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Amateur Gardening — 09 January 2018

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Grow better
begonias!
Witch heastzfoerl
9 of the b
colour and shape
Amateur
20 JANUARY 2018
This week!
OSowing sweet peas
OCheck stored tubers
OPrevent ‘blind’ daffs
OPlant trees
6 of the
best RHS
spuds!
How to
make
a veg
clamp
Rosemary care tips
Gorgeous
primulas
How to cut
back rose 16 fantastic varieties
bushes
for your borders
Grow polyanthes for scent – top tips from Anne
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This week in
SUBSCRIBE TODAY!
Amateur
Page 56 for our special offer
Call
or:
20 JANUARY 2018
0330 333 1113
amateurgardeningsubs.co.uk
Alamy
Jobs for this week
6
“For the best daffs, prepare
the ground well,” says Ruth
4
6
7
8
12
21
WHY IT’S ALL ABOUT TREES
Planting container-grown and bare-root trees and shrubs
WHY DON’T MY DAFFS HAVE FLOWERS?
Ruth looks at the causes and remedies of ‘blind’ spring bulbs
MORE SWEET PEAS PLEASE
Time to sow more seeds and care for seedlings
UNDERCOVER HOUSEKEEPING
Ruth reminds gardeners to check their tender plants
PUT UP A NEST BOX IN TIME FOR SPRING
Garden birds need all the help they can get, says Ruth
TRIMMING ROSES AND PERENNIALS
It’s time to tidy up your hardy border heroes
Great garden ideas
Alamy
22
“We pick six of the tastiest early
AGM potatoes,” says Graham
22
26
28
32
52
NEW SERIES: PICK OF THE VERY BEST!
Graham Rice chooses his six top RHS AGM early potatoes
PICKING THE RIGHT APPLE
Plant an apple tree and you can join the January wassail
ADD SPRING CHEER WITH PRIMULAS
How to make the most of this varied and colourful species
LIGHT UP THE WINTER GARDEN WITH WITCH HAZEL
Hamamelis offers flowers, fragrance, colour and shape
GET THE LOOK
A hillside setting offers a variety of growing environments
Gardening wisdom
Alamy
28
“Add spring cheer with
primulas,” says Louise
10
15
16
19
37
38
42
46
50
59
PETER SEABROOK
How to grow better and bigger begonias
BOB FLOWERDEW
Don’t upset your year by slipping on ice
LUCY CHAMBERLAINS’S FRUIT AND VEG
Force Witloof chicory, sow broad beans, protect veg in a clamp
VAL BOURNE’S GARDEN WILDLIFE
February is the best time to see garden birds, says Val
ANNE’S MASTERCLASS
How to sort out a sickly rosemary
YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Clematis wilt, autumn raspberries, gnat attack, hairy invader
HOW TO GROW POLIANTHES
Include these richly perfumed plants in your garden
A GARDENER’S MISCELLANY
Puzzles and peculiarities to amuse you
YOUR LETTERS
Daisy power, hedges crossing boundaries, desert island picks
TOBY BUCKLAND
Choose a rose using your head, not your heart
Reader offers and product tests
42
“Grow richly perfumed
polianthes,” says Anne
GIVE A GIFT SUBSCRIPTION!
Page 36 for our special offer
Call
0330 333 1113
or: amateurgardeningsubs.co.uk
41
44
UNIQUE MULTI-TONAL HYDRANGEA OFFER
Buy three plants and save £19.98
TRIED AND TESTED
We test five log sawhorses
“The RHS’s AGM is the gold standard for
quality, but which of those awarded is best for
you? See page 22 for the start of a great new
weekly series in which we pick the six best of
every plant variety from RHS AGM winners.”
Garry Coward-Williams, Editor
20 JANUARY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
3
Gardening Week
with AG’s gardening expert Ruth Hayes
Plant trees at the right
depth, as deep as their
rootball or up to the
soil tidemark on bareroot plants. They will
not thrive if planted too
deep or shallow.
Step
by step
Planting
pot-grown
trees
Tread the soil to
firm in the tree
1
Dig a hole as deep as the tree’s
container and slightly wider.
Fork up the base and add some
well-rotted compost or manure.
Mulch around container trees
and make sure the pots are
raised on feet
Why it’s all about trees
Late winter is the last chance to plant bare-root whips
and the best time for other plantings, says Ruth
2
Having placed the tree in water
to saturate its rootball, gently
ease it from its pot and tease out
any tangled or circling roots.
T
HE prime time to plant trees
or manure. If your soil is heavy clay
is during the dormant weeks
or frequently becomes waterlogged,
of winter. This is especially
make sure you buy trees suited to the
important for bare-root trees,
conditions. Alternatively, plant the tree
which are usually only available until
on a mound around 1ft (30cm) high and
around the end of February.
3ft (1m) in diameter.
Container-grown trees
Post-planting care is critical.
and shrubs can go in the
Don’t let your tree dry out,
ground at any time of
but also don’t over-water
year, providing the
it as this can starve the
soil isn’t frozen or
roots of oxygen. To get
waterlogged. However,
the balance right, slide
winter is the optimum
the blade of a trowel
season as the ground
down through the soil
is damp and the
to gauge how much
plants have time to get
moisture is present.
This is a good time to
established and settle thei
Keep the planting area
plant fruit bushes
roots before they come int
free of weeds and make
growth in spring.
sure there is 4ft (1.2m) of bare
Whether you are planting a potted
soil around the tree so its roots aren’t
tree or a bare-root one, there are
competing with other plants for water
various things you need to do to give
and nutrients. Mulching helps, but make
it the best chance.
sure the mulch doesn’t touch the trunk
Nothing will grow if the soil is
as it can soften and rot the bark.
compacted or depleted of nutrients, so
Protect bark from being eaten by
prepare it well before planting. Remove deer, rabbits and other pests. The tree
weeds and debris, dig the soil over
will not need feeding until the following
and add plenty of well-rotted compost
spring if the soil is poor.
4 AMATEUR GARDENING 20 JANUARY 2018
3
Position the tree in its hole,
making sure the trunk is
straight, and in-fill around it.
Firm the soil by treading on it.
4
Water the tree well and add
a layer of mulch. Keep it well
watered and don’t let it dry out
while it becomes established.
Good fungi: Mycorrhizal fungi help young roots establish and
flourish by ‘exchanging’ water for nutrients in the soil
Plant through membrane
to suppress weeds
Taking hardwood
cuttings
Taking hardwood
cuttings requires
patience, but is
worth it
A line of bare-root whips may look barren, but they will
soon thicken into a dense and attractive hedge
Why bare-root trees?
These small trees and shrubs will soon grow and mature
I
F you don’t mind waiting a couple of
years for plants to grow, bare-root
planting is a cheap and easy way of
creating a hedge or populating your
garden with trees and shrubs.
The plants are usually young ‘whips’,
a year or so old. They may not look
like much, but don’t be deceived –
they have robust roots and will grow
considerably in their first year.
When your whips arrive, check their
roots are damp and don’t let them dry
out, as this is the quickest way of killing
the plants or stunting their growth.
Step
by step
Clear the planting area and enrich it
with well-rotted compost or manure. If
you are planting a hedge, anchor weedsuppressing membrane over the top
and make holes where you want
the trees to go.
Plant the trees to the depth of the
‘soil tidemark’ up their stem from the
original planting. Firm them in, attach
them to a support and water well.
In a couple of seasons’ time, your
spindly whips should have matured
into robust and attractive young
trees and shrubs.
Select a long, healthy shoot from
last year’s growth and remove its
soft tip. Cut it into 6-12in (15-30cm)
sections, giving each one a sloping
top to repel rain.
Cut straight across at the base
below a bud or pair of buds, and
dip the lower cut end in rooting
powder or gel.
The cutting can now be inserted
into a pot of cuttings compost
mixed with grit or perlite, or into
a trench enriched with well-rotted
organic matter in a sheltered part
of the garden.
Two-thirds of the cutting should
be below the surface, as roots will
form along the stem.
Cuttings should be left in place
until the following autumn, ensuring
they are kept watered during dry
periods in summer.
Planting a bare-root tree in a container
1
Immerse the roots in a bowl of
water for at least 30 minutes
before planting.
2
Make sure the container is large
enough for at least two years’
growth. Line its base with crocks.
Add the compost and place the
tree centrally. Spread its roots so
it is well balanced.
4
5
6
Add more compost, making sure
the tree’s knobbly graft is visible.
Leave room for watering.
Insert a stake into the compost,
firm it in and attach the tree using a
figure-of-eight to avoid chafing the bark.
3
Water the tree well, letting it soak
through. Stand the pot on feet
and keep it well watered.
20 JANUARY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
5
Gardening Week
with AG’s gardening expert Ruth Hayes
Why don’t my daffs have flowers?
Ruth looks at the causes and remedies of ‘blind’ spring bulbs
Alamy/morguefile
H
OSTS of golden daffodils are
a welcome sight after grey
winter days, which is why
it is so disappointing when
clumps of daffs emerge without flowers.
Bulbs that produce healthy leaves
but fail to bloom are known as ‘blind’,
and there are several reasons why this
happens and several ways to prevent it.
If the bulbs are planted somewhere
dry, or don’t receive sufficient water
while in growth, they may die back
prematurely, failing to replenish food
reserves needed for future flowering.
Keep watering them after flowering, as
the bulbs continue to grow, and you
are more likely to get a good show the
following year.
Removing the leaves too early,
knotting them and allowing flowers
to set seed also stops the bulbs
from building up the necessary food
reserves.
Planting also affects the quality of
blooming. If they are set too shallow, or
too close together, or planted too late
(after September) they may fail to reach
their full potential.
Watch out for pests and disease
too – narcissus bulb fly and narcissus
eelworm damage bulbs leading to poor
flowering, while narcissus basal rot or
daffodil viruses can cause bulbs to die
or decline in vigour and flowering.
For the best daffs,
prepare the ground well,
digging it over to break
up compacted soil and
enriching it with
organic matter.
Failure to flower
can have
several causes
Healthy golden daffodils are one of
the most beautiful sights of spring
If fresh young bulbs fail to flower,
carefully unearth them and check them
over for problems. If they are firm and
plump, replant them at the correct
depth (approximately three times the
height of the bulb) in fertile, damp and
free-draining soil. Bulbs often rot in
heavy clay soils that retain water.
If your daffs are growing in a pot and
you want to plant them out, let their
foliage die back naturally and move
them to a border in September.
Get yourself sorted in preparation for warmer days
Make sure pots are clean before
seed-sowing season arrives
6 AMATEUR GARDENING 20 JANUARY 2018
THE days may seem dark and dreary,
plant labels – what’s the point in buying
but they are slowly drawing out – the
more when the shed and greenhouse
shortest day was a month ago – and
are littered with them?
spring will soon be upon us.
When you start sowing, clean pots
This is as good a time as any
are as essential an item as fresh
to start preparing for sowing
seed compost and clean
seeds and nurturing cuttings
water, as germinating
ready for summer’s display.
seeds are vulnerable and
This week I’ve been
easily succumb to fungal
stocktaking essential
diseases. Don’t forget to
equipment and making
wash out watering cans
sure the greenhouse is a
too, as slugs and snails
Remove pests from use them as hideaways.
suitable environment for
the greenhouse
young seedlings.
Make sure you keep your
I have more small plastic pots
greenhouse free of pests and
than I can shake a stick at and refuse
disease. Ventilate it on warm days
to buy more, so I wash them in warm,
to discourage fungal problems and
soapy water at the start of each sowing remove any pests you find under
season. I also wash and re-use plastic
shelving and around its framework.
Breathing space: Encourage
good airflow around young plants to
prevent mould and mildew
How to sow
successfully
Keep slugs and snails
away from sweet pea
seedlings that are
growing in a cold frame
by standing their pots
on a bed of gravel.
1
The hard shells of sweet pea
seeds can slow germination,
so weaken the shells with a nail
file or, if you have a steady hand,
chip them slightly with a sharp,
clean garden knife.
Sow sweet peas now for flowers this summer
More sweet peas please
2
Like all legumes, sweet peas
have substantial root systems
and need deep compost. Large,
deep pots or root trainers are
ideal for germination.
Sow more seeds and care for seedlings, says Ruth
I
SOWED my first batch of sweet
need a deep pot of compost to grow
peas back in the autumn and
robustly and well. I either sow several
now, at the tail-end of winter,
seeds around the sides of a deep 10in
I am starting a second batch.
(25cm) pot, or use root trainers.
Although sweet peas are hardy, I
These are like deep and narrow
don’t want to sow them in the beds
modules that you open up when you
where they will grow as the cold
come to plant out the seedlings.
and damp may cause them
llows you to place the
rot, and hungry rodents will
tball in the soil with
see them as a tasty snack.
protective layer of
So I am starting them
ompost around it.
off undercover and will
The sweet pea seeds
plant out the sturdy
sowed in autumn are
young seedlings in late
ow healthy young plants
spring once they have
ting out the winter in
been hardened off and
cold frame.
