are rounded).
- Lift tubers at the end of the season when frost has blackened the foliage.
- Store in a frost-free environment in sand or dry compost.
- By late February remove from storage and pot off to start into growth for cuttings.
At 3.30pm we’ll be holding a FREE workshop on dahlias and how to look after them.
Also selling the following fabulous varieties:
- Rip City
- Karma Noir
- Bishop of Lancaster
- Chat Noir
- Downham Royal
- Red Cap
- Nuit d’Ete
- Café au Lait
- Arabian Night
Bring a friend and enjoy tea or coffee and homemade cake. The open afternoon starts at 3pm and finishes at approx. 6pm. We look forward to meeting you!
Posted by editor on Tuesday, 1 March 2011
According to global news agency Reuters you can “Forget potted plants and privet hedges; a group of Buenos Aires artists want to make the Argentine capital a free-for-all kitchen garden, turning neglected parks and verges into verdant vegetable patches. Following in the footsteps of “guerrilla gardeners” who have been scattering flower seeds in vacant lots and roadsides in cities such as London and New York since the 1970s, the Articultores group is taking the concept a step further. Armed with vegetable seedlings and seed bombs — seeds packed with mud for throwing into neglected urban spaces, their goal is to provide organic food for city residents.”
Well if Brazil can do it, so can Brighton (and Hove, or wherever)! Join our Seed Bomb Workshop – on Saturday 26 March – and make seed bombs and seed smudges with Josie Jeffery, followed by a local mapped distribution walk.
Josie runs ‘seed freedom’ – www.seedfreedom.net - she recently published a book Seedbombs: Going Wild with Flowers (recently recommended by Alys Fowler in Gardens Illustrated magazine!) – and we love her enthusiasm for spreading the ecological word!
Take a wildflower seed mixture, glued together with a special mud mix, pressed and made into a ball ready to throw into a neglected area of your garden, allotment or urban corner. There’s no need to even dig a hole – with very little effort you can beautify almost any abandoned or seemingly inhospitable site.
Flowers grown from germinated seed bombs also encourage bees into these areas, and by encouraging more bees to our urban streets and gardens they will also be available to pollinate our food crops.
Join us, it’ll be a lot of fun – and you’ll be enhancing your environment at the same time! Check DIARY on this website for more info.
Posted by editor on Friday, 18 February 2011
We recently hosted a birthday lunch for Mariana and her friends and family: “That was a really wonderful lunch! Beautifully presented, beautifully cooked and not only a delight in both those ways but also a joy in every respect – greeting, balloons, plants, table-laying, drinks and nibbles, fire, delicious and original cake, layout etc – and everyone who came felt the same.”
We can work with you – designing a beautiful and home-made meal featuring organic and local ingredients where possible, and decorating the Garden Room with fresh seasonal flowers and plants – creating a truly special event and setting. For more information, contact us on email@example.com
Note: we are planning another of our very popular ‘pop-up’ restaurants on Friday 8 April as part of the Brighton & Hove Food Festival. Look out for more details.
Posted by editor on Monday, 14 February 2011
We enjoyed fine weather and great company on our Garden House visit to Anglesey Abbey last Saturday. “Just to say thank you for a wonderful day out, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Your organisation and hospitality is matchless. I am so glad I was able to come along!” Vicky D.
We love Angie B’s sketches of the winter garden, and Mandy D. wrote the following piece:
As winter slowly turns to spring no plant lover should miss the chance to visit the glorious winter display at Anglesey Abbey. Situated not far from Cambridge (not on the Island of Anglesey as most of my friends thought!) this National Trust property and gardens boasts one of the most beautiful and varied winter gardens I have ever seen.
A short walk from the Visitors Centre leads you to the start of the winter garden walk which, even if you did not notice the signs, can be found by following the intoxicating smell of the Sweet Box (Sarcococca), that line the first part of the walkway.
And that’s not all – for those Galanthophiles amongst you (snowdrop lovers to the rest of us!), the Abbey gardens boast over 200 varieties of snowdrop (Galanthus), some labelled and therefore identifiable along the main path and many others in gentle drifts that meander through the woodlands and other areas. My favourite was Galanthus plicatus ‘Hobsons Choice’ (wondered why I picked that one) and another variety named after Anglesey Abbey itself.
