Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

Growing from seedlings

My Viola Collection 2018

On 7th June 2007 I went to Sugarloaf Lane Nursery and bought a few plants. One of these was an Alpine Viola called Papilio. I love Violas and this was to be the first of many. They are such a versatile plant and look good in individual pots or mixed containers as well as in rockeries, gravel gardens and borders. I have listed below the varieties that I have in my garden at present. The genus Viola is a very interesting group of plants. I am not so keen on the larger pansy type of flower but prefer those bred from the Lutea and Cornuta. I have ordered my 2018 treasures from The Wildegoose Nursery.

The Bouts viola collection was established in 1978 by Mark and Stephanie Roberts of Bouts Cottage Nursery. In 2011 they retired and Jack and Laura Willgoss took over creating Wildegoose Nursery. I cant wait to visit and collect my plants. They are situated close to Ludlow, one of our favourite places to visit.

Viola hybrids, as the name suggests, have parentage that is somewhat diverse and they can be striped and splashed, bicoloured or the image of simplicity itself in pure hues of white, yellow, pink, mauve, purple and black. Many are scented too

Tips from the Wildegoose Website:- For your Violas to flourish, they need a good depth of soil for their roots to spread into. So if planting in a pot go for something at least 12” (30cm) deep and use a proprietary brand of potting compost. If planting in the open ground, make sure the soil is well cultivated, weed free and ensure you incorporate plenty of organic matter. Violas need regular deadheading to maintain their long season of flowering and they benefit from a light trim and tidy in July if appearing leggy. Cut back to within 2 inches from the base in early autumn to encourage fresh new basal growth and to deter pests from overwintering in their crowns. www.wildegoosenursery.co.uk

Viola is the name of a genus containing about 500 different species. Most of the violas cultivated in gardens are grown as annuals or short lived perennials, however, many will self-seed and give you years of delight. Violas are as at home in woodland settings as they are filling crevices in rock walls. 

 

Viola cornuta is a species that originates in the meadows of the Pyranees and has long stems to hold their purple, honey scented flowers high enough above the surrounding grasses, to attract the attention of passing insects. The flowers of Viola cornuta have characteristically narrow elongated petals that are so delicate, yet these are remarkably hardy robust little plants. They are often recommended for ground cover, as they happily spread to make large flowering clumps under shrubs. Viola lutea, also known as the mountain pansy, is a species of violet that grows in Europe, from the British Isles to the Balkans. I prefer hybrids of these two as they are so delicate

If growing in pots use a good quality general purpose compost and incorporate grit or perlite to aide drainage through the winter. You can also add slow release fertiliser to the compost or give them a liquid feed every two to three weeks to give them a boost. Feed first with a balanced feed for healthy plant growth and once well established switch to a tomato feed to encourage more flowers.

Violas are cool weather plants. Although they thrive in full sun it’s light and not heat that they require. Cooler autumn and spring temperatures are ideal. Higher temperatures can be off-set with mulch and diligent watering. Enrich the soil with leaf mould or well-rotted organic matter such as manure added to the flower bed in the spring.

Most of today’s violas are derived from Viola odorata, the Sweet Violet. Sweet violets are true perennials. If you’re lucky you’ll find them in fields and lawns and you can recognise them by their sweet scent and deep violet color. Most of us has found Viola tricolor commonly called Johnny Jump Up, a self-seeding perennial with tiny flowers of purple, yellow and white.

During the summer cleistogamous flowers without petals produce seeds, which are flung outward by mechanical ejection from the three-parted seed capsules. 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 the Viola. Although Violas self seed freely they are also easy to start from seed at home. Violas need darkness to germinate so cover the seeds completely. Direct sowing is another method when the weather is a bit warmer.

Alternatively they can be propagated with cuttings. You can take a cutting in August, snipping off a shoot around 5 cm long cut off at leaf node. Nip off flowers and buds on the shoot and all but three leaves. Dip into a rooting hormone and plant into a pot of compost. Water in, place outside, and roots will start to grow within 18 days and you’ll have a whole new viola plant.

Viola Papilio – A lovely vigorous perennial alpine plant producing marbled textured flowers with purple blending with white and a yellow eye above clumps of dark green, heart shaped foliage. This fragrant plant flowered from mid spring to autumn giving me lots of pleasure. It has come back year after year and seeded itself here and there. They do get leggy in Summer so cut them back and they will regrow from the base. They self seed profusely around the mother plant.

