Zinnia elegans – a hot climate plant from Mexico loving the 2018 UK heatwave

One flowering annual that has thoroughly enjoyed the hot weather this year has been the Zinna.  Whereas the Dahlias appear to have been delayed this year the Zinnias have produced tall, strong, clean plants with masses of excellent quality flowers.

Zinnia Lilliput Purple P1010994
Zinnia elegans ‘Lilliput Purple’

I must admit that in previous years my Zinnas have struggled and if you get a cool period they just seem to sulk.  In order to try and improve their chances in the future, even in cooler years, here are a few things to consider.

  • Grown from seed Zinnia will germinate in 3-5 days at 27-29°C and 5-7 days at 21-24°C.¹
  • The seedlings should be grown on with night time temperatures of 15-18°C and day time temperatures of 21°C.¹
  • Zinnas dislike root disturbance so ideally the seeds should be sown in individual modules to reduce disturbance at the planting out stage.
  • Plant out at a spacing of around 6 inches apart.  The denser the spacing the taller the plants.¹
  • Zinnas are quantitative short day plants (see How plants use day length to decide when to flower (Photoperiodism) ).  This means that they flower more rapidly under short days but eventually flower regardless of photoperiod.   Long days (greater than 12 hours) produce longer stems but delay flowering.  Similarly if you plant a succession of Zinnas after the longest day they will flower on shorter stems.¹
  • Benzakein⁴ emphasises the importance of pinching out the central flower bud when the plants are 18 inches tall to encourage the development of lower branches on the plant.
  • Zinnas do seem to be prone to powdery mildew particularly if growing in conditions where hot days are followed by cool damp nights.  Over watering can cause similar problems.
  • If you are growing for cutting, pick the flowers before the pollen matures.  If you can see fluffy, mature pollen the chances are the bees have done their job and the flower is now redundant and will wither to allow the seed to develop.
  • There seems to be a difference in view as to whether Zinnas like ‘flower food’ or not.  Beutler² states very clearly that they do not like floral preservative whilst Benzakein⁴ is an advocate of its use with Zinnas.
  •  Zinnas are long lasting in water but will wilt rapidly out of water and it is reported that they do not work well in corsages and buttonholes.²

In reality there is little that many of us can do about the great British weather and in some years different species will grow better than others.  Certainly Zinnas like it hot and starting to grow the seeds too early if you don’t have the facilities to keep them warm can reduce your chances of success.

Benary's Giant Wine
Zinna elegans ‘Benary’s Giant Wine’

Keep in mind that Zinnia elegans is a warm-hot climate plant native to Mexico growing in scrub and dry grassland.  Not every year will be suitable for them here in the UK but their bright vivid colours in late summer are certainly striking when conditions are right.

Half Hardy Annual

Origin:  Mexico

Height:  60-90cm

Flowering period:  July to October

Latin name:  Zinnia elegans (after botanist Johann Gottfried Zinn (1727-1759)) ¹

Family:  Asteraceae   (Tribe:  Heliantheae – Sunflowers)

Further reading

¹  “Specialty Cut Flowers” by Armitage and Laushman (ISBN:  0-88192-579-9)

²  “Garden to Vase” by Linda Beutler (ISBN: 978-0-88192-825-9)

³  “The Cutting Garden” by Sarah Raven (ISBN: 978-0-7112-3465-9)

⁴  “Cut Flower Garden” by Erin Benzakein and Julie Chai (ISBN: 978-1-4521-4576-1)

Advertisements

Cornish Gardens – Six on Saturday

Having relatives in Cornwall we have been regular visitors over the years, seeing it at its worst in the depths of winter and at its best in spring when the lanes are full of spring flowers.

Each time we go we try to spend some time visiting gardens as well as walking on the moors.  We like to seek out gardens that we have not seen before but also like to revisit old friends to see how they change throughout the seasons.

Cornish gardens are many and varied but could often be characterised by their rhododendrons, magnolias and camellias in the spring and massive blossoming hydrangeas in late summer.  The climate certainly lends itself to growing more tender plants that may not be able to be grown ‘up country’.  However, the wind does certainly blow in the winter months and for those that garden in this county a lot of effort is placed on creating effective wind breaks to protect plants.