Pinch out the tips
acclimatised to the element
ve pinched them out
for robust plants
Sweet peas are easy to s
age bushy growth and
and grow, and are an ideal ‘starter’
check them regularly for signs of pest
seed for novice gardeners. The seeds
attack and disease.
are also popular with hungry mice, but
Seedlings grow pale and spindly
you can deter rodents by soaking the
if they have too much warmth and
seeds in liquid paraffin overnight before insufficient light. If this happens, move
sowing – it makes them taste revolting!
them somewhere cooler and brighter,
Sweet peas have long tap roots, and where they will recover.
Caring for
autumn seedlings
Q Sweet pea seedlings sown last
autumn should be growing into
robust young plants.
Q They won’t put on much top
growth in winter, but their roots
will develop and strengthen.
Q Prevent them from becoming
spindly and encourage strong,
bushy growth (with more flower
stems) by regularly pinching out
the growing tips.
Q Make sure the plants are kept
well ventilated, as they can fall
prey to mould and mildew. If they
are in a cold frame, raise the lid
on warm days, closing it at night.
Q Don’t let the compost dry out
and protect the seedlings from
pests, as slugs, snails and rodents
are partial to pea shoots.
20 JANUARY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
7
Gardening Week
with AG’s gardening expert Ruth Hayes
Some are still
growing well
Plants may grow and
produce buds during
milder spells. Remove
these, as they are
vulnerable to frosts and
weaken the plants.
The lemon is fruiting well and
needs food and water
Q Some of the plants overwintering
in the greenhouse are still growing
and need care throughout winter.
Q The lemon tree is fruiting well. It
is fairly young, so I thinned out
the fruits.
Q Lemons need
feeding all year
round. In winter,
a balanced feed
will keep them
happy, especially
as they often fruit
Hollyhock showing
and flower at the
new shoots
same time.
Q I am also
overwintering some hollyhock
seedlings in the greenhouse. They
are starting to produce new shoots,
so I will cover them with a layer of
fleece on very cold nights.
Checking that my stored gladioli
corms are still firm and healthy
Undercover housekeeping
Ruth reminds gardeners to check their tender plants
W
HEN it’s too cold or
wet to do any outside
gardening, I check the
plants overwintering in
the greenhouse.
There’s a tender fuchsia and a
cut-back tender banana, a standard
olive with a dianthus and an erigeron
(fleabane) planted at its base, and
a lemon that is fruiting well. When I
moved the olive into the greenhouse
at the start of winter it also had a few
Begonia Semperflorens at its base,
left over from summer.
Although they lasted well into the
Step
by step
winter, a spate of hard frosts quickly
did for them so I have removed them
before their dead and dying leaves
attracted diseases and pests.
There are several pelargoniums
potted up in John Innes No 1 and given
no extra food and only occasional
water. They will stay there until the
threat of late spring frosts has passed,
when I will harden them off and move
them back into the garden.
There are also dahlia tubers, gladioli
corms and canna hearts in trays of
sandy compost. So long as they are
kept dry, and covered with fleece
or newspaper when the weather is
extremely cold, they will sit out the
winter and start to shoot in spring.
I check them over every week or so
and remove any that are showing signs
of pest damage or disease.
Keeping on top of greenhouse hygiene
1
Remove and compost
‘past-it’ plants before
they start to attract fungal
diseases and pests that
transfer to healthy plants.
8 AMATEUR GARDENING 20 JANUARY 2018
2
Watch out for
opportunistic pests. This
slug was overwintering in
my failing begonias – but
not for long!
3
Plants are dormant
and not growing,
so help to keep them
healthy by removing
dead foliage.
4
After checking corms
and tubers, stow them
somewhere dry, frost-free
and safe, such as under
greenhouse staging.
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with Peter Seabrook, AG’s classic gardening expert
Listen to
Peter’s free
podcast every
Thursday. Search for
‘This Week In The
Garden with Peter
Seabrook’ on
iTunes
Peter’s begonia
growing tips
PJS
The latest pendula begonias,
including these from Thompson
& Morgan, now have fragrance
Buying seedlings mail order
rather than seed can be cheaper
because the seedling raisers buy
their seeds at cheaper prices.
Begonia ‘Mr Big’
PJS
Begonia ‘Whopper’ on the left with
the less vigorous traditional Begonia
Semperflorens on the right
While ‘Mr Big’ and ‘Whopper’
plants may cost more, they can
be spaced more widely.
Grow better begonias
P
LANT breeders have steadily
developed begonias to improve
them considerably over recent
years. Tuber-forming kinds have
had fragrance added in a number of
cases and the fibrous-rooted types are
now available with much greater vigour,
so they grow to a larger size.
Bedding begonia ‘Mr Big’ will
grow to more than 18in (45cm) tall in
one summer from a tiny seed sown
at this time of year. This introduction
now crosses all political boundaries,
with large beds of them at the Eiffel
Tower in France, the Kremlin in Russia,
Tiananmen Square in China and in the
White House Garden in the USA.
Mr Big was bred by Benary in
Germany and is well named. It comes
with pink and red flowers on plants with
either dark-bronze or green leaves. The
Americans have come up with a similar
series called begonia ‘Whopper’, and
both really cover the ground.
Fragrance has come in the large,
fully double, tuberous species, as in
begonia ‘Aromantics’ from Belgium,
10 AMATEUR GARDENING 20 JANUARY 2018
and increasingly in the container and
hanging basket kinds such as begonia
‘Sweet Spice’ series and ‘Fragrant Falls’.
Growing in hanging baskets means it is
much easier to enjoy their perfume as
they are at head height.
The very fine dust-like seeds are
more valuable than platinum and need
PJS
Great progress has been made in recent years
to improve the quality of begonias, says Peter
All outdoor begonias grow
well in semi-shaded positions
and like moist soils.
“Mr Big was bred
in Germany”
sowing this month to get plants large
enough to perform well this summer.
Sow on the surface of clean, moist seed
compost and keep in the warm in a
polythene bag. At the first sign of white
shoots they need all available light.
Few home owners have ideal
conditions to raise begonias from seed,
although the latest thermostatically
controlled and LED-illuminated
propagators will change this situation.
Check over-wintering begonia
tubers regularly for soft rots. If
small patches of rot are found they
can be cut out and the cut surface
left in the air to dry.
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Gardening Week
with AG’s gardening expert Ruth Hayes
Put up a nest box in time for spring
Garden birds need all the help they can get, says Ruth, so give yours a home
S
PRING is a great time to put up
nest boxes, ready for this year’s
broods. So this week why not
start checking out your garden
for a suitable site?
To make your nest box attractive
to prospective residents there are
several factors to bear in mind. Its site
needs to be sheltered from prevailing
winds, driving rain and strong sunlight,
and the box should be angled slightly
downwards so rain bounces away.
If you don’t have any trees, fix the
box to a wall or fence, making sure it is
around 9ft (3m) off the ground. Place
it where it can’t be easily accessed by
cats or squirrels and other predators.
Deter potential predators by buying
a box with a metal plate around the
entrance that stops rats and squirrels
from chewing and clawing the wood to
widen the hole so they can get at the
eggs and chicks inside. If you already
have a bird box and it doesn’t have
a plate attached, they can be bought
online and from good garden centres.
Open-fronted nest boxes favoured
by robins and wrens should be placed
below 6ft (2m) high and hidden from
view by plenty of greenery. Boxes with
small holes should have a clear flight
path in front of them.
If you are planning more than one
box make sure they aren’t too close
together, especially if you are attracting
more than one pair of the same species
Busy feeders
can deter
breeding birds
Site your nest box somewhere safe
where birds have a clear flight path in
as territorial battles may ensue. House
martins, starlings and sparrows flock
communally and are attracted to boxes
sited high on a wall or in the eaves of
the house.
Keep them away from busy feeding
areas as the level of traffic can disturb
breeding pairs. Fasten the box securely
Caring for grasses in late winter
IF you left your deciduous grasses
standing to add winter colour and
interest to the garden, they will be
in need of a cut now.
Tidy up evergreen
varieties
Cut back deciduous grasses now
12 AMATEUR GARDENING 20 JANUARY 2018
Trimming keeps them in shape and
encourages new growth. Simply cut
down the stems with secateurs, leaving
a hairy tuft a couple of inches high.
Weed around the clump and mulch
well to feed the plant as it comes back
into growth.
Some deciduous species, including
Deschampsia and Calamagrostis,
should be trimmed before new growth
emerges, whereas later-shooting
Pennisetum and Miscanthus can be
cut back in late April.
Evergreen grasses, such as Festuca
glauca (blue fescue) just need tidying
up, and any dead material cut away
from the base. Larger evergreens,
including pampas grass, should be
cut back hard in spring.
The RS B Big arden
Birdwatch 2018 is on
27-29 January. For details
visit rspb.org.uk or find
your local RSPB office
01767 680551.
using galvanized or stainless-steel
screws, then sit back and wait to see
what new residents are attracted.
If your nest box stays empty for
several years, don’t despair. Move it to
a more suitable location as there may
already be plenty of natural nesting
sites in its vicinity.
Double digging
and hydrangeas
Q TO clarify an article about double
digging in AG 2 December, soil
removed from the first trench dug
during the process should be kept
in a wheelbarrow and used to fill
the final trench when digging has
been completed.
Q A photograph caption
accompanying a question about
pruning Hydrangea paniculata
‘Limelight’ on our Ask the Experts
pages in AG 2 December stated
that they should be pruned in late
summer. It should have read ‘they
are pruned in early spring.’
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with Bob Flowerdew, AG’s organic gardening expert
Bob’s top tips
for the week
Concrete paths and steps can become
especially slippery when iced up
1
Before carrying tools in a
wheelbarrow, place a piece of
carpet or an old sack inside so
the tools don’t slip around.
Rock salt improves grip,
but sharp sand is a kinder
alternative for your garden
As cold as ice
2
Under cover, sow onion and
leek seed in trays and put
onion, garlic and shallot sets
singly in multi-celled trays.
Don’t upset your year by slipping on ice, warns Bob
Alamy/Time Inc.
I
T’S said that the most important time
in the gardening year is late winter
through to early spring. That’s when
the foundation for summer is set.
If something isn’t planted or sown
by the end of spring, it gets harder or
more expensive to do later in the year.
Leaving grass growing too long before
you start cutting creates difficulties,
and weed control becomes nigh-on
impossible once the devils get away.
But the one thing you can be sure that
will hamper your gardening this year is
doing yourself an injury right now.
Many accidents happen when the
roads and paths are frozen. A coating
of ice makes everything so slippery,
and concrete especially so.
We all know this – and so did the
hundreds of people nursing broken
ankles, legs, wrists and other bones
last year.
I don’t like spreading salt because
I’m sure too much can be as harmful as
many other chemicals, although to be
fair a modest amount is useful for some
plants such as sea kale, asparagus,
cabbages and the like.
Sand is the answer. A weedkillerfree (and you do need to check) sharp
sand – not builders’ sand – works like
salt-free road sand on the roads and
provides a grip despite the ice.
If you sprinkle sand on your paths
and stepping stones it also has the
advantage of scouring the surface,
thus removing algae and green slime,
and further improving your grip.
Unfortunately, sand also treads
indoors on your feet, so it’s probably
a good idea to invest in a better
doormat as well.
3
Buy seed potatoes (sets) and
‘chit’ them by setting them
rose-end up (the end with lots
of eyes) in a cool, light place.
“Sharp sand
provides a grip
despite the ice”
Another problem that applies more
specifically to gardeners is the fact
that things become very brittle during
cold temperatures. I once reduced a
whole reel of hosepipe to a pile of bits
by dropping it when it was frozen solid.
Glass is especially nasty, so be extra
careful with that cloche, greenhouse
door or roof vent.
4
The coldest weather often
comes over the next few
weeks, so check gutters and
drains for blockages, and protect
outside taps, hoses and pipes.
20 JANUARY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
15
with Lucy Chamberlain, AG’s fruit and veg expert
Witloof chicory has two
distinct growth stages
Step
by step
How to
force your
chicory
1
The thick fleshy roots will sit
quite happily in a bucket of
moist sand until mid-spring – store
this somewhere cool but frostfree. Use only the largest roots for
forcing, otherwise the resulting
crop (called ‘chicons’) will be
disappointingly small.
Start forcing Witloof chicory
Now is the time for stage two to produce your chicory
C
ERTAIN crops have earned
themselves gourmet status and
Witloof chicory is one of them. In
part, this reputation is due to the
delicately bitter flavour of the crisp raw
leaves, which make excellent vessels for
sweeter crab meat. The crop, too, is a
labour of love, having two growth stages
that need different treatments.
