The diary of two novice gardeners and allotmenteers

Chris and Steve's Weblog – City Chickens

Lobelia Cardinalis Queen Victoria

I bought this hardy perennial Lobelia plant as another candidate for around the pond. Brightly coloured spikes of scarlet flowers appear in late summer from deep purple foliage. This vibrant colour appears in the garden just as many perennials are fading. Divide large clumps every second year in spring. Protect the crown of the plant during winter with a thick, dry mulch. This moisture loving plant can also be grown at the edges of a pond if potted up it into a basket with aquatic compost. Harmful if eaten.

This plant was becoming pot bound so I have planted it into the border beside the Red Rose and think maybe I can divide it next spring and put some by the pond.

 

Gypsophila Cerastioides – Alpine

Gypsophila cerastioides is native to the rocky slopes of the eastern Himalayas and forms an attractive tuft with shiny green foliage and pink-veined white trumpet flowers. Also known as Alpine Baby’s Breath this rock garden plant likes the sun and light, well-drained soil. Can also be grown in troughs. A hardy perennial, this small type of Gypsophila is drought tolerant, tough and produces endless supplies of white flowers, which are loved by butterflies. The Mouse Eared Gypsophila is good for alpine gardens, rockeries, patio containers, troughs or for growing in gaps in walls and paving. The tufted, mounding plants produce flowers from spring to summer. It seems like an ideal plant for around the pond one day.

Viola Sororia Albiflora – White Wood Violet

I bought an addition to my longed for Viola collection today. It is the White Wood  Violet, Viola Albiflora. This is a herbaceous perennial plant with the leaves and flowers emerging directly from the rhizomes and forming a basal rosette. A mature plant may be 6″ across and 4″ high  with the flowers rising higher than the leaves. The leaves are heart shaped as on Freckles. The flowers of this form of Viola Sororia are white except for delicate violet lines radiating from the throat of the flower. There is no noticeable scent. They flower for about six weeks emerging  from mid- to late spring according to the weather. During the summer cleistogamous flowers without petals produce seeds, which are flung outward by mechanical ejection from the three-parted seed capsules. The root system consists of thick, horizontally branched rhizomes with a tendency to form vegetative colonies. As they are woodland plants they prefer dappled shade.

NB. Cleistogamy is a type of automatic self-pollination of certain plants that can propagate by using non-opening, self-pollinating flowers. Especially well known in peanuts, peas, and beans, this behaviour is most widespread in the grass family. However, the largest genus of cleistogamous plants is actually Viola.

Dianthus Pure – Odessa Series

I bought a 7cm pot of this Dianthus at the same time that I bought the White Delphinium and today I have prepared a large container which I intend to plant up with all white flowers.

Dianthus will bloom from June to October producing pretty foliage and ruffled flower heads which exude a subtly spicy and instantly recognisable aroma. What’s more, Dianthus’ are compact in habit with a mature height of just 40cm, which makes them the perfect ornamental fragrant perennials for patio pots.

Ammi Majus – Bishops Flower

I sowed a few of these seeds around the garden earlier in the month and they have already grown some vibrant ferny foliage. Today I have sown a few seeds in a 7″ pot with a view to eventually creating a large mixed container of Ammi and white Cleome and other tall white perennials. At present its just a plan but it’s something to look forward to.

Ammi Majus is among the best white filler-foliage plants available, lacy, elegant and splendid arranged in a great cloud on its own. Ammi is easy for beginners and perfect for attracting bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects. Ammi Majus seed can be sown from March to May or from late August to September. Seed is best sown in deep pots as it has a long taproot which is sensitive to disturbance and can be damaged when transplanting so care must be taken. Sow 6 to 8 weeks before planting out. When first true leaves appear transplant into larger containers. Harden off and plant out after last frost.

 

Alternatively seeds can be sown where they are to flower once temperatures are around 15 to 20°C . Surface sow thinly  around 12″ apart and cover lightly. Keep moist. Germination normally occurs within 7 to 21 days. When large enough to handle thin out 8″ apart and provide support in exposed areas.

Tomato Tumbler F1 – Ildie, Roma and Aubergine Mohican

I have sown a tray of Tomatoes and Aubergines to replace my lost seedlings. The last of the Aubergine Mohican, some fresh seeds of Tomato Ildie, Tomato Tumbler and some old Roma seeds. I lost all my biggest plants by putting them outside too soon and being punished by a severe drop in temperature.

