Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

Fuchsia

Fuchsia Hawkshead White Hardy

I’ve had this hardy bush type Fuchsia on my wish list for some time and this year I managed to acquire six very healthy looking plugs. I have potted them on into small pots of multi purpose compost for now. This is a free flowering small deciduous shrub producing small pure white single flowers subtly flushed green at the base against mid green leaves. Flowering from early summer to first frost in autumn. I really hope I can get these going. I have a couple of large flowering Fuchsia but apparently the smaller flowering varieties are more hardy.

Hawkshead

Fuchsia Blackie

I bought these plugs along with Hawkshead. They are a half-hardy Perennial and one of the darkest fuchsia’s there is. It has double petals of dark, almost black , A bush fuchsia that has a slightly lax habit so often used in hanging baskets. Needs protection from frost. https://southeasternhorticultural.co.uk/product/fuchsia

Blackie

Veronica Repens – Creeping Speedwell

This strong healthy little plant was bought as an impulse buy when out shopping for gravel. I had never come across it before but after a bit of research I was pleased with my purchase. Apparently some gardeners grow this between their slabs as an alternative to lawn. I have started it off in a mixed pot with Lobelia and nasturtium but think maybe I will try it amongst the gravel later.

Veronica Repens
Veronica repens or Creeping Speedwell is an evergreen carpeting plant. This pretty groundcover plant is studded with tiny white flowers during late spring. Ideal for growing between paving stones or as an underplanting idea over a small area. Doesn’t do well in extreme drought but otherwise tough and versatile. A good cover for early spring-blooming bulbs. Easily divided by ripping apart into small pieces in spring or early fall. Tolerates moderate foot traffic. perennials.com

Clematis Cartmanii Early Sensation

Early on in the Spring Laura arrived with a beautiful Clematis with no label. We potted it on and popped it at the front of the house, which gets the early sun. It is now covered in beautiful white flowers and we have realised that it is Early Sensation. The Clematis variety Early Sensation is an evergreen clematis and can grow up to 9ft tall. It has finely divided leaves which emerge bronze when young and mature to a dark green. In spring this cultivar bears a profusion of scented, white, cup-shaped flowers each with a greenish-yellow centre. It belongs to the family Ranunculaceae. We are both excited and nervous. We love it but are afraid to lose it so lots of research needs to be done.

No routine pruning is necessary apparently. If the spread of the plant needs to be restricted prune immediately after flowering, cutting back overlong shoots to healthy buds. Apply a slow release balanced fertiliser and a mulch of well-rotted garden compost around the base of the plant in early spring. RHS

Clematis Cartmanii Early Sensation

Early Sensation and its cultivars originate from species native to New Zealand. It flowers prolifically and has attractive evergreen foliage which is non-clinging. This group of clematis is dioecious producing either male or female flowers. It is an early season clematis from pruning Group 1 so flowers early in the year on shoots produced in the previous summer.

This group of clematis is semi hardy and requires a warm sheltered position with a very free-draining soil in sun or partial shade. It is well suited to growing in pots using a well-drained gritty compost which can be brought into the protection of a cold glasshouse or conservatory in winter; it also makes a lovely subject for the alpine house. Plant your new clematis with the crown 2–3″ deep to encourage new shoots to grow from below ground level and keep it well watered during its first Spring and Summer. Clematis are greedy feeders and benefit from regular feeding.

Fruit Bushes from James McIntyre 2020

I bought a few fruiting bushes for Laura as although she had a go at flowers and a few peas, beans and tomatoes last year she has never grown fruit. I searched online and found a company called James McIntyre and Sons operating in Perthshire in Scotland. Delivery was prompt, plants were well packed and in good condition. They have been over wintered in the garden and we are just now potting on and planning where they will live in the garden. I would definitely use this grower again. Their product is excellent.