 

Viola Sororia Freckles – Quite unlike any other variety, Viola Sororia Freckles bears violet, speckled flowers from spring to summer. The unusual blooms are carried above neat clumps of heart shaped foliage. This memorable Violet will self-seed freely, dotting its offspring around the garden to provide welcome surprises the following spring. Perfect for growing in containers, rockeries or planted into crevices between paving. My garden now has lots of this very giving hardy perennial plant.

Viola Sororia Albiflora – The white wood violet. A new one to me last year. Purchased as a young plant from Websters of Wollaston. The flowers of this form 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 from mid to late spring according to the weather. 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. Update 26th April 2018 – This plant is once again preparing to throw up a wonderful display of white Violas. I was worried about its survival as we have had a very hard, long winter and I have in fact lost a few of my favourite violas. However, today I found the original plant covered in new buds. I am hopeful of late seedlings appearing too.
Following our visit to Wildegoose Nursery I now have six new Violas in my collection. Viola Lindsay, Viola Raven, Viola Josie, Viola Aspasia, Viola Aletha and Viola Olive Edwards. Pictured below are Raven And Aspasia.

Echinacea Mixed – Cone Flower

Echinacea is a genus, or group of herbaceous flowering plants in the daisy family. The Echinacea genus has nine species, which are commonly called coneflowers. They are found only in eastern and central North America, where they are found growing in moist to dry prairies and open wooded areas. They have large, showy heads of composite flowers, blooming from early to late summer. The generic name is derived from the Greek word meaning hedgehog, due to the spiny central disk. These flowering plants and their parts have different uses. Some species are cultivated in gardens for their showy flowers. Echinacea purpurea is used in folk medicine. We already have a few roots of Cone Flower in the garden and Laura bought three more roots of mixed colours today. These flowers can grow quite tall and so are better placed at the back of the border.

 

Geranium Pratense Striatum Splish Splash

Geranium Pratense Striatum Splish Splash is an unusual sport of the native meadow cranesbill. The white flowers are randomly splashed and spotted with violet. No two flowers are ever the same. Some petals can be completely blue but overall the effect is usually paler rather than darker. Earlier flowers tend to be paler . Makes a sturdy upright  plant providing interest and colour in early summer. Equally at home in the border or wild garden. Laura bought a root of this interesting variety from Wilkos for £2. They are ready for planting out now and should flower from June until September. This plant is best placed at the front or middle of the border as it spreads and can grow up to a foot tall.Once established it is a hardy plant and needs to be kept tidy.

 

 

 

Geum Mrs Bradshaw

Geum Mrs J. Bradshaw is a clump forming herbaceous perennial with fuzzy, dark green pinnate leaves and erect purple stems supporting double flowers. The rich scarlet blooms set against emerald green foliage are a bonus in the border. These hardy perennial plants will flower all summer from June right through to September. An excellent Geum variety awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit for its reliable performance, stability of colour and form and good resistance to pests and diseases. Cut back the foliage after flowering to encourage new growth. Update – Only two of the seedlings made it through the Winter and they have been potted on again into five inch modules.

 

Cucumber Femspot F1 Hybrid

 

After all my effort this years trying to raise seedlings for cucumber I have had to give in and buy seedlings from the nursery. I chose two sturdy plants of Femspot an F1 hybrid which I am assured will be successful. I have planted both in the lean to and they tower over my little seedlings which although green and healthy are very small so far. Cucumber Femspot is an F1 Hybrid cucumber, one of the best selling varieties in the UK. The plants are really strong growing, earlier cropper than most other cucumbers. You can enjoy the bitter free, ribbed fruits all summer long. Ideal greenhouse crop, but can be grown outside too in a sunny, sheltered spot in the garden or in your allotment plot. Femspot has proved to be one of the best all female varieties for outdoor production.

 

Cauliflower Skywalker F1

Today, 28th May, I have received the cauliflower plants that I ordered from T&M and they look brilliant. Healthy and ready to be planted out as soon as the beds are ready. They are an F1 variety called Skywalker and should be ready to harvest in October. Update – we planted these yesterday, 2nd June, under a covered tunnel along with nine cabbages given to us by a friend. Update 12th September – we have harvested several of these already and they have been outstanding in size and quality. Maturing in October this outstanding hybrid gives fine, deep white curds of excellent eating quality.

 

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