Tomato Tumbler F1 is a vigorous, trailing British-bred tomato ideal for hanging baskets and containers. One plant can produce up to 9 lbs of cherry-sized fruit in a single season. Grow one plant in a 14″ hanging basket. This is a bush variety and is very easy to grow as trusses do not require support and fruits without side shoots being removed.

The Roma Tomato is a plum variety that I have grown before and is good for cooking. Ildie is a tried and tested old favourite producing lots of grape sized fruit.

A Sudden Turn In The Weather

It’s 25th April and it’s snowing. Last night the temperature dropped drastically. The reason? I had potted on the Tomatoes and courgettes and planted some outside. Going against everything that I preach and paying the price. Also the Butternut Squash were  screaming to get out of their small pots and I was short of pots and compost so I risked putting some of them out too. I don’t think that I will get away with this mammoth mistake. Watch this space.

Regional Forecast for West Midlands. Cold and windy with wintry showers and some sunny spells. A strong northerly wind will make it feel cold for all of us. There will be sunny spells and scattered showers, locally heavy with hail and thunder possible. Some sleet or snow is also possible, mainly over higher ground.

Lavandula Stoechas Anouk – Lavender

I bought a couple of pots of this Lavender from Lidl. I think they were £2.79 each. One is here in the garden and one has gone to live with Sean and Deb. I have repotted it for now as it seemed a bit pot bound but it will go into the garden later in the year.

Lavandula stoechas is a species of flowering plant in the family Lamiaceae, occurring naturally in Mediterranean countries. An evergreen shrub, also called French or Butterfly Lavender. Anouk is a compact variety and does well in mixed containers as well as a hot, sunny border. Hardier than other forms but also easily wintered indoors. Drought tolerant once established. Flowers are attractive to butterflies. It  was developed in the Netherlands.

Prune the lavender plant in spring or early summer just after new growth begins. Pruning in autumn can cause the plant to waste energy on new growth leaving it vulnerable to frost. Do not prune lavender plants in the first year when they are establishing roots. Lavender plants, unlike many perennials, do not handle division well so cuttings is the way to go. Softwood cuttings – use only soft, new-growth material from this year that has not yet become brown and woody. These cuttings will grow fastest but are only usable if the soft material is at least 5″ long and includes at least two leafy nodes. Prepare a seed starting tray or small flowerpots to place the cuttings in for the first few weeks after cutting. Because plants without roots are sensitive to both drought and excessive moisture use a good draining compost. Use terra cotta pots due to their breathability and soak overnight before continuing to the next step. Using a clean sharp knife and  slice off the selected branch just below a leafy node, removing a cutting at least 5″ long, including at least two leafy nodes. The longer the cutting is, and the more nodes it has, the more likely it is to be successful. Leave the top cluster of leaves on as they will provide energy for the new plant. Cut all the other leaves off the cutting so that it directs its energy to root development. Plant the cuttings in the containers you prepared earlier just deep enough to keep them steady. Give them a generous quantity of water immediately after planting.  After three to six weeks strong roots will have developed in the small pot. 

 

Californian Poppy – Eschscholzia Californica

Eschscholzia californica is a species of flowering plant in the Papaveraceae family and native to the United States and Mexico. It is an ornamental plant and it is used medicinally and in cooking. It became the official state flower of California in 1903. I love these graceful wild orange poppies. I had an abundance of them both in the garden and at the allotment but they seem to have vanished while my back was turned. This year I have bought seeds of both the orange King and the white, Ivory Castle, variety. I am planning to introduce both of them back into the garden in the hope that they will naturalise. I have scattered the seeds here and there around the garden.

Meconopsis Lingholm – Himalayan Blue Poppy


I received two plants of Meconopsis Lingholm today purchased from ebay. They look good strong plants and were well packed. One is perfect but the other one is a little battered but I am sure after a rest and a drink it will be fine. 29th May and these plants are still in their pots. I am a little nervous about planting them into the garden as the slugs and snails are thriving out there.

Poppy-like blooms which are borne on strong upright stems over green softly bristled rosette leaves. Lingholm is a sterile form of Meconopsis which flowers longer than other varieties with intense-blue blooms revealing their trademark pearlescent lustre. Meconopsis grows best in semi-shade in rich fertile soil and looks best when planted in small groups creating an unbelievable display during the summer. info Hayloft  Stake  before the flowers appear. Deadhead regularly to prolong flowering. Apply a generous 2″ mulch of bark chippings, well-rotted leaf mould or composted pine needles around the base of the plant in spring. Crocus.