Six on Saturday: 9th December 2017

Six snapshots in the garden to chart the changing seasons

Last weeks Six on Saturday went quite well so I’ve decided to give it another go this week. I’m away from the house so it’s another cheat week from me. The weather has turned chilly and we’re staying at the in-laws’ house in Surrey. The frost in the garden here was too much of a novelty for me so I thought I’d share.

The Six on Saturday meme was started by The Propagator so go and take a look at his weekly post. Also look through the comments to find more blogs joining in.

ONE

This Winter Jasmine putting in a good show this time of year but I doubt I’ll ever covet it for my own garden. I find the growth habit odd and for most of the year it’s just wiry stems.

TWO

Seed heads of Japanese Anemone. This is a lesson in not clearing away your perennials once they’ve gone to sleep for winter – look what you’ll miss out on!

THREE

The same goes for Hydrangeas. Leaving the spent flower heads is supposed to provide some cover against frost but more importantly it keeps interest into the depths of winter.

FOUR

Frost covered acorns and their husks.

FIVE

This Azalea is another plant that I probably won’t plant myself but the foliage at this time of year has great colour and the frosting looks great.

SIX

Well it is nearly Christmas! I’m getting more interested in conifers and the like. The pale blue needles on this Pine match the chilly morning air. After my morning promenade around the garden my coffee had gone cold and my fingers had chilled. Enjoy the frosty weekend.

Zinnia: RHS Wisley Plant Trials 2017

Zinnia: RHS Wisley Plant Trials 2017, cut flowers, cutflowers, annuals, annual plants, drought tolerant, flower, pollinator plants, good for bees, good for butterflies, wisley, rhs, plant trial, varieties, plant comparison,

Taking a look at the Zinnia trial happening at RHS Wisley

As part of my recent visit to RHS Wisley, I made a point of visiting the Plant Trial Beds. These are where the Award of Garden Merit (AGM) plants are trialled and awarded the highest horticultural accolade. This year I was pleased to see the Zinnia and Echinacea trials in full bloom.

Zinnia: RHS Wisley Plant Trials 2017, cut flowers, cutflowers, annuals, annual plants, drought tolerant, flower, pollinator plants, good for bees, good for butterflies, wisley, rhs, plant trial, varieties, plant comparison,
Trial beds at Wisley

The Zinnia trial was planted this year, which makes sense when you consider that they are annual plants in the UK so they can’t run longer trials, and there are 100 varieties on trial. I’ve grown them a few time over the years. I try to find varieties that have bright, clear colours that age well. A lot of the plants on show had a muddy colouring and tend to have unsightly flower heads as they age. If you’re quick to dead-head that won’t be too much of an issue.

If you want to find out more about the current plant trials happening at Wisley then follow this link to the PDF.

RHS Plant Trials 2017-2019 list PDF

 

Zinnia: RHS Wisley Plant Trials 2017, cut flowers, cutflowers, annuals, annual plants, drought tolerant, flower, pollinator plants, good for bees, good for butterflies, wisley, rhs, plant trial, varieties, plant comparison,
The trial beds at RHS Wisley

Zinnia ‘Red Spider’

Zinnia: RHS Wisley Plant Trials 2017, cut flowers, cutflowers, annuals, annual plants, drought tolerant, flower, pollinator plants, good for bees, good for butterflies, wisley, rhs, plant trial, varieties, plant comparison,
Zinnia ‘Red Spider’

This one had really strongly coloured petals. It’s not the blowsiest of the varieties on offer but I thought the intense blooms were very special. The older flowers still looked good on the plant and it was nice and tall.

Zinnia ‘Zinderella Peach’

Zinnia: RHS Wisley Plant Trials 2017, cut flowers, cutflowers, annuals, annual plants, drought tolerant, flower, pollinator plants, good for bees, good for butterflies, wisley, rhs, plant trial, varieties, plant comparison,
Zinnia elegans ‘Zinderella Peach’

All the plants in the Zinderella breeding program were very strong contenders for my favourites. This burnt-orange flower was such an unusual colour I had to have it. The older blooms have a yellower tinge but they complement the fresh flowers well.