Rubus Idaeus Raspberry – Tulameen

Raspberry Tulameen was bred in Canada. It is a summer (July and August) fruiting variety, and is sold as an excellent variety for growing in pots. It is supposed to be disease resistant and have fruit with a sweet aromatic flavour. Instructions for pruning says remove the canes that have fruited and train in new canes for next year. The cane will probably need the support of a post. Soil must be kept moist during fruiting time. The cane will probably grow to five feet. Apply a high potash feed in February each year.

Vaccinium Corymbosum Blueberry Chandler

Blueberry Chandler

Chandler blueberries could have been designed for amateur growing. The taste is outstanding, the berries are large and fruit for a long season from August to September. Blueberries are a superfood with high levels of anti-oxidants and anti-cancer agents. Chandler is an upright plant growing to 4ft and is easy to cultivate. All blueberries need moist, free-draining ericaceous acidic soil. This healthy looking plant has been repotted today in a large pot of fresh ericaceous compost. We already have three other older Blueberry bushes in the garden and these fruit, whilst being self fertile do fruit better with cross pollinators nearby. Apparently they are members of the heather family and need the same conditions as any other heather. That’s news to me. Very interesting. Update 25th May 2021. This plant looks dead. I will leave it for now.

Green Gooseberry Hannonmaki

This is a variety of gooseberry, Hannonmaki Green, that I have grown before at the allotment. It was very rewarding large juicy fruit with a sweet taste. It is a traditional variety producing an abundance of green-yellow fruit with a fresh and tangy flavour. The hardy bushes reach a height of about three feet with attractive bushy foliage. The fruit is ready from June to July and is useful fresh or in pies, jams and crumbles. As I remember this bush looked after itself requiring a little pruning back in the winter for the following year. I have missed having fruit in the garden and look forward to the gooseberries even though only one plant I think it will provide enough for us. Update 25th Mat 2021. This plant looks dead. Treated exactly the same as the others too.

Red Gooseberry Hannonmaki

Hannonmaki Red

This traditional variety has a good resistance to disease and produces a heavy crop of fruit. The ruby-red, medium-sized gooseberries are sweet when ripe in July.

Pink Currant Gloire de Sablons

pink currant Gloire de Sablons

The Pink Currant is another old favourite that I grew at the allotment. This particular variety is new to me though. It is sold as a heavy cropping variety fruiting in July. It is a beautiful bush visually when the fruit is hanging like jewels and the jam I used to make from them was amazing.

Red Currant Rosetta

Red Currant

Red Currant Rosetta is also a new variety to me but my memories of the ones I grew on the allotment are vibrant and luckily I brought back a good cutting from one of my very established bushes which has really grown well in the garden. These shrubs are very easy to propagate so when they are a couple of years old I shall take cutting from the new ones. Once planted a mulch of well-rotted manure every spring as well as a nitrogen and potassium fertiliser will help to increase the fruit production. Make sure the plant is watered in dry weather. In the first year prune back to one bud above soil level in winter. After that prune out weak branches only. The plants I bought are already two to three years old so should be ok left alone.

Apparently Jhonkeer is a parent of this new Dutch variety. I am looking forward to cooking with it and cant wait to see the large fruit hanging in glowing red clusters.

Ribes Nigrum – Blackcurrant Big Ben

Blackcurrant Big Ben

Blackcurrants have always been a favourite of mine and I just love jam made from these fruits. This variety, Big Ben, has been bred by The Scottish Crop Institute. It is an early season variety producing, as its name suggests, larger than average sized fruit. It is self-fertile, cropping in July and is disease resistant.

Gojiberry

Goji Berry

Goji berries are also known as Lycium barbarum. The goji berry is native to Asia where it has been used for more than 2,000 years as a medicinal herb and food supplement. Goji berries are widely available to purchase in health food shops and online. This is a completely new fruit to me. I have read quite a bit about it and I bought it because of its reputation as a super fruit with health giving properties.

Lycium barbarum was introduced to the United Kingdom in the 1730s by the Duke Of Argyll but the plant was mostly used for hedges and decorative gardening.

