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
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.
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
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.
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.
Red Gooseberry Hannonmaki
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
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 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
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.
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.
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
This beautiful alpine was sent to me yesterday from Deb along with quite a few other surprise plants. Strangely enough I had bought myself one earlier in the year and had lost it during the long hot spell we had recently. Its common name is Rock Rose and it is described as good ground cover and as a hardy plant once established.
This is an evergreen mat forming perennial producing masses of rose pink flowers over grey green foliage and is suitable for the rockery, as ground cover in the borders, or in gravel gardens. It is equally at home in a container.
The advice is when newly planted always keep watered until the roots have grown down and it is able to find its own moisture. Trim after flowering to maintain a good shape.
I have received a package of herbs from Smartplantapp.com that was sourced from www.tregothnan.co.uk who apparently are the only tea growers in Cornwall. They have been established since 1999 and boast Europe’s Largest Tea Garden.
My package was a selection of herbs that Tregothnan grow both for sale in their gardens and for use in their tea infusions which they sold at the best hotels and stores before the Pandemic arrived.
Tregothnan Botanical Gardens
Tregothnan means The house at the head of the valley and from the look of this photo they aren’t exaggerating. It looks beautiful.
Everything we do here at Tregothnan brings us back to the magnificent botanical garden. It provides us with produce and inspiration; our range of English estate teas and herbal infusions are grown here, our Manuka and wildflower honeys are produced here, our seasonal British flowers and foliages are sourced here. The gardens, both in Cornwall and in Kent, are the beating heart of the estate and we are constantly inspired by their fecundity and resilience.
Tregothnan is the only place outside of New Zealand to grow the Manuka plant (Leptospermum scoparium), which have been recorded on the Estate since the 1880s. Tregothnan’s tea bushes (Camellia sinensis) are surrounded by Manuka plantations, in part to protect the tea from the prevailing winds due to Manuka’s thick, coarse characteristics. The Manuka bushes provide essential shelter for tea but also a delicious treat for the bees whose hives are nestled in amongst the kitchen garden.
Tregothnan also keep their own honey bees and produce and sell their own honey. Its a little expensive for me but I’m sure its delicious.
My tiny package of herbs arrived and included six young plug plants of Marjoram, Thyme x 2, Sage x 2 and Hyssop. Plus a complimentary tea bag.
I have planted them up straight away into a large blue ceramic planter that I have had by my kitchen door for many years. It was bought for me by the children one Mother’s Day and has been in the same place since then. Since Adam died it had contained Spring bulbs and Viola Sororia Freckles which have both multiplied again and again and this year the plants needed splitting and the soil refreshing . I have left a few of the viola in there and arranged the herbs around the pot. There is plenty of space for them to spread as it is a very big container.
Hyssopus officinalis Blue
I have never grown or cooked with this herb so a little research was needed. Apparently Hysoppus officinalis is a versatile herb. It can be planted in the border or used in the kitchen. Bees and butterflies are attracted by Hyssop’s electric blue flowers. The flowers are aromatic and long lasting and the foliage is evergreen so it could be a real bonus in the blue pot outside the kitchen door.
Although not well known Hyssop is a useful culinary herb used sparingly. Chop and scatter young leaves onto salads, meat or oily fish dishes or use to flavour soups, stews and fruit dishes. Hyssop is said to aid the digestion of fatty or rich foods.
Hyssop also has medicinal properties. A tea made from the dried flowers infused with honey is soothing for coughs.
Origanum Vulgare Aureum
The label says that Golden Marjoram has brilliant golden foliage and is of a low growing habit. It produces pink flowers in late summer, dies back over winter and reappears in spring. It advises cutting back old dead flowers in early spring. This woody perennial can be propagated by cuttings of non flowering shoots in mid-summer or by division in the autumn or spring.
Fresh or dried marjoram leaves are used to season soups, sauces, salads, fish, legumes and meat dishes. It is also great in marinades and may fragrance vinegars, oils and liquers. An essential oil, used by the pharmaceutical industry, is made from the foliage. Some medicines utilise marjoram in healing for respiratory and digestive system diseases. Its greens contain taurine, vitamin C and carotenes.
Salvia officinalis is a perennial, evergreen subshrub, with woody stems, grayish leaves, and blue to purplish flowers. It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae and native to the Mediterranean region, though it has naturalised in many places throughout the world.
The Latin name salvia officinalis is derived either from the Latin salvus, which means healthy, or salvare, meaning to heal. The name officinalis is derived from officina, which stands for the traditional storeroom in an apothecary where the herb was kept. It also refers to the fact that the herb is officially used as a medicinal plant.
