The diary of two novice gardeners and allotmenteers

Chris and Steve's Weblog – City Chickens

Tag Archive: history

Lupin Russell Noble Maiden White

I bought seeds of Lupin Noble Maiden White from Seekay and after an overnight soak they were sown into module trays of damp compost and covered in a polythene bag, I sowed two lots about a week apart and germination has been very good, as with most of the seed from this supplier. It looks like I may not see any flowers this year which is sad. These seedlings have been potted on twice now 25th May, and are producing some good roots.

This is said to be a robust Lupin that produces densely packed spikes of creamy white flowers in mid summer and often again in early autumn. Lupins are stalwarts of the cottage garden and are perfect for the border. Easy to grow and undemanding they put on quite a show with the minimum of fuss as long as they have enough moisture when actively growing.

A Hardy perennial , Noble Maiden bears pinnacles of White flowers. Sow the seeds from April – July after having soaked them over night. Sow in damp compost and cover in a polythene bag. Germination can take up to 21 days. When large enough to handle pot on into 3″ pots prior to planting out after all risk of frost has passed. According to the National Gardening Institute, all parts of a Russell Lupin plant are toxic. Overwintered plants will flower in the summer but those sown in March may not flower until the next year.  Young plants need to be potted on frequently whenever their large roots stick out of the pot. Wait until they are at least 12″ tall  before putting them out you get a good strong plant. Originally Lupins, Lupinus polyphyllus, were introduced into Britain from North America in 1826. This cottage garden perennial had the plain blue flowered spikes with occasional whiter flowers. In 1937 the RHS awarded its highest honour to a  jobbing gardener George Russell for developing a strain of Lupins that caused a sensation.  George Russell developed his Lupins by selection of seedlings achieving a central spike covered with flowers. Bred for a long flowering period with unbeatable garden performance. He produced one of the most popular plants in history, the ever popular Russell Hybrids.

The Russell Hybrids, Band of Nobles series, have exceptionally bright and strong colours.  Noble Maiden, occasionally called Fraülein, feature soft ivory white buds that open to pure clean white. Stunning in the border or in a vase. Growing to around 3-4ft the plant forms a well established leafy foundation with several flowering stems rising out of a single base. Tall spires of tightly packed flowers rise above beautiful green clumps of palmate foliage. The flowers open from the bottom up making for a longer blooming period.  Lupins are very hardy plants, surviving extreme temperatures withstanding frost and are extremely attractive to bees and other pollinating insects.   Lupinus x Russellii Noble Maiden has been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit.

Forget me Not – Myosotis Blue Ball

Although I do have forget-me-not in the garden already I bought a packet of Myosotis Blue Ball seeds from Seekay, 400 seeds for 99p, and have dotted a few seeds here and there around the garden. They may throw up something a little different. I love these delicate flowers with their beautiful blue colour. The fact that they self seed is also a winner in my book. Blue Ball produces dwarf plants with rich blue flowers between April and June. Sow in May on the surface of moist seed compost. Do not cover as the seed needs light and warmth to germinate. Leave about 9″ between plants when planting out.

Myosotis is a genus of flowering plants in the family Boraginaceae. In the northern hemisphere they are commonly called forget-me-nots or scorpion grasses. The common name “forget-me-not” derived from the German Vergiss mein nicht and first used in English in 1398 AD via King Henry IV. Similar names and variations are found in many languages. Myosotis alpestris is the state flower of Alaska.

Calla Lily Rhizomes

The calla lily grows from bulbs, more properly called rhizomes, and will, as most bulbs do, spread by producing even more bulbs. These bulbs can be divided and replanted in another location. The calla lily is a very hardy genus that will grow in more or less any soil as long as the climate is humid enough. In many of the countries where the calla lily originates it is thought of as a weed and is cut down to make way for agriculture. The calla lily can also be propagated through its seeds but it takes a little more time than just digging up the extra bulbs. I am sure that I shall try. I can’t resist seeds.

