Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

Yearly Archive: 2016

New Moon

Beautiful shot of the moon this weekend. The Moon will be at its closest,  356,509km away,  at 11:21 this morning, Monday 14th November and won’t be this close again until 2034.

Christmas Rose – Helleborus Niger

On Thursday this week I shall be going to the local Lidl store to buy some of these beautiful plants. At six for £7.99 I shall be a happy lady. I have kept back some tête-à-tête so I shall pot them up together. This will be another reminder of Adam as this combination of plants grew along under his bedroom window at the house on the hill. When they were at their best I would take him a photo and the twins would often just pick them as toddlers do and take them in to him. I asked for White Hellebore to be included in Adams funeral flowers and they looked lovely.

Christmas roses have a deep growing root system so the roots should be planted downward rather than spread out below the soil surface and the crown of the plant should be an inch below the soil surface. Apply a layer of mulch around the plant. Every spring remove old, tattered foliage and feed the plants with a balanced water soluble fertiliser. Commonly known as hellebores the Eurasian genus Helleborus consists of approximately 20 species of herbaceous or evergreen perennial flowering plants in the family Ranunculaceae, within which it gave its name to the tribe of Helleboreae. The scientific name Helleborus derives from the Greek.

Update November 2017 – These plants, Helleborus Niger, have paid me back over and over since I bought them as they flowered from November to May. They retain their interest throughout the year. Now its November again and once again their snow white flowers are peeping through to brighten up the Winter days. They are tough little plants with delicate flowers. I have two large containers full of them and one plant in the side garden. I love them and may invest in some coloured varieties this year. As we are expecting some very cold weather I have mulched around them with some compost and sprinkled in a little growmore.

Black Eyed Susan – Rudbeckia

Another welcome gift from my daughter-in-law Deb. Three large healthy roots of this lovely hardy perennial. Deb is a gardener with her own successful company www.daisy-chain-gardens.co.uk. Thank you Deb.

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Charming, daisy-like flowers with prominent, cone-shaped, blackish-brown centres appear in abundance from August to October. This beautiful ‘black-eyed Susan’ is an excellent choice for the middle of a late summer border and it associates particularly well with ornamental grasses. It is a particularly free-flowering variety, that is best planted in bold drifts in a sunny or partially shady site that doesn’t dry out over summer. Information and picture from crocus.com.

Echinacea Primadonna Rose – Cone Flower

These plants came as part of the collection of perennials I bought from Thompson-Morgan and are now overwintering  on the window ledge following first stage potting on. The instructions were to pot on immediately and keep frost free until Spring. They are a tall hardy perennial and will thrive in a sunny or semi shaded position on moist, well drained soil. Coneflowers prefer a deep, fertile soil and will benefit from the addition of some well rotted manure or garden compost to soil, prior to planting.

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.

Hebe Rakaiensis – Shrubby Veronica

Hebe Rakaiensis, also known as Shrubby Veronica, is said to be covered in white flowers from early to mid-summer. This small hebe forms a neat dome shape and is fully hardy, preferring full sun or partial shade in the garden or rockery. This plant has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit (RHS AGM). It is supposed to be easy to grow and evergreen. They like an alkaline or chalky soil. Our garden sits on clay so they should do ok.

Sean and Deb brought five rooted cuttings of this Hebe on their last visit. I have to nurture them now through until next Spring when I hope they will be part of my plans for the rockery, which has been put off until next year.

Snake in the Grass

Fritillaria meleagris

Fritillaria meleagris –  Add plenty of well rotted manure or garden compost to the soil prior to planting to improve soil.  Plant snakes head fritillary bulbs at a depth of 4″ and 4″ apart. The bulbs are fragile so always handle them with care. Planting them on their sides will help to avoid water collecting in their hollow crowns and prevent the bulbs from rotting. Divide from August to September. Information and picture from thompson-morgan.com

I have tried to grow these lovely things before without any success. I now have fifty bulbs and have to decide where to plant them. Some plants men say that the flower is deadly poisonous. It has many common names as well as snakehead it is called lepers lily.

Grigson, in his Englishman’s Flora, calls the Fritillaria  meleagris snaky, deadly beauties, but there is little written evidence of harm.

On sunless days in winter, we shall know
By whom the silver gossamer is spun,
Who paints the diapered fritillaries,
On what wide wings from shivering pine to pine the eagle flies.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

Chionodoxa – Glory of the Snow

Chionodoxa

Chionodoxa bulbs are new to me and were part of a collection of Spring bulbs I bought from www.thompson-morgan.com . I am planting them in a large pot for now but maybe next year when we remake the rockery and pond I can use them there too.

One of the first bulbs to flower in the spring, Glory of the Snow, creates a carpet of colour, naturalising well beneath trees and shrubs. These flowers also make a hardy and low-maintenance addition to rock gardens and spring patio pots where they’ll return year after year. Height: 6″ Picture and information from www.thompson-morgan.com

Erysimum – Wallflower Persian Carpet

Wallflower Persian Carpet

Last week I received the bare root Wallflowers that I ordered from Woolmans. The instructions said plant out into the garden as soon as possible. There were eleven sturdy plants and as the weather was mild I set to and popped them in here and there. There was no indication of colour of the individual plants so if they survive the winter the eventual colour will be a surprise. Advice is to pinch out the growing tip after planting which I haven’t done as yet.

Supplied as bare roots, these are large, mature plants ‘in the green’ which will quickly establish once planted. Our wallflowers are field-grown in the UK and are lifted, hand graded, packed and despatched all within a 48 hour period to ensure the quality of our plants. Grow in any well-drained soil in full sun. Fully hardy, biennial. Woolman.