During a major outbreak of plague in 1630, faith in the healing effects of sage was so strong that thieves in Toulouse rubbed a sage/herb/vinegar mix into their skin to protect themselves against infection before going out into the night to rob cadavers. When caught, they were told that their lives would be spared if they revealed the secret of how they inoculated themselves. Ricola.
My two Sages are a little different to the common sage. Sage Tangerine is described as a semi-hardy sage with bright green foliage and a strong citrus aroma. Sage Icterina Gold is described as a perennial with gold and green variegated leaves on a rough but keenly scented upright foliage.
Salvia elegans, commonly called pineapple sage or tangerine sage, is a perennial shrub native to Mexico and Guatemala. It inhabits Madrean and Mesoamerican pine-oak forests. The foliage of this decorative culinary sage has a tangerine-like scent, while the summer flowers add a vibrant shot of colour to borders or pots. Both the foliage, particularly the younger leaves, and the flowers can be used to dress salads, while the leaves can be brewed for tea.
Sage has been used for centuries as a culinary herb, Tangerine Sage is grown as a tender perennial herb plant primarily for its flowers, which are highly attractive to bees and butterflies. However, the leaves and flowers can be used to flavour food and drinks. The leaves can be snipped into salads and the flowers make an attractive addition to a salad too. In addition the leaves add a herby tangerine taste to fruit drinks and cocktails or on their own make a refreshing tea.
Golden Sage is a very popular herb. This variety has a milder taste in comparison with common sage . It is also a great companion with rich foods as it can aid digestion.
Golden sage can be propagated from cuttings. Many growers say Icterina does not bloom and is strictly an ornamental but the plant produces purple flowers in late spring. Seeds can be unreliable so growing golden sage through spring cuttings is a quick and easy way to make more of these lovely little shrubs. Root cuttings in sterile potting soil and keep evenly moist. To enhance rooting, provide heat and humidity by placing a bag or clear cover over the plant. Remove the cover once per day to release excess moisture and prevent root rot.
Thymus vulgaris is a species of flowering plant in the mint family Lamiaceae, native to southern Europe from the western Mediterranean to southern Italy. Wikipedia
Thyme is thought to have the powerful ability to kill off bacteria and viruses and should be taken at first signs of a cold or illness. Thyme does contains antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, carminative, diaphoretic and expectorant properties which supports healing throughout the entire body. A very useful herb to have in the garden.
The two tiny starter plants of Thyme in my package are Thymus Vulgaris, common thyme, and Thyme Coccineus.
Thyme Coccineus, the second variety is a creeping woody based perennial.
Thymus praecox Coccineus or Creeping Thyme with a degree of spicy fragrance. This flat-growing Thyme features fragrant dark green leaves, smothered by bright magenta-red flowers in early summer. A strong grower, ideal as a drought-tolerant lawn substitute or for planting between slabs. Creeping Thyme is easily divided in spring or early autumn and even small pieces will take root and grow. It is evergreen and attractive to butterflies.
Secret Garden Club sprang out of our popular promotion of overstocked plants. We noticed they sold fast to our growing market of seasoned gardeners! Knowing a number of high quality plant nurseries across the UK, we’ve started to sell off their stock too, to our Club members.
I ordered a few more perennials from secretgardeningclub.co.uk and after soaking them for a couple of days I planted them into the garden last night.
Jacobs Ladder – Polemonium Caeruleum
Jacob’s ladder is quite a rare plant in the wild these days. It can be found in three areas in England. It can be found primarily in the Peak District, the Yorkshire Dales and Northumberland, where it inhabits the steep slopes of limestone or riverbanks, usually growing in partial shade around trees or shrubs. It prefers sites where the soil remains damp. However, it is a popular garden plant now. I have planted in at the foot of a tree at the edge of the pond so I hope it will be happy there.
Trollius Alabaster – Globeflower
Trollius x cultorum Alabaster is a moisture loving perennial from the Ranunculaceae family bearing pale yellow flowers in late spring and early summer. It grows best in damp soil such as around the pond edge or a bog garden. I have placed this plant at the front of the pond.
The elegant, creamy white shade of Alabaster was an important color break in Trollius. Blooms appear in late spring and a repeat show may happen in late summer. Alabaster is apparently slower growing than many other varieties. Trollius is a genus of the Buttercup family.