According to RHS the plants begin to fruit after two-to-three years. Berries appear from late summer until the first frosts. Only fully ripe fruit are edible. Fruit can turn black when handled so consider harvesting by shaking the berries gently from the plant onto a sheet placed beneath. Hmmmmm. Not convinced. The advice is it is best to train plants against a wall or fence tying the lax stems onto wires and to wear gloves for protection against spines. This will be an education for us. I’m not sure that I can eat these berries yet.

Ammi Majus – Queen Anne’s Lace

This year I decided to buy a few more seeds of Ammi Majus but unfortunately I had put the seed packet in my jumper pocket and it ended up in the wash. Disaster. I have put them in a bit of compost but an pretty certain that I have ruined them. I think if I can get just one plant to grow I shall be happy. I last sowed these in 2017 and thought that they would be popping up every year but not much survives in my garden, not even plants like this tough weed-like specimen.

Bishop’s flower, Ammi majus is a superb annual bearing delicate white lacy flowers and attractive ferny foliage. They look good in a mixed herbaceous border. These tall plants do best in well drained soil in sun to partial shade. As Ammi is an annual collect seeds to sow the following year but leave some for the goldfinches which like to eat them in winter.

Ammi Majus

Ammi majus, commonly called bishop’s flower, bullwort, greater ammi, lady’s lace, false Queen Anne’s lace, or laceflower, is a member of the carrot family Apiaceae. The plant is native to the Nile River Valley. Wikipedia

Warning: These plants can cause skin irritation.

Nicotiana Sylvestris – Only The Lonely

I have sown seeds of The Tobacco Plant, Nicotiana today. The seeds were from Seekay Horticultural Supplies. I prepared a deepish box of warm, moist compost and scattered the dust like seed on the top. No need to cover with more compost as it just settles into the soil being so fine. Unbelievably small seeds when you know how large the final plants are. I hope that the seedlings wont mind being transferred into the garden. I may try sowing some directly into the garden when the soil warms up a bit.

  • A Very tall variety of Nicotiana that bears white pendulous scented flowers well above the foliage..
  • Sow from Feb – April.
  • Do not cover the seed.
  • Germination will take between 7 and 20 days
  • When all risk of frost has passed plant out the plants at 3′ apart in a Sunny free draining site
  • info from Seekay.

Clematis Princess Kate – Zoprika

Following a negative Covid-19 test yesterday. Sean paid me a socially distanced visit and as always I was given presents. Firstly two beautiful cushions made by Deb. They match really well with the wallpaper in the bedroom. Secondly a big strong root of Clematis Princess Kate that I have been wanting for a couple of years. Very exciting. I plan on getting the other variety called Princess Diana which is equally beautiful.

This beautiful texensis type Clematis produces upright to nodding, bell-shaped flowers up to 6cm long that flare out widely towards their pointed tips. The petals have an attractive colouring, being white on the inside and stained reddish-purple on the outside. These petals form around rich plum-coloured stamens. The overall effect is very pretty and the plant has the benefit of a long flowering habit. RHS.

This variety was bred from the Clematis texensis, commonly called scarlet leather flower, a climbing vine in the buttercup family native to the United States, where it is endemic to the Edwards Plateau of Texas. Its natural habitat is on rocky limestone cliffs and beside streams.  Wikipedia

Clematis Group 3 Care Instructions :- In early spring cut back the previous year’s stems to a pair of strong buds about 6-8″ above ground level and apply a slow-release balanced fertiliser and a mulch of well-rotted garden compost around the plant avoiding the immediate crown. As a group three Clematis Princess Kate should be fast growing and vigorous.

2012 – The Breeder, Wim Snojer and grower J. van Zoest from Boskoop entered Clematis ‘Princess Kate’, in the annual competition and has won best new plant at Plantarium in Boskoop, the Netherlands. Judges from Koninklijke Vereniging voor Boskoopse Culturen said the plant flowers abundantly, bearing upright flowers with a unique shape, and has a well-chosen trade name, in line with other varieties of clematis. Zo – Pri – Ka

Corkscrew Hazel – Contortia – Corylus Avellana

This beautiful young tree was given to me last Spring by Sean and Deb. This year it has thrown out some really long Catkins. They look beautiful beside the Daffodils. It is still quite small as it is young but seems a very strong healthy plant. It is in a largish pot at the moment and seems happy there.

