Six on Saturday – New additions

Like many of you we have been tempted by new plants over the winter months.  To be truthful there are many more than just six but these are the new additions to the garden that I have recently been getting into the ground.  As the plants are all very small or under the soil at the moment I have taken the liberty of linking to a few pictures of more mature plants (a taster of what is to come I hope!).


One:  Mahonia eurybracteata ‘Soft Caress’

From time to time we take a break from working in the garden to enjoy one of the excellent weekly lectures at Pershore College.  Many of the speakers bring along live plants to illustrate their talks and of course we cannot resist buying something.

This delightful new Mahonia is a compact evergreen shrub that has spineless leaves and grows eventually to about 1 metre by 1 metre.  We originally thought that we would grow this in a pot but to be honest we are very poor at looking after things in pots and it was beginning to look a little sickly.  It has now been planted out into the garden where I am sure it will fair much better

Photo credit:  Real time link to http://www.gardeningexpress.co.uk


Two:  Aster ericoides ‘Vimmers Delight’

Another Pershore purchase after listening to a wonderful talk on autumn flowering Asters.   We do have one or two (or more) of these already but now is a great time for lifting and dividing existing plants and planting out new ones.

We have planted this in the new flower garden alongside a number of purple varieties that we have lifted and divided from elsewhere in the garden.  It grows to around 75cm so should become a real statement in the new garden with small white flowers backed by grey foliage.  If all goes to plan, in the autumn we will have a wonderful combination of late flowering Asters to keep the new garden going long into September.

Photo credit:  Real-time link to website at Farmyard Nurseries, Dol Llan Road, Llandysul, Carmarthenshire, Wales SA44 4RL


Three:  Martagon lillies

One of the themes for this year has been to develop the small woodland area at the north end of the garden.  Carol has done a lot of clearing over the winter months and it is now time to get down to some planting.  There is already a colourful spring display of snowdrops followed by primroses, cyclamen and more recently planted Chionodoxa.

In developing this area further we have decided to introduce a large number of Martagon lillies to grow and hopefully naturalise under the trees in a sunny area on the edge of the copse.  These were certainly not cheap bulbs to buy but if it works they should create a wonderful show for many years to come

Photo credit:  Real time link to http://www.dutchbulbs.co.uk


Four:  Winter colour – Dogwood Red-stemmed (Cornus alba Sibirica) and Dogwood ‘Midwinter fire’ (Cornus sanguinea)

On the edge of the copse is a slope down to the new flower garden.  The new flower garden was originally an old grass tennis court that has been dug out to make it level.  As a result the water table reaches the surface at this point and this area is very wet indeed over the winter.  We already have some successful yellow stemmed willow in this area and to add contrast we have added a stand of two different Dogwoods to develop the area still further.

This area catches the winter sun and we hope will add colour to a part of the garden that has very little winter interest at present.

Dogwood Red-stemmed (Cornus alba Sibirica)

Photo credit:  Real-time link to Buckingham Nurseries website (www.hedging.co.uk)

Dogwood ‘Midwinter fire’ (Cornus sanguinea)

Photo credit:  Real time link to rhsplants.co.uk


Five:  Heuchera ‘Electra’ and Heuchera  ‘Peach Flambe’

In the depths of last winter we visited friends in the Shropshire countryside and I was very taken by their tubs of Heuchera which were looking wonderful outside in the weak winter sun.

As a result I decided to start developing our own small collection (always one for pinching good ideas from others).  These are the first two varieties that we are bringing on from a number of 9cm pot plants with the aim of developing some good winter colour on our patio for next year.

Heuchera ‘Electra’ Photo credit:  Real time link to http://www.dutchbulbs.co.uk

Heuchera ‘Peach Flambe’ Photo credit:  Real time link to http://www.dutchbulbs.co.uk


Six:  Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum multiflorum)

In addition to the planting of the dogwoods and the martagon lillies in the top copse we are also just about to add a stand of Solomon’s seal.  Rather than planting these out directly into the woodland we decided to start these plants off in pots.  This has worked well and we now have a large number of strong plants that we can plant out as soon as the ground is dug over and cleaned of perennial weeds and brambles.

Photo credit:  Real time link to http://www.dutchbulbs.co.uk

All of the above are about planning for the longer term.  We are unlikely to see many results this year but hopefully over the coming years we should see more colour and interest in the autumn, winter and springtime.


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

 

Advertisements

Six on Saturday in March – White

All the hedgerows are now full of white Blackthorn blossom. I usually think of May as being the ‘white’month and March as rather more towards the ‘yellow’. Although there is no doubt that the narcissus and primroses are beautiful and in full swing, there does seem to be a wide range of white blooms in the garden at the moment. Choosing just six has been rather a challenge but here are my six for this week.


