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Erysimum "Bowles Mauve"

March 30, 2010 13:47

 

Erysimum "Bowles Mauve"

Most of us are aware of the annual wallflowers which we buy as bare root plants in autumn. But not everyone is aware of their perennial cousins. Perennial wallfowers, also known as Erysimums are hardy (to zone 3) evergreen perennials growing to about three feet (1m) high and three feet (1m) across.

Bowles Mauve has scented deep purple flowers borne above the plants in early to late spring. Other varieties are usually shades of orange and yellow. One particularly interesting variety is "Pastel Patchwork" with both pale orange and pink flowers on the same head. Erysimums are good for attracting early wildlife into a garden, attracting lacewings, ladybirds and hoverflies. The long and thin and usually dark green with a greyer underside, but can turn slightly purplish in cold weather.

They like to grow in poor soil which is well drained and slightly alkaline. Give them a sunny sight for the best results.

Care is easy, just prune back lightly after flowering to remove dead heads and tidy the bushes up.

Photo by nautical2k

 

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Has Spring Finally Spring?

March 07, 2010 18:12

 

January and February have been very quiet on the nursery. They are our quietest months every year, but with the record low temperatures this year things have been even worse that usual. So, it was nice to feel some warmth in the air early this week.

Sadly the mercury levels have gone down again since then, but it's still sunny and that's started to bring the customers in. We specialise in Fuchsias, growing over 400 varieties and many of our early customers are fuchsia enthusiasts stocking their greenhouses and conservatories for the season ahead.

After these come the people who are stocking up on compost, usually our horse manure compost, to mulch their borders. And then are those who have taken their first steps into their spring gardens, noticed any gaps or dead plants and are wanting something to add a little colour into their lives.

As with any small business owner we like to keep a close eye on sales, in our case we tend to compare then with the previous year. March 2009 was our best March ever, buy a reasonable margin. Last March was bright, sunny and warm through almost the entire month. That gives us quite a target to live up to, and something we are unlikely to match with this years climate.

Running a nursery is not a job you want if you like a nice, steady and assured income!

 

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Polyanthus "Crescendo Mixed"

March 06, 2010 19:46

 

Polyanthus

It's not easy finding different plants to provide winter colour. You're basically restricted to winter pansies, violas and polyanthus. Of the three I find that pansies and violas can be knocked out by a wet winter and they also don't grow too well in my mostly shady garden. Hence why I plant polyanthus every year for my winter colour.

Maybe describing them as winter colour is a bit too much. They tend to stop flowering during the coldest, darkest days, but they will flower reliably from early spring and, if you plant them early enough they will also give some colour in the autumn.

Polyanthus are similar to a primrose with a rosette of dark green ridged leaves. But, whereas primrose flowers are held tightly in the center of the plant, a polyanthus holds it's flowers at the top of a 6-8in (15-18cm) stem. They also tend to be hardier than primroses.

Flowers are available in white, blue, red, yellow and orange. You can often buy each colour separately but prefer to go for maximum impact and plant a mixture. Plant them 6-8in (15-18cm) apart for good coverage and maximum colour.

They are not overly fussy about soil conditions, as long as it is not overly dry (hardy a problem in an English winter). I like to mix in a little composted horse manure or similar when I'm planting them. Aftercare simply consists of removing the fading flower heads to prolong flowering.

Photo by Gitaz Vlogg

 

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Logging in and Comments

March 05, 2010 20:37

 

This weeks additions:

  • If you log in via the form at the top of the page you will now stay on the current page instead of being redirected to your homepage.
  • A comments tab has now been added to your personal pages. This lists recent comments on your blog postings and photos. 

Mike

 

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Why You Should Garden Organically

March 04, 2010 21:44

 

Most gardeners divide the animals in their garden into two basic categories.

First there are the pretty, fluffy and furry ones that we like to encourage: birds, butterflies, bees and mammals such as foxes and hedgehogs. The second group is basically anything which eats our plants: caterpillars, aphids, slugs and snails etc.

We do what we can to encourage the former, even leaving out food and building shelters for them. We reach for our chemical arsenal to destroy the latter. But here's the rub: most of the good guys couldn't even exist without the bad guys. Birds eat aphids; foxes and hedgehogs consume the slugs and snails; and I hope I don't need to explain the connection between caterpillars and butterflies.

The simple fact is that the best way to get a healthy number of the nice guys in your garden is to learn to turn a blind eye to a few holes in your leaves. Realise that every little bit of damage is helping a bird or fox to thrive.

Of course, there are certain plants which will be decimated by the bad guys. For instance, if I plant marigolds or dahlias they will disappear overnight due to the number of slugs and snails in my well-shaded garden. My solution is simply not to grow such plants. Learn to experiment to find what will grow successfully for you, and if it fails, remember that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of other plants which you could grow in their place.

But you want to be careful about growing insect resistant plants: there are many plants which come from foreign parts of the world and which no native insect will touch. These plants may well stay healthy, but they are not doing any good for the wildlife we are trying to encourage. Try and grow a selection of native plants and these will provide a habitat for native wildlife. I'm not saying that everything you plant has to be native or plant food. You need to aim for balance between the plants which you share with nature and those which are purely for you to enjoy.

Plants which produce nectar for bees and butterflies are another group of plants which are great for a wildlife garden. They also have the benefit that they usually give an impressive display of flower colour. When selecting nectar plants again you can go for native species, but there is also a wide selection of non-natives which are great nectar providers.

When searching for nectar plants it's best to avoid plants which have been highly selectively bred, especially those bred for flower size. Roses and dahlias may be beautiful garden plants but their breeding means they put all their energies into flower production and not into making nectar.

Above all, remember that we, as humans, are merely another part of nature. We need to learn to live in harmony with it and not try and hold our gardens to the same standards of neatness and cleanliness we hold our houses to. Learn to enjoy a bit of naturalised clutter in your garden and the local wildlife will greatly thank you for it.

 

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This weeks update

February 27, 2010 21:41

 

This weeks update brings the following changes to the site:

Added:

  • Non users can now post comments.

Fixed:

  • Photos under different categories no longer overwrite each other.
  • Long comments are no longer being cut short. 

 

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