I sowed the seeds in drills way back
in May (make sure you use Witloof
chicory, not its relative, endive). The
resulting row of chicory developed
much like a large lettuce during summer
and in autumn I lifted the parsnip-like
roots and stored them in sand until now.
Here’s the next stage of the story, step
by step (see right).
2
Pot up some of the roots four
or five weeks before you
need them. Literally ‘plant’ them
in a large pot of compost so only
the leafy top is visible. Water the
roots in well and position them
somewhere relatively warm, such
as a heated greenhouse.
Winter-wash fruit trees and bushes
16 AMATEUR GARDENING 20 JANUARY 2018
the summer, so I’m using Vitax Winter
Tree Wash on the tree. It will kill off the
overwintering aphid eggs and reduce
spring aphid numbers.
Mr Fothergill’s
DON’T worry, I’m not asking you to take
your scrubbing brushes into the garden!
Winter washing describes the process of
spraying dormant trees and bushes with
insecticide to kill overwintering pests
(mainly aphids).
There are two schools of thought.
Organic growers would argue that
winter washes also kill off beneficial
creatures that predate the aphids. Nonorganic growers would, on the other
hand, be happy to use them.
I know that my pear tree was
significantly damaged by aphids in
3
Using Vitax Winter
Tree Wash on a pear tree
It’s important that the plants
aren’t exposed to light, so
position a large upturned pot over
your planted chicory, blocking
up any drainage holes with a tile.
Over the next few weeks each root
will develop a tight bud of leaves –
harvest with a knife when ready.
Next Week: Working on soils safely, feed fruit with sulphate of
potash, grow medlars, sow early hardy lettuce under cover,
make sure brassicas remain protected from pigeons
Sow early broad beans in pots
REGULAR AG readers might recall
me sowing vast beds of broad bean
‘Aquadulce’ way back in October. I’ll
freely admit that these little green pearls
are one of my all-time favourite veg – I
really can’t get enough of them! In fact,
I’m following on this autumn sowing
with a very early spring batch. You
may have followed my lead in October
and sown some then, too, but only if
(like me) you have a free-draining soil.
Overwintered sowings on heavy soils
can rot off in prolonged wet spells, so if
your plot is claggy it’s better to sow into
pots now if you want an early harvest.
While broad beans are hardy and
germinate better in cold soils than
most other veg, the ground outside is
still too chilly to sow them into. That’s
why I’m sowing seeds of an early
maturing variety, ‘De Monica’, in a cold
greenhouse now. This variety claims
to mature just as early as an autumnsown batch, so I’m putting it to the test
this year. Other spring-sowing varieties,
such as ‘Green Windsor’ and ‘Bunyards
Exhibition’ also work well, although
they’ll mature a little later.
Sow one seed per 3.5in (9cm) of
well-watered seed compost, leaving
the pots in a cold greenhouse
to germinate. Depending on the
temperature, this may take two or three
weeks. Seedlings can be transplanted
outside in mid-March. At that time I’ll
make another sowing directly outside,
which will mature slightly later. I told you
I like this veg!
Sow broad beans in pots and
leave in a cold greenhouse
Deter mice in
fruit stores
Carrots stored in a clamp,
but add a wire mesh cap
Protect stored vegetables in a clamp
TRADITIONAL gardeners will often
store their carrots, celeriac, potatoes,
beetroot, turnips and swedes in
what’s known as a ‘clamp’. This is
created outside and so is also a handy
method for those of us with limited
freezer space. A clamp is a pile of
free-draining soil or sand, capped with
straw and more soil or sand. Within
the pile are the buried root crops. The
clamp insulates the roots from frost
and the straw deters slug damage.
In the cool, moist conditions of
the plot the roots are kept plump,
healthy and as fresh as the day they
were lifted – if all goes to plan. In
the depths of winter food sources
for scavenging mammals become
scarce, so the likes of mice, rats, foxes
and badgers are all likely to be on the
prowl for anything they can find.
Speaking from bitter experience,
there’s nothing more frustrating than
discovering a bombsite of straw,
earth and carrots strewn across your
garden of a morning.
The way to prevent this is to cap
the clamp with a covering of strong
chicken wire. Mound it over the clamp
and peg the edges down firmly into
the ground. In that way, if Mr Fox does
attempt to raid your winter stores at
midnight, you can send him away
empty-handed.
OH no! My lovely ‘Bramley’ apples
are being devoured by little teeth!
Mice have somehow managed to
break into the fruit store where I
work at East Donyland Hall and
they’re making short work of these
plump fruits.
Droppings and tiny gnaw marks
are all I’ve seen – I’m not likely
to spot the mice as they feed at
night, once I’ve gone home. The
only solution is to work out where
they break in and seal up the hole.
I’m also going to have to put
down traps (I’m a softy, I’m afraid,
and use humane ones) and
I’ll need to disinfect the area.
The undamaged apples will be
temporarily removed and I’ll mix
up a solution of Jeyes Fluid to
wash down the slatted shelves
before replacing them.
The telltale
marks of mice
20 JANUARY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
17
Gardening Week
Treecreepers forage for
food by moving up a tree
Main picture and inset above: The firecrest
is a tiny bird, measuring just 3.5in (9cm) long
Visitors are welcome
February is the best time to see garden birds, says Val
T
HE best month for seeing birds in
my garden is February. I normally
see a treecreeper – a brown bird
that is easily spotted as it only
ever moves up trees, not down.
Known to love the craggy bark of
the Wellingtonia (Sequoiadendron
giganteum), my personal treecreeper
climbs stone walls instead, usually in a
sheltered part of the garden behind a
large oil tank. I may have only one or
two sightings per year of this resident
brown bird as it prises out insects with
its curved beak, but it usually coincides
with a mini invasion of small birds that
may include blackcaps, marsh tits and
tiny goldcrests. Last year I also spotted
the brighter firecrest searching for
insects in a flowering currant.
These small birds flock together
in numbers in order to beat the cold
weather, and they may spend a few
days in my garden seeking out insects
in nooks and crannies and visiting the
feeders. When I see a treecreeper
I spin back 35 years to a garden I
had in Northamptonshire. One of my
neighbours, a Miss V, was over 90. Her
garden was overgrown, understandably,
but it was full of bird life. The front
of my cottage was often visited by
a treecreeper, while flycatchers
performed acrobatics in her front
garden. When Miss V died, her garden
was cleared and with it went the birdlife.
It’s one of the reasons I try to have wild
areas in my garden.
I didn’t see nuthatches in that
Northamptonshire garden, but I see
them regularly here. They’re birds that
don’t move far from their breeding
grounds and we have their favourite
trees – huge oaks – close by. I usually
get a pair of them zipping in and out at
These birds have greyish backs and
a Cleopatra-type black eye stripe that
goes from bill to nape. The undersides
of our native birds are peachy, while
Scandinavian nuthatches have whiter
rumps, apparently. As the weather
warms these birds have extended their
range northwards into Cumbria and
southern Scotland, encouraged by
wildlife-friendly gardeners putting out
bird feeders. There have been reports
of a large invasion of hawfinches, blown
off course by storm Ophelia, so I’m
hoping they’ll visit my sunflower seeds.
“Nuthatches don’t
move far from their
breeding grounds”
speed, rushing away with peanut after
peanut, which they store in favoured
places. They’re noisy too, making a “tuitui” call. And they’re aggressive, despite
being the size of a great tit.
You can’t mistake a nuthatch,
because it’s the only bird that angles
itself downwards at the feeders.
Mark R Taylor
Photos by Alamy unless credited otherwise
with Val Bourne, AG’s organic wildlife expert
TIP
As well as peanuts,
nuthatches like peanut
butter and suet. If you have a
tree with a fissured trunk, rub
some into the gaps, taking care
not to smear it everywhere.
20 JANUARY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
19
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Gardening Week
with AG’s gardening expert Ruth Hayes
What’s
On
Things to
do near you
Cut back perennials
to tidy borders
Celebrate snowdrops in Suffolk
on 20 January
Hard pruning
roses boosts
healthy growth
and protects
them from
winter weather
Wait until it warms up
before feeding roses as
new growth is vulnerable
to the cold. Mulch the
roots with compost to
insulate them.
Trimming roses and perennials
It’s time to tidy up your hardy border heroes, says Ruth
L
Hard frosts can lift and crack soil
ATE winter is the time to spruce
around plants, so tread the ground
up the garden and cut back
around roses after a sharp freeze
certain plants. Perennials left
to keep them secure.
standing can be pruned now to
When pruning, remove dead,
remove dead and damaged material,
damaged and diseased
but make sure you don’t remove
wood. Take out branches
new growth starting to come
that are congested or
through. You can then mulch
rubbing together as
the soil to boost roots and
they can damage the
keep down weeds.
bark and create easy
This week I’m also
entry spots for pests
cutting back my rose
and disease. If you have
bushes in readiness for
Cut roses back
climbing roses, cut back
when they start to shoot. Late
by one third
flowered sideshoots to
winter and early spring are
encourage fresh growth and
often stormy, so cutting them back
remove old, unproductive, woody
reduces the risk of losing them to wind
stems at the base.
rock, which can weaken their roots.
1
Suckers emerge at the base of the
rose’s rootstock and usually look slightly
different to the main plant. Don’t cut them,
as this will encourage further growth.
Instead, twist and pull them away (a fairly
easy job) to remove the entire shoot.
2
Rose black spot is a fungal disease that
can be hard to treat. Its spores can live
in the soil and on infected leaf matter, so
clear away dead leaves from around the
base of your roses. Burn or bin them to
reduce the risk of contamination.
20 Jan: A celebration of
Snowdrops: Harveys Garden Plants,
Great Green, Thurston, Suffolk IP31
3SJ. 01359 233363,
harveysgardenplants.co.uk
23: Apple Pruning: RHS Garden
Rosemoor, Great Torrington,
Rosemoor, Torrington, Devon
EX38 8PH. 0203 176 5830,
rhs.org.uk/gardens/rosemoor
24: Garden Walk – an Introduction
to Grafting: RHS Harlow Carr, Crag
Lane, Harrogate, North Yorks
HG3 1QB. 0203 176 5830,
rhs.org.uk/gardens/harlow-carr
25: The Story of Rosemoor: RHS
Garden Rosemoor, Great Torrington,
Rosemoor, Torrington, Devon EX38
8PH. 0203 176 5830,
rhs.org.uk/gardens/rosemoor
25: Butterfly Photography: RHS
Wisley, Wisley Lane, Woking, Surrey
GU23 6QB. 0845 6121 253,
rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley
27: Hedge Laying: RHS Garden
Rosemoor, Great Torrington,
Rosemoor, Torrington, Devon
EX38 8PH. 0203 176 5830,
rhs.org.uk/gardens/rosemoor
27: RSPB Big Garden Bird Walk:
RHS Wisley, Wisley Lane, Woking,
Surrey GU23 6QB. 0845 6121
253, rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley
Q Please send details and images
of any events happening in your
area to ruth.hayes@timeinc.com or
address them to What’s On, Amateur
Gardening, Pinehurst 2, Pinehurst
Road, Farnborough Industrial Park,
Farnborough GU14 7BF.
Q Listings need to be with us at
least six weeks in advance.
Q All details are subject to change without our knowledge, so
please always check that the event is still going ahead before
leaving home.
20 JANUARY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
21
Pick of the very best
Graham Rice chooses his six top RHS Award of Garden Merit winners.
This week it’s…
Early potatoes
Nothing beats the flavour of home-grown early
potatoes, cooked within minutes of being unearthed
from your garden – but which to choose?
In the first of our new regular series, Graham Rice shares
his pick of the tastiest, easiest-to-grow, early AGM spuds
T
HERE’S nothing as delicious
as new potatoes, cooked
straight from the soil. Granted,
here at AG we say that about
most veg, but it is arguably more the case
with early spuds than it is with other veg.
Steamed earlies are a treat for
the tastebuds, but potatoes from the
supermarket are low on flavour and can
contain pesticides. However, if you grow
them yourself I guarantee they’ll taste
better, and if you do decide to spray
you’ll know exactly what you sprayed
and when. You can even grow them in
pots. So, which ones should you grow?
First early potatoes are the quickest
to mature. They will be ready to eat
60-110 days after planting, so get them
in the ground around the end of March
and they can be lifted from late June or
22 AMATEUR GARDENING 20 JANUARY 2018
early July. Second early potatoes follow
on soon after.
If buying potatoes by mail order,
you’ll need to put your orders in now.
When working out how many you
require, bear in mind that 2.2lb (1kg) of
early seed potatoes will fill a row about
16ft (5m) long. You’ll also find the most
popular varieties in garden centres.
If you’re growing early spuds for
the first time, I’d suggest buying the
smallest packs available (1kg from
Dobies, Suttons and Thompson &
Morgan), and trying as many varieties
as you have room for.
