Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

Photos by Glenn and Laura

The Pond! At Last

We finally managed to get the old plastic pre formed  pond liner out and replace it with a heavy duty flexible liner and an under liner to protect it from any sharp stones. Rob did a good job of first lining the shape with sand too. It looks much better now and I have planted it up with the Lobelia Cardinalis Queen Victoria for now. I have also dotted a few creeping phlox and other low plants around plus planting a few Iris Riculata bulbs which I hope will survive the squirrels and the chickens and give us a bit of colour come next spring. Update –  22nd April 2018 – Although the Iris were few and far between this Spring, the creeping phlox are a great success and I have added Sedum and Aubretia this year.

 

Laura gathered a few seeds of Golden Eye Grass when we were in Devon at the end of September. This plant is said to be happy in a rockery and around a pond so I have just sown the seeds into the garden in the hope of raising a few plants. Update 22nd April 2018 – No sign of this grass yet so I have sown 24 seeds into a module for another try. Golden Eye Grass – Sisyrinchium californicum is a rhizomatous perennial herb producing a pale green stem which grows up to about 60 cm. The flat, narrow leaves are grass like. The flower has six tepals. They are bright yellow with brown veining. 

Sisyrinchium californicum, Golden Eye Grass produces a small clump of grass like foliage with a yellow star shaped flower. Usually this six petaled yellow flower blooms from April until the end of July. Its not actually in the grass family but is a member of the iris family. It grows well in rock gardens, cottage gardens, at the front of borders and along pathways.  It will naturalise and look good with other low-growing ground cover plants like creeping thyme or sedum.

Saxifrage Touran White – A new addition to the area around the pond. A beautiful plant which I love and so, unfortunately, do the new Silkie chickens. Saxifraga x arendsii ‘Touran White saxifrage is a low-growing evergreen perennial forming a neat cushion of green leaves topped in mid and late spring by masses of pure white flowers with bright yellow centres. 

By next Spring we should have a few more plants that can be placed around the pond. On the whole I am very happy with it and my hope is that it will attract wild life like frogs and newts into the garden.

Pond Update – 7th June 2018 – The pond is now well established and I have added a few oxygenating plants including duckweed that floats on the top. We had no luck with attracting any frogs so I have been given a couple of gifts of frog spawn and tadpoles to give it a kick start.

Pond Update –  22nd June 2018 – We have frogs!!!!!

 

Roses – Black Spot – 2017

I was very disappointed with the Roses this year as all but two were blighted with Black Spot. I was aware of this fungal disease and have removed infected leaves as I saw them but I didn’t use any spray at all. Some of my bare root roses didn’t flourish at all and I put this down to the very cold wet winter. I also decided that I had made a mistake by mixing spring bulbs in the pots with the roses. Death by Tulip. I intend to try and tackle the problem early next year.

Rose Blackspot is best prevented with an anti fungal spray early in the season before the foliage starts to show through. To be extra cautious spray the ground around the bush too. Most garden roses are prone to this disease and much depends on cleanliness for successful control. With roses that are susceptible to blackspot spraying every two weeks may be necessary. Hard pruning in the spring and burning all pruning material is best with any rose plant that regularly get blackspot. A feed with a high potash content will also help to allay the disease. This should be carried out early in spring in order that the rose plant may take the potash in as a preventative.

Make your own anti fungal spray with baking powder and washing up liquid mixed  with water and put into a spray bottle. Spray both sides of leaves. Add one box of baking powder to water and add baby shampoo. Mix well before spraying. Spray every two weeks. This mixture changes the ph to kill and prevent fungal growth. Shampoo acts as a coating agent to maintain alkaline ph.  Respray after rain.

Sowing Lupin Russell Noble Maiden White 2017

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.

Update 26th April 2018 – These seedlings are now all large leafy plants and I am looking forward to seeing beautiful white lupin flowers very soon. Today I have sown another eight seeds for flowers next year.

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 then you will  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.

Cleome Spinosa – American Spider Flower 2017

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Carnations

Just before Christmas my friend Tallulah gave me a lovely bunch of flowers and the Carnations still look fresh today. I bought myself some yellow ones from Lidl on Sunday. It’s been a long time since I bought myself any flowers. I was very pleased to see that three of the stems had shoots still attached and I have taken them off to try and root them. 20 days and tiny hair like roots are beginning to grow.

SeeKay Carnation - Hardy Border Mix - 300 seeds - Perennial

Friday 20th January 2017 – Carnation Hardy Border Mix – seeds have been sown on moist compost in a container with drainage holes and enclosed in a polythene bag to retain moisture and heat. Seeds from Seekay 300 for 99p. Update ten out of twenty seedlings showing after six days. 

Choose a container with drainage holes in it filling the container within an inch or two from the top with potting soil. Sprinkle the seeds across the top of the soil and cover them lightly. Water until the soil is moist and then wrap the container in a clear plastic bag to create a greenhouse effect. The beginnings of your carnation garden plants should poke through the soil in two to three days. Move the seedlings to their own pots once they have two to three leaves and transplant them outdoors once they reach a height of 4 to 5 inches and your area is free of frost risk.

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/flowers/dianthus/growing-carnations.htm