And finally, for stunning shrubs and trees, nothing can beat their display of Cornus – reds, greens and yellows – and the glade of Himalayan Birch (Betula utilis ‘jacquemontii’), with its ghostly white bark and statuesque structure, making all who came across them pause, reflect and for some, stay until the sun went down…
If you add to this a lovely sunny day, good company and even a rainbow on our return, it was the perfect day. Thanks weather fairy…
Anglesey Abbey: Quy Road, Lode, Cambridge CB25 9EJ / Tel. 01223 810080
Posted by editor on Sunday, 6 February 2011
As I’m sure you’ll have worked out by now, here at The Garden House we’re big Galanthus fans! So we’re delighted to tell you that on Friday 11 and Saturday 12 February, one of our favourite nurseries, Marchants Hardy Plants, is holding a special sale of snowdrops, together with a cut flower display.
Over 35 different varieties of snowdrop will be available – including the beautiful shaped G. allenii; G. ‘Anglesey Abbey’, a poculiform nivalis type but with bright green leaves; G. ‘Bill Bishop’, a very large flowered and handsome snowdrop; G. ‘Jacquenetta’, the greenest of the doubles; and the more rare G. ‘Wrightson’s Double’, a unique, fat elwesii double (quite scarce and very beautiful).
A number of the bulbs on sale are in short supply and will be sold on a first come first served basis. Bulbs offered are best quality, and are believed to be true to name.
Location: Marchants Hardy Plants, 2 Marchants Cottages, Mill Lane, Laughton, East Sussex BN8 6AJ / tel: 01323 811 737
Open: Friday 11 and Saturday 12 February / 10.00am – 4pm
Posted by editor on Sunday, 30 January 2011
Seedy Sunday celebrates its 10-year anniversary – 10 years of swopping seeds, hunting down disappearing or heritage varieties of flowering plants and vegetables. It is the UK’s biggest community seed swap.
Seeds are provided by the people who have grown them – volunteers and other gardeners donate saved seeds which are bagged up before the event – the seeds come in all shapes and sizes, often with stories attached!
Open-pollinated, ‘heritage’ varieties are often no longer commercially available, but are naturally well adapted to local growing conditions – as well as being tasty and colourful. At the seed swap, experienced local growers are on hand to advise on the practicalities of seed saving and growing from seed, and there are films, displays and talks to inspire you to go home and get growing.
Also on offer – seed potatoes to info on recycling and wildlife, plants and bulbs – make this an ideal kick-start to spring!
And The Garden House will be there too, with seeds, bulbs and some wonderful dahlia varieties!
For more information on the Seedy Sunday campaign, go to www.seedysunday.org
Venue: Hove Centre, Hove Town Hall, Norton Road, Hove, E. Sussex / 10am-4.30pm / £2 entrance
Posted by editor on Sunday, 2 January 2011
Galanthus is a small genus of about 19 species of bulb commonly found throughout Europe and western Asia in upland woodland and rocky sites. Galanthus bloom mainly from late winter to mid-spring, though in their natural habitat they often flower just as the snow is starting to melt.
The name Galanthus is derived from the Greek words gala, meaning milk, and anthos, meaning flower, in allusion to the colour of the flowers. The plants are more commonly known as ‘snowdrops’, from the German Schneetropfen – this common name refers to a style of earring popular in the 16th and 17th centuries in Germany.
One of the best and boldest of the snowdrops, with rounded bell-shaped scented flowers, is variety ‘S.Arnott’ – a favourite of ours!
- Family: Amaryllidaceae
- Height & spread: 15cm (6in) x 8cm (3in)
- Form: Bulbous perennial
- Soil: Moist but well-drained, moderately fertile
- Aspect: Cool shade
- Hardiness: Fully hardy
This snowdrop is vigorous, with narrow, grey-green leaves 7-16cm (3-6in) long. It has large white flowers, which have an inverted V-shaped green mark at the tip of each inner tepal. They are 2.5-3.5cm (1-1.5in) long, strongly honey-scented and are produced in winter and early spring. They look wonderful planted with dark-leaved plants, like Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ or with bright yellow winter aconites, or carpeting the woodland floor under a flowering witch hazel.
Cultivation: Snowdrops grow well in cool shade in any humus-rich, moist but well-drained soil that does not dry out in summer.
They are prone to narcissus bulb fly, which will tunnel into the bulbs and destroy them, and also grey mould (botrytis), which will appear on the leaves but then rot the bulbs.
Propagation: Sow seed as soon as ripe in containers in an open frame, though as Galanthus species readily hybridise the seed may not come true.
Propagate by twin scaling in summer. With this technique a bulb is cut into pairs of scales, each of which produces bulblets.
Lift and divide clumps of Galanthus “in the green”, as soon as the leaves begin to die back after flowering. Replant each bulb individually, at the same level as before, in holes sufficiently wide to spread out the roots.