Zinnia ‘Envy’

Zinnia: RHS Wisley Plant Trials 2017, cut flowers, cutflowers, annuals, annual plants, drought tolerant, flower, pollinator plants, good for bees, good for butterflies, wisley, rhs, plant trial, varieties, plant comparison,
Zinnia elegans ‘Envy’

Envy was a variety known to me before seeing it at the trial beds. The clear, bright white flowers are large and impressive.

Zinnia Benary’s Giant White

Zinnia: RHS Wisley Plant Trials 2017, cut flowers, cutflowers, annuals, annual plants, drought tolerant, flower, pollinator plants, good for bees, good for butterflies, wisley, rhs, plant trial, varieties, plant comparison,
Zinnia elegans ‘Benary’s Giant White’

Another white variety is Benary’s Giant White, which has larger blooms than Envy, that has a creamy tinge when they age which is really pleasing on the eye.

In Summary

If I had to choose from the 100 varieties on offer then this group of 4 plants would be top of the list. These can all be grown from seed so you might get some variation. The seed strains for some of the mixed varieties on trial contained good coloured forms but I struggled to enjoy the colour mixings all mixed together. I prefer just one type at a time.

Suppliers

Chiltern Seeds – Chiltern Seed list 25 varieties including all 4 on this page

Plant World Seeds – A local seed producer here in Devon lists 3 varieties.

Higgledy Garden – 3 varieties from a South West seed company

Echinacea: RHS Wisley Plant Trials 2017

Echinacea: RHS Wisley Plant Trials 2017. Coneflower, prairie planting, prairie plants, american native, american native plants, perennial, perennial plants, drought tolerant, daisy, daisy flower, pollinator plants, good for bees, good for butterflies, wisley, rhs, plant trial, echinacea varieties, plant comparison,

Picking my favourite varieties in the 2017 Echinacea Plant Trial

As part of my recent visit to RHS Wisley, I made a point of visiting the Plant Trial Beds. These are where the Award of Garden Merit (AGM) plants are trialled and awarded the highest horticultural accolade. This year I was pleased to see the Zinnia and Echinacea trials in full bloom.

The trial is in its second year of three and, for me, there were some clear winners in the patch. I didn’t have any Echinacea in my garden when I visited Wisley but I soon corrected that by buying ‘Magnus Superb’.

If you want to find out more about the current plant trials happening at Wisley then follow this link to the PDF.

RHS Plant Trials 2017-2019 list PDF

Echinacea: RHS Wisley Plant Trials 2017. Coneflower, prairie planting, prairie plants, american native, american native plants, perennial, perennial plants, drought tolerant, daisy, daisy flower, pollinator plants, good for bees, good for butterflies, wisley, rhs, plant trial, echinacea varieties, plant comparison,
Echinacea trial beds

Traditional pink Echinacea

When I think of Echinacea the first thing that comes to mind is tall, pinky purple, daisy-like flowers held high amongst a mixed grass border. Their rich, deep pinks are complemented by the central cone that often has burnt-orange tints.

For this reason, my favourite selection has to be ‘Fatal Attraction’ – apparently bred by Piet Oudolf – and has a real quality of colour with strong dark stems. The Sombrero Baja Burgundy (possibly a breeding label rather than its eventual commercial name) had petals that were much closer to a cherry-red. ‘Pink Shimmer’ seemed to glow and really stood out amongst the rest.

White Echinacea varieties

I like the white versions too. They can bring a lighter feel to a border and are a little more restful to look at.

‘Green Jewel’ was white/acid green on the petals and stood tall. ‘White Meditation was a much more compact bush and would suit the front of a border or a pot. The species variant ‘alba’ has relaxed reflexed petals.