One: Amelanchier lamarckii

Amelanchier is a real star of the spring garden. The white flowers last only a short time but create a wonderful cloud of fine bloom in the shrub garden. But it is not only the blooms that excel at this time of year but also the new copper foliage which looks lovely alongside the white flowers and the fresh green spring foliage of many other shrubs and trees.

P1020461


Two: Plum

The first of the orchard trees to flower is the apricot but the plum is not far behind. When we planted the orchard 25 years ago we thought that it would be good to plant something with some local provenance. This variety is ‘Warwickshire Drooper’, a yellow egg plum with a beautiful wine plum flavour. Although now quite an old tree it still produces far more plums than we can cope with. It does make a wonderful jam.

P1020459


Three: Thalia narcissus

One of our favourite narcissus is the delicate multi-headed white Thalia. Reliably returning each year they are always a pleasure and create a lovely show.

P1020450


Four: Clematis armandii

One of our earliest flowering clematis in the garden, this fragrant armandii was originally planted to climb up a large eucalyptus which has now long since died. However it is a survivor and has now adopted a variegated Pittosporum that has grown up in its place over the last couple of years.

P1020448


Five: Spirea thunbergii

We would not be without the long lasting, crisp white flowers of Spirea. They are an important part of the garden each year contrasting here with the yellow and green foliage of Euonymus fortunei Emerald ‘n’ Gold. The first of these is Spirea thunbergii (below) followed later in the year by the dramatic arching flowering stems of Spirea x arguta ‘Bridal wreath’ .

P1020447


Six: Magnolia stellata

The magnolias this year have been spectacular. The blooms do not seem to have been damaged at all by frost or rain and have lasted much longer than in previous years. Last on my list of six but certainly not least.

P1020455


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 – January blooms

In spite of the rather uninspiring grey (but mild) weather after Christmas we have been out and about in the garden cutting back and pruning ready for spring.  We have just about finished the winter pruning of the orchard, made much easier this year by the purchase of a new Niwaki tripod ladder.  Just the clearing up and shredding of the resulting pile of prunings is left to be completed.

Winter is not devoid of flowers and many of the shrubs in bloom at this time of year give off a strong fragrance to attract the few pollinating insects that are out and about.  In January you get the chance to stop and appreciate the few plants that are braving the weather.  Many are exquisite and well worth a closer look.

Here are my six for this week.


Sarcococca confusa

This small evergreen shrub, a native of western china, is producing a lovely honey scent that hangs in the air around the patio by the kitchen.

p1020305


Daphne

Again in full bloom at the moment, this slow growing shrub was originally a rooted sucker that we obtained from a relative in Cornwall.  It is now establishing well and flowers profusely every year giving a wonderful fragrance in the winter months.  Many of the plants we have collected together over the years remind us of friends and family, holidays and special garden visits.  A subject of a blog in its own right perhaps.

p1020301


Snowdrops

We really associate snowdrops with February in our garden but the first few that emerge are a real pleasure and herald the beginning of the new year.  They are such charming, perfectly formed flowers.  See last year’s more in-depth blog on snowdrops for more background and their associated folk-lore.

p1020298


Winter flowering cherry

A number of the trees around the garden mark certain events.  This particular tree was planted in memory of our very first German Shepherd Dog, Lenka.  It is a lovely reminder of her each spring.

p1020294


Helleborus orientalis

Just budding up and starting to emerge throughout the garden are our hellebores.  We love them and they seem to love it here in the garden.  We are quite happy to see them seeding new plants all over the garden and never quite know what hybrids and colours are likely to result.  (See last years blog for more background)

p1020309


Viburnum x bodnantense

Another highly reliably plant that flowers consistently year after year in the winter months and produces a lovely scent.  Yet another hardwood cutting from someone’s garden over 20 years ago (Carol and I can’t recall quite where it came from but thank you anyway if it was you!).  This now substantial shrub (nearly 8 feet in height) is situated just near the path and we enjoy its fragrance whenever we walk out into the garden at this time of year.

p1020300


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 – 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.

Winter flowering shrub with a wonderful fragrance – Daphne odora (Winter Daphne)

It is such a shame that a written blog like this cannot properly portray the rich fragrance that some plants yield.  Daphne odora certainly packs a punch.  A small, slow growing shrub with pink flowers, it is perhaps rather insignificant for most of the year.  However, it is worth its weight in gold in the garden in January and February.   Its rich perfume hangs in the air of a winter morning.  Such a pleasure.