I unpacked these rhizomes today and was amazed at how big they were. I had thought that they were expensive at £3.95 for each bulb but having seen them I am filled with confidence of their success. The more I read about these fascinating plants the more I want to know. I had debated about whether to plant each bulb in a separate pot but decided in the end to put all three in a large 40cm patio pot. The directions on the pack say plant in rich potting soil and water sparingly until growth starts. Keep indoors until April and keep frost free. The three varieties that I have  planted are Auckland, a beautiful pink, Schwarzwalder, a deep almost black maroon and Albomaculata, white. I can see me buying more of these as they come in an amazing array of colours and are said to have a long flowering period. As with all bulbs grown in containers the soil needs to be changed either every year or every other year.

When grown in pots for keeping indoors the compost should be kept moist and plants should be given a weak solution of liquid plant food every three weeks while they are in growth. The best place to site them is in a west-facing window, where the air temperature does not rise much above 21°C. A south-facing window may be too hot when the sun is at its strongest in summer. Remove the flowers when they start to fade. When the plant has finished blooming, allow the leaves to turn brown, and reduce watering. Stop watering completely once all the foliage has died back.

Francis Masson, was born in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1741. In the 1760s, he went to work at Kew Gardens as an under-gardener, and was sent abroad to hunt for new plants. He sailed with James Cook on HMS Resolution to South Africa, landing in October 1772. Masson stayed there for three years, during which time he sent back to England more than 500 species of plant – including  Zantedeschia .  Information from Graham Clarke.

The red lily beetle, Lilioceris lilii,  loves the delicious lily foliage and will quickly decimate your plants. The only real answer is to seek them out and kill them. being a vivid scarlet red, they are easily spotted.  You should also look out for the eggs on the undersides of the leaves and the grubs.

Aubergine Mohican – 2017

I bought these seeds, Aubergine Mohican, F1 Solanum Melongena, in 2007. Ten year old seeds won’t stand much chance of germination in my opinion but I feel that I have to give them a go. Mohican look more like an egg than any other egg plant that I have seen. I tipped a few on to my hand, eleven, and have put them into a pint pot of moist compost and sealed them in a polythene bag. Watch this space!!! I have tried to grow these strange plants many times over my gardening years with mixed success and there are several mentions on old blog posts. If I remember rightly they need heat to germinate so I have put the pot next to the radiator.  My old note to myself way back was treat these seeds the same as Tomato. The first time that I ever sowed these they germinated after two days so my disappointment may arrive swiftly.

History – Native to India, this member of the lethal, deadly nightshade family is kin to tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. It was brought to Spain by the Moors more than 1,300 years ago. Botanists in 16th century Europe called eggplant mad apple because some believed it made people insane. In medieval Europe it was considered useful as a love potion. There is a subtle connection there I think.

 

Rudbeckia Orange Fudge – Brown Eyed Susan

Today, 30th January, I was presented with a packet of Rudbeckia Rustic Dwarf seeds with a last sowing date of this year. I have sprinkled the whole packet onto a tray of moist compost and put it into a polythene bag and look forward to seeing some seed leaves pushing through in a couple of weeks. This vibrant coloured flower is also called Cone Flower, and I had some of those in the perennial seedlings that I bought from T&M. Unfortunately they didn’t survive the Winter.

History : Rudbeckias are members of the daisy family and were named by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus to honour two eighteenth century botany professors, Olof Rudbeck the Elder and Olof Rudbeck the Younger. Linnaeus is reported to have told his teacher , Rudbeck the Younger, “so long as the earth shall survive, and each spring shall see it covered with flowers, the rudbeckia will preserve your glorious name”.

Germination update – 5th February and lots of green seedlings pushing through after only one week. Very good for seeds dated 2005.

Cleome Spinosa – American Spider Flower

Cleome Violet Queen will be the next seeds to go into some damp compost. These half hardy annuals were £1.99 for 200 from Higgledy who recommend sowing between January and March indoors. Best sown on the surface of moist compost and can take up to four weeks to germinate. I shall sow just twenty of them tomorrow 19th January. It seems that these plants can grow as high as six feet so I shall have to be careful where I put them. Eye catching and strongly scented, the deep violet flowers and palm like leaves of this beautiful plant will add a tropical look to the late summer garden. so say the people at Crocus.com. Twenty tiny seedling are now fighting for survival on the window ledge. Germination was great at 100% and took only ten days!. Let’s see if I can get them through to flowering.

