Sunday, 31 January 2016

Garden Checklist ...

Good Morning!
Here's a few things that you can be getting on with in the garden over the coming week ...

1. Displays  -Refresh your Bedding & Potted Displays with some new additions.
Simply adding a pot of Primroses helped to freshen up my display by the front door.
Keep up with the dead heading too to keep plants flowering for longer.

2. Autumn Raspberries - If you haven't done so already, it's time to cut down your Autumn fruiting Raspberries down to ground level.

3. Sowing  - Light levels are increasing and if you have a heated propagator there are a few things that you can start sowing! Chillies and Peppers are veggies that can be sown now and over the next month you can also sow Aubergines, Celery, Tomatoes along with some Summer Bedding too.

4. Snow - We've had some pretty unpredictable weather recently and if you've had snow fall don't forget to knock heavy snow off branches, shrubs and conifers to prevent it's weight causing damage.

5. Winter Pruning - Finish any Winter Pruning on fruit trees and soft fruits over the next few days. 

Thanks for stopping by, don't forget you can find all the previous Checklists on the page tab above.

Friday, 29 January 2016

A Touch of Frost ...

Good Morning!
Last week during the frosty weather I went around the garden and took a few snaps of the some of the plants which looked particularly decorative with a dusting of frost.
As you can see from my selection it was the plants with the darker coloured foliage I found most attractive ...

Two different varieties of Heuchera

A dark foliaged Primrose that has also had an unwelcome nibble

Pittosporum 'Tom Thumb'

Clematis 'Winter Beauty'

and meanwhile over in the Greenhouse which is thankfully frost - free the Iris 'George'' 
I shared with you a week or so ago has been blooming away and has now also opened a second bloom. However the Iris is actually a deep purple and not blue as this photo depicts! 

Thanks for stopping by, I will be back with the Garden Checklist this weekend!

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Problem Area - Physiological Disorders ... Water Logging and Drought!

Good Morning!
Last week I covered the topic of Frost which is a 'Physiological Disorder'.
This is a disturbance in the normal function of the processes within a plant i.e. involving the cells of a plant and the processes which take place within a plant. These are direct results of the natural environment, are not infectious and cannot transfer plant to plant.
This topic may seem a little boring, but it's good to know these basics.

Water logging can be a familiar problem at this time of year!
Water logging is excess water unable to drain away, causing anaerobic soil conditions which leads to die back. Short lived floods after heavy rain fall rarely cause damage to plants, however prolonged, saturated soil can be problematic. Lawns are prone to being affected.

The symptoms aren't always easy to tell from other problems but here are a few to look for ...
- Discolouration on the leaves, turning yellow or decaying between the veins.
This results in soft areas at the base or centre of the leaf.
- Ironically the plant looks as if it is wilting from lack of water.
- If you check the roots they may be rotting or already rotted away, blackened and producing a sour rotten smell.
- Die back of shoots.
- Herbaceous plants may fail to sprout in the Spring, others may appear stunted or unfortunately die.

- Adequate drainage holes which are unblocked are a must for container grown plants, this allows excess water to drain away.
- Do not plant plants in areas where standing water is a frequent and prolonged problem.
- Improve drainage by adding grit and organic matter to your soil throughout the year.
In autumn spike holes into your lawn to help water drain away.
- Ensure that there is adequate spoil depth for your plants to root into when planting.
- Avoid walking on lawns that are affected.

Physiological drought usually occurs during the Winter - Spring period.
Cold winds increase the transpiration rates and cold soil also prevents root hair development and the plant absorbing water.

Plants take on a brown discolouration along with the below factors ...
- Prolonged Dry Soil, has insufficient water available.
- Frozen Soil, no water available.
- Frozen Plant Stems.
- Plant growth seems checked, the foliage / stems / buds wilt leading to eventual die back.

- Incorporate methods of irrigation, ideally planned and installed before planting.
- Borders with a deep, water holding Topsoil and good drainage.
- When planting always ensure you plant them firmly at the correct depth and water in well.
Inadequate watering during the period of your plants becoming established can result in plant die back.

I hope you have found this helpful!

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Garden Checklist ...

Good Morning!
It seems this weekend the weather has changed to be a little milder compared to the start of the week! We were in low single figures early on but looking at the forecast we're set to reach double figures over the next few days, the weather can't seem to make it's mind up.
Here's a few things that you can be getting on with over the coming week ...