Double Echinacea varieties

I’ve never grown the double echinacea varieties and at first glance, they’re a little off-putting. The more you stare the better they get and I think I could get used to them.

‘Catharina Red’ and ‘Elegance’ were the least fussy of the varieties on offer.

For something different

Echinacea: RHS Wisley Plant Trials 2017. Coneflower, prairie planting, prairie plants, american native, american native plants, perennial, perennial plants, drought tolerant, daisy, daisy flower, pollinator plants, good for bees, good for butterflies, wisley, rhs, plant trial, echinacea varieties, plant comparison,
Echinacea ‘Tiki Torch’

I really liked ‘Tiki Torch’ and it is my second favourite variety on trial. The orange is rich and could easily be mixed in a border with yellows and purples and the plants looked healthy.

In summary

These nine varieties are my favourite of all the types on trial. Some of the plants don’t have commercial names yet so are very new. It’s hard to know how well they will perform in a garden setting and how much hardiness and longevity they can muster. A lot of the varieties, particularly those most often flaunted in catalogues as being a colour break, were a disappointing, almost muddy, set of colours. Many had few blooming stems or had flopped untidily.

A plant for the month of August: The Japanese Anemone

#japaneseanemone #anemone #whiteanemone #whitejapaneseanemone #pinkanemone #pinkjapaneseanemone #pinkflower #whiteflower #herbaceous #herbaceousperennial #summerflower #cottagegarden #garden #gardening #gardenblog #gdnblogger #gdnbloggers #gardenbloggers #gardenblogger #devon #courtyardgarden

Japanese Anemone: A varied herbaceous perennial that’s synonymous with the late summer borders in a cottage garden

 

Whilst I have always admired these plants when seen in other people’s gardens, to my knowledge I have only introduced one into my own. You can imagine my surprise then when, this year, I can count three or four types of Japanese Anemone bursting into flower.

These are easy to grow and yet impactful additions to mixed borders. They have most interest at this time of year so I would always plant them in a mixed border with other plants that can keep the show going. Some of them can be a bit thuggish and form large clumps. What a problem to have! The flowers are beautiful and are improved by mass planting.

I apologise if some of the images are a little blurry. It was a windy day and these tall flower heads like to waft in the breeze. I only wish I had the name labels of these. If anyone has any ideas which varieties these are please get in touch.

My purposely introduced Japanese Anemone

We had been to a plant nursery on the day our little Blue cat was run over. It seemed appropriate to mark the place where we buried her by placing a plant on top. This diminutive, pink Japanese Anemone only reaches 30cm high but the colour is deep and intense.

#japaneseanemone #anemone #whiteanemone #whitejapaneseanemone #pinkanemone #pinkjapaneseanemone #pinkflower #whiteflower #herbaceous #herbaceousperennial #summerflower #cottagegarden #garden #gardening #gardenblog #gdnblogger #gdnbloggers #gardenbloggers #gardenblogger #devon #courtyardgarden
A compact Japanese Anemone marking the spot our little Blue cat was buried

The others

There is a white Japanese Anemone that seems to be in two places in the garden. One is in the Immediate Garden and is following the rules of the colour theme. The other is gate-crashing the Left Border in the Far Garden which is supposed to be a brighter scheme. I like that it has a semi-double flower.

 

Another plant is in the sunny Right Border and is 5ft tall and has a clear hot pink to the face. Its back side is a subtle mauve where it meets the stem. I think the flower buds are just as exciting as the flowers themselves and the seedheads are attractive too. You really do get a lot from these plants.

There is another patch that has just one flower this year. This looks very similar to our memorial Japanese Anemone, mentioned above, and sits under the crabapple tree in the Immediate Garden.