While old favourites like ‘Sharpe’s
Express’ and ‘Foremost’ are still worthy
of their RHS Award of Garden Merit
(AGM), newer introductions tend to
have an important added feature:
pest and disease resistance. Given
that many chemical treatments have
been withdrawn due to environmental
concerns – and given that we’re all
more wary of spraying – in-built disease
resistance is fast becoming a necessity
for both gardeners and potato farmers.
Most modern varieties are highly
resistant to bruising and splitting,
while early potatoes tend not to be
affected by blight simply because
they’re generally harvested before it
strikes. However, we now have varieties
resistant to both types of potato
eelworm, both types of scab, viruses,
late blight, dry rot and even slugs. Sadly,
breeders have yet to come up with a
variety that is resistant to them all!
My picks from the RHS AGM holders
(see right) combine pest and disease
resistance with good flavour and yield.
So if you fancy giving earlies a go, they
will make an excellent starting point.
The Award of Garden Merit is a mark of quality awarded since 1922
to garden plants (including trees, vegetables and decorative plants)
made by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).
All photos Alamy, unless credited otherwise
®
‘Casablanca’ (first early) These uniform
white-skinned, shallow-eyed, oval tubers
have good all-round disease resistance,
particularly to eelworm. Good for chips,
baking or boiling, and one of the highest
yielding when grown in containers.
‘Charlotte’ (second early) This salad type
is universally approved for flavour and
has excellent virus and blight resistance.
“Uniform tubers, midsize, yellow skin,
waxy texture. A good show variety”
is how the RHS describes them.
‘Jazzy’ (second early) Creamy yellow with
pale-yellow flesh, ‘Jazzy’ has shallow eyes
and an excellent flavour. Praised by the
RHS as an “attractive, oval, uniform
crop… waxy tubers with sweet taste”.
Excellent resistance to viruses and scab.
‘Lady Christl’ (first early) Commended by
the RHS for its “good texture and taste”,
this potato has a creamy, shallow-eyed
skin and yellow flesh. It had the heaviest
yield in containers, and was third best in
the ground. Good to fair resistance.
‘Orla’ (first early) ‘Orla’ is blight resistant,
making it useful as an early potato
planted for a late crop. “Good yield of
round to oval, creamy-white tubers. The
cream-coloured flesh is slightly waxy
with good flavour”, says the RHS.
‘Winston’ (first early) This is very early
with exceptionally heavy yields of
shallow-eyed, white-skinned tubers.
Good general disease resistance, but
some are unhappy with the flavour. The
RHS reported the best yield in its trial.
Where to buy
DT Brown dtbrownseeds.co.uk
0333 003 0869
JBA
jbaseedpotatoes.co.uk
01461 202567
Marshalls
0844 557 6700
What makes a good early potato?
■ Disease resistance
■ Flavour
■ Yield
■ Good colour of skin and flesh
■ Early maturity
■ Shallow eyes for easy preparation
when cooking
■ Easy to find in catalogues
20 JANUARY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
23
Planting early potatoes
Plant in a 7in deep
trench, 12in apart
Stand potatoes in
egg boxes, eyes up
■ When your seed potatoes arrive,
stand them in egg boxes, eyes
uppermost, in a cool, bright space.
The buds will soon fatten up.
■ Choose a sunny site that has not
grown potatoes for at least two years,
and plant in rows in mid to late March,
leaving 18-24in (45-60cm) between the
rows. Dig a trench 6-7in (15-18cm) deep,
spread compost or grass cuttings along
the bottom, and place seed potatoes,
12in (30cm) apart, in the trench.
■ Cover with soil, leaving a slight
mound. Sprinkle potato (or general)
fertiliser along the top of the trench.
Looking after early potatoes
Regularly earth up
plants with soil
■ When the shoots emerge, protect
from frost if necessary. As they reach
about 6in (15cm), draw soil from
between the rows to cover all but
the tips of the shoots.
For more potatoes,
water in dry spells
■ Once they’ve grown another 6in
(15cm), repeat the exercise. You need
the wide spacing between the rows
to allow for earthing up.
■ Water in dry spells as this can
Growing in containers
■ The latest research
reveals that each seed
potato should have 8l of
compost, so one tuber in
an 8l potato bag, two in a
16l pot and so on. It’s not
a precise science, though.
■ Fill a container with 5-6in
(12-15cm) of multi-purpose
compost, space out seed
potatoes evenly and cover
with 6in (15cm) of compost.
Then add potato fertiliser.
Once shoots are 4in (10cm)
high, add 3in (8cm) of
compost. Repeat this
whenever the shoots reach
4in (10cm), until you get to
just below the top of the
container. Don’t allow
plants to dry out. Harvest
when they flower.
24 AMATEUR GARDENING 20 JANUARY 2018
GAP
■ If you’re short of space
in the veg garden, why not
grow your potatoes in
containers? The RHS tried
this approach a few years
ago and selected eight
varieties for an AGM.
TRY
IT!
significantly improve your potato yield.
■ After nine weeks, scratch away some
soil to check on progress. To prevent
spearing your spuds, harvest by digging
from the side with a digging fork.
In my garden
One of the early
potatoes I grew
last year was
‘Jazzy’, the
variety I usually
buy in the
supermarket.
To compare my
home-grown Jazzy spuds with
those from the supermarket I
cooked the two separately, then
mixed them together. When I tried
them it was obvious which was
which – I was able to separate
them out by taste alone!
with Tamsin Westhorpe
Orchard wassailing: fires are lit in an
orchard and the assembled sing to the
trees and make plenty of noise to drive
the evil spirits away
e
h
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t apple
Plant an apple tree and you can join in the January wassail, says Tamsin Westhorpe
L
IVING in rural Herefordshire,
where orchards and cider
making are so much part of the
community, I have become
transfixed by the customs linked to
apple trees and orchards.
January is the month not only to
plant trees, but also for wassailing. This
is an ancient custom that is performed
to bring health to the cider crop. The
Morris Men of my local market town
have been wassailing in and around
Herefordshire for the past 40 years. To
find out more, I spoke to Mark Carter of
Leominster Morris Men.
“Fires are lit in an orchard, and the
assembled sing to the trees and make
plenty of noise to drive the evil spirits
away,” Mark explained. “Plenty of
professional cider makers come to the
Leominster Morris wassail hoping that
the magic rubs off on their cider.
“Wassailing is the perfect excuse for
a party with friends. Choose a January
evening with clear skies and a bright
26 AMATEUR GARDENING 20 JANUARY 2018
moon and hunt down some wassailing
songs online,” added Mark.
I love the idea that even those of us
with just one or two apple trees could
latch on to this custom.
Decisions, decisions
Other than choosing the perfect
night for your wassail, there are many
decisions to be made when choosing
an apple tree. The first is how large
do you want it to grow and how many
trees do you have room for? Fruit trees
are propagated onto rootstocks that
determine the eventual size of the tree.
Select a dwarfing rootstock if space is
an issue – either an M27 or M9 would
be ideal for a small garden.
You then need to decide where the
tree will be planted. Are you keen to
grow your tree against a wall? If so,
you might want to pay a little more and
invest in a fan-trained specimen. It is
possible to buy stepover trees that only
reach about 1ft 7in (50cm) in height.
Find out if your chosen tree requires
a pollinator to set fruit. Some are
self-fertile, while triploid trees need
pollinating partners. All these questions
need answering before you even think
about taste.
An apple a day
The next decision is whether to plant
a cider, cooking or dessert apple.
Cider apples are seldom planted in a
domestic garden as making a good
cider relies upon a mix of sweet,
bittersweet and sharp varieties. Plant
just one type and your scope to
experiment with flavours will be limited.
There are a few cooking and dessert
apples that can be added to the cider
mix, such as ‘Allington Pippin’, but
if you have the desire to have rows
of demijohns bubbling away in the
garage then get in touch with a nursery
that can advise you. I have recently
discovered Welsh Mountain Cider
(welshmountaincider.com), which
All pictures this page Alamy
6 delicious apples
‘Blenheim Orange’
A dual-purpose apple for eating from the
tree or cooking. The late-season crop
stores well. Copes well in a north-facing
position. This triploid variety needs two
apple varieties nearby for pollination
‘Bramley’s Seedling’
The most popular cooking apple thanks
to its sharp flavour and generous crops.
It is possible to use it as part of a cider
mix. The large apples store well. Good
disease resistance. A triploid variety
‘Egremont Russet’
A tasty late-season russet apple. Perfect
partner for a good lump of cheese.
Sweet flavour that makes it ideal for
juicing and eating from the
tree. Self-fertile
‘James Grieve’
Another versatile apple that is used for
eating, cooking and juicing. A mid
season apple with fruits ripening in
September. A great pollinator for other
apple trees. Partially self-fertile
‘Katy’
Pick ‘Katy’ for red apples and long-lasting
blossom. Expect early September fruit.
Requires a nearby pollinating partner,
and is a good pollinating partner for other
apples. Offers good disease resistance
‘Ashmead’s Kernel’
A popular heritage English variety with
crunchy pear-flavoured apples that last
for over two months in storage. This
triploid requires pollinating partners.
Good disease resistance
stocks hundreds of heritage varieties.
If you have room for only one tree I’d
opt for a cooker. The fruit stores so well
if cooked and then frozen. A favourite
for its sharp fruits is ‘Bramley’s Seedling’
– this is the most popular of all the
cooking apples by a clear mile.
When it comes to eating apples,
the choice is endless. Crispy, crunchy,
sweet or acidic – take your pick. To
make the choice easier, discount the
early flowering varieties if you live in a
frost pocket and then discount those
that don’t store well. Choosing an apple
that has the capability of remaining
fresh for weeks is a clear advantage.
To help you through the vast
choice, some specialist nurseries
such as Orange Pippin Fruit Trees
(orangepippintrees.co.uk) have a handy
search facility that allows you to specify
your requirements and whittle down
the choices.
Whether you want to dance around
your tree on a January night, have a
fresh apple for your lunchbox or a good
dollop of apple sauce with your roast
pork, now is the time to plant your
chosen apple tree.
Top tips for choosing an apple tree
Late winter and early spring are the
perfect times to plant a new apple
tree. Buy from a specialist nursery
and choose a well-shaped tree.
If space is an issue invest in a
self-fertile variety. Triploid varieties
need two compatible pollinating
partners nearby. Don’t discount
triploids, though, as they provide
bumper crops when planted in the
right place.
Pick an apple that produces its
apples late in the season if you
hope to store them. Some apples
will store for months.
Dessert or cooker? If you can’t
decide, grow a dual-purpose apple
such as ‘James Grieve’.
Those gardening in a frost
pocket would be wise to choose
a late apple to reduce the risk
of the blossom being hit by frost.
Try ‘Discovery’ or ‘Laxton’s
Superb’.
20 JANUARY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
27
Primulas come with a vast array of flower
shapes and shades, from the classic pale
yellow simplicity of woodland primroses to
the jewel brights of P. elatior ‘Little Queen’
h
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A
Primulas
T
HERE can be few plants that
raise the spirits in spring as
much as the primrose, with its
dainty, pale yellow blooms
adding a welcome splash of brightness
to hedgerows and deciduous woodland.
This native flower is one of many
primulas, a large and diverse group
of plants that includes auriculas from
the mountains of central Europe,
candelabra primulas from Asia, blowsy
polyanthus bedding plants and the
slightly tender P. obconica, which
can be grown as a house plant.
Primulas are great for pollinating
insects – cowslips and primroses, for
example, are a food source for the rare
Duke of Burgundy butterfly. Primroses
can be in bloom in mild winters as early
as December, when they will provide
invaluable nectar for bees tempted to
fly, and they’ll continue flowering into
April. Asiatic primulas will extend the
flowering season into July.
In the garden, plant where their
natural habitats are replicated. Shade
and moisture-loving Asiatic primulas
are perfect for around the edges of
streams and ponds, or in bog gardens.
Primroses and oxlips will be happy
beneath deciduous trees and shrubs,
and in lightly shaded corners, out of the
way of any hot early summer sunshine.
Cowslips, on the other hand, grow
in open pastureland so are ideal for
naturalising in patches of sunny grass
that can be left uncut until mid-July. All
need neutral to acid soil – except for
Where to buy
Penny’s Primulas
pennysprimulas.co.uk
Harperley Hall
harperleyhallfarmnurseries.co.uk
01207 233318
Cath’s Garden Plants
www.cathsgardenplants.co.uk
015395 61126
Long Acre Plants
plantsforshade.co.uk
01963 32802
Peninsula Primulas
penprimulas.com
02842 772193
28 AMATEUR GARDENING 20 JANUARY 2018
the cowslip and oxlip, which thrive in
alkaline conditions.