Here are a selection of six gardens that we have enjoyed on our visits to Cornwall.  As dog owners a key features has been that our four-legged friends can enjoy the visit with us.


One:  Trebah Garden ( www.trebah-garden.co.uk )

I think this is probably one of our favourite gardens of recent times.  A beautiful sub-tropical garden wending its way down the valley towards the sea.  Excellent for dogs and most importantly a great restaurant for lunch!

Trebah Gardens in August
Trebah Gardens in August
Looking up the valley at Trebah Gardens in August
Looking up the valley at Trebah Gardens in August

Location:  Mawnan Smith, Falmouth TR11 5JZ


Two:  Pinsla Garden ( pinslagarden.net )

Compared to some of the other gardens listed here this is a relatively small garden but one that has enormous charm.  Described as a ‘romantic artist’s garden’ it is full of interesting plants, sculptures and landscaping features around every corner.

Photo credit:  https://www.greatbritishgardens.co.uk

Location:  Glynn, Nr Cardinham, Bodmin PL30 4AY


Three:  Pencarrow House and Gardens ( pencarrow.co.uk )

The Italian Garden at Pencarrow in August 2018
The Italian Garden at Pencarrow in August 2018

Situated on the edge of Bodmin Moor the very formal Italianate gardens of the Georgian mansion are very different from many of the other Cornish gardens listed in this six.  The elegance of the garden fits the regency style beautifully and you can just imagine the well dressed visitors travelling up the valley to view the managed landscape garden.

Valley river garden at Pencarrow in August
Valley river garden at Pencarrow in August

Although many gardens now allow dogs on leads this is by far the most dog friendly garden and estate we have been to for a long time.  Walking through the woodland on the estate off the lead was a real pleasure.

Location:  Washaway, Bodmin PL30 3AG


Four:  Ken-Caro Garden

An interesting garden with lily ponds and wonderful views across the valley towards Dartmoor.  We visited in August but I suspect that like many Cornish gardens it would be worth visiting when the magnolias, azaleas and rhododendrons are at their best.   Dogs on leads allowed.

Ken Caro garden ponds in August
Ken Caro garden ponds in August
View across the valley from Ken Caro Gardens in August 2018
View across the valley from Ken Caro Gardens in August 2018

Location:  Bicton, St Ive, Nr Liskeard PL14 5RF


Five:  The Lost Gardens of Heligan ( www.heligan.com )

Heligan in May
Heligan in May

This is one of Cornwall’s major tourist attractions and we had been rather reticent to go in case it was just too full of people.  However, with over 200 acres of gardens and estate it just soaks up the people and we found it to be a thoroughly enjoyable visit with a mix of relaxed Cornish sub-tropical gardens and more formal fruit and vegetable gardens.  Once again this garden is dog friendly.

Heligan 2- May
Walled garden at Heligan in May

Location: Pentewan, St.Austell PL26 6EN


Six:  Pinetum Gardens (previously Pine Lodge)  ( www.pinetumgardens.com )

Pine Lodge 2 - May
Japanese Garden at Pine Lodge in May

This is a garden we have visited on numerous occasions over the years and it never fails to please.  At different times of year it has very different things to offer.  I can remember us being totally blown away with the white wisteria bridge when we first visited and on subsequent occasions have noticed the huge range of unusual plants that we had not noticed on previous visits.  The Japanese garden is a real gem and more recently we have enjoyed watching the winter garden develop.  Well worth a visit.

Pinetum Garden in August
Pinetum Garden in August
Pinetum Garden in May
Pinetum Garden in May

Location: Holmbush, St Austell PL25 3RQ


 

The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to see what other plant lovers are chatting about.

Six on Saturday – Climbing Roses

A few weeks ago I had pleasure in illustrating a number of the Rambling Roses that were doing particularly well this year. This time it is the turn of the climbing roses.

In general the climbing roses tend to be less vigorous and are usually more likely to be repeat flowering than the ramblers.

Choosing just six has been difficult but here is my selection for this week.


