Mar 012017
 
Galanthus nivalis 'Sandersii'

A lot of plants have caught my eye during the past decade while compiling a weekly profile on a seasonal plant of interest. Below are the consistently reliable ones. These are the plants that whatever the seasonal weather, will flower, produce fruit or give exceptional foliage interest. These are the ten to fill your garden with and appreciate for their resilience and growth.

January: Vinca difformis – Myriad white flowers covering a tight tangle of evergreen shoots

February: Galanthus spp. and cultivars, carpets of Snowdrops through borders and woodland.

An image is attached of G. nivalis ‘Sandersii’ growing in the frames within the alpine yard. The Sandersii group of Snowdrops are known for their yellow ovary and yellow tips to the inner tepals. This collection of bulbs is particularly fine, the colouration resembling free range egg yolk.

March: Iris histrioides – Plant tightly and appreciate the vivid blue of these flowers

April: Magnolia campbellii and the cultivar ‘Charles Raffill’ – Superb trees covered in impressive pink blooms

May: Syringa x persica – Scent and compact form make this a choice specimen

June: The deciduous Azaleas – Select a cultivar that suits your colour scheme

July: Lilium formosana var. pricei – compact, impressive flower trumpet and a heady fragrance

August: Desfontainia spinosa – A Chilean native with hanging tubular red and yellow flowers

September: Anemone x hybrid – A classic cottage garden favorite

October: Cimicifuga simplex- Long musty scented spikes of starry shaped white flowers

November: Ginkgo biloba – Golden yellow foliage covers the tree, dropping as a golden carpet

December: Helleborus foetidus – An evergreen perennial providing flower on the shortest day.

So to planting, there is always room in the garden for new planting. We are now at the start of a fresh growing season. The garden centres are filling with a wide array of plants in prime condition. Better still, visit a nursery and talk to the growers, don’t be tempted by short term planting it is too early in the season for that. Look at woody material; shrubs and trees. Make a wise selection and think of the decades of pleasure a £30 – £40 investment will give both you and your neighborhood. Don’t balk at the price, use your wealth to support our industry, this is an investment in your garden, our environment.

Prepare the soil well, incorporate organic matter and remove any large stones. For container grown plants, remove the pot and roughen up the edges and base of the compost root ball. This helps the new roots grow out into the border soil. Set the plant in the planting hole so that the top of the compost root ball is lightly covered with soil when you back fill. Firm and grade the soil in the border to a finished level.

Water gently, flicking some water over the shoots, leaves and stems to freshen up the plant. After all, it has been on a journey.

In the first year water all new plantings during dry spells and keep competing vegetation clear from the base of and around the plant.

Galanthus nivalis 'Sandersii'

Galanthus nivalis ‘Sandersii’

Galanthus nivalis 'Sandersii'

Galanthus nivalis ‘Sandersii’

Feb 092017
 

Two images, Ivy, Hedera helix covering both plants. The pine trunks are sturdy and it will take several seasons to smother these. The Viburnum is different, colonised at the same time the two are totally different in their approach and growth habit. The Ivy in the Viburnum should be removed with urgency; the vigorous evergreen growth will smother the life out of this plant. Vigour will be reduced and the Viburnum smothered by the end of the 2017 growing season. In the case of the Pines; secateurs can be used to snip the shoots growing up the trunk. The severed growth will die back and can then be pulled from the trunk.

Ivy smothering Viburnum

Ivy smothering Viburnum

Ivy on trunk of Pinus contorta

Ivy on trunk of Pinus contorta

Feb 092017
 

The season of gales and heavy rain can conspire to unseat climbing plants from their supports. Take a pair of secateurs and reduce the overhang growth which can be considerable and weigh heavily especially following rain. As in the attached image of Schisandra plena on a south facing wall. This weight puts any supporting wires of framework under considerable stress. Add in the forces a blustery day will provide and there is the recipe for collapse. Pruning at this time of year will allow a rejuvenated framework of mature stems to support new growth. At the same time inspect all supporting material, repair, replace or strengthen as necessary.