Auriculas, P. sieboldii and polyanthus
types are great for growing in pots,
where you can enjoy their intricate
details up close. An auricula theatre, a
popular way of displaying these plant
gems for centuries, will protect flowers
and foliage – which are covered in a
powdery coating called farina – from
rain. The idea works equally well with
primulas like ‘Gold Laced’ polyanthus
or the green-flowered ‘Francisca’. Many
primulas also make good cut flowers
– primroses and P. sieboldii will last
particularly well once picked.
The fleshy roots of primulas are
loved by vine weevils. Before planting,
check the compost and roots of new
plants for the telltale little white grubs.
And divide plants every two to four
years to keep roots young and fresh –
vine weevils tend to prefer woody roots.
Protect from slugs and snails, too.
Plant now and you’ll find that
members of this diverse, easy-to-grow
flower group cannot fail to put a smile
on your face in the months to come.
All Photos Alamy, unless credited
In borders or pots, primulas are a welcome reminder that winter will soon be over.
Louise Curley reveals how to make the most of this varied – and colourful – species
9 favourite primulas
Primula veris (AGM)
Primula elatior (AGM)
An increasingly rare wild flower,
the cowslip has nodding clusters of
buttercup-yellow flowers that are loved
by bees. It will grow in more sunshine
than other primulas, and is happy in
alkaline soils. HxS: 12x4in (30x10cm).
This has the flowers of a primrose, only
grown in clusters on tall, cowslip-like
stems. Perfect for a woodland-type
border beneath deciduous trees and
shrubs, the true oxlip needs neutral to
alkaline soil. HxS: 10x8in (25x20cm).
Primula denticulata (AGM)
Primula auricula
Primula ‘Gold Laced’
Also known as the drumstick primula.
Pompom-like flowers are made up of
densely packed individual blooms and
held on robust stems above a rosette
of mid-green foliage. Colours include
white, lilac and purple. H&S: 18in (45cm).
This is a collector’s dream, with
hundreds of cultivars in almost every
colour imaginable. Some auriculas
have a delicate white powdery coating
known as farina on the flowers and
foliage. HxS: 8x10in (20x25cm).
This striking polyanthus type has
yellow centres surrounded by
elaborate mahogany petals, each
of which is edged in gold. Grow in
partial shade, in neutral to acid soil.
HxS: 8x6in (20x15cm).
Primula ‘Francisca’ (AGM)
P. vulgaris ‘Dawn Ansell’
Primula ‘Guinevere’ (AGM)
The jade-green petals of this unusual
polyanthus primula are rippled and
frilled, making it perfect for creating
real ‘talking-point’ container displays.
Needs moist soil and partial shade.
H&S: 6in (15cm).
This is a compact ‘Jack-in-the-green’type primula. Flowers emerge like
rosebuds before opening into double
white blooms that are surrounded by a
contrasting collar of mid-green leaves.
H&S: 4-6in (10-15cm).
This old variety is prized, in part, for its
purple-green foliage and purple stems.
However, it also has umbels of pretty
pale-pink flowers, each punctuated with
a mustard-yellow centre. H&S: 4-6in
(10-15cm).
GAP
Primula vulgaris (AGM)
The classic spring flower of British
woodlands and hedgerows is equally
happy growing in gardens, given some
shade and moist soil. Pale-yellow
flowers nestle above rosettes
of leaves. HxS: 4x6in (10x15cm).
20 JANUARY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
29
Top 3 candelabra primulas
Primula bulleyana (AGM)
Primula pulverulenta (AGM)
Tall, silvery-white stems are topped with whorls of magenta flowers, held
above clumps of light-green leaves. To maximise the drama, plant in groups
in a woodland border or by a stream. HxS: 39x24in (1mx60cm).
Best for scent
Primula sikkimensis (AGM)
This is a very hardy primula from
cold parts of China and Nepal.
Sulphur-yellow flowers give off a
sweet fragrance. It is happy in full
sun or partial shade so long as the
soil remains moist. H&S: 2ft (60cm).
30 AMATEUR GARDENING 20 JANUARY 2018
The rust-red flower buds open to
fruity orange-coloured flowers.
Ideal for bog gardens or planting
around the edge of ponds, it
thrives in full or partial shade, in
soil that is reliably moist. Seed
heads provide autumn interest.
HxS: 1-2ft (30-60cm).
Planting and
aftercare
Primula florindae (AGM)
The Tibetan cowslip is a souped-up
version of our own, with tall, sturdy
stems and rosettes of large leaves,
plus yellow flowers with a spicy
fragrance. It is easy to grow in damp
soil. HxS: 4ftx39in (1.2x1m).
■ Dig a hole twice the size of the
pot and incorporate some wellrotted garden compost and, if
you have it, leaf mould.
■ Pop the primula in the hole,
backfill and firm in place.
■ Water well, then mulch with
more compost or leaf mould,
taking care not to cover the plant.
■ Divide clumps every 2-3 years,
after flowering or in early autumn.
Primula beesiana (AGM)
Discovered in the early 20th century, this Chinese candelabra has striking lilac-pink
flowers with yellow-orange centres. It likes sunshine and wet, boggy soil. Some
shade is fine, but flower stems will be shorter. HxS: 2x1ft (60x30cm).
And for something different…
Collecting and
sowing primula
seed
GAP
TRY
IT!
Primula vialii (AGM)
The Chinese pagoda (or orchid)
primrose will certainly add a colourful
zing to the early summer garden.
Dramatic flower heads consist of
a cone of tightly packed red buds,
opening from the base upwards to
reveal a colour-clashing lilac. HxS:
2ftx10in (60x25cm).
Primula sieboldii (AGM)
This is native to Japan and parts
of Siberia, where it grows in damp
meadows and woodland glades.
There’s a range of fabulous hybrids
to choose from, with flowers that
vary in shape from the perfectly
circular to those whose petals are
cut like snowflakes. H&S: 8in (20cm).
■ Most primula seeds germinate
best when they are fresh and
green (above).
■ Fill a tray with seed compost
and press down.
■ Carefully open a swollen green
seed pod, using your fingernail
(or a knife) to expose the seeds.
■ Scrape seeds on to the surface
of the compost.
■ Distribute evenly, water and
leave uncovered.
■ Place somewhere shady, and
keep the compost moist.
20 JANUARY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
31
With its distinctive spidery flowers (often in
shades of yellow), sweet scent and unfussy
nature, witch hazel is a winner all round
Witch hazels can send out
suckers from their roots. Keep
an eye out for these (they
grow vertically from the
crown so are easy to spot)
and cut off any that you
see otherwise they
will take over.
h
t
i
w
n
e
d
r
a
g
r
e
t
n
i
w
e
Light up th
Witch hazel
Can’t choose between flowers and fragrance? Multi-tasking Hamamelis offers
both, plus great autumn leaf colour and an elegant shape, says Graham Rice
W
ITCH hazel in full bloom,
its sweet fragrance
wafting across the
garden on a sunny day,
is one of winter’s horticultural highlights.
Sometimes, as you walk through a
village or down a suburban street,
you can smell that sweetness even
before you see the distinctive flowers.
Fragrance is not the only feature,
however. At its best, witch hazel
(Hamamelis) is one of the most exciting
multi-feature shrubs, offering an
unbeatable combination of flowers,
fragrance, autumn leaf colour and an
elegant shape. It’s easy to grow, too.
What more could you wish for?
Clusters of flowers line the branches
– sometimes from before Christmas but
mostly in January and February. Their
distinctive spidery shape is intriguing:
each flower has four long, often
crinkled petals, generally in shades
of yellow – from deep gold almost to
primrose. There are also reddish and
coppery tones, plus bicolours, but
it’s the yellows that really stand out.
Varieties differ in the strength of their
fragrance: some are strongly scented;
others have no scent at all. So choose
carefully if fragrance is important to
you. Autumn leaf colour varies, too –
it’s impressive in some but can be
rather feeble in others.
There are also differences in the way
witch hazels develop. While some are
strikingly upright in growth, some are
much more spreading and others fall
between the two. It’s worth considering
this when selecting a variety for your
garden. However, do bear in mind that
they tend not to cast dense shade,
Where to buy
Burncoose Nursery
burncoose.co.uk
01209 860316
Junker’s Nursery
junker.co.uk
01823 400075
01931 712404
Larch Cottage Nurseries
larchcottage.co.uk
32 AMATEUR GARDENING 20 JANUARY 2018
which means that many plants will thrive
beneath their canopy.
Most are slow growing at first, then
speed up a little later – my 10ft (3m)
‘Pallida’ (that’s 3m now, 10 years after
planting) grew 12in (30cm) last year.
Witch hazels rarely outgrow their space,
but if you need to prune do so right
after flowering by cutting back the
previous year’s shoots to two buds.
Their generally unfussy nature is
another bonus. Although Hamamelis
are often seen in shade – where they
are perfectly happy – they will flower
more prolifically in full sun. They rarely
suffer from any pests or diseases,
but they’re definitely not suited to
waterlogged winter soil.
One of the results of their slow
growth, and the fact they can only
be propagated effectively by labourintensive grafting, is that plants can be
rather expensive. However, large plants
establish better than small ones, so it
pays to buy the biggest that you can
afford. After all, most gardens need only
one witch hazel – but they will definitely
benefit from having one.
9 heavenly Hamamelis
Best for
flowers
‘Barmstedt Gold’
‘Diane’
‘Pallida’
(AGM) Makes a strong, upright plant
with a long season of twisted and
slightly crisped petals in rich yellow,
toning to orange at the base. Also
features attractive yellow autumn
colour and a good scent. H: 111⁄2ft (3.5m).
(AGM) The best red-flowered
variety, ‘Diane’ has impressive autumn
colour – red and orange tones,
eventually turning almost crimson.
However, the scent is light. Spreading
growth. H: 8ft (2.5m).
(AGM) Wonderful, light-up-the-garden
sulphur yellow flowers open in
December and January, and carry
a tantalising scent. The autumn leaf
colour is bright yellow; growth is
spreading. H: 10ft (3m).
‘Angelly’ (AGM)
‘Jermyns Gold’ (AGM)
‘Vesna’ (AGM)
The acid-yellow flowers have a strong,
sweet scent and open in February and
March. Upright in growth, ‘Angelly’
makes a smaller plant than many witch
hazels. H: 8ft (2.5m).
The large golden flowers (opening
from December to March) have an
intoxicating fragrance. Plants are upright
at first, then spread more. Good yellow
autumn colour, too. H: 10ft (3m).
Opening in January and February on
vigorous vase-shaped plants, flowers in
marmalade-orange have crinkled petals
and a heavy, sweet perfume. Fiery
autumn colour. H: (13ft) 4m.
Best for
fragrance
All photos Alamy, unless credited
Best for
leaf colour
Best all
rounder
‘Aurora’ (AGM)
Jelena’ (AGM)
Arnold Promise’ (AGM)
Fiery red, orange and y
leaf tints that sparkle in autumn on
rather upright plants. The flowers
carry a strong fragrance, and have
yellow petals that become reddish
at the base. H: 111⁄2ft (3.5m).
lowers in a rich yellow
to red at the base in December and
January – are followed by foliage that
turns from orange to bright scarlet.
Vigorous and vase-shaped, but with
no scent. H: 13ft (4m).
his is the variety that really does have
everything: lemon-yellow, strongly
scented flowers, reliably fiery autumn
colour and an elegant vase-shaped
habit with great branching – so more
twigs, with more flowers. H: 10ft (3m).
20 JANUARY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
33
Ideal planting companions
Snowdrops
Hellebores
The dappled shade under witch hazels suits snowdrops
perfectly. Plant them either in a broad drift of one variety,
or in clumps among spring perennials. Be sure to clear any
fallen witch hazel foliage before the snowdrops emerge.
These are available in dark rich tones or pastel shades, along
with pure white. Allow clumps of hellebores to fatten up
steadily so they can really show themselves off beneath the
witch hazel flowers, and plant snowdrops in between.
Hostas
Clematis
For summer, bold hosta foliage has real impact, and
the variety of different shapes and colours (and colour
combinations) is truly astonishing. Some also have good
flowers and a few of these are even scented.
A witch hazel can provide support for summer-flowering
viticella clematis such as ‘Etoile Violette’ (above). Cut the
clematis almost to the ground in late autumn so that old
growth doesn’t obscure your witch hazel flowers.
Planting
Did you know?
Witch hazels are happy in
most soils except those high
in chalk; they appreciate
good drainage and hate
winter wet. They’re surface
rooting so the planting hole
Don’t plant too deep
needs to be no deeper than
the pot, but four times as
wide. Fork over the base, do not add humus but mulch
with weed-free organic matter after planting. On heavy
clay soils plant on a slight mound to improve drainage.
The name ‘witch hazel’
derives from the plant’s
resemblance to hazel; the
‘witch’ part comes from
a word meaning pliable.
hazels come from Asia
and flower in winter and
spring. The smallerflowered American witch
hazel blooms in autumn.
Exploding seed pods
can fling their contents
up to 33ft (10m)!
