How to transplant a plant at the wrong time of year

Transplanting plants is best done during their dormant season;normally the winter months. Impatient inspiration; or, as in my case, it being the day job often necessitates this being done whilst they are actively growing. This week part of the day job required the moving of a fairly mature rhododendron. It reminded of when I was a student at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and we moved the entire rhododendron collection from one part of the Garden to another. Not only was I much younger, but we were mob handed with tractors etc. today it was just 50+year old me with determined will power.

I decided to record the stages as I felt it would be useful to readers who may be considering moving or planting a tree, shrub or herbaceous perennial in active growth and wanting to reduce the risk of losing it. The first job was to cut down and dig out two existing conifers; a task in itself. At least it created the hole for the rhododendron.

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Thick roots make digging out mature plants a bit time consuming

Thoroughly watering any plant the day before it is to be moved, allows excess moisture to drain away before digging out the next day, avoiding a muddy dig and reducing the stress of drying out on the roots. Since it rained heavily the whole week before, I decided the roots would be sufficiently moist.  To make it easier to get access to the roots and save the rhododendron from working too hard; to pump water round the plant once moved, I cut back some of the fading flower shoots.  The next step was to dig a trench around the shrub ensuring sufficient roots remain.

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Rhododendron before moving preparation

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Rhododendron after moving preparation

Before I stopped for a lunch I filled the hole where the rhododendron was to go with water which would give it time to soak into the soil.

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Managing to spin the rhododendron out of the hole onto an old bulk bag allowed me to drag it its new position without damaging the top growth or disturbing the further.

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Not an easy drag for an older boy

Rhododendrons do not like their roots buried too deep and I calculated the required depth and size of the hole perfectly. Experience! After back filling the hole by half, pushing the soil in under the roots by hand to keep the roots high and prevent unnecessary damage I refilled the hole with water before finishing the adding the last of the soil.

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Not allowing moved plants to dry out is essential

I did not add any organic matter as there was enough organic debris from the conifers which had been dug out. The most important job now was for my customers; stopping the plant from drying out until it has established; indicated by it starting to put on significant growth. I recommend novice transplanters to start off with a small plant first and work their way up from there.

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Newly laid turf adds the finishing touches

Easy to grow ground-cover junipers for year round colour

Junipers are evergreen and come in all shapes, sizes and colours, they are also very hardy, surviving -20⁰C and grow well in a wide range of garden soils. They are traditionally planted with heathers, rhododendrons, acers and other “dwarf” conifers.   The forms I am writing about today make good weed supressing ground-cover as they tend to grow horizontally rather than vertically many to no more than 50cm tall and 1.5m wide.  Although I will refrain from overuse of botanical Latin names, which can be difficult for the non or rare user to get their tongue around, it is a necessary evil for accurate identification of forms.  With junipers, to impress your friends with your botanical Latin,  all you need to do is add “us” to the end of juniper making Juniperus. Latin plant names are always written in italics.

As weed supressing ground-cover low growing junipers are excellent, as long as the area they are to be planted in has been well cleared of perennial weed roots. If not properly removed these weeds can grow back and become an ongoing and difficult to eradicate nuisance spoiling the look of a planting.

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Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Carpet’

Being evergreen Junipers contribute winter colour and form to the garden. Some of the ground-cover forms like J. communis.  ’Repanda’ and J. squamata ‘ Blue Carpet’ can be difficult to combine with bulbs as you would need a tall bulb to push through which looks fine when the bulb is in flower but  after flowering the dying foliage hanging over the spiky juniper foliage can look unsightly. I have successfully planted small cultivars of Iris reticulata species with Juniperus communis ‘Goldschatz’. This juniper only grows to around 10cm tall and  the foliage of  small irises are less noticeable after flowering as they die back quicker and can be removed sooner if wished.