When all else is bare, it lifts the spirits when you spot patches of snowdrops appearing under shrubs and trees…
If you want to see many, many varieties of Galanthus growing wild (including many rare varieties) – join us on 12 February for an early spring visit to the stunning gardens of Anglesey Abbey. Truly a garden for all seasons – but particularly beautiful in February when it is at it’s most spectacular, and drifts of white snowdrops and yellow aconites add colour to the frosty landscape (details in the DIARY on this website)…
Posted by editor on Sunday, 26 December 2010
“No passionate gardener, even though distracted by the prospect of Christmas family gatherings, will have their minds totally divorced from what’s going on out there. Where shall they get their inspiration? Of course, we rely on the successes of others – I do that myself – yet what we are offered of a practical nature is minimal. So, the actual practice of gardening (taking cuttings, how to dig, how to prune, and suchlike) becomes increasingly neglected. If teachers themselves are uninterested in practice, there will soon be no one to teach the skills required for good hands-on gardening, and they will atrophy and be lost.
There is, thank goodness, a public demand for these skills, yet the actual demonstration of them (in contrast to books about them, which are never so immediate), and the opportunity to try them out for oneself, is increasingly rare.
…when meeting examples of the new generation, I am sometimes enormously encouraged. Genius and inspiration are inevitably in short supply, but those who have it keep coming along. Some are passionate about plants from the start.
…but there are others, scarcely less valuable, who, having started off in the wrong direction and decided that the rat race is not for them, switch careers (at considerable material deprivation to themselves) and become passionate gardeners and careerists in gardening, when verging on middle age. They bring to gardening an unstoppable dense of direction, intelligently applied. And they keep coming along.
But the hands-on skills still need cherishing, their value recognised and rewarded as they deserve.” Taken from Christopher Lloyd’s book Cuttings (a wonderful book – a favourite of ours – full of musings, knowledge and marvellous insights into gardening at Great Dixter).
We at The Garden House wholeheartedly agree with Christopher Lloyd’s thinking – and will be running several courses in 2011 that teach practical gardening – fun, inspiring, hands-on and rich in horticultural knowledge!
- Second Time Gardener 8-week course; starts 2 February
- Garden DIY Workshop; 5 February
- Garden Design with Peter Thurman; starts 7 February
- First Time Gardener 10-week course; starts 21 March
- Growing Vegetables 6-week course; starts 30 March
And there will be more hands-on courses and workshops throughout the year - check in DIARY for more details!
Posted by editor on Sunday, 7 November 2010
Tulips are fantastic spring bulbs. There is nothing to beat them – for scent, colour and drama. If, like me, you want them to last for at least two months starting in the middle of March and continuing until the Alliums flower in May then you will need to do some planning. It is such a lovely task on a gloomy evening to sit and look through the bulb catalogues and choose and plan your show!
Combining your tulips with spring flowering biennials, such as the deep red wallflower Erysimum ‘Blood Red’, or the orange, E. Fire King, or honesty, Lunnaria annua, will give a fantastic carpet of colour.
Plant some tulips for an early display, the Fosterianas are good, they have big flowers, and don’t forget the tall stemmed tulips like ‘Purissima’ or ‘Flaming Purissima’. The Fosterianas are great in pots and they flower in March and early April.
The species tulips such as Tulipa bakeri and T. clusiana also flower early in the year. ‘Prinses Irene’ is an early tulip with gorgeous orange flowers, that have crimson and red streaks and is perfect for pots.
Make sure that your pots are clean as tulips are susceptible to blight which is transferred by spores and if your pots are not clean then they can become infected.
Next come the Triumph tulips and these will give you the earliest of the deep reds. A mix of ‘Jan Reus’, the almost black ‘Queen of Night’ and the lovely deep purple ‘Recreado’ look sensational together and will flower around the middle of April.
The beautiful Parrot tulips come into bloom in the middle of spring and the form ‘Rococo’ looks brilliant with lettuces or the blood red Erysimum. This is a great tulip for forcing and if you plant them in pots under cover you can manipulate them to flower by the middle of March.
The next ones are my favourites – the lily flowered tulips – and one of the most scented is ‘Ballerina’. It is such an elegant tulip and looks wonderful with ‘Black Hero’, which is a double late form of ‘Queen of Night’ – it’s double flowers look peony like – there is a huge range of lily flowered tulips, ‘West Point’, ‘Burgundy’ and White Triumphator’ and Christopher Lloyds favourite,’ Queen of Sheba’, to name but a few.