The Hamamelis used
medicinally for skin
irritations comes from the
leaves and bark of the
American species.
34 AMATEUR GARDENING 20 JANUARY 2018
These spring witch
Anne Swithinbank’s masterclass on: Looking after rosemary
Caring for your
rosemary plant
Prune back weak stems in
spring and carry out detective
work to reduce pests.
I’m tidying up the dead shoot tips on our
rosemary so the plant should pick up in
spring. If it doesn’t, cuttings are standing by
How do I sort out a sickly rosemary?
Q
OUR 4ft (1.2m) high rosemary plant
grew and flowered well in summer,
but now it is starting to turn yellow and
brown, and has brittle stems. Is there
any way we can save it?
Sam Evans, Truro, Cornwall
A
THIS question had me scurrying
outside to check my own rosemary
plant, because it too has been looking
peaky. There are yellow and brown
leaves towards the tips of shoots, but
healthier growth near the base. I cut a
stem and brought it into the office to
have a close inspection.
Rosemary and other Mediterranean
Photos: Time inc/Alamy
Tortrix moth caterpillar
Adult leafhopper on sage leaf
herbs tend not to be long-lived in my
garden because our growing conditions
are the opposite of the sunshine and
poor, well-drained soil they are used to.
Instead, we have cloudier skies, more
rain throughout the year, damp dewy
evenings and worst of all (for rosemary)
our rich, improved clay soil is too fertile,
leading to weak, straggly growth. It also
holds water in winter, encouraging root
rots capable of killing off old woody
plants, although younger ones often
bounce back in spring.
Having donned spectacles and
examined my rosemary branch, I could
see it had also taken a knocking from
two different pests. Towards the shoot
tips, needle-like leaves had been drawn
upwards and a hand lens revealed
evidence of webbing. This suggests an
attack from tortrix moth caterpillars.
These insects bind the leaves together,
then, once safe inside, the tiny larvae
rasp away, turning shoot tips brown
and then black. The eggs hatch in April
and May, so in late March I’ll prune
affected stems back to within 8cm (3in)
or so of older wood to remove the
dead tips and some eggs. When they
are active, the webbed-in caterpillars
are easy to squash.
Lower down, the leaves that should
have been a strong grey-green were
mottled. This is typical leafhopper
damage and these were particularly rife
last summer, causing small pale dots on
the leaves of sage and other salvias.
Brushing plants with one hand while
holding a yellow sticky trap in the other
can reduce their numbers.
Also in spring, give your plant a
feed of general-purpose fertiliser
and sow seeds to raise new plants.
Take semi-ripe cuttings in
summer. Taking sprigs for cooking
encourages a branching shape.
Rosemary beetle
First spotted in the UK in 1994, the
rosemary beetle is just over 1/4in
(8mm) long, with shiny green and
purple stripes. Adults feed
year-round and the slug-like
larvae from the autumn to spring.
Both also feed on lavender,
sage and thyme.
Hand-pick beetles
off foliage
20 JANUARY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
37
Alamy
Anna Toeman, Dr Jane Bingham, John Negus
Clematis wilt is a
debilitating disease
Rabbits can be a gardening nuisance
Bunny troubles
Q
How can I keep my neighbour’s
rabbits out of our garden? They dig
under the fence and de-stabilise the soil.
Mrs P Thompson, Hatfield, South Yorks
A
Q
Over the past four years clematis
wilt has taken all but one of my 16
clematis plants. Despite comprehensive
hygiene with tools and a good feeding
regime, I couldn’t prevent the spread.
How can I eradicate this virus?
Barbara Schofield (via email)
A
I am sorry that many of your
clematis have succumbed to wilt
disease. Sadly, there are no fungicides
to control this problem, so the best way
to tackle it is to plant a clematis 6in
(15cm) deeper than it is in its pot.
The plant responds by producing
several stems. Then, if one collapses
overnight from wilt and you cut it back
to near ground level, remaining stems
continue to develop strongly.
Interestingly, wilt doesn’t normally
kill clematis. After six weeks or so, new
shoots appear where the infected stem
was reduced to ground level.
Ideally, after replacing affected
plants with more clematis, avoid
replant disease by working Root Grow
mycorrhizal fungi into the root area to
speed up robust growth.
How should I prune
autumn raspberries?
Monkey puzzle trees
grow very large
Tree puzzle
Q
Q
A
A
My autumn-fruiting raspberries
have new buds on them – do I
still have to cut them right back?
Jeremy Clifton, Pevensey,
East Sussex
The recommendation is to cut
Try half-pruning autumn raspberries
autumn raspberries to ground
level in late winter. They then produce
Why not experiment by cutting
brand-new canes that fruit at the end
half of them back to the ground and
of the growing season.
leaving the others? In that way you
However, you can get two crops
are sure to get some fruit and may
out of autumn-fruiting varieties by
even get two crops, although they
just cutting out the fruited tips. The
are likely to be smaller than if you
plants should then produce a crop in
had cut them all back.
late spring, although they may not.
38 AMATEUR GARDENING 20 JANUARY 2018
My grandson has a small garden
with a monkey puzzle tree that is
6ft (2m) tall. I have suggested he gets rid
of it before it gets too big – am I right?
Mrs J Planson, Beaumaris, Anglesey
You are indeed. The monkey puzzle
may eventually grow to 80ft (24m)
and will block the light from windows
and its root system may, if the soil is clay,
undermine the house foundations.
It needs a large garden and should
be 60ft (18m) or more from the house
so it won’t trigger subsidence. It is
unsuitable for your grandson’s garden
and needs to be removed.
Alamy
Will wilt end my clematis collection?
I’m sorry the rabbits are digging
holes, which causes a danger
when you are walking in the garden.
The best way to stop them is to
secure thick wire mesh at the base of
your fence. Spread it 2ft (60cm) wide
and about 6in (15cm) deep to deter the
rabbits from burrowing into your garden.
If you are on good terms with the
neighbours, I would suggest they help
you lay the netting!
Write to us: Ask The AG Experts, Amateur Gardening magazine,
Pinehurst 2, Pinehurst Road, Farnborough Business Park,
Farnborough, Hants, GU14 7BF.
Email us: amateurgardening@timeinc.com
Q
Quick Questions
& Answers
A
Q
How can I get rid of fungus gnats
that are infesting my houseplants?
Sue Mann (via email)
Bad luck! Fungus gnats, also called
sciarid flies, are irritating. Tiny,
thread-like white larvae chew small roots
and the emergence of the tiny adults is
unpleasant in a living room.
Flies are attracted to damp compost.
If, therefore, you allow the compost to
a dry a little between watering, it will
discourage them.
Almond oil attracts and
Additionally, spray the compost
drowns fungus gnats
with half-strength BugClear Ultra to kill
larvae and adults. Do this outdoors,
away from food and furniture, leaving
bottle with almond oil and place it on
the plant for an hour or so before
the compost.
returning it to a windowsill or some
The adult gnats are attracted to its
other place indoors.
sweetness, fall in and drown.
Alternatively, fill the lid of a plastic
Can you tell
me what this
plant is, please?
Mrs P Watkin,
Kings Lynn,
Norfolk
A
Getty Images
Fighting back after a gnat attack
This is garlic m
a British native wildflower that
is rampant in fertile soil. Eradicate it
with a systemic weedkiller based on
glyphosate, such as Roundup or
Tumbleweed, that breaks down
harmlessly in the soil.
Apply it in spring when it is
warmer and the chemical will be
more effective.
Q
How should I
overwinter
my Brazilian
spider flower?
Derek Barclay,
London
Rehmannias may flower beyond their usual
time if they are warm and sheltered
A
Humphreys
Keep your
plant in a frost
greenhouse, but not indoors as it
will keep flowering and its petals
will fall everywhere.
From June onwards, place it
outdoors and enjoy its foliage
all summer. In August, buds will
slowly start to open.
Alamy
Q
How should I care for my rehmannia?
Q
What should I do with my container
rehmannia? I am overwintering it in
the greenhouse, but it is still in bloom.
Jason Chilvers, Halesowen,
West Midlands
A
Rehmannia usually flowers in
summer and autumn, so your plant
must think it is still autumn. Is your
garden sheltered?
Rehmannia they don’t need any
pruning, just deadheading to remove
the spent flowers, so I would be inclined
to stick to this and take the time to
enjoy the flowers now.
Your plant may go dormant in very
cold weather, but it will emerge again
when temperatures rise in spring.
Either way, it will benefit from a boost
of nutrients in spring to encourage it to
keep growing well and to flower later in
the year. Plants rarely do what they are
‘supposed’ to do – but at least it gives
us something interesting to talk about!
I have a
problem with
Himalayan
balsam. What
should I do?
Gerry
Manderville,
Wimborne, Dorset
A
The only way
eventually eradicate it is to
repeatedly cut it down and treat
the hollow stems with Roundup,
especially in autumn. The systemic
weedkiller will be taken down into
the roots as the sap drains from the
leaves and stems.
Unfortunately, the plant is fairly
resistant to weedkiller, so it may
take its time to die.
20 JANUARY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
39
Anna Toeman, Dr Jane Bingham, John Negus
Sooty peas
Q
I’ve heard that soot is excellent for
sweet peas. Is this true and should
it be weathered before use?
John McWalter, Cwmbran, Gwent
Alamy
Old man’s beard is a vigorous climber
Dealing with a hairy invader
Q
Last autumn a climber appeared in
my garden, with fluffy seedheads
that appeared after flowering. It seems
rather invasive – what is it?
Dennis Acreman, Ellesmere Port,
Cheshire
A
It sounds like traveller’s joy or old
man’s beard (Clematis vitalba).
It is a British native climber that
normally festoons trees and shrubs. Its
greenish-white blossom is followed by
billowing silky-silver seedheads and it is
a captivating sight in winter when they
are sparkling with frost.
It is, however, vigorous and likely
to engulf other plants, so unless it has
ample room and you really like it I would
urge you to remove it.
Treat with a systemic glyphosatebased weedkiller such as Roundup Tree
Stump and Root Killer.
Soot is a
valuable
commodity
and good for
sweet peas.
It contains
around 1.6%
nitrogen
and is
Soot provides
caustic when
nutrients for
sweet peas
fresh. Ideally,
store it for 2-3
months under
then use it as a fertiliser.
Apply it at 4-8oz/112-114g per sq m
from spring to autumn.
It can also be used as a slug
deterrent, and if your soil is sandy it will
darken it so it absorbs sun heat more
readily to speed up growth.
Oranges grow well
in pots indoors
All pictures Time Inc unless otherwise credited
We’re all here for the beer, including slugs!
Q
I love my beer and hate wasting it on slugs. Is there any substitute, such
as sugar water, yeast water or honey water?
Bob Marshall (via email)
A
The attraction of beer and lager
However, you can also use other
to slugs is the yeast. As this
yeast products in your slug
is largely filtered out of
traps, such as fresh yeast
canned products,
mixed with a little
especially the
water, yeast and
cheaper brands,
sugar mixes, and
the best beers to
even Marmite
use are real ales! (one teaspoon
I didn’t go
in half a pint
quite that far,
of water).
but I was very
People
impressed by
seem to have
the success of
varying degrees
the beer traps I set
of success with
Slugs and snails love
last year, although
whatever substance
the yeast in beer
I mostly caught slugs,
they use, so I would
very few snails. As I’m not
recommend that you
a beer drinker I had no problem
experiment and perhaps even
sacrificing bottles of the stuff for
vary the mixture each week so
such a purpose, but I understand
you catch a variety of species with
your unwillingness to share!
different tastes.
40 AMATEUR GARDENING 20 JANUARY 2018
Thompson and Morgan
A
Pots of orange
Q
I have been given an orange tree
– how do I care for it?
Mr E Hilsdon, Aylsham, Norfolk
A
Grow the orange tree in a pot of
well-drained John Innes 2 potting
compost and position it indoors in bright
light, but not direct sunlight.
Water freely during the spring and
summer, and feed it with a balanced
liquid fertiliser once a month.
These are frost-tender plants, but
they can be placed outdoors in summer
in a sunny sheltered spot. Water
sparingly in winter, and do not feed.
From
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(10.5cm) potted plant. Height and spread 48in (1.2m).
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41
Although it’s best to buy and plant new
tubers every year, I can’t resist the (so
far unmet) challenge of persuading
more flower spikes to appear
A great way to enjoy
the blooms of polianthes
and their incredible wafting
scent is as cut flowers,
but you will probably have
to order stems from
your florist.
The waxy petalled,
creamy-white
blooms of
Polianthes
tuberosa
How to grow
Polianthes
Make a point of including the richly perfumed
polianthes in your garden, says Anne Swithinbank
H
AVE you ever struggled to
come up with an idea of how
to make a tiny backyard or
secluded basement garden
special? Back in the 1800s, when ladies
guarded their complexions against the
harsh effects of the sun, moon gardens
were all the rage.