 

This week I planted a recently purchased Juniperus c. ’Repanda’ at the edge of a stepping stone path leading to a garden bench. Looking to choose a complimentary companion plant as its neighbour and not wanting to go down the more usually associated heather / dwarf conifer route I have chosen a woodlander from my garden called red barrenwort, Epimedium  X rubrum . Sorry more Latin.  It grows to a similar height and has heart shaped glossy green leaves with a hint of red running through it which I think balances and compliments the spiky needle leaves of the juniper. It is also long lived and similar sized at maturity. Epimediums produce tiny flowers in spring but their primary ornamental value is their interesting leaf shapes and colours. The clump I lifted was large enough for me to chop up into three pieces before replanting which will speed up the re- establishment process. Thoroughly soaking plants by letting them sit in a water filled container before planting aids establishment.

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Juniper and epimediums in centre of photo in well prepared soil. Some surrounding plants will be removed in future as the ground-cover grows.

Being a deciduous herbaceous perennial epimedium foliage dies down in the winter which will allow me to plant some early flowering bulbs amongst the clumps. I have a passion for iris bulb species, they do well in my garden without spreading too quickly.  They should happily share the location with the epimediums and provide early colour before the epimediums leaves emerge later in the spring. Although it is not necessary, cutting the dying foliage down after the winter is said to improve the following year’s foliage display.

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weed supressing mulch harmonising well with planting

 

I have also added a layer of natural wood fibre from a bag of Gro-Sure Smart Groundcover from Westland horticulture initially brought to my attention by one of my customers. Westland claims it acts as a moisture retaining and weed supressing mulch. This for me is a little trial to see how effective it is. Wood fibre is made from wood chips which have been ground down further by grinding between steel plates until they form fine intertwining fibres.

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It is the same material as many insulation products are made from and is used in large scale erosion control. With additional treatments it is used to make firm products such as plywood so I have no doubts that as the bag states it can last a long time, be used on slopes and form a solid enough barrier to prevent weeds emerging. My concern is the claim that it does not hinder bulbs emerging. This could occur not only because of the tight locking process of the cellulose fibre but also like bark , unless it has been allowed to age for around six months, many trees used to produce these products contain toxins which can inhibit the growth and kill young  plants.  I am sure it is fine as a general ground-cover on established  mature plants and large or vigorous spreading bulbs but finer bulbs and corms such as cyclamen may not penetrate the tightly locking fibres.

No one is interested in my garden !

2017 is my 20th year as a self- employed gardener and with an established customer base I do not need to rely too heavily on advertising.  Most of my enquiries are word of mouth and I have become increasingly aware of how many enquirers are looking to cover their garden space with labour saving gravel or similar functioning hard material. A stroll around most housing estates confirms the significant number of characterless often tasteless gravel or hard landscaped gardens where useful space  for attractive planting has been converted to dead space.

Before  I upset  any readers don’t get me wrong gravel is a useful attractive product which I often use myself to compliment and highlight  garden features, paths etc. but  prefering plants I think it is all too often overused as a simple quick fix solution to simply and cheaply reduce the chore of garden maintenance. During one of my moaning sessions to my wife about this she kindly pointed out that had I been in any other occupation than a gardener perhaps we too would have a gravel garden: Point taken.

I enjoy reading and writing and blog mainly to have an online record of what I do in my garden. A few months ago I applied for and was accepted as a probationary member of the Garden Media Guild.  To become a full member I must be able to earn a living from garden media so I have three years to achieve this. No pressure.  Being a probationary member I have access to a full member who mentors me in the process to make a living from garden writing. After looking at my blog, my mentor complemented me on my horticultural back ground and obvious gardening knowledge  but concluded that my blog lacked a strong focus and that no one was  really interested in my garden. I needed to find a niche and provide readers with “news they can use” using my garden as a backdrop.

Had I been younger I may have been a little hurt but I gratefully accepted her critic and over the past couple of months have been looking to focus on a specialisation useful to prospective readers, using my garden as a backdrop.

With my wife Carol’s and my mentor’s welcome observations I have decided to focus my blog on encouraging people with garden space to choose low maintenance green over  low maintenance gravel with useful tips and practical planting ideas. I hope to guide people to invest early in our plant heritage, to create a more personalised, enjoyable and satisfying low maintenance gardens which will grow, mature and blossom with them.

Thinking over my conversations with my gravelly customers I do not think they are gardening shy, more overwhelmed with where and how to start their green paradise and make it easy to look after. I hope to point them in the right direction, support and encourage them enough so they too can guide their family to the contentment and other benefits a green garden can bring to family life.