A native of China, Daphne ordora is an evergreen shrub that will grow in either full sun or partial shade.  We have ours close to the path near to the back door so we get the chance to take in and enjoy the fragrance every time we pass by.  It likes fertile, humus rich soil that is well drained.

Because it is so slow growing we have not found it valuable for flower arranging.   In fact, the fragrance is so powerful when in an enclosed room that many might find it too intense.

Why do some plants flower in the depth of the winter when most days are far too cold for pollinating insects to fly?  I am glad they do.  Experience here (Warwickshire UK) suggests that it only takes a short period of winter sunshine and the bees are duly summoned by the perfume (evidence below).  Because there are so few plants flowering there will be less competition for the attention of the pollinating insects that do brave the weather.

If you don’t currently have one of these in your garden it is certainly worth having a go.

Evergreen shrub

Family:  Thymelaeaceae

Origin:  China

Hardiness:  RHS hardiness rating H4 (Hardy through most of the UK (-10 to -5))

Toxicity:  Poisonous

Honey Bee on Daphne odora on 28 January 2018
Honey Bee on Daphne odora on 28 January 2018 (Warwickshire UK)

 

Madame Alfred Carrière – our damsel in distress

Our large Madame Alfred Carrière rose is at least 15 years old and may be approaching 20.  It is a truly beautiful rose with large white flowers with a blush of pink and a sweet delicious fragrance.  It is a repeat flowering rose starting in June with a tremendous flush of flowers and continuing throughout the summer until October if the weather is kind.

Popular since Victorian times, Madame Alfred Carrière is a rose from the Noisette group which have virtually thornless stems and fragrant double flowers.  It seems to be very healthy and copes very well with its exposed location with virtually no protection from south-westerly winds.

Originally we planted this rose to climb up a pink cherry tree and provide a continuity of flowers after the spring cherry blossom had faded.  The cherry tree is alas long gone having died and rotted away.  We so love the Madame Alfred Carrière that we really wanted to find a way of allowing it to continue even though its support had gone.

The rose now grows up within a metal frame and its long arching branches cascade from the top.  However, this climber certainly grows strongly each year and the metal tubular frame is really not man enough for the job.  To help provide greater strength we have placed a large chestnut stake in the centre to give it greater strength and depth into the soil.

When in full leaf the structure has to carry a huge weight and the winds in late October have taken their toll.

DSCF8421

Left to its own devices I think it would not have lasted the winter in this exposed part of the garden.  Drastic action therefore had to be taken to release the weight of the top foliage and straighten up the metal frame.

DSCF8424

It doesn’t look pretty I admit but this severe pruning is really the only way to give it a chance over winter.  From experience it is a really tough plant and has bounced back in previous years.  Next spring new fresh shoots will emerge and in no time it will be growing strongly again with bright green, clean foliage.

Madame Alfred Carrière is a wonderful garden rose and a much admired treasure in the here at Waverley.  We don’t find it a useful cut flower because it drops its petals too quickly and has flimsy stems but it would make good petal confetti.

Cotoneaster and Pyracantha: Loved by the birds, florists and gardeners alike

 

Looking out across the garden in the autumn sunshine on this November morning  it is the Cotoneasters and Pyracantha that are some of the star plants of the moment.  Their red and orange berries give a spark of colour to the yellow autumn hues of the hedgerow trees.

Perhaps rather over used in municipal planting, especially Cotoneaster, there are many interesting cultivars and species to choose from both to add interest in the garden and for use in floral arrangements.

For an added bonus these shrubs bring the garden wildlife right up to the house windows.  It is such a pleasure watching the birds feeding on the Pyracantha.  This morning in just a few minutes we saw a pair of the most beautiful Bullfinches (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) in their red plumage, a Dunnock (Prunella modularis) and a Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) all feeding together. Blackbirds (Turdus merula) and Redwings (Turdus iliacus) are also regular visitors whilst the Blue Tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) shelter on the branches whilst busily feeding on the insects on the window panes and under the roof tiles.

Varieties in the garden at Waverley

We are not entirely sure of the species and varieties we have here at Honey Pot Flowers so please feel free to comment if you think we have got the identification wrong.

Cotoneaster Cornubia (Cotoneaster X watereri ‘Cornubia’)

This is quite a large fast growing shrub with dramatic arching branches and long willow like leaves.  It has large showy clusters of red berries that stay on the plant much later than the ‘wild’ types of Cotoneaster that we have around the garden.  It is semi-evergreen and has glossy dark green lanceolate shaped leaves which are clean and free from disease.