#japaneseanemone #anemone #whiteanemone #whitejapaneseanemone #pinkanemone #pinkjapaneseanemone #pinkflower #whiteflower #herbaceous #herbaceousperennial #summerflower #cottagegarden #garden #gardening #gardenblog #gdnblogger #gdnbloggers #gardenbloggers #gardenblogger #devon #courtyardgarden
A very short pinky lilac Japanese Anemone

Cheap and cheerful – how to create more basil plants using water cuttings 

Cheap and cheerful - how to create more basil plants using water cuttings

A simple way to take basil cuttings to make new plants for free

I have a terrible record when it comes to growing basil from seeds so I was really intrigued to hear about taking cuttings from plants to create more. I can’t believe it’s never occurred to me before to take basil cuttings. Usually, I cheat by buying a plant in a supermarket, with multiple elongated seedlings crammed together, and try to divide and plant these out. This has given me a small amount of success if I can harvest the leaves before the slugs get them.

I was listening to a recent podcast episode of Still Growing and was inspired to try basil cuttings myself.

How to take basil cuttings

The vigorous growth on basil is perfect for softwood cuttings. I took lengths of stem around 2-3 inches long and removed the lower leaves. Cutting under a node (where the leaves were emerging from the stem) encourages roots to develop at a point where the hormones are concentrated. The very softest growth at the top of the cutting was pinched out.

The leaves and tips that I stripped off were used in a pasta dish so no wastage.

Cheap and cheerful - how to create more basil plants using water cuttings
Basil cuttings in water

Since basil is related closely to mint it should root as easily as mint. At the same time as I took the basil cuttings I also took Peppermint and Sweet Potato. These were placed into small glasses somewhere sheltered, out of direct sunlight. The downstairs toilet windowsill is perfect. An unexpected bonus is the aromatic wafts you get from the basil and peppermint.

Cheap and cheerful - how to create more basil plants using water cuttings
Basil, Sweet Potato and Peppermint cuttings

Waiting for roots on my basil cuttings

The Sweet Potato and Peppermint definitely won the root race and had grown some adventitious roots within 4 days. I had to wait a long 10 days to see some action on the basil.

Cheap and cheerful - how to create more basil plants using water cuttings
Roots showing after 10 days

Potting on basil cuttings

Once there was a good amount of root on each basil cutting, and when I had time to do it, I potted them on into loose multipurpose compost to establish.

Cheap and cheerful - how to create more basil plants using water cuttings
Good amount of root ready for potting up

This was a really easy bit of propagation and was quite successful. A couple of minutes work to prepare the cuttings was all it took to get the process going. One cutting had to be discarded due to rot (It needed to be removed from the water) and I replaced the water twice over the 10 days. That’s it! I’m hoping they’ll establish well so I can pot them on again before starting to harvest.

Wordless Wednesday 28th June 2017

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Garden Bloggers Bloom Day June 2017

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day June 2017

Joining a popular garden bloggers meme and sharing the flowers blooming in my garden each month.

Every 15th of the month garden bloggers around the month share what’s happening in their gardens by photographing what’s in flower on their plot on that day. I last joined in this event in April 2014 and thought it might be fun to come out to play again. I’m looking forward to connecting with more garden bloggers through this.

Previous Garden Bloggers Bloom Day posts

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day April 2014

Where it started

Carol at May Dreams Gardens hosts this very popular meme and you can find out more about her blog here.

International Comparisons

With the help of this useful map my garden would be in the USDA plant hardiness Zone 9a.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day June 2017

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day June 2017
Astrantia major
Garden Bloggers Bloom Day June 2017
Eryngium planum
Garden Bloggers Bloom Day June 2017
Eryngium yuccifolium

This guy can get to over 6ft in the border – I’ve sown more seeds this year to see if I can get a few more dotted through the sunny border in the far garden.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day June 2017
Stachys byzantina

I love, love, love this plant and I can’t wait for it to produce seeds so I can get a drift going. The leaves feel exactly the same as our chocolate labrador’s ears. He passed away last year and it’s lovely to sit and stroke them.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day June 2017
Rose ‘Gertrude Jekyll’