Schisandra plena

Schisandra plena

Jan 112017
 

The long arching seed pods of Glaucium flavum are splitting lengthways into longitudinal sections. The seeds long gone, now just sections of the pithy packaging remain within. Found growing along the shoreline with a wide geographical distribution, Europe, North Africa, SW Asia. The specimen at the Garden is in the Scottish native bed where the crown of water repellent glaucous blue foliage holds the many sickle shaped seed pods aloft.

Glaucium flavum

Glaucium flavum

Glaucium flavum

Jan 102017
 

During the short days it is good to have flowering plants in the garden; Lonicera myrtillus is a low growing deciduous shrub. The fresh yellow tubular flowers hang down from the previous year’s growth. Shy to flower, they open in pairs with immature flower buds protected within the calyx.  Seasonally, flowering can be erratic, there may be no sign of blossom should the climatic conditions be adverse. A good summer to ripen the wood is necessary.

Lonicera myrtillus

Lonicera myrtillus

Jan 272016
 
Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena'

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’

The Hamamelis have been in flower since mid-December but it is only now that the scent from the flowers is becoming distinctly evident when walking past the palm House. Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’ is a worthy cultivar, reliable to flower and with showy bronze red petals, coloured and shaped like rough zest from an orange. The calyx has a brown downy exterior and red within. A hybrid between H. mollis and H. japonica, the cultivar of which was originally raised at Kalmthout Arboretum in Belgium.

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena' 19923716A  12a

 

Jan 192016
 
Prostanthera cuneata
Prostanthera cuneata

Prostanthera cuneata

The evergreen Prostanthera cuneatea is not enjoying the heavy rain and lately the frosts we are experiencing this winter. A native of the Southern Hemisphere it is dropping shoals of the small, evergreen leaves that cover its shoots. These are distinctly aromatic releasing a menthol odour. Once the shoots are seen under magnification the leaf surface is seen to be covered with minute oil glands, from which the scent emanates. On casual observation the plant looks like any woody shrub but magnified there is a resemblance to the fleshy structure seen in Kalanchoe. Thanks to Frieda Christie for the microscope images. Otherwise a healthy plant, to be seen in the NE corner of the QMMG, this stunted woody shrub is suited to a warm, dry aspect with free draining soil. Recognised as endangered in its native SE Australia.

Prostanthera cuneata

Prostanthera cuneata

Prostanthera cuneata

Prostanthera cuneata

Jan 122016
 
Berberis aristata
Berberis aristata

Berberis aristata

Now is the time to look beneath established Berberis bushes and observe germinating seedlings. As can be seen from the attached image of Berberis aristata the viability of the seed crop is good. If you are not in need of these juveniles then at the earliest convenience take a digging fork and swath it through the soft growth. If possible choose a dry day when desiccation will prevent re growth. Wait much longer and the seedlings become woody, will have a developing root system that also anchor each into the soil, making eradication that little more difficult.

Berberis aristata

Berberis aristata

Jan 062016
 
A winter warmer for Hedychium and Brugmansia
A winter warmer for Hedychium and Brugmansia

A winter warmer for Hedychium and Brugmansia

Better to be prepared than to lose the living plant. A timely cover of straw, laid loosely on top of the crowns of Hedychium spicatum and Brugmansia aurea will keep the cold and damp from destroying the growing parts of these semi tender plants. The air trapped within the dry straw acts as an insulating layer. This gives the root zone protection from penetrating frost and lingering damp. The plants being native respectively to the Chinese Himalayas bordering Burma and the Ecuadorian Andes. In the wild they will not experience the lingering damp cold that our climate is renowned for.

Jan 272015
 
Helleborus orientalis

Helleborus orientalis

Helleborus orientalis

Helleborus orientalis

Helleborus orientalis

Helleborus orientalis

Helleborus orientalis found growing through southern Europe and into SW Asia. Seed to grow this plant was collected in Georgia from a plant growing with Primula sp. on a grassy slope overshadowed with mature Picea and Carpinus sp.
The foliage is infected with the black markings of an often seen fungal disease, Hellebore leaf spot, Microsphaeropsis hellebori. If these spots affect stems then collapse is inevitable. Where possible pick out affected leaves and other parts.
The spores are spread in water so this wet January has seen a definite spread on Hellebores.

The flowers of H.orientalis are hung slightly downwards from the stalk and open from pink bud to white with blush pink. The stalks reach a height of 250mm, young leaves have a waxy feel.