These were essentially white
gardens, with silvery-grey foliage and
pale, moth-pollinated flowers emitting
sweet fragrance into the air.
With many gardeners out working
all day, there’s an argument for
resurrecting the moon garden, so they
can relax and potter while inhaling
delicious scents at the end of the day.
An intriguing star of these evening
borders was the richly perfumed
tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa), whose
tall stems reach around 3ft (1m) tall,
producing waxy-petalled, creamy-white
blooms during the summer.
42 AMATEUR GARDENING 20 JANUARY 2018
In the Victorian language of flowers,
these blooms stood for voluptuousness
and dangerous pleasures. Along with
their rich, decadent scent, this caused
concern and young girls were kept
away from the pumping fragrance in
case they were overwhelmed.
Native to Mexico, though no longer
found in the wild, tuberoses were
cultivated by the Aztecs long before
they were brought to Europe by
early explorers. They need warmth to
start them off in spring, so Victorian
gardeners probably raised the tubers
in pots under glass and moved them
out into the moon garden.
The strong, carrying fragrance,
somewhere between orange blossom
and gardenia, is used in perfumery,
but for me, scents straight from the
flower are best.
Even in Victorian times it was
acknowledged that tuberoses didn’t
like our climate and tubers were mainly
imported from warmer countries,
flowered and then discarded.
Now, as then, they should be
potted in spring, from February to May,
individually into 6in (15cm) pots or three
to a 7in (17cm) pot.
Advice regarding planting depth
varies from 6in (15cm) deep to
‘shoulders showing’, so a happy
medium is around 1-2in (2.5-5cm) deep.
Use an open, well-draining compost
such as 50:50 John Innes No2 and
multipurpose, with a little extra grit and
leaf mould. Water them in, but then let
the surface dry out before watering
again so they are not left sitting in wet
compost. This careful watering is crucial
while new roots are growing.
Stand the pot in a bright position,
provide a minimum of 13°C and display
them under glass, outdoors on a patio
or in among the white roses, lady of
the night (Cestrum nocturnum), white
tobacco and zaluzianskya (night phlox)
of your moon garden.
Anne’s tips on caring
for Polianthes tuberosa
Add a general-purpose fertiliser if you
want your polianthes to flower again
Q Having potted the tubers and brought them into
bloom, it’s worth adding a high-potash fertiliser like
Incredibloom to the compost.
Q If, like me, you want to try re-flowering polianthes,
give the growing plants some general-purpose liquid
feed to plump up next year’s bulbs.
Q After flowering, let the foliage die back naturally. The
compost can dry out and the tubers rest frost-free until
the following year.
Some facts about
Polianthes tuberosa
Amateur
Reader offer
The world’s most
SAVE
fragrant bulb
£6.99
Spikes of intensely fragrant,
waxy white flowers are
produced throughout
summer and make
enthralling cut flowers.
The semi-double, fragrant
tuberose flowers of this
relatively unknown bulb
are carried above narrow,
lance-shaped leaves.
Perfect for growing outdoors
in containers or sheltered
sunny borders. Height: 48in
(120cm). Spread: 6in (15cm).
Supplied as bulbs size 14/16.
Polianthes tuberose
‘The Pearl’
Q Buy 5 for £9.99
Q Buy 10 for £12.99 – Saving £6.99
To order, call direct on ✆ 0844 573 2021 quoting AG818Z.
Lines are open 9am-8pm (weekdays) and 9am-6pm (weekends).
OR order online today
thompson-morgan.com/amateurgardening
OR complete the coupon below in BLOCK CAPITALS.
All orders will be acknowledged by letter or email, advising you of the expected despatch date. This offer is subject to
availability. Only one application per reader. Offer enquiry line 0844 573 2021. Order lines open seven days a week,
9am-8pm (weekdays), 9am-6pm (weekends). All correspondence concerning this offer should be sent to: Amateur
Gardening Polianthes Offer, Dept AG818Z, PO Box 162, Ipswich, IP8 3BX. Please note that your contract for supply of
goods is with Thompson & Morgan (terms and conditions available on request). Offer available to readers on the UK
mainland only. Offer closes 14 February 2018. Bulbs despatched from February 2018.
ORDER FORM
Send to: AG Polianthes Offer, Dept AG818Z, PO Box 162, Ipswich, IP8 3BX.
Code
Product
Price
QTY
Total
£
T13855
Polianthes tuberosa ‘The Pearl’ x 5
£9.99
T13854
Polianthes tuberosa ‘The Pearl’ x 10
£12.99
£
T80179
Bulb Planter x 1
£9.99
£
TCA56850P
Large Patio Pot & Saucer x 1
£9.99
£
TCA59095P
Large Patio Pot & Saucer x 2
£17.99
£
TCB47551
Incredibloom Fertiliser 1 x 100g Sachet
£4.99
£
TCB47552
Incredibloom Fertiliser 1 x 750g Tub
£12.99
£
£4.95
P&P
Total
£
I enclose my cheque no………............... Value £………...............
made payable to: T&M. (with your name and address on the back).
To pay by Mastercard/Visa/Maestro (delete as applicable) complete card details below.
Q In Hawaii, the scented blooms of tuberose, along
with plumeria (frangipani), are used to make the
traditional garlands called leis.
Q The tuberose has been grown in the Grasse area
of the South of France for centuries, to supply the
perfume industry. The process of extracting aromatic
oils is known as enfleurage.
Q Double-flowered Polianthes tuberosa ‘The Pearl’
is commonly available. If you become a tuberose
addict, keep a look out for double pink Polianthes
tuberosa ‘Pink Sapphire’. There is also an unusual
variegated form, Polianthes tuberosa ‘Marginata’.
CSV
Valid from
Expires end
Issue no.
(Maestro only)
PLEASE USE BLOCK CAPITALS
Name
(Mrs/Miss/Ms/Mr/Title)
Address
Postcode
Telephone
Date of birth
Amateur Gardening will collect your personal information to process your order and alert you of news, new
products, services and offers available from Amateur Gardening and from Time Inc. by email, phone and post. You
can unsubscribe from emails by clicking unsubscribe from within the email. Please tick here if you prefer NOT to be
contacted by phone or post Q.
Email:
20 January 2018/AG818Z
20 JANUARY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
Thompson & Morgan/Wikimedia
My card number is
43
Tried&tested
We try before you buy
Log sawhorses
A good sawhorse can help you cut up
branches to enjoy on a winter fire. Julia
Heaton puts five through their paces
C
UTTING up heavy tree and shrub prunings with a
chainsaw or bow saw will be a lot easier if the limb or
trunk is properly supported on a well-made sawhorse.
The traditional X-frame models work fine and there’s
a wide choice available. We tried three of these, as well as two
other designs aimed at gardeners with lots of logs to cut. All
worked effectively. Our Best Buy sneaked in front because it’s
made from hardwood and won’t damage chainsaw blades
when cutting above the horse.
Timber should be cut to a length of 3-6ft (1-2m) depending on
diameter, and have all side branches removed before placing it
on the sawhorse to cut into logs of around 8in (20cm). An
electric or petrol chainsaw is essential if you have a lot of timber
to cut, but a bow saw is fine if there’s only one or two pieces.
Always wear safety equipment when using power tools.
Score
Score
13
13
Roughneck
Logger’s
Mate
£69.99 free
Oregon
Saw Horse
£17.99 plus
/15
delivery or click
and collect
Screwfix.com
03330 112 112
Features
/15
£5 delivery or free
click and collect
Screwfix.com
03330 112 112
Features
Steel saw bench. Holds logs from 2-10in (5-24cm) in
diameter and up to 13ft (4m) long. Max timber weight 150kg.
Folds flat for easy storage. One-year guarantee. Ready to
use. Height: 3ft (90cm). Width: 15in (38cm). Length: 3ft 10in
(115cm). Weight: 10.6kg.
Traditional X-frame sawhorse in steel. Three settings for
height/log diameter. Toothed jaws hold logs up to 10in
(27cm) in diameter. One-year guarantee. Folds (but not quite
flat) for easy storage. Some simple self-assembly. Height:
341⁄2in (88cm). Depth: 27in (68cm). Width: 291⁄2in (75cm).
Weight 7.5kg.
Performance
Performance
This was quick to set up – just lift the bar and tighten two
wing nuts. The top jaw has three positions for different log
thickness. It takes seconds to adjust, then feed the log in to
one-third its length. The jaws clamp even awkwardly shaped
logs firmly. Several cuts can be made in succession with a
chainsaw and there’s no bar beneath to snag chain. It’s quick
and easy to move the log forward to cut right to the end. Not
so good using a bow saw as a rocking motion can set in.
Robust steel construction and quality finish. Assembly took
five minutes. Three-position opening was quick and easy
to adjust. Comfortable working height, with lower bar well
positioned for a foot to steady the frame. Stable when
working with hand or chainsaw. A locking strop would have
been good for lightweight bits of wood, but heavier pieces
gripped securely by teeth on frame. When cutting over the
horse metal bar below jaws can catch the saw blade.
Value
Value
Strong and cleverly designed sawhorse for quick cutting of
lots of logs with a chainsaw.
Solidly built, easy-to-use traditional sawhorse
at a great price.
44 AMATEUR GARDENING 20 JANUARY 2018
Next week: Tool sharpeners
to get your secateurs, shears and
knives into shape
Stihl Wooden Sawhorse
£43.50rrp
stihl@hroc.co.uk
Features
01276 20202
Amateur
Best buy
14
/15
Traditional X-frame sawhorse in responsibly sourced
hardwood. Height: 341⁄2in (88cm) Length: 271⁄2in (70cm)
Width: 29in (74cm) Weight: 6.3kg. Max load 70kg.
Folds flat for easy storage. Measuring bar for accurate
cutting length. Stretchy rubber strop to hold log in place.
Straightforward self-assembly.
Performance
Assembly took 20 minutes to produce a good-looking,
practical and compact sawhorse. The opening folded
legs can be a bit stiff. Loading the log and securing with
the stretchy strop was easy. The log held securely for a
bow saw or chainsaw and it was easy to reposition the
log as cuts progress. When cutting over the horse the bar
below the jaws can catch saw blade, but the bar is wood
Score
12
/15
ForestMaster Bulk
Log Saw
Horse 2
£29.99rrp free
so it doesn’t damage blade. It’s light and folds flat so can
be hung on a wall.
Value
A classy and very practical sawhorse for garden use, but a
little pricey.
Score
11
/15
Adjustable
Saw Horse
Bench
£19.99 plus
£2.99 delivery
mainland UK delivery
Forestmaster.com
0191 265 5000
Features
Steel and wood stand for chainsawing multiple logs at once.
Height: 28-51in (72-130cm). Length: 26in (64cm). Width: 23in
(59cm). Weight: 8.2kg. Max log weight: 150kg. Log securing
chains. One-year guarantee. Simple self-assembly.
Performance
A strong, well-made, good-looking unit that’s quick to put
together. Quick and easy to load with multiple logs – it’s not
designed for one log. Dropping chain loops over uprights
locks logs in place very effectively. Cutting with a chainsaw
at each end alternately to maintain balance is quick and
easy producing a shower of logs. Cutting over the horse is
safe as there’s no bar to snag the saw blade. This horse is
not intended for use with a bow saw. The unit was quick to
dismantle for storage.
Rinkit.com
01903 726077
Features
This traditional X-frame steel sawhorse adjusts to three
positions for height/best log grip. Height: 36in (92cm).
Length: 40in (101.5cm). Width: 30in (75.5cm). Weight: 4.7kg
Max log weight 150kg. Toothed jaws hold logs up to 10in
(25cm) in diameter. Self-assembly. Folds (but not flat) for
easy storage.
Performance
Fiddly assembly took about half an hour. The three-position
opening was quick and easy to adjust. Comfortable working
height, with lower bar well positioned for a foot to steady
the frame. Stable when working with bow or chainsaw in
spite of lightweight construction. A locking strop would have
been good for thin bits of wood, but heavier pieces gripped
securely by teeth on frame. When cutting over the frame,
the bar beneath the wood can catch the saw blade.
Value
Value
If you have lots of long logs to cut, this specialist, keenly
priced horse will make life much easier.
An effective everyday sawhorse at a great price if you don’t
mind the self-assembly.
20 JANUARY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
45
A Gardener’s Miscellany
This Week In (Gardening)
History – 16-22 January
Four Snowdrop Facts
Q Snowdrops have been referred
to in literature as “Fair Maidens of
February”. This is somewhat of a
misnomer as, although most of our
commonly grown snowdrops do flower
in February, by choosing different types
carefully it is possible to have them
flowering in the garden from late
September through to April.
Q In milder parts of the country
honeybees will fly to snowdrops. This
results in the plants producing abundant
seed, and bees have to be credited for
creating, over the centuries, many new
hybridised strains.