1. Sedums - Throughout winter I left the stems of my Sedum plants to provide some structure and also allow somewhere for over-wintering insects. However the flower stems are looking a little tired and the new growth has started forming at the base so it was time for me to cut them down to ground level. Other plants that can be cut down now are Willows and Dogwoods to promote strong new canes.

2. Hardwood Cuttings - If you have been planning to take some Hardwood Cuttings then now is the time to get this done. You can take Hardwood Cuttings from Shrubs, Tree's and Roses but the window to do this is closing in a few weeks.

3. Hellebores  - If you love Hellebores as much as I do it's always a good idea to remove any foliage showing signs of Black Spot which helps prevent the disease taking over. It also allows more light to the emerging flower buds! If you haven't removed them already then try to get it done asap.

4. Snowdrops - If you are in a milder area of the UK and your Snowdrops are already flowering, this is the ideal time to start thinking about dividing them if the clumps are congested. Snowdrops are best divided and planted when they are 'in the green', simply dig them up when they coming to the end of flowering, split them up into smaller clumps and re-plant.

5. Sowing - Salad crops can be sown now undercover to provide you with some early lettuce and salad leaves. 

6. Apple & Pear Tree's - If your Apple & Pear Tree's have congested, badly placed, damaged or diseased branches now is your chance to prune them out. 

Thanks for stopping by, don't forget you can find all the previous Checklists on the page tab above.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Problem Area - Physiological Disorders ... Frost!

Good Morning!
I had planned to post this much earlier in the week, but due one thing after another I've only been able to post it today. Next week the following post in the series will be published earlier!
Just a Note - You can find all of the posts on Plant Pests under a tab at the top of the page if you ever need to take a look.

Following on with the Problem Area series this next part is moving on from Pests. Due to the weather we have had recently I thought today's subject would be of interest ... FROST!

Frost is known as a 'Physiological Disorder'.
This is a disturbance in the normal function of the processes within a plant i.e. involving the cells of a plant and the processes which take place within a plant. These are direct results of the natural environment, are not infectious and cannot transfer plant to plant.
It's a bit of a long post, but I hope it gives you all the information that you need.

Frost can affect many tender and newly planted plants, during late Spring and early Autumn frost causes the most damage in the British Isles. However intense Winter cold can also cause damage to less hardy plants.
Ground Frosts occur when the temperature of the ground drops below freezing point and Air Frosts occur when the temperature of the air drops below freezing point.
'Frost Pockets' are caused by cold air flowing down to the bottom of sloping ground, collecting at the lowest point or a barrier. It is beneficial to know if you have any of these areas in your gardens before you begin planting.
Once the temperature has dropped strong winds can make a frost more damaging, the cold winds remove moisture from the leaves faster than it can be replaced, leading to browning at the leaf tips. Constant thawing and re-freezing can also be particularly damaging.

If you are unsure on how to tell if your plants have affected there are a few signs to look out for.
- Flowers, Buds, Shoots and Leaves may become distorted or blackened.
- Tender young growth may be damaged by Spring frosts, resulting in scorches and pale brown patches between the veins on foliage. This tends to be mostly on the top edges / most exposed areas.
- Dahlia and Canna leaves are blackened by the first Autumn frost, which often leads to the stems collapsing.

There are a few things you can do to limit the amount of damage.
- Evergreen shrubs that are prone to frost attacks should be planted in sheltered areas or moved there if grown in pots and protected with suitable sheeting.
- Choose plants that can cope with frost. Ensuring that they are reliably hardy and suited to your growing conditions. If you do have frost pockets make sure you choose your plants wisely.
Also if you plant in areas that is exposed to early morning sun, avoid Camellia's and Magnolia's as the quick thawing can ruin the flowers and young growth.
- Don't plant out tender summer bedding until the risk of frost has passed and they have been 'hardened off'.
- Slightly tender plants should be grown in warm sunny areas, e.g. a south facing wall which will provide extra warmth and some protection during winter.
- Lift and move tender plants under cover e.g. into a Greenhouse to protect them over winter.
Make sure the Greenhouse has suitable frost protection and heating for the specific plants.
If this isn't possible with larger plants then wrapping them with fleece to form a blanket is ideal.
- Cover plants which are vulnerable to frost with fleece when it is forecast.
- Mulching in Autumn and Spring helps prevent the ground becoming frozen and helps protect the root areas of plants. Make sure when you do mulch that the ground isn't already frozen or dry, ideally mulching should be done when the soil is moist.
- Avoid cutting down the foliage of tender plants such as Penstemons until the risk of frost has passed. The foliage helps protect the plant.
- Avoid planting Apple Trees in frost pockets as frost is particularly damaging to blossom flowers. Apple blossom can be protected scrim netting.
- Avoid giving plants a nitrogen rich feed late in the season as the plant will produce soft, sappy growth which is vulnerable to frost.