Cleome spinosa Violet Queen is a sumptuous purple, which looks good with almost anything, particularly good with verbenas, dahlias and sunflowers. Cleomes are an elegant, very long lasting annual,  flowering longer than all the other half-hardies. Sow early. The only downside to Cleomes are their thorns. Information from the Sarah Raven site.

I have bought new seeds from Seekay of two other colours of this beautiful flower. On doing a bit of research I see that I can sow these directly in the ground now, May/June so I am looking forward to doing just that. The two new varieties are Helen Campbell, White and Rose Queen, a subtle pink.

Despite it’s recent revival in popularity Cleome hassleriana ‘Rose Queen’ is actually an heirloom flower having been grown in gardens since 1817. A beautiful variety with deep, rose-pink flowers that fade to light pink. The large, open, airy flowers have a strong scent and bloom throughout the summer until frosts.  Eye-catching spidery flowers and palm-like leaves add a tropical look to the late summer garden. Cleome are very easy to grow are generally free of pests and considered drought tolerant. Despite that fact they grow their best in moist but well drained soil and full sunlight. The spidery flowers make attractive cut flowers and the seed heads can be dried and added to bouquets.  Frost and cold winds are lethal to this elegant South American annual. If you wish to start them early in the year do so under glass and only plant out after the danger of frosts has passed. Sow indoors in April or outdoors May to June. Cleome like good light levels and germinate quickly if sown quite late. Start them in April or early May. If planted too early the seeds will not germinate and may rot. Sow indoors 4 to 6 weeks before last frost, or sow directly where they are to flower after all danger of frost has passed.

Cleome is a genus of annual flowering plants with 170 species. Cleomaceae are a small family of flowering plants in the order Brassicales comprising about 300 species in 10 genera. Cleome are native to southern South America. This heirloom flower has been grown in gardens since 1817. The genus name Cleome is derived from an ancient name of a mustard like plant, in reference to its seed pods. The species hassleriana is named after Emile Hassler 1864-1937 a Swiss botanist and plant collector. The synonym Spinacia is taken from the Latin spina, meaning a prickle or thorn. Because of their unique flower clusters, these blossoms got the nickname spider flower. Although most flowers have a multitude of meanings cleome one. An old-fashioned expression that asks the recipient to elope or run away with the giver.

The white Cleome Spinosa Helen Campbell looks good in large drifts on its own or intermingled with white cosmos Purity. It’s 16th May and a warm rainy day so I am about to go and sow seeds of both in the white border. The advice is to put seeds on the surface of the soil as they need light to germinate.

 

Hosta – Silver Crown

Many years ago I visited my sister’s house and she and her husband were lifting and splitting some Hosta plants. I was given a good sized root which I planted in a large pot and then ignored. Every year the plant got bigger and bigger, I threatened to repot it but didn’t until this year. I struggled to get it out of it’s pot then, after much reading online about the best way to divide it I set to and hopefully haven’t destroyed it. It has been divided into seven good roots. The original pot with gravel for drainage and filled with new compost houses one root. I have given it a feed and topped the whole thing with gravel to keep away the slugs. I have temporarily potted the other roots to overwinter and may use some in the garden or give them away. I have read that this variety is the most common in this country and have been amazed by the number of varieties available. Only now have I learned the name of this plant and I have promised not to take it for granted in future. I shall keep it safe from slugs and snails and watch out for its flowers and seeds. April 29th 2017. Well I had given up all hope of getting any of the divided roots to survive. The main root was put back into its original pot and up to now is not showing at all. The other divisions were put into black florists buckets to overwinter and were all underwater and slimy when I checked on them in the spring so they were thrown onto the side garden which needed building up after excavation. The cosseted one in a big pot with new soil, feed and drainage is nowhere to be seen. However, popping up here and there in the side garden are the discarded ones. Gardening never fails to surprise me.

Athough there were more Hostas being cultivated in Japan, a Hosta with Chinese heritage was the first one to be grown outside of Asia. Seeds of the Hosta Plantagonea arrived in France in 1784. By 1790 the Hosta had arrived in London. In 1812 an Australian botanist named the Hosta in honour of Nicholas Thomas Host, an esteemed botanist and physician. It was then that the genus changed from Hemerocallis to Hosta.