Caltha Palustris – Marsh Marigold
Commonly known as the marsh marigold or Kingcup this plant has golden yellow flowers appearing in profusion from Spring to Summer and are surrounded by large scalloped leaves that serve as great shelter for small wildlife that might appear around ponds and marshes. This hardy perennial is happiest in damp areas around ponds or in marshes. I have placed this plant at the back of the pond.
Knautia Macedonica – Macedonian Scabious
This relative of the Scabious has deep wine red flowers in clusters on wiry stems. It has a long flowering period and is very attractiveto bees. Knautia macedonica seems a perfect plant for a cottage garden. Another name for Knautia macedonica is Scabiosa rumelica. Both Knautia and Scabiosa species come from the eastern Mediterranean where they grow wild in grassland.
Knautia are clump forming perennials, are totally hardy and will grow in most well drained soils. Siting in full sun ensures maximum flowering from July to September. Remove dead flower heads will encourage more flowers.
Propagation is straightforward either from basal cuttings in the spring or clumps can be lifted and divided.
I love Secret Gardening Club and would love to visit the gardens one day.
This young tree was presented to me by Sean and Deb, my son and his partner, following their move to a new house. I believe it was in the garden already in a pot so they brought it here. It is a beautiful thing with striking colouring and looks very healthy. It survived the winter and though I was concerned that it looked a bit dead early on in the Spring it is now a pleasure to behold. I had heard of a copper beech of course but had no idea of the size that it might grow to.
On researching this species I have found that as well as large trees this can be used as hedging. I am also confused as to whether I actually have a Copper Beech or a Purple Beech.
Fagus Atropunicea – purple beech – creates a beautiful, dense hedge with attractive copper purple, oval wavy-edged foliage that changes throughout the season with small white flowers in spring. A very rewarding hedge they have been known to bring wildlife into the garden as well. The Purple Beech is a very popular choice as a standalone specimen and makes a great alternative to fences or walls when grown as hedges. It has stunning dark purple-red foliage in the spring, turning into a dark green-bronze gradually over the year. They will grow perfectly well in either sun or partial shade and thrive on almost any well-drained soil. Monoecious, meaning both male and female flowers grow on the same tree. In April and May, the copper beech’s tassel-like male catkins hang from long stalks at the end of twigs, while female flowers grow in pairs, surrounded by a cup.
Fagus – Beech
Fagus – Beech is a traditional English Tree. They have lovely green or copper purple, oval foliage that changes to yellow and then a rich russet brown in Autumn. They do tend to keep hold of some of the leaves during the Winter months but they are mainly a deciduous plant. The leaves then start to bud up around February / March time and the leaves open from April onwards depending on the weather. Monoecious, meaning both male and female flowers grow on the same tree. In April and May, the copper beech’s tassel-like male catkins hang from long stalks at the end of twigs, while female flowers grow in pairs, surrounded by a cup.info from Grasslands Nursery.
Well for the moment I think my Copper Beech? or Purple Beech? Fagus Sylvatica? or Fagus Atropunicea? will be staying in its pot and looking beautiful.
On further research, I came across this information. Copper Beech, also known as Purple Beech, is a cultivated form of common beech. It grows to a height of more than 40m. The bark is smooth, thin and grey, often with slight horizontal etchings. Twigs are slender and grey but not straight, their shape resembles a zig-zag. Torpedo-shaped leaf buds are coppery and up to 2cm in length with a distinctive criss-cross pattern.
40 m. Oh dear. Well unless I win the lottery and move to a big house this tree will stay in its pot for a few years.
I have wanted one of these plants for a while and last year Laura turned up with a beautiful young plant that has come on really well this year. The new leaves have emerged green but are changing to deep burgundy and already has flowers. I have placed it into the sun.
Multiple stems are crowned with flattened heads of fragrant pink, lightly perfumed, flowers that complement the dark foliage. Later in the season, glossy black elderberries appear that are traditionally used in preserves and homemade drinks.
Sambucus nigra Black Lace has very finely cut, almost black foliage, which is the perfect foil to the pink blooms in late Spring and early Summer. In autumn its leaves turn a rich red. To produce the best coloured leaves prune plants back to ground level every year in early spring. Nigra works well when planted on its own or as part of a hedge.
For best results grow Sambucus nigra Black Lace in moist but well drained soil in full sun to partial shade. However, it will tolerate waterlogged or very chalky ground.
In botany, an evergreen is a plant that has leaves throughout the year that are always green. This is true even if the plant retains its foliage only in warm climates, as opposed to deciduous plants that completely lose their foliage during the winter or dry season.
