Crinum x powelli ‘Album’

Every year we enjoy searching through the catalogues and are nearly always tempted to try something a little different that we have not grown before.  In March 2018 we bought three Crinum x powelli ‘Album’ bulbs to see if we could successfully grow these dramatic plants with their large white trumpet flowers.

Although they are classed as fully hardy we thought we would be cautious and plant them in pots at first.  This would allow us to move them into the polytunnel in winter to give them some additional protection.  Crinum bulbs are simply enormous and so we had to get hold of some suitably large terracotta pots. We planted the bulbs in a mix of ⅔ John Innes No 3 compost and ⅓ perlite. We used perlite (instead of grit) to add extra drainage but also to reduce the overall weight.

Crinum bulb with 2p piece for scale
Huge Crinum bulb with 2p piece for scale

The plants grew well in the first year producing a profusion of large strappy leaves but no flowers.  We were warned that we might need to be patient (something we find a bit difficult!) and allow them to settle in.  Last year however, in early August, we were rewarded with the most wonderful display of large white trumpet flowers.  We had up to eight flowers per stem, opening in succession, on tall study stems.  They looked wonderful amongst the dahlias and blue agapanthus.

Over winter we have been protecting the pots in our cold polytunnel and I came across them yesterday as I was moving a number of small fruit trees.  They look comfortably dormant at the moment but it struck me that it might be timely to read up on how to prepare them for the coming season.

Anna Pavord’s book ‘Bulb’¹ advises that in the wild Crinums grow on the banks of streams or along lake shores. They require full sun but also require moist but well drained, organic rich soil.  Bearing in mind that the books also indicate that they hate root disturbance I think that I will carefully scrap away the top layer of soil and and give them a top dressing of fresh compost ready for the new year.

As the plants grow to 36 inches in height I think I probably need to be better at feeding and watering them next year.  I must admit that once the summer is in full swing we don’t always feed plants as much as we probably should.  However, I think I must try harder if these Crinums are to have all they need to grow their large leaves, flower profusely and maintain the bulb for the following year.

These are such lovely plants and if you have the space I would certainly recommend that you give them a go.

P1030237 Crinum
Picture taken on 3 August

Further information

Family: Amaryllidaceae

Hybrid: Crinum x powellii is a hybrid cross between C. moorei and C. bulbispermum

Further reading

¹ “Bulb” by Anna Pavord (ISBN 978-1-84533-415-4)

 

 

 

 

 

Six on Saturday – June begins

There are so many lovely things happening in the garden at the moment that it has proved really difficult to decide what to include here today.  I’ve tried in this six to simply give an idea of six contrasting parts of the garden.


One:  Hesperis matronalis (Sweet Rocket)

I am delighted with how this bed of sweet rocket has performed this year.  Growing to about 4 feet in height this mix of the white and purple plants has flowered for weeks.  As a biennial planted last June it is well worth the effort and the space.  The scent, particularly in the evening, just hangs in the air and always strikes you as you pass the summer house.

It is nearly time to start sowing again so I can enjoy it all again next year.  I usually sow biennials around the summer solstice so that the plants are large enough to plant out by the autumn equinox.

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Two:  Cornus kousa

This Japanese (or Chinese) dogwood is a small tree that seems to start the year well and then later in the year starts to struggle a little.  Perhaps its position in the garden is not ideal but it has survived for many years now.  It is particularly striking at the moment and is ‘flowering’ well.  I say ‘flowering’ as it is the crisp white bracts against the fresh green leaves that produce the show rather than the small yellow-green flowers that are rather inconspicuous.  I think it looks really good against the grey-green leaves of the eucalyptus behind.  All planned of course!

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Three:  The new flower garden

Regular visitors to the blog will know that we have retired from commercial flower growing and are converting the old (rather utilitarian) production space into a new more aesthetically pleasing flower garden.  It has been a lot of hard work but this year it is really taking off.