The best smelling climbing rose; its bright pink (bordering on Barbie) is tolerated for the scent.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day June 2017
Allium christophii
Garden Bloggers Bloom Day June 2017
Astrantia major
Garden Bloggers Bloom Day June 2017
Geranium – unknown variety
Garden Bloggers Bloom Day June 2017
Iris foetidissima

I’ve taken out clumps of this from around the garden as the coarse strap leaves and muddy flowers are easily out-performed with something else in the space.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day June 2017
Rambling rose – unknown variety
Garden Bloggers Bloom Day June 2017
Climbing rose- unknown variety

I know I planted this one 3 years ago but it’s the only rose not to have its label kept in the ‘label bag’.  Lightly scented and closer to the colour pallet we’re aiming for in this part of the garden. It tones down Gertrude Jekyll.

Other UK blogs that get involved

Sarah Shoesmith’s blog for the Hardy Plant Society

Glebe House

The Rusty Duck

 

Your garden can take you around the World

Echeveria

Travellers in your own back garden

Your garden can take you around the World. I have been posting lots of updates following some holidays around this part of the world. As we are due to return back to the northern hemisphere in a couple of months we’ve been taking the opportunity to visit some amazing places that are currently within relatively easy reach. This week I’m bringing things a little closer to home and exploring the origins of some of the plants currently surviving in our Australian garden

The Balcony

This space is wonderful for having a glass of wine at the end of the day watching the last of the beachgoers packing up. It has claimed its share of victims with a failed attempt to grow citrus here (now safely hidden around the back away from the worst of the sea spray) and a whole batch of ‘seaside’ plants sourced from a local nursery. The third attempt was to go succulent and it’s worked really well. I stayed away from this group of plants because I’ve not been overly fond of them. I think that’s changing.

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  • Echeveria (I’m not sure of the variety) – S america
  • Euphorbia milii – Madagascar
  • Murraya paniculata (Orange Jasmin) – China & South-East Asia
  • Crassula ovata – South Africa
  • Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’ – South Africa (the leaf shapes are completely different)

The Back Terrace

A shadier area where the citrus trees have been recuperating from their ordeal on the balcony. All plants are in pots and being shaded it has been easier to keep their moisture levels up but it’s not been perfect as we have had no fruit survive on the Peach and Nectarine trees. There is a native Strobilanthes anisophyllus ‘Goldfussia’ (which isn’t looking its best so didn’t make the gallery).

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  • Capsicim (Chilli) – South America
  • Citrus hystrix (Kaffir Lime) – southeast asia
  • Callistemon viminalis ‘Hannah Ray’ (Bottlebrush) – Australia
  • Trachelospermum jasminoides – Southeast Asia

The Lawn Borders

These plants are planted in the permanent borders that flank the lawn. The large Lilly Pilly headges are the main feature down both sides but at the end there is a line of Phormiums with a plant that looks like Maize planted behind. It’s never produced any fruit so I have no idea if it is or isn’t.

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  • Phormium tenax – New Zealand
  • Banksia integrifolia – Australia
  • Acmena smithii (Lilly Pilly)- Australia

 

So we have some native Australia plants making friends with the New Zealanders. Southeast Asia and China are represented, as are the South African and South American plants although, notably, there’s nothing from Europe and the plants that are from the Northern Hemisphere are from the southern/equatorial regions. It’s amazing how much diversity can be lurking in one garden and the range of plant origins that can all survive together. Plants are amazing.

How many countries are living in your garden?

Holiday Horticulture: Hayman Island

Holiday Horticulture Hayman Island
Holiday Horticulture Hayman Island
Location of Hayman Island in the Whitsundays off the coast of Australia

 

Hayman Island is just off the coast of Queensland, Australia and adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef. We visited on a recent holiday to celebrate our wedding anniversary. I took the opportunity to explore the tropical plantings around the resort and we hiked over the top of the island.

My wife and I love to travel and I always try and find the local wildlife.