Then finally to end the show some of the green-splashed ‘Viridifloras’ are long lasting and often flower year after year, which is a bonus. The Parrot tulips, ‘Flaming Parrot’ and ‘Orange Favourite’ should see you through to the middle of May when the Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ is poised to take over.
The best time to plant tulips is after the first frost, or preferably frosts as these will kill off any fungal spores which are left in the ground, and is a good organic gardening method for getting rid of the disease tulip fire, (Botrytis tulipae), something that you really don’t want in your garden as it will kill all your tulips.
Try to plant your tulips at least 20cm/8” deep as this will ensure that any spores near the surface will not infect your bulbs. Planted under shrubs will also allow your tulips to ‘die well’ as the shrub will provide a good foil for the dying leaves.
Order your bulbs on line at www.dutchbulbs.co.uk or call them on 0161 848 1124 if you prefer to study your bulbs in a catalogue. This company also supplies A5 pictures of your chosen bulbs, (you can order them with your bulbs). This is really helpful if showing bulbs to customers or if you are trying to decide on plant combinations.
At the Garden House we still have some bulbs for sale so why not drop by on Friday afternoon between 2.00 and 4.00pm for a slice of cake, a cup of tea and buy some bulbs to brighten up your spring!
Posted by editor on Thursday, 20 May 2010
Visit the delightful Houghton Lodge gardens with The Garden House! On Wednesday 23 June we’ve a great day planned – visiting Mottisfont Abbey to see the collection of old-fashioned roses, and Houghton Lodge to see the inspirational garden.
Houghton Lodge is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful privately owned houses and gardens in Hampshire. The house is a picturesque late 18th Century Grade 2 listed gothic cottage orné, idyllically set above the tranquil waters of the River Test. It is set in extensive grounds, with fine trees and lawns sweeping down to the banks of the river.
The garden is described by Tamsin Westhorpe, editor of The English Garden as “one of the most romantic gardens I have ever experienced” and offers a myriad of charms as inspiration for the gardener. There is a fully restored chalk cob walled kitchen garden with greenhouses run on hydroponic principles (thus using less water and space) – also a long herbaceous border, orchid house, topiary parterre and a lovely wildflower meadow leading down to the river.
In late June the roses and peonies will both be in full blossom and should be looking wonderful. www.houghtonlodge.co.uk
For more information on this delightful visit, or to book, go to DIARY on this website.
Posted by editor on Wednesday, 14 April 2010
Pricking out seedlings, hardening off and sowing outdoors. There’s still time to sow more half-hardy annuals and vegetables. If you haven’t already, sow under glass courgettes, marrows, pumpkins, sweetcorn and greenhouse cucumbers. Outdoors, sow beetroot and turnips, peas and broad beans, broccoli, cabbage, carrots and chard amongst others. Continue to sow lettuce and salad leaves.
Seeds sown a few weeks ago should be sprouting now and ready for pricking out.
- Fill a seed tray with moist John Innes No 1 potting compost or similar.
- Firm the soil then mark out planting holes with a pencil or dibber, approx 1-1-1/2” (2.5-3.5cms) apart each way.
- Gently ease out a small clump of seedlings, with some of their compost (a small plastic plant label is ideal for this delicate task). Hold each seedling by one of its leaves and tease it away from the others (never handle by the stem).
- Lower the individual seedlings into their planting holes and firm the compost around each. Take care not to damage the roots.
- Label, then water with a fine mist sprayer. Place out of direct sunlight for a day or two, then move into the light. Keep the compost moist, but not wet.
Once established – four to eight weeks after pricking out – harden off young plants.
- Move the tray or pot to a sheltered spot outdoors in fine weather, bringing back indoors at night.
- After a week or so, leave outside permanently, but protect from harsh weather and shelter at night.
- A cold frame is an ideal place to harden off young plants. For the first few days, open the frame slightly, during the day only. Increase ventilation gradually, until by late spring the cold frame is completely open.
All hardy annuals and most half-hardy annuals can be sown directly outdoors.
- Prepare the soil: In autumn, work in some compost or well-rotted manure. Come spring, as soon as the soil is reasonably dry, break up the soil further, sprinkle in a good general-purpose fertilizer, then rake thoroughly creating a fine, crumbly tilth.
- In dry weather moisten the soil a day or two before sowing, then again two or three days after sowing.
- Sowing in drills: Make shallow drills approx 1-1.5cms deep (for planting distances check the seed packet carefully). Sow thinly to avoid too much thinning later. Cover seeds by running the tip of the hoe along the ridge of the drill, then tamp down to lightly firm the soil.