Q Snowdrops tend to thrive around
churches where cutting the grass may
be the only maintenance undertaken.
Q Large drifts of apparently wild
snowdrops are spread by the work
of earthworms, moles and other animals,
rooting around and moving bulbs in
the soil.
Q 17 January 1988: The largest
cactus (Cereus giganteus or
Carnegiea gigantea), rising to a
height of 17.67m (58ft), was
discovered in the Maricopa
Mountains, Arizona, USA.
Southport Flower Show
Getty
Neil Jinkerson
Alamy
Gardening’s king of trivia and brain-teasers, Graham Clarke, offers puzzles
and peculiarities to engage and amuse while you enjoy a well-earned brew!
Q 18 January 1933:
Professor David
Bellamy, botanist,
author and
environmental
campaigner, was born.
Why Do Winter Flowers Often Have Strong Scents?
Q Scent is designed to attract pollinators
from afar, so they will seek out the nectar
as food, and in so doing transfer pollen
and fertilise the flowers.
Q Ever wondered why many hardy
46 AMATEUR GARDENING 20 JANUARY 2018
winter-flowering shrubs have extra
strongly scented flowers? It’s to be sure
they’ll attract the very few pollinators
that happen to be around during the
colder months.
22 January 1919: George Bunyard
VMH, the renowned
fruit grower and
businessman, died. As
a plant breeder he
developed many
varieties of raspberry
and apple, and his
nursery supplied
Kew Gardens.
Wikimedia/George Bunyard
Alamy x2
Q 19 January 1970: The first
Gro-Bag was launched for the
professional grower. Made by
Fisons (based at the village of
Levington in Suffolk), it was followed
by the launch of a similar product for
amateur gardeners four years later.
More than 12 million bags are now
manufactured every year, with the
Levington Original remaining one of
the best-selling branded bags.
Prize Draw
5 Winter Flower Anagrams
Wikimedia/Fabio Zanchetto
Re-arrange the letters of these words
to find five popular winter-flowering
plants. (Answers below)
Abandon Enamel
Acorn Sums
Unwins Season Seeds
6-pack has a selection of
seeds for early sowing
from now through to
spring, including broccoli,
kale, coriander, carrot,
courgette and tomato. We
have five selection packs
to give away, each worth
approximately £15. See
below for details of how
to enter the prize draw.
Wikimedia/Wouter Hagens
How to enter
Send your name and address on the back of a postcard to Unwins Season Seeds 6-pack Draw,
Amateur Gardening, 2 Pinehurst, Pinehurst Road, Farnborough, Hampshire, GU14 7BF. Or you
can email your details to ag giveaway@timeinc.com, heading the email Unwins Season Seeds
6-pack Draw. The closing date is 25 January 2018.
Wikimedia/Mike Peel
Brewery Starter
Alamy
Tweeters Win
TimeInc.
Wheat Zilch
WIN
£30
Wordsearch
contains plant
genera that have varieties with
‘January’ in the name, as well as
other tasks the gardener should
be undertaking in January. These
names and words are listed
above/below, and in the grid they
may be read across, backwards,
up, down or diagonally. Letters
may be shared between words.
Erroneous or duplicate words
may appear in the grid, but there
is only one correct solution. After
the listed words are found there
are 10 letters remaining; arrange
these to make this KEY WORD.
BRASSICA
BRUSH
CLEAN
CROCUS
DIG
ERICA
FORCE
HAMAMELIS
INSPECTING
NARCISSUS
NERINE
PLAN
PRUNING
RECYCLING
SHELTER
P
N
A
R
C
I
S
S
U
S
A
R
P
E
C
R
O
F
R
I
C
E
U
T
E
B
A
E
I
L
I
T
R
N
R
C
C
C
P
E
S
L
O
U
I
Y
E
L
D
M
S
E
S
R
C
N
A
I
N
A
A
H
E
L
I
N
G
T
G
M
R
S
I
R
N
A
E
L
C
A
B
N
E
S
U
C
O
R
C
H
No:
399
G
N
I
T
C
E
P
S
N
I
HOW TO ENTER: Enter this week’s key word on the entry form,
and send it to AG Word Search No 399, Amateur Gardening, 2
Pinehurst, Pinehurst Road, Farnborough, Hampshire GU14 7BF,
to arrive by Wednesday 31 January, 2018. The first correct entry
chosen at random will win our £30 cash prize.
This week’s Keyword is ....................................................................................
Name ..................................................................................................................
Address ..............................................................................................................
.............................................................................................................................
Postcode ............................................................................................................
Email...................................................................................................................
Tel no ..................................................................................................................
Time Inc. (UK) Ltd, publisher of Amateur Gardening will collect your personal information solely to
process your competition entry.
20 JANUARY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
47
Abandon Enamel – Anemone blanda
Acorn Sums – Cornus mas
Brewery Starter – Strawberry Tree
Tweeters Win – Winter Sweet
Wheat Zilch – Witch Hazel
Winter Flower Anagrams Answers
A Gardener’s Miscellany
Crossword
s fo fun
(
)
*
+
,
-
.
/
('
Alamy
0
Crataegus monogyna ‘Biflora’, a form of the common
hawthorn, produces deliciously scented white flowers in
winter. They brighten what is an otherwise lean, sparse and
prickly tree. However, it is better known as the legendary
Glastonbury thorn: Joseph of Arimathea is said to have visited
there, to help spread Christianity, and he thrust his hawthorn
staff into the earth, whereupon it immediately ‘…grew, and
constantl budded and blowed upon Christmas Day’!
(,
(-
(.
(/
(0
)'
Getty
Silk Tassels!
Alamy
A Bit Of A Stink!
The so-called ‘stinking hellebore’
(Helleborus foetidus) is a striking, rather
than beautiful, winter-flowering perennial.
It carries greenish yellow blooms above dark
green leaves. The foetid part of the name is a little unfair, as the
plant only demonstrates this stinking characteristic when it is
bruised or damaged.
(*
(+
The Glastonbury Thorn
One of the most iconic of
winter flowers, although
lacking vibrant colour, is the
silk tassel bush (Garrya
elliptica). Best grown in
the shelter of a wall, for
protection against cold
winter winds, it hails from the
warm coastal climate of
California. It is named after
Nicholas Garry, a respected
deputy governor of the
Hudson’s Bay Company.
()
((
ACROSS
1 The kiwi fruit genus (9)
7 Americans refer to their garden
as this – and it has three feet (4)
8 ‘Sumi-Nagashi’, ‘Osakazuki’
and ‘Bloodgood’ are all cultivars
of this (4)
9 The blackcurrant varieties ‘___
Sarek’, ‘___ Connan’ and ‘___
Lomond’ have this boy in
common! (3)
11 Common name for Ruta
graveolens (3)
12 Canna ‘___ Soleil’ and rose
‘Rose du ___’ are king! (3)
13 This award-winning climbing
rose variety sees another early
morning, you could say! (3, 4)
14 Hazel, walnut or Brazil,
according to an eccentric
person, perhaps (3)
15 Expression, according to
aesthetic principles, of what is
beautiful or appealing, as in
artemisia and heartsease (3)
16 The 17th letter of the modern
Greek alphabet, and the first part
of a popular ericaceous shrub! (3)
18 British nobleman next in
rank above a viscount and
below a marquess, as in the
rhododendrons ‘____ of Athlone’
and ‘____ of Donoughmore’ (4)
19 Pinus contorta is known as the
lodgepole ____ (4)
20 This dancer is a Polyantha
rose, whilst ‘Prima _________’ is
a hybrid tea rose (9)
DOWN
2 Shrub genus, with the common
name of the Californian tree
anemone (11)
3 Physocarpus opulifolius is the
common ____bark, according to
this number (4)
4 Embodying some quality, idea,
or the like – in a type of dianthus
perhaps! (11)
5 Mophead and Lacecap
woodland shrub (9)
6 Structure on which an apple, or
a pear, or a plum, or a peach,
develop! (5,4)
9 Shady, leafy shelter or recess in
a garden or woods (5)
10 The New Zealand guitar wood
tree (Myoporum laetum) is also
known as this (5)
17 A coastal Sussex town can be
found in a shovel and a hover
mower! (4)
ACROSS 1 Actinidia 7 Yard 8 Acer 9 Ben 11 Rue 12 Roi 13 New Dawn 14 Nut 15 Art
16 Rho 18 Earl 19 Pine 20 Ballerina
DOWN 2 Carpenteria 3 Nine 4 Incarnation 5 Hydrangea 6 Fruit tree 9 Bower
10 Ngaio 17 Hove
CROSSWORD ANSWERS
3 Fiction Books With Winter
Flowers In The Title
The Winter Rose (Jennifer Donnelly)
A Wallflower Christmas (Lisa Kleypas)
pictured right
The Secret of Villa Mimosa (Elizabeth Adler)
48 AMATEUR GARDENING 20 JANUARY 2018
KEYWORD TO WORDSEARCH 394 (AG 9 DECEMBER)
CHIMONANTHUS
AND THE WINNER IS: JOHN WILKINSON, DEWSBURY,
WEST YORKSHIRE
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Write to us: Ask The AG Experts, Amateur Gardening magazine,
Pinehurst 2, Pinehurst Road, Farnborough Business Park,
Farnborough, Hants, GU14 7BF.
Email us: amateurgardening@timeinc.com
with Wendy Humphries
Power to the daisy!
Star
letter
The snow-covered Power Daisy…
…and back to full glory on 18 December
Hedges that cross boundaries
I’M not usually moved to write to AG,
but was I alone in finding Michael
Hughes’s comments on rampant
hedges (AG, 16 December) being a
nuisance a wee bitty holier-than-thou?
While it would be good if we all had
the right knowledge about the size
trees and shrubs will grow to, not all
of us are so scientific in our gardening
approach. I’m certainly not, and I
have ‘rescued’ trees and shrubs from
supermarkets and garden centres that
were not being treated properly, not
realising they would grow rather more
than I had expected! I did have a tree
expert round a few weeks ago, who
I
’VE always loved calendulas, and
when Peter Seabrook wrote about
the ‘Power Daisy’ in his column last
summer, stating that this was a new
calendula that would just bloom and
bloom, I bought a few plants at a garden
centre and put them in a hanging
basket. I expected them to look good
throughout the summer. And they did.
However, the picture (right) shows
that basket outside my kitchen door,
crowned with snow, on 10 December,
and a week later (below) still looking
good! I truly believe it will live forever.
Patricia White, Barnet,
Hertfordshire
Wendy says: The ‘Power Daisy’
obviously has real staying power!
gave all my trees a nice trim, but I
rather think Mr Hughes would still find
my garden on the exuberant side!
In most cases, if hedges become
a bit unmanageable, couldn’t
good neighbours just trim off the
overhanging bits? Personally, I’d
rather see a ‘wild garden’ than a
concrete jungle.
Mary Brown, Banchory,
Aberdeenshire
Photo
of the
week
I THOUGHT you might like to see this picture of our front
garden taken by our granddaughter last summer. My wife
Sylvia is 85 and I am 90 years old. Gardening has been
my hobby since I was a young lad. Now I have to use a
50 AMATEUR GARDENING 20 JANUARY 2018
kneeler to do the planting but I do still enjoy it.
Arthur and Sylvia Hockin, Barnstaple, North Devon
Wendy says: Those flower beds are immaculate.
Share your stories, tips and photos with us and if your
letter is published you will receive a new book.
When you write, please indicate your area of interest!
Your desert island picks…
“Let’s have a lupin revival”
AS you can see from my photo (left),
my desert island plant would have
to be the lupin. You can’t beat the
colours and they last forever. These
plants were deadheaded three times
and flowered well into October. I
wholeheartedly agree with Camilla
Phelps in her article about the cottage
garden (AG, 23 December) – let’s have
a lupin revival!
Joan Etherington, via email
“Auriculas are like my babies”
I SO enjoyed reading the desert
island plant picks of the AG team and
other horticultural experts (AG, 23
December). For me, I just could not live
without my auriculas – they are like my
babies! If I had to choose just one to
take, it would have to be my ‘Lockyers
Frilly’… utter perfection in its flowers.
These delightful plants never cease to
amaze me and I could look at them all
day long.
Sylvia Monk, Hayling Island,
Hampshire
Wendy says: I agree, they are quite
special and hope you enjoy our feature
about the primula family on page 28.
‘Masquerade’ – “my sentimental rose”
HERE is a picture of my climbing rose, ‘Masquerade’, taken in early December
producing late pale flowers. I hacked it back twice this year, and never feed it!
My choice of roses usually reflects sentimental attachments rather any
gardening expertise, and as ‘Masquerade’ was one of my dear dad’s favourites I
was really pleased to find it here when we moved in 14 years ago. It never fails to
thrive, despite my lack of kindness.
Many thanks for your lovely magazine. Just the right amount of words, pictures
and easy-to