Clematis & Jasmine
I already have a few clematis in the garden that I have accumulated over the years but none of my current collection is evergreen. I also have a very old Jasmine which has served me well for many years but seems to have gone very woody at its base but I am hopeful of flowers this year nevertheless.
Guernsey Clematis is a wholesale nursery that is struggling during the pandemic lockdown as most of the garden centres that they supply are closed. Take a look at the website. I am truly impressed by how efficiently it is being run. Very futuristic things are happening there and it gives me hope for the future of growing in this country. I decided to help in my way by making a small purchase. There are two clematis and one jasmine in the bundle that I chose.
The genus Clematis can be a deciduous or an evergreen shrub/climber or an herbaceous perennial. They mostly climb by twining and clinging to trellis or trees and come in many varieties. The choice is endless with some beautiful colours and types of flower. Most also have attractive fluffy seedheads in the autumn.
Jasmine is a genus of shrubs and vines in the olive family. It contains around 200 species native to tropical and warm temperate regions of Eurasia and Oceania. Jasmines are widely cultivated for the characteristic fragrance of their flowers.
Star jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides is a woody, evergreen climber with rich, dark green leaves that turn bronze in winter. From mid to late summer, pure white, fragrant flowers are produced. It can be grown against a wall in milder climates or in a greenhouse or conservatory in areas prone to severe frosts.
Clematis cirrhosa Wisley Cream
The Cirrhosa Group of clematis are evergreen woody climbers with bell shaped single flowers, produced from late autumn to early spring on the previous year’s growth. The variety Wisley Cream is a large evergreen climber with divided, toothed glossy dark green leaves which are bronze in winter. It has pale cream flowers that can bloom from autumn to early spring followed by silky seedheads.
The variety was introduced to the UK in the 1970’s after being raised by the late Ken Aslet at the RHS garden in Wisley from seed collected in Southern Europe. Although it is Cirrhosa, Wisley Cream can go dormant during the Summer but it will produce glossy foliage over the Winter months and flower during mid to late Winter.
I am assured that this special evergreen clematis is one of the easiest of all to grow. Apparently, apart from the removal of the odd broken branch in spring, Kimiko needs no pruning at all. It is vigorous, hardy and healthy. It should produce fragrant flowers from early spring to summer over the entire height of the plant. Perfect for growing on an obelisk in a large pot in a tree or on a fence. Whilst best in a sunny location it prefers its roots in the shade. I have the perfect pot and obelisk for this tiny new plant and can’t wait for it to be 4ft tall and covered in flowers.
A new introduction from the Evison/Poulsen breeding program this compact evergreen climber produces abundant spring flowers year after year. info from Guernsey Clematis.
I really hope that this company will continue to serve the public after things get back to normal, Whatever that may turn out to be.
Deaths in UK hospitals rose to 11,329 – up by 717in 24 hours
Our Prime Minister has been thanking the NHS for saving lives for weeks. Today he has thanked them for saving his life as he has left the hospital following his own personal fight against COVID-19
Courgette Zephyr F1 Hybrid
As promised yesterday I have made a start on sowing the squash this morning .I have sown the last three seeds of the Courgette Zephyr, an F1 Hybrid variety purchased from thompson-morgan.com. I have grown these successfully before. I have placed three seeds in a 7″ pot of moist general purpose compost. These seeds are best sown vertically I have found. I have enclosed the pot in a polythene bag and put it on the window sill. They should germinate in about 7 days and hopefully be flowering in June for an Autumn harvest.
This distinctive variety produces attractive, creamy-yellow cylindrical fruits with an unusual pale green tip. The strong, bushy plants of Courgette Zephyr produce fruits with a firm texture and a delicious nutty flavour if harvested regularly when no more than 6″ long.
Butternut Squash Hunter F1
Next seeds to be sown are six Butternut Squash Hunter, an F1 hybrid bought from Premier Seeds Direct. These fruits are a family favourite and I have treated them the same way as the courgette seeds.
Bred specifically for the UK and Northern European climate this variety delivers outstanding crops over a variety of UK summer conditions. Ready for harvesting up to four weeks earlier than other hybrids with fruits averaging 1kg with very high yields per plant.
Saturday 16th May 2020 – Update on the Courgettes and Squash – Laura bravely went and begged an old tyre from next doors skip and we have made a little garden for the squash and courgettes. There is a group of seven plants and I have high hopes for them. The seeds grew into very healthy plants and they lived on the window ledge until today.
Fingers crossed that we have seen the last of the frost but I have built up a protective surround of plastic covered netting with polythene bubble wrap. My only worry is overcrowding. I am hoping that the plants head for the skies and cling onto the netting.