One: Compassion

Rose 'Compassion'
Rose ‘Compassion’

Two: Constance Spry

P1010640 Constance Spry (C)
Rose’ Constance Spry’ with Foxglose ‘Elsey Kelsey’ in the foreground

Three: Arthur Bell

Rose 'Arthur Bell'
Rose ‘Arthur Bell’

Four: Madame Alfred Carrière

Picture_0361


Five: Sombreuil

Rose 'Sombreuil' growing alongside Rose 'Constance Spry'
Rose ‘Sombreuil’ (foreground) growing alongside Rose ‘Constance Spry’ in the old rose garden

Six: Mermaid

Rose 'Mermaid'
Rose ‘Mermaid’

The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to see what other plant lovers are chatting about.


Honey Pot Flowers are wedding and celebration florists based in Warwickshire in the United Kingdom specialising in natural, locally grown seasonal flowers. We grow many of our own flowers allowing us to offer something very different and uniquely personal.

Liatris

As we move towards late July we see a whole range of new plants coming to the fore.  Many of these have their origin on prairie grasslands.  One such plant is Liatris (common names Gay Feather or Blazing Star) which has its origins in the eastern United States of America.

Liatris is a hardy perennial which produces a number of thin, upright spikes of flowers growing out of clumps of narrow, grass-like leaves.  Both the purple and white versions are currently looking good in the garden despite the hot dry weather.

White Liatris growing with white Limonium
White Liatris showing the grass like leaves growing with white Limonium in the background

Rather surprisingly perhaps, Liatris is a member of the Asteraceae (the daisy family).  The flower spikes open from the top downwards and so if being used for arranging need to be cut early before the top of the flower spike has begun to turn brown.  In the garden this is less important and the flowers bring colour to the border for much longer.  Liatris provides good, strong vertical interest in both the border and in floral arrangements.

The plants die back completely in the winter and so it is useful to mark their position to avoid disturbing them when preparing the beds for other plants over the winter months.  Propagation by division in the spring is very straight forward and you will bulk up your plants very quickly.  They seem to thrive best when grown in full sun in moisture retentive soil but even in the parched soil of 2018 they still seem to be surviving pretty well.

Purple Liatris opens initially from the top of the flower
Purple Liatris opens initially from the top of the flower

As a cut flower the Liatris has a long vase life if conditioned correctly.  Nothing special is required, simply cut in the early morning and condition in cool water with flower food.  It is particularly important to remove any leaves blow the water level as these will discolour the water.

Hardy Perennial

Latin name:  Liatris spicata

Height: 60cm – 90cm

Family:  Asteraceae

Origin:  Eastern USA

Flowering period:  July to September


Honey Pot Flowers are wedding and celebration florists based in Warwickshire in the United Kingdom specialising in natural, locally grown seasonal flowers. We grow many of our own flowers allowing us to offer something very different and uniquely personal.

Six on Saturday: July Butterflies

There is so much movement in the garden on these very warm sunny days.  It is just lovely to see the butterflies flitting from flower to flower and amongst the long grass.

Photographing them is more of a challenge but here are six that I have managed to capture in the last few days.


One:  Comma (Polygonia c-album) (Family: Nymphalidae)

Comma butterfly on grape vine
Comma butterfly on grape vine

This second picture shows the very characteristic white comma on the underside of the wing that gives it is common name.

Comma butterfly on grape vine showing distinctive 'comma' on underwing
Comma butterfly on grape vine showing distinctive ‘comma’ on underwing

Two:  Large white (Pieris brassicae) (Family: Pieridae)

Large White butterfly on Verbena bonariensis
Large White butterfly on Verbena bonariensis

Three:  Peacock  (Inachis io) (Family: Nymphalidae)

Peacock butterfly on Lysimachia Clethroides
Peacock butterfly on Lysimachia Clethroides

Four: Small White (Pieris rapae) (or possibly Wood White) (Family: Pieridae)

This white butterfly is very much smaller than the Large White and seems to rarely land to have its photograph taken.  I am not entirely sure which species this is so happy to be corrected.