Cotoneaster 'Cornubia'
Cotoneaster ‘Cornubia’ in the Honey Pot Flowers garden in mid-November

Cotoneaster Rothschildianus (Cotoneaster salicifoilus ‘Rothschildianus’)

Very similar in habit to Cornubia but has creamy-yellow berries.  It is semi-evergreen in our garden with a lovely arching habit.  The berries hold well.

Cotoneaster Rothschildianus
Cotoneaster Rothschildianus in mid-November in the garden at Waverley

Pyracantha

Related to the Cotoneasters, these plants come in a wide range of colours and the name of our variety is lost in the mists of time.  Ours has orange/red berries and masses of white flowers in early June.  By pure luck we have a dog rose climbing up amongst it and the pretty pink flowers of the rose complement the Pyracantha flowers wonderfully.  It is a big plant and needs regular cutting back (probably more cutting back than we actually get around to) but it has vicious spikes and needs carefully handling.  It is not something that you can put through the shredder and spread on the flower beds as mulch as the thorns remain and get in the dogs’ feet.

Pyracantha
Pyracantha laden with berries in November attracting bullfinches, redwings, thrushes and blackbirds

Floristry

Cotonesters are very useful as foliage throughout the year and can add that additional Christmas feel in November and December.  Their long arching habit and well behaved upward facing foliage make them extremely useful in large floral arrangements for large table centrepieces, door wreaths, church archways and pedestal arrangements.

Ideally the stems should be cut fresh in the morning.  You should slit the stem (about 1 inch) before conditioning for 24-48 hours in clean fresh water with flower food if you have it.  Slitting the stem helps the water uptake.  Even if the stem tips drop at first they will soon perk up over a 24 hour period.  Refresh the water every 24 hours if you are not using immediately.

Cotoneaster foliage
Arching cotoneaster foliage complementing orange and white fragrant roses, sweet william and campanula

Unlike Pyracantha and Berberis, which are very spikey and need to have the spines removed before using, Cotoneaster stems are thornless and therefore much less time consuming (and painful) to work with.

If you want to get to the berries before the birds you can pick them and keep them in water for a good few weeks in a cool place.  Remember to keep changing the water every few days.

Family:  Rosaceae

Origin:  According to Wikipedia Pyrancantha coccinae ranges from North Eastern Spain to Northern Iran whilst the Cotoneasters originate from areas across temperate Asia, Europe and North Africa.

Hardiness:  According to the RHS, Cotoneaster ‘Cornubia’ and Pyracantha are graded as H6 (Hardy in all of UK and northern europe -20 °C to -15 °C)

Propagation

We have always had great success in propagating Cotoneasters by taking hardwood cutting in the Autumn.  Take about a 9 inch cutting (about a pencil thinkness) from mature wood, cutting cleanly just above a node at the top and just below a node at the bottom.  Cut the stem at an angle at the top to help you remember which way up the cutting needs to be planted.

Put the cutting(s) the right way up either into a nursery bed in the ground or into a deep pot filled with a well drained, loam based compost (the deep rose flowerpots are ideal for this).  You can put a number of cuttings into a single pot.  The cuttings should be at least two-thirds of their length under the soil.

Water in well and place them outside where you can look after them.  They will stay in the pot or ground for about 12 months before you pot them on.  Just let them grow leaves and roots during the summer, watering as necessary, and then pot up in the autumn into individual pots or if the roots are big enough into the garden.

Offer any spare ones to your friends!  You will have many more than you need.

Pruning

Pruning in the right way at the right time is critical to maintaining the flowers and ultimately the berries.

With Pyracantha the flowers (and subsequently the berries) are formed on short spur growths on the previous year’s growth.  Any new growth in mid to late summer will need to be left to mature in order to produce the next seasons flowers and berries.

With Cotoneaster ‘Cornubia’ it is the open branching structure that is so attractive and it is probably best to avoid pruning excessively other than to remove wayward or damaged branches that look out of place.  If you want to reduce the size or thin out the tree we typically use the ‘one-third’ technique on many shrubs.  Each year you remove one-third of the older stems leaving the majority intact.  The next year you remove another one-third of the old stems (leaving any new ones) and the same again in the third year.  In this way you slow reduce the size of the shrub each year but it will still flower and look good in the garden.

Birdlife

We haven’t managed to capture footage of the male bullfinch yet but here are a couple of clips of a female Bullfinch and Redwing enjoying the Pyracantha berries in mid-November.

Further reading

RHS “Pruning” by Christopher Bricknell (ISBN 1-85732-902-3)