Here's a few things you can do if your plants have been affected.
- Once the risk of further frosts has passed, prune out affected foliage cutting down to an undamaged sideshoot or bud. Apply a top dressing of fertiliser to the ground to encourage strong growth.
- Newly planted shrubs can be lifted out the ground by frost so check them over and firm back in if needed.
- Many plants can recover from frost damage so be patient, if re-growth hasn't happened by Summer then only then should you replace it.

I hope you have found this interesting and helpful!

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Garden Checklist ...

Good Morning!
Along with the few things I mentioned over the past couple of weeks, there are a couple of other bits and bobs you can be getting on with in the garden too.

1. Hedges - If you have hedges surrounding your garden / property this time of year is ideal to give them a good weed. This particular job easily be forgotten as once hedges are established, we do tend to take them for granted!
You will need a kneeling pad and some gloves and simply all you need to do is reach underneath the hedges and pull out any weeds that you come across along with any debris, be careful of any pieces of glass. Weeding hedges is especially important for those that are newly planted for the first three years to help prevent them having to compete with weeds for nutrients and establish properly.

2. Winter Bedding - Keeping up with dead heading is important to help prolong their flowering time and of course maintain a good plant health. Dead heading is especially important in wet weather as faded / rotting blooms can fall on up coming flower buds resulting in Botrytis and restricting flowering.

3. Soil  - If your soil isn't frozen you can get on with the job of improving your soil. Digging in good quality garden compost / manure will improve the soil by adding nutrients, improve drainage and the ability to conserve moisture. 

4. Blackcurrants - If you are growing Blackcurrants you can prune out the oldest stems from your plants to encourage new shoots.

5. Greenhouse - Due to the Winter Weather if your Greenhouse is looking a bit dirty, give the windows a clean to help improve the light quality for the plants inside. Light levels are low at this time of year so the more they can have the better.
You can also dispose of any old compost and rubbish that is past it's best within the GH as it may be providing a home for unwelcome visitors!

Thanks for stopping by, don't forget you can find all the previous Checklists on the page tab above.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

New Year, New Layout ...

Good Morning!
Following on from the last post, I thought I'd share some photo's of how the Greenhouse is looking after the two new additions! 
Straight away on the left the first thing you can spot is the Vitopod Propagator which is now set up on the wooden bench that my Father kindly made for me. It sounds strange but the Greenhouse actually feels more spacious now with those large items inside!

All I need to do now is sow some seeds and get the Propagator going!

On the opposite side you can see the plants that I am overwintering, I have since given these plants a little re-arrange, simply because some areas of the Greenhouse gets more light than other areas in winter so I don't like to keep one plant in the shadiest part (unless of course it's happy there) for too long.

The little bench at the end is holding some smaller pots of plants that I am over - wintering along with some potted bulbs, one of which, an Iris, has started coming into flower.

Thanks for stopping by, I will be back with the Garden Checklist later in the week and the Plant Series - Problem Areas will be back next week.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

New Year, New Additions ...

Good Morning!
This post is a little indulgent, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who likes to buy themselves treats once in a while!

Okay so the first thing I have to share is what I am also calling an 'investment' as it was a little pricey, but is something I will be using A LOT. 
I have bought the Double Layer, Double Size Vitopod Propagator.
Once fully assembled it will measure 55cm D x 1.1m L x 39cm H.
As you can probably guess you can get it in a smaller size that's a bit cheaper. 
(If you want to get one yourself pop me an e-mail and I'l let you know where you can buy it from with a 10% discount, which saved me just under £19)
 However I think that just like with Greenhouses, get the biggest size you can allow as you will soon fill it up! Not only can it be used for sowing seeds and propagation, it can also be used to over winter plants needing a certain temperature. Which will be cheaper than heating a full greenhouse! You can also buy additional layers if you need more height. The Propagator can be set at any temperature between 5c & 30c (ideal for germinating seeds needing high temps) and once it's up and running I'm sure you will be hearing a lot more about it! Fingers crossed you won't be too bored .....