Great low maintenance architectural plants

With over 2000 species in the world euphorbias, commonly known a spurges make up the largest plant genus in the world. Most found in garden centres are native of cooler northern temperate and Mediterranean regions. As garden plants I find them invaluable in providing bold and interesting contrasting and complimentary architectural form when looked at in association with other garden plants whether in the border or a container.

Euphorbia’s are readily available in most garden centres and there is a euphorbia suitable for any garden situation, wet soil, dry soil, sheltered, exposed, sunny, shady etc. With the number in cultivation it is possible to have a euphorbia flowering in the garden throughout the year.

They are not troubled too greatly by pests and diseases and pruning is fairly straight forward. Although there are four pruning groups the ones mentioned below fall either into group  2, cutting the whole plant to ground level in the autumn after the foliage has died away or group 3 which is best done in the spring cutting back again to ground level previous year’s growth but leaving the already noticeable fresh growth untouched.

Most species provide colour from their stem leaves and the bracts surrounding their flowers, normally found at the top of the plant. Bracts are modified leaves around the reproductive part of the plant and not petals as found on most flowering plants. Within the bracts swollen nectar secreting glands attract insects such as bees and hoverflies to pollinate the plant. The colour and shape of the glands (and seeds formed after pollination) are used to identify some species and cultivars.

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 E. griffithii ‘Fireglow’ with Pulmonaria rubra ‘David ward’

Euphorbia griffithii (Group 2) is a very distinctive species with red-orange bracts at the top of current year’s growth. This is a deciduous species which produces early dark red stems before they leaf up providing added colour to the early spring garden.  There are a few cultivars of this species.  I have ‘Fireglow’ established in my garden and have recently acquired ‘Dixter‘.   ‘Dixter‘ is said have darker stem leaves with more pinkish- grey undersides and more vermillion-red flowers  although at this stage with my plant being quite young I cannot tell the difference with noticeable confidence as young growth in both forms is similar.

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The plant sold to me as E.griffithii ‘Dixter’. I will soon visit a friend from Plant Heritage that has a confirmed one  to compare.

This species is native to the eastern Himalayan region where it is found in moist soils so it does well in British gardens. It does have a tendency to spread by roots running below the soil and emerging a short distance from the plant but is shallow rooting and is easily dug up. During the growing season euphorbias produce a milky sap which can cause severe skin irritation so it is advisable to wear gloves if any cutting back is required and if the sap comes in contact with the skin to wash the area well.

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E. myrsinites to front of container

I have E.myrsinites  (Group 3) and  E.characias ‘Blue Glacier’ (Group 3) contributing to container displays in my garden. E.myrsinites  is a prostrate evergreen with blue grey leaves. It is short lived but seeds freely, it  is best grown in gritty soil and I have separated the stem from the soil with a layer of grit  to prevent the prostrate stems  rotting when in contact  with the soil.

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E.Characais’Blue Glacier’

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E. polychroma (Group 2) the cushion spurge from central Europe is a low growing clump former to 60cm. Here I have it contrasting with an Acer palmatum. Geranium ‘Crystal Lake’ is planted nearby and waiting to take succeed E.polychroma when it finishes flowering in early June.

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E.Redwing (Group 3)  is another compact cultivar, semi evergreen in habit  in my garden and long flowering.

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E. amygdaloides ‘Purpurea’ (Group 3) This one can be a little temperamental, suffering from mildew but when it likes its location in a sunny well drained soil it’s purple foliage topped with lime yellow flowers can look  really good.

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E. stygiana is a new acquisition for my garden .This shrubby euphorbia in the wild is on the endangered list Distinctive features are dark green honey scented leaves  with a white midrid. I have placed it amongst shrubs to protect it from cold and wind at the bottom of  a path where I hope it will reward me with lovely scent as it matures. Being a shrubby euphorbia it belongs to group 4 and like most shrubs is pruned if necessary after flowering to keep in its desired location.