The Chandelier (yellow) and Noble Maiden (white) lupins sown from seed last year have established well and look wonderful.  Here they are planted amongst dutch iris in blues, whites and yellows and set off by the lime green of the Euphorbia oblongata which seeds itself freely around the plot but sets off other plants beautifully.

The delphiniums, Aconitum and roses are all budding up and can be seen here as well and will create the follow on display.

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Four:  Anthriscus sylvestris in the copse

Some may consider Cow Parsley a weed but we love it, encouraging it to grow freely in the dappled shade of the woodland areas of the garden.  It is a delight to walk through this area in the early morning sun.

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Five:   Amsonia

One of our pleasures in life, when we are not gardening, is to visit other peoples gardens!  This time last year we came across Amsonia when the village of Wasperton opened its gardens in aid of the local church.  We just had to have one but struggled to find it in any of the local nurseries.

However, as usual, Avondale nurseries came up trumps.  This nursery in Baginton on the outskirts of Coventry is always worth a visit.  Take some money with you though as I promise you will be tempted with something.

Having found Amsonia at last we could not buy just one.  I am happy to report that both have survived the winter and started to flower.  I am really looking forward to seeing them develop over the years.

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Six:  Valerian

I have always known Valerian as Centranthus rubra but Wikipedia seems to list it as Valeriana officinalis at the moment.  It is very common and easy to grow but placed in the right location it can create a stunning display especially when you mix up the slightly different shades of red, pink and white.

Here we have a patch in a very dry area of poor soil in hot sun just above the garage.  It creates a beautiful cottage garden display at this time of year growing amongst the self sown Aquilegia, the Bearded Iris and Oriental Poppies.  The white of the Spirea immediately behind provides a lovely back drop.

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

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.

 

 

Zaluzianskya – Twilight Scent

Last autumn we were inspired by Lia Leendertz’s book Twilight Garden¹ and we undertook to increase the number of plants and flowers that come into their own in the evening light. Our aim was to increase the impact of the garden as the sun goes down adding walk ways of light and scented flowers around the garden and, in particular, in areas where we sit of an evening.

This summer has proved to be perfect – hot and dry and ideal for sitting out on those long balmy evenings.

There are a number of plants listed in Lia’s book that we have not come across before. One of these is Zaluzianskya or Night Phlox. It is a rather uninspiring plant during the heat of the day as all the flowers close up showing only the maroon undersides of the petals. Come the evening however, the flowers open into a myriad of shining white stars that seem to glow in the fading light. Their wonderful scent begins to hang in the air. Scents are often difficult to describe but we both feel the scent of Zaluzianskya is interestingly different from many other flowers. To my mind it is a complex aroma of honey and sweets with a spicy edge.

The species that we have grown from seed is Zaluzianskya capensis ‘Midnight Candy’ ( available from Chiltern Seeds ). Lia’s book talks also of a different species Zaluzianskya ovata which we may well try next year having had so much success with Z. capensis this year.

If you are looking to bring a new dimension to your garden in the evening this is something fun to try. It will certainly be a talking point if you use your garden for sitting out and entertaining.

On using Zaluzianskya as a cut flower the jury is still out. It does cut and we have placed it in water in small ‘jam-jar’ arrangements. The flowers do seem to open in the evening for a dinner party but we have found that the scent does not seem to be as intense as from those flowers opening in the fresh air on the patio. Why we are not yet sure. Our conclusion so far is therefore to grow it in small pots so that you can bring out the potted plants and place them strategically where you want them.

Well worth having a try if you have not grown this before.

Latin name: Zaluzianskya capensis

Height: 45cm

Hardy annual

Common name: Night Phlox

Native origins: South Africa

Family: Scrophulariaceae

Further Reading

¹ “Twilight garden – a guide to enjoying your garden in the evening hours” by Lia Leendertz (ISBN 9781862059115)

 


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.