Next up is a much cheaper addition than above, a plain notebook. 
I much prefer these to Diaries which allocate the same small amount of space to each date. Another advantage is that if you don't have anything to write for a few days it doesn't matter, you can just write the chosen date at the top of the page and having the pages blank allows for as much as space as you need and if you feel the need to, any sketches of ideas / plants that you see when out and about. Keeping a Garden Journal I think is a great way to record your success's and failures, notes on what you like or don't like, lists of seeds / plants that you have or want ... I could go on! 
It's also a great way to look back and see what was performing well at one time of year compared to the next, no matter what you think you can't remember everything lol I also prefer using a pencil to a pen as sometimes I write to quickly and get my words all jumbled up!

The New Year saw some new Gardening Books being added to my collection, if you are interested in a little light ready I would recommend any of these books. The ones on Veg & Herbs I think are also great for beginners as not only do they detail many variaties complete with botanical drawings, it also includes the history, cultivation, cooking tips and some recipes for each plant.
I just wish there were more hours in the day to get them all read! I still have some that I bought a few months before Christmas waiting to be opened ...

Finally I couldn't start the New Year off without some New Plants of course!
The Tree you can spy in the blow photograph is a Magnolia 'Black Tulip', found at a bargain price I've wanted one for ages and couldn't resist it.

There are also 3 Cornus plants, showing off their fantastic Winter Colour, 'Midwinter Fire' and 2 'Sibirica'. The pot that looks empty is hosting a Dicentra 'Aurora' which is a Herbaceous Perennial and will start to show itself in the Spring.

There were also some Hellebore Plug Plants that arrived as I'd been wanting some of the darker colours. I immediately potted them up into 9cm Pots and here's hoping they will grow into good strong plants! There are 3 'Red Lady' and 3 'Blue Metallic Lady' Lady Series. 
As you can spy they are currently sharing their spot with some rather confused Hosta's!

Whew! Well I hope I have inspired you to treat yourselves, even if it is just to a notebook!
Fingers crossed once the Propagator is all set up and the GH has been given a re-shuffle to fit it in I shall have some photo's to share.

I will also be back next week with my Garden Checklist Series and the Problem Area Series!

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

New Year Blooms ...

Good Morning!
I hope you have all enjoyed the Christmas  / New Year Break, it's flown by!
Today I thought I would share a few pics of what is currently in flower in my garden, what with all the mild weather we've had this Winter certain plants are flowering earlier than usual ... or simply haven't stopped! 
Why not take a look around your own garden and see what you can spot.

The White Speckled Hellebore I bought last year from a local garden centre is almost in full flower, a few weeks ahead than it should be.

Whereas my Hellebore 'Pink Beauty' planted in the ground is still forming buds.

Although it's not technically in flower, the brightness of the foliage of my 'Leucothoe Fontanesiana Makijaz' always catches my eye when I walk past it, especially when it's just been raining!

My Alstroemeria Inca 'Ice Koice' hasn't stopped flowering although this is the only stem with flower buds left than I can see.

I took two cuttings from my Hebe 'Pearl of Paradise' the year before last which have grown into good size plants. The one that is still remaining in a pot has started to flower this week.

Flowers have also appeared on the Viburnum 'Tinus' which is right for this time of year, the following photograph is from the plant in the back garden with just a few flowers, it was also attacked by Viburnum Beetle in the Summer. However the one planted in the border at the front of the house, albeit a bit smaller is covered in flowers!

The Euphorbia in the GH border has an early flower spike whilst the one in a pot hasn't any but looks equally impressive when it's glistening with rain.

The Winter flowering Clematis 'Winter Beauty' growing against the shed is in it's first year of flower. I've been watching the flower buds grow over the past month or so and one of them finally bloomed yesterday!

My Purple Penstemon hasn't stopped flowering since last Summer.

Nor has the Climbing Rose 'Hiedelberg'

... and finally the Iris 'George' that I have under cover in the Greenhouse is showing signs of colour!

Thanks for stopping by!