Small White (or possibly wood white) on buddleja
Small White (or possibly wood white) on buddleja

Five:  Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina) (Family: Nymphalidae)

Meadow Brown butterfly on Lysimachia clethroides
Meadow Brown butterfly on Lysimachia clethroides

Six:  Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus)  (Family: Nymphalidae)

Gatekeeper butterfly on Lysimachia Clethroides
Gatekeeper butterfly on Lysimachia Clethroides

In addition there have been others over the last week or so that I have not yet been able to photograph.  These include the yellow Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell and Speckled Wood


The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to see what other plant lovers are chatting about.


Honey Pot Flowers are wedding and celebration florists based in Warwickshire in the United Kingdom specialising in natural, locally grown seasonal flowers. We grow many of our own flowers allowing us to offer something very different and uniquely personal.

The new rose garden begins to flower – very exciting!

When we started this blog last September we described our dreams and plans to create a beautiful new flower garden.  Our intention was to move away from a cut garden focused purely on growing cut flowers for sale in regimented straight beds to a more aesthetically pleasing space, still a cutting garden but somewhere that you want to stop, sit and enjoy.

During the winter we spent many hours preparing the ground and setting out the new layout, planting the new formal hedging and building the new rose arches.  In March we started to plant out all the new roses we had spent many happy hours choosing from the catalogues.

Despite all the challenges with the weather during the long cold, wet winter and now the heat and drought of mid-summer, the new roses are developing wonderfully.  Behind the new short clipped hedge we have planted a selection of pink and white roses ranging from deep dusky pink through mid-pink to pure white.  All have been chosen for their scent, repeat flowering and suitability for cutting.

All four varieties have been flowering for some weeks now and with regular dead heading are continuing to repeat flower.  The foliage seems to be disease free so far.

Here are the four varieties we have planted in this area:

Rose "Sweet Parfum de Provence"
Rose “Sweet Parfum de Provence”
Rose "Prince Jardinier"
Rose “Prince Jardinier”
Rose "A Whiter Shade of Pale"
Rose “A Whiter Shade of Pale”
Rose "White Perfumella"
Rose “White Perfumella”

We have written previously about our plans for enhancing the garden in the evenings with white blooms that shine out in the dusk and with scent that hangs in the air ( Zaluzianskya – Twilight Scent ).  These light coloured blooms have been introduced as part of these plans with the aim of illuminating the walk around the garden at dusk.


Honey Pot Flowers are wedding and celebration florists based in Warwickshire in the United Kingdom specialising in natural, locally grown seasonal flowers. We grow many of our own flowers allowing us to offer something very different and uniquely personal.

 

 

Six on Saturday – Rambling Roses

The weather this year has certainly suited the roses.  The lack of rain has meant that the flowers have lasted well.  Roses are notorious for petal damage and mummification of unopened buds if there is too much rain.

I have been rather spoilt for choice in selecting this week’s Six on Saturday roses from the garden so have limited my choice to “Rambling” roses this week  (There is a strong possibility that it might be the “climbers” next week!).   I have to say that I am not always that clear on whether a rose is a”rambler” or a “climber” so have turned to the David Austin roses catalogue as reference.

According to David Austin Roses, climbers generally have larger blooms and are not as vigorous as ramblers.  Whereas most climbers repeat flower most ramblers do not.  However, as with everything there are exceptions to the rule!

Here are my six for this week:


One:  Paul’s Himalayan Musk

Paul's Himalayan Musk (Rambling Rose) amongst the purple Berberis foliage
Paul’s Himalayan Musk (Rambling Rose) amongst the purple Berberis foliage

Two:  Emily Gray

Emily Gray (Rambling rose)
Emily Gray (Rambling rose)

Three:  Veilchenblau (growing with Seagull)

Veilchenblau (blue/purple) and Seagull (white) - both rambling roses
Veilchenblau (blue/purple) and Seagull (white) – both rambling roses

Four:   Francis E. Lester

Francis E. Lester (Rambling Rose)
Francis E. Lester (Rambling Rose)

Five:  Little Rambler

Little Rambler
Little Rambler

Six:  American Pillar

P1010713 American Pillar (R)
American Pillar (Rambling Rose)

The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to see what other plant lovers are chatting about.


Honey Pot Flowers are wedding and celebration florists based in Warwickshire in the United Kingdom specialising in natural, locally grown seasonal flowers. We grow many of our own flowers allowing us to offer something very different and uniquely personal.