- Once seedlings appear, start to thin out the weaker seedlings.
- Sowing in borders: Prepare a sketch plan of your desired layout, and mark out the sowing areas with a trail of sand or the edge of a hoe.
- Scatter seeds over the area, then rake over gently.
- As with sowing in drills, water the area in advance then again a few days after sowing if the weather remains very dry.
The Garden House sells many hardy and half-hardy seeds – see SHOP on this website for more details. Our seed packets are beautifully illustrated by Brighton illustrator Vicky Sharman – see PICTURES on this website to view the individual seed packets.
Posted by editor on Thursday, 8 April 2010
Simple, affordable and productive – now is the time to get seed sowing! The only successful means of propagating annual plants is from seed. Most perennials also grow well from seed, however cuttings or division are usually quicker methods of growing these plants.
Hardy annuals – amongst others consider Ammi majus, Cornflower Black Ball, Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’, Eschscholzia californica, Marigold Indian Prince, Nigella damascena ‘Miss Jekyll’ and Sweet Pea Matucana – these do not need heat, so a cold greenhouse is fine.
You can also sow Verbena bonariensis and Nicotiana mutabilis Marshmallow now, but only if you have a propagator or heated greenhouse as these need heat to germinate.
Half hardy annuals – like Cleome Helen Campbell, Sunflower Earthwalker, Cosmos Sensation Mixed, Erigeron karvinskianus and Zinnia Envy can also be sown now until early May.
And don’t forget salad seeds – fast growing and ideal for sowing every fortnight are Lettuce Freckles, Lettuce Marvel of Four Seasons, Lettuce Red Salad Bowl…
Raise seedlings indoors:
By sowing under cover in a cold greenhouse or on a warm window-sill, plants can be brought to flower a few weeks earlier.
- Scrub out your pots and seed trays and rinse thoroughly
- Use specially formulated seed compost (never use potting composts which contain fertilizer that might burn delicate seedling roots
- Sow seeds thinly over the surface – generally sow seeds at a depth equal to their thickness – very small seeds need only a fine covering of soil, larger seeds can be planted deeper
- Very small seeds can be mixed with a little sand before sowing – this makes them easier to see and spread evenly
- Sweet peas prefer minimal disturbance so we sow seeds singly in cardboard toilet roll ‘pots’ – once germinated and 4-5” tall, they can be planted outdoors in their toilet rolls – these soon disintegrate
- Water the compost from below, standing the tray in water until the surface of the compost appears wet, then remove the tray
- Don’t forget to label your seeds!
- Cover with glass or polythene (wipe daily to remove condensation), or newspaper (for warmth without the condensation)
- Stand container in a warm place (possibly an airing cupboard) checking daily until the first seed leaves appear, then remove the cover and move container into the light, maybe on a bright window-sill
- As soon as the first true leaves have developed, the seedlings are ready for pricking out
In a few days time, look out for our Sowing Seeds: Part 2 – pricking out seedlings, hardening off and sowing outdoors.
The Garden House sells packets of all the above seeds, and many more – see SHOP on this website for more details. Our seed packets are beautifully illustrated by Brighton illustrator and Garden House friend Vicky Sharman – see PICTURES on this website to view the individual seed packets.
Posted by editor on Friday, 5 March 2010
The Garden House is taking a spring trip to the wonderful Beth Chatto gardens at Colchester, Essex, on 17 April. It is so beautifully planted, and was such a rewarding experience when we went a few years ago in February, that we wanted to offer a trip to see the gardens at a different time of year.
Beth Chatto’s innovative style has transformed the “wilderness” (her words), that she and her husband were faced with in 1960, into one of the most inspirational gardens in England. Perhaps it is the gravel garden which is most famous, planted with drought resistant plants and reflecting the mantra we should all follow, ‘right plant, right place’. This area in Essex has one of the lowest rainfalls in the country, but here in the south we have also experienced tremendous droughts and seeing the plants Beth Chatto uses in her garden can guide and inspire us for our own gardens. The nursery is well-stocked, fabulous and not expensive.
As well as the gravel garden, created from the former car park, the rest of the gardens are magical. The garden has both dry and damp areas, sunny and shady – these challenges, plus her eye for design and colour have resulted in an exceptional visual harmony.
We are leaving Brighton quite early, 9am by coach, and plan to be back in Brighton by 6.30pm. The cost is £42, two people booking together is £70, so do bring a friend along! We will offer refreshments on the coach, and there is a good cafe at the Gardens, or if you prefer, do bring a packed lunch.
For booking form, go to our Diary list, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org