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E. palustris ‘Walenburg’s Glorie’ (Group 2). A garden origin clump forming form of swamp spurge. This cultivar was initially bred in Scotland and grows around to 1.2m tall,  not as tall growing as its Asian parent which needs staking. In autumn its foliage is said to grow from green to red although as yet I have not experienced this.

 

 

Planning for early succession planting 2018

This is long blog but useful for those wanting  to warm their garden early in the year with continuing flower colour.

Deciduous shrubs are leafing up now, losing their skeletal looks and herbaceous perennials are rapidly putting on fresh green growth. Like many gardeners I am eagerly looking forward to mixed and herbaceous borders full of colour.

 Last month I carried out the final stages of my spring tidy, trimming back broad leaved evergreens just before growth begins. I leave  them till spring so I do not have to look at cut leaves and stems during the winter months. Any late frosts and desiccating winds will not leave long term visual damage as emerging new growth covers any wounds. When my snowdrops and daffodils finished flowering I lifted, split and replanted  the larger clumps to increase their number but also some were in the wrong place such as large daffodils at the front of the mixed border which look fine when in bloom but their dying back foliage looks unsightly at the front of the border . Large daffodils are best at the back of borders where their dying back foliage can be hidden by the foliage of emerging herbaceous perennials.

Snowdrops provided the bulk of colour in February joining winter flowering hellebores. Iris reticulata cultivars and winter aconite followed on in late February early March but not in large enough number to make an impact so they are on my shopping list together with  Anemone nemorosa and blanda cultivars which I want to plant en mass in my mixed borders to contribute colour from March into May. They will take a few years to establish and provide the effect I want.

The small number of cultivars I have did well this year, providing a small but lovely show in my containers. I want to plant as many as I can afford to increase colour during March, filling the gap when snowdrops and winter aconites fade and before the majority of daffodils flower. I am staying away from crocuses at the moment because they only open fully in sun and most of our winter days are too dull and I find myself looking at closed flowers. Small flowering bulbs such as iris and anemone species are perfect for naturalising and providing colour in herbaceous borders sown amongst existing herbaceous plants. Those that are lifted when adding or splitting herbaceous plants  are  easily returned to the ground and they do not interfere with the growth of perennials.

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Hosta and muscari living in the same space quite happily

In my garden May and June is the stumbling block for colour. The woodland section has lots of candelabra primula varieties so no problem there and the mixed borders are greening up well but in the true spirit of successional planting I want more colour. Early leaf shape, texture and colour works well in my lower border early in the season because it is protected to  fair degree from strong winds but the mixed borders on my slope are continually battered by strong winds and it will take a few more years for my shelter planting to mature to a size where it effectively filters the wind giving early and evergreen foliage of plants a chance.

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Lower border showing decent flower and leaf colour, shape and texture early April

 

This is the best time of year for lifting and dividing herbaceous perennials, just as they are starting to grow. Returning divisions where I want  them and potting surplus divisions for selling on to my customers. They will root in their pots well in a few weeks and I quickly see the ones that look good enough to sell on, rather than dividing and potting up in the winter monthshaving to look after plants which do nothing for months and find that they are sorry looking specimens not fit for selling.

With my herbaceous plants in their coming season positions I have taken photographs of their positions and spaces between them which will remind me where I want to plant the spring bulbs when they come on sale in the autumn.

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Photos of my beds will remind me of where bulb planting spaces are in autumn

I have put together my order from Parkers, a bulbs specialist, and I will send it off in July. They will send me my order when they become available. I prefer this to buying bulbs in retail outlets as often the bulbs have dried out and do not come to anything.

Deciding on which tulips to buy has been a bit time consuming, there are hundreds if not thousands of cultivars, grouped into catagories which for the novice tulip grower does not help much. In the past for  me tulips are  mainly temporary bulbs that you plant and discard after a few years. Many  groups do not regrow  well after their first year in and those that do often grow with pathetic looking smaller flowers .  They can be lifted and stored in a dry place over the summer as they like moisture when in flower and baked in dry soil when dormant but that is an activity I do not want to get involved in. They do however withstand  wind surprisingly well and give attractive colour displays before the summer bedding is planted.

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Two years ago I had fifty of these late season tulips (Ballerina) and evry year their numbers decline.