Sorrento and Amalfi 

Morocco 

 

This is the view from the top of the island overlooking the One & Only resort situated on Hayman Island.

Holiday Horticulture Hayman Island

The only way to arrive at the island and the One & Only resort is by a swanky boat. The glass of champagne and the air conditioning are welcome relief from the steamy Queensland heat.

Holiday Horticulture Hayman Island

 

Shapes and Colours

Below is a close up of the beautiful Fan Palm or Travellers palm (Ravenala madagascariensis) which is found all over the cultivated parts of the resort. Beside it sits the rivets of a type of Gum Tree bark.

Holiday Horticulture Hayman IslandHoliday Horticulture Hayman Island

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gum Tree Comparison

The variety of gums, or Eucalypts, is always impressive. I’m used to seeing Eucalytpus gunnii growing in gardens in the UK and for a while we had 2 flanking the top steps in our first home back in Devon. It would be interesting to see how large they’ve become after 6 years!.

The large-flowered varieties in Oz show a huge range of flower colours and shapes as you can see below.

Holiday Horticulture Hayman IslandHoliday Horticulture Hayman Island

 

Profit and Pest

 

There are imported bananas on the island to add a tropical backdrop to the pool areas. On the mainland there are huge swathes of agriculture dedicated to bananas and it was great fun on our honeymoon driving amongst them. The plant on the right is the Narrow leaf cotton bush (Gomphocarpus fruticosus). This is considered a pest in some parts of Western Australia. Up close it’s a lovely plant with perfumed white flowers. Displayed at the same time as the blooms are the spiky balls of the seed heads. Good fun!

Holiday Horticulture Hayman IslandHoliday Horticulture Hayman Island

 

It’s lovely seeing plants growing wild in their natural habitats. You can see why some gum trees just don’t thrive in the UK as here they’re growing in rocky sloped ground and being baked by intense UV light. Not the easiest conditions to recreate at home.

 

Holiday Horticulture Hayman Island

Holiday Horticulture Hayman Island

 

 

MyPottingBench: Down Under – Wildflowers

Being in a foreign country affords opportunities for finding plants you would never see growing wild in the UK.

I spend a lot of time walking the dogs – however the restrictions on where you can take your dog does limit opportunities for hunting wildflowers.

I’m often grabbing my phone to take some photos of wild plants that I see on my walks, either with the dogs or not:

Devon Bluebells

Hayman Island

On my usual walk I head north up the coast and pass through parkland and along the beach. There’s a few common Australian natives to be seen and it’s been fun finding out about some of these.

Wattles

Wattle is the national plant but it seems to be more hated than loved! Most people bemoan the pollen that sheds in winter and early spring as it causes a lot of allergies. It’s evergreen and this variety forms large bushes along the park at the edge of the sand dunes.

MyPottingBench: Down Under - Wildflowers
Wattle – the national plant of Australia

 

 

 

Mother of Millions

Okay.. Mother of Millions isn’t a native but with my fluffy Mollie dog in the picture I just had to include it. Originally from South Africa it is now naturalised along the coast and considered a pest / invasive species due to its prolific seed production – hence the name.

MyPottingBench: Down Under - Wildflowers
‘Mother of Millions’ Bryophyllum delagoense

 

 

Tea Trees

The tea-tree family is native to Australia. It was used to make tea when Australia was settled but is more widely known for it’s oil which is used as an anti-septic around the world.

MyPottingBench: Down Under - Wildflowers
Tea-Tree – Leptospermum

 

 

This collection of plants was jostling next to a car park. It reminded me of some planting at Chelsea Flower Show. I think you can see a purple ipomoea, fennel, and a form of verbena.

MyPottingBench: Down Under - Wildflowers
Coastal wildflowers

 

 

These little things caught my eye on our walk this morning. I thought someone had been sprinkling confetti in the grass at first. I have no idea what they’re called but it’s nice to see little surprises now and again.

MyPottingBench: Down Under - Wildflowers