In February and March, the bizarrely contorted stems of this small hazel are draped with golden-yellow catkins. The leaves, which are mid-green and twisted, appear later. This corkscrew hazel is ideal for the middle of a sunny border, where its winter outline can be fully appreciated, or planted in large containers. The twisted stems, much-valued by flower-arrangers, also provide a curious and unusual focal point for an oriental-style garden. Crocus

Mirabilis and Balsam

This morning I have sown seeds of Mirabilis and Balsam that were collected from the garden about three years ago. As I remember they were both large and colourful flowering plants which I thought would self seed. I came across the seeds today so decided to try them. I have listed the links to the original page when I first bought the seeds. Update on 15th March, six days after sowing and good signs of healthy germination.

https://www.citychickens.co.uk/2017/02/27/miribalis-jalapa-marbles-mix/

https://www.citychickens.co.uk/

Annual Climbers 2021

This morning I have sown seeds of a few annual climbers. It is last years seed so fingers crossed that I get some success. I have sown them in some warm moist compost in a deep root trainer sized pot. In actual fact I have sown them in a container that i had left after we had eaten the red grapes. I had two boxes so one has served as a cover.

Asarina Scandens Jewel Mixed

Asarina

This climber is listed as a half hardy annual. The advice is to sow February to March on the surface of moist compost and keep in a warm place. A constant temperature of 20 degrees C is recommended and germination should take place in 21 to 30 days. Do not exclude light. I have a bad feeling that I have pushed these seeds below the surface. I really hope that these are successful as they look beautiful and graceful. They are often referred to as the Snapdragon Vine but they look much more fragile. I may try a second pot of these as I am really taken with them. Update on 15th March. Great excitement today when Laura spotted what looks like one of these in a pot today. It must have been potted on into a seven inch pot and left over the winter. Fingers crossed that it does turnout to be Asarina.

This delicate looking but strong growing vine has graced trellis work and scrambled among summer flowers since Victorian times. Still one of the best long-blooming vines, it thrives and blooms summer to fall, and should be given a trellis to climb early in its growth. Annual; tender perennial. Seed to Bloom: 16 weeks

This tender Mexican native plant needs free draining soil in a full sun. Growth is rapid and requires plenty of nutrients as well as a good support to carry the weight of the plant. wiki

Cobaea Scandens White

Cobaea scandens is said to be a vigorous perennial climber usually grown as an annual. It has pinnate leaves and fragrant, bell-shaped flowers which change from greenish-white to purple. Commonly called Cup and Saucer Vine or Cathedral Bells. NB. The title Scandens indicates a climbing or a creeping species.

Ipomoea Pennata

Cyprus Vine or Morning Glory

Cypress Vine seeds make a beautiful climbing vine that is perfect for a concealing screen over a shabby shed of which I have a few. Cypress Vines it seems are easy and fast growing. The two species seem to have very different foliage so I am excited to see how they turn out.

I have sown both red and Pearly Gates, which is white, and known as Granny’s Vine so should suit me well.  A beautiful climber that produces bright white flowers in the morning throughout the Summer. These look superb when mixed with other ipomoea species. I cant wait. This species is very closely related to Bindweed which although beautiful is considered an invasive weed.

Thunbergia Alata Mix – Black Eyed Susan Vine.

Apparently this climber is fast growing with a mix of orange, yellow and white flowers.   Generally grown as an annual in the UK. Should flower from June to September. 

Thunbergia alata, commonly called black-eyed Susan vine, is a herbaceous perennial climbing plant species in the family Acanthaceae. It is native to Eastern Africa, and has been naturalised in other parts of the world