 

 In the end I have picked one colour from  three different catagories, kaufmanniana, Greigii,  and single early to see how they look and do. Kaufmanniniana and Greigii tulips flower on short stems and unlike other groups are said to come up year after year. I have chosen all early flowering forms as I live in an inland glen and they will probably flower more mid season. If I like them I can top them up or replace them with  another colour or catagory the following year.  From Parkers I can get I  a hundred bulbs for less than a bunch of flowers for the house which lasts about seven days so I will not begrudge my little experiment.

How to make a water feature with an oak half barrel

 

For some time now I have wanted to create a small pond in my garden but have never got round to it. Although ponds filled and surrounded with plants can look very attractive the main reason for me is to attract wildlife and by that I am really thinking frogs, which I am lead to believe are great for keeping down slug populations that always destroy my hosta foliage. We have a cat and I am aware some prey on frogs whilst others ignore them. It will be interesting to find out if ours is a frogger, it’s certainly a mouser.

Last week I bought a large “genuine” oak half barrel with the intention of   planting it with sucession planting until it struck me I could turn it into a successional planted water feature. After examination I realised there were narrow gaps between the lengths of wood. Would I need to incorporate a liner or seal it? Remembering it was “genuine” and had held whisky and being aware of how my wooden fence gate expands and contracts in wet and dry weather I thought I would fill it to see what happens. It fills to a few inches from the top before it starts to seep out and leaving it for a couple of nights it did not empty any further so all good.

After a visit to my local water garden nursery I was told to keep it filled and regularly toped up with water and it could take up to a month before it becomes fully water tight. It made me think of the old wooden sailing boats from centuries past exploring the seas and realising if they were out of the water too long the wood would contract making the ship very leaky. My other concern was chemicals in the wood from the whisky mixing with the water and was told he was never aware of any problem there. I do not intend to keep fish so no fear of intoxicating them.

 A note of caution, there are a number of retailers selling oak half barrels which are robust enough but they have been produced for the garden planting market for which they are very good value, However they were never intended to hold alcohol and their ability to expand and retain water is questionable. They could be lined, but liners never look good in barrels, or realistic looking plastic half barrels are available but in my opinion nowhere near as good looking or large as the genuine ones.

I dug out a few inches of top soil to sink the barrel level with existing planting and give it a look of having been there a while placing it on some bricks to keep it off the soil , allowing air to circulate and slow the rotting process. The barrel itself I placed close to mature planting which will act as a backdrop to the feature as well as no doubt being shelter to birds and insects which will benefit from my barrel pond. Around the barrel to add to the impression of permanency I transplanted a fern, epimedium, euphorbia and some  plants from last week’s plant heritage sale including the  a dwarf form of lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis) called Alchemilla erythropoda and  Bowles’ golden sedge Carex elata “Aurea”.

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Giving the plants time to fill out it will look great in no time.  The barrel is level it’s the camera angle that could have been better.

 

For placing in the barrel itself I have initially purchased three  aquatic plants, the oxygenating curly pond thyme, Elodea crispa  to prevent the water becoming stagnant, water mint, Mentha aquatic and the architectural Equisetum ramosissimum var japonicum commonly known as branched horsetail which I will not allow to escape into other parts of my garden.

 As my experience and knowledge increases I will add more plants to my water barrel. The plants within the barrel sit on bricks which I have placed in a step like fashion together with two bits of branch strapped together with cable ties so any unfortunate animals falling in have a chance to climb out.

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A talk by Fergus Garrett of Great Dixter

Having read many of Christopher Lloyds books but never having visited his world famous garden, Great Dixter in Sussex, I jumped at the opportunity to get a ticket for a talk from his head gardener Fergus Garrett at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Sadly Christopher died in 2006 but Fergus continues to build on his ideas and achievements. The talk was a sell out  and an absolute guiding inspiration in explaining the strategy for succession planting for creating year round interest in the garden.

Although I got back late and did not get much sleep as my mind was too active wanting to get going on his advice, the next day I did just that.  I wanted to get started on the “layering process” as Fergus spoke about. This is the perfect time of year to identify spots where bulbs can go to bring added spring colour.  Unfortunately they are not for sale at this time of year. Spring flowering bulbs are always for sale in the autumn months when the garden is fully clothed with flowers and foliage.

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At this time of year it is easy to see spaces where spring bulbs can go.

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Harder during September when bulbs are for sale but garden is in full bloom

 However existing large clumps of bulbs or those not in the right place can be lifted, divided and replanted. So I started lifting some of my clumps of snowdrops still in the green, splitting them and replacing them near non vigorous low growing  clump forming grasses such as Carex and  under the bare stems of some deciduous shrubs and intermingling them with daffodils just coming into flower .

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A divided clump of snowdrops replanted towards front of the border to be followed by irises (already passed) then daffodils (now fadding ) and now the flowering succession is achieved by orange tulips

 I have ear marked areas where at bulb planting time I will buy and plant crocuses and irises which will flower and increase colour  in the garden in the time between the flowering of snowdrops and leucojums and  before most of the daffodils flower. To increase colour during and after my daffodils flowering time I will plant more muscari and tulip bulbs. This is what Fergus refers to as adding layers of plants which continually take over from one another to provide colour, foliage, fruit and stem interest as we move through the year.

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Photos are a great way to remind oneself where bulb planting opportunities are for the following years show. Muscari holding  spring show till hosta leaves unfurl. Fergus would be impressed I’m sure.

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Lots of opportunity for spring colour here

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Bulbs can provide the bulk of colour in the spring garden before this task is taken on by the early and late flowering herbaceous perennials and shrubs from Summer to Autumn.

I am sure it will take me many years and mistakes (I prefer  exponential learning curves) to achieve my own “Little Dixter” but I will enjoy the journey, learn and to my garden visitors although I will be aware of where I want to improve they will hopefully think it all looks wonderful.

A final reminder to my local followers of Plant Heritages plant sale in Forfar on the 29th April , 10.30 to 12 am Noon at Guide Hall, Myre Car Park DD81HZ. If you want the opportunity to get some rare and unusual plants not commonly found in garden centres get there early. See you there.

 

April patio plant pots

My last post was about the start of the growing season being an ideal time for planting young trees and shrubs for structure, shelter and privacy giving them time plenty of  time to establish before the winter sets in.  Shrubs in particular are often too small to plant directly into a border as they can look out of place or be smothered by faster growing herbaceous perennials.

These young shrubs as well as herbaceous perennials and climbers can if a suitable location is not available or prepared be grown on by potting them up in larger pots giving them time to mature. This also allows me to experiment with combination ideas by placing groups of containers together, moving them about till I find a pleasing grouping and time to think where the grouping can be placed.

At this time of year I find groups of pots particularly useful near the house such as near my front door, conservatory and  patio where they can be admired from the windows of my house when it is a little too cold or windy to sit outside.

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The grouping from my kitchen window

This is my most recent combination which I have on my patio and easily viewed from my kitchen window. The scale like leaves of Thujopsis dolabrata act as a backdrop for the steely blue- grey foliage of Juniperus communis and the burgundy strongly architectural leaves of Phormium ‘ Rainbow Queen’ in turn  harmonising with the rounded heads of purple drumstick primulas. Either side I have recently planted Acer’s which balance the grouping.

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The containers from my patio chair

These plants would be less noticeable, overshadowed by other plants or even lost if planted out in the  main garden  but on the patio they  make an attractive colourful attention grabbing scene.

Just outside my conservatory doors are blue muscari bulbs emerging through the golden leaves of  Lysimachia numularia ‘Gold’. Normally still brown at this time of year the Lysimachia has remained yellow over the winter allowing this year anyway for this combination to have worked. The muscari blue- green muscari leaves are not too over powering in this little picture and I feel work in quite nicely.

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Planning future winter interest

Positioning of the structural or framework planting of trees and shrubs to provide privacy and for me, more importantly, protection of more tender plants is my first consideration when planting a garden.

Larger mature trees and shrubs for the instant garden effect are more expensive and is the route some of my customers are happy to go. In my garden I have had to accept the slower, cheaper and patient approach of planting younger smaller plants which one day will together with their ornamental beauty contribute to the function of filtering prevailing winds and sheltering more tender plants from cold  and heavy damaging rain.

Many of my strategically placed trees and shrubs are starting to contribute to their intended function and  a few more years growth and my garden will be well protected.  The winter and if I am honest the whole past year  has further  highlighted soft spots where cold and wind exert their influence  shredding even my hardiest  evergreen foliage plants.

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My shelter planting maturing

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As the soil is gradually getting warmer and my plants, as every day passes are showing more signs of growth, I have started planting some young evergreens which will have a whole year to acclimatise and establish before facing the next winter.

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Spot the newly planted winter interest planting (Three to find)

I have purchased a number of columnar conifers, they are not as fashionable as they used to be years ago as they take so long to grow  (I know maybe too long) but they are extremely hardy, will never be so vigorous that I will struggle to keep them under control as we both age and I like their compact columnar shape which I use around the garden as the unifying link of my garden rooms.

Over the years they will contribute more and more to colour, texture and form in the garden in winter.  The plantsman Graham Stuart Thomas always advocated that by choosing plants well, as they mature with you they can with their weed supressing nature look after the garden for you. He also adviced like other garden greats, William Robinson springs to mind, that mature plant size should be considered and enough space provided for this so heavy pruning is avoided to keep  them in their allocated space. Keeping these words of wisdom in mind makes less work for the older gardener and saves on lots of waste disposal.

A problem most often encountered with  young shrubs is that they can take a few years to establish  and grow to a size where they can compete with more  vigorous herbaceous perennials which all too often can smother them making them unsightly if not killing them off completely. I have overcome this issue by growing on young shrubs I would like for the garden in containers or as part of a container display. This gives them the opportunity to mature and me to enjoy their contribution to my garden sooner.  They may be small, but I have time to enjoy watching them grow up.  As Ralph Waldo Emerson    (An American writer and philosopher) said “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience”.

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Benefiting from container displays till plants are garden ready.

 

Plant Heritage at the University of Dundee Botanic Garden

Plant Heritage is a national charity with the aim of conserving cultivated plants for future generations to enjoy, these plant treasures are part of our culture and history.  Many if not most of the plant varieties and cultivars including ornamental plants, fruits and vegetable mentioned in the older garden books of some of our great gardeners are no longer commercially available.

 Many of these varieties and cultivars do still exist in older gardens, their owners often not aware of the rare treasures they have.  Whenever these treasure trove gardens are cleared to build on the land or make them easier to maintain these plants can be lost forever.  It is the keen vigilance of plant lovers that prevent plant varieties, no longer found in their native habitats or able to be bred by breeders because the parents are no longer available, from becoming extinct.

I have been a member of Plant Heritage for a few years but being a professional gardener and busy during the “growing season “I have never had time to attend visits and events.  This year I decided to make more of an effort to attend meetings so this Saturday I headed to my local Tayside and Grampian area group meeting held at the University of Dundee Botanic Garden.

 Twenty years ago I worked at Dundee Botanic Garden for a short period after I returned to Dundee from working with the Royal Parks in London and before I started up working for myself. How quick time passes. I did not have time to look around but it was a lovely day and what I saw of the gardens was stunning and I fully intend another visit to explore the gardens in the very near future. (Another blog opportunity)

The local Tayside and Grampian Group I found to be very friendly and welcoming helpful bunch and quickly secured a number of invitations to visit member’s gardens.  Some promised to look at my blog so I may pick up some more followers.  For any of my readers looking to join this lovely group of people go to www.plantheritage.com.

Finally a very important date for the diary, on the 29th April from 10.30am to 12.30 pm at the Guide hall in Forfar Plant Heritage is holding a plant sale to raise money for conservation projects.  Members contribute plants from their collections and some rare and not commonly found plants can be obtained at knock down prices.  So if a genuine bargain is wanted that’s the place to be. I have made myself available by volunteering to help out and hopefully grab a bargain myself although I will have to make do with what the bargain hunters leave behind. The guide Hall is on Myre  Road Forfar DD81AZ, right next to the free car park on Myre Road which can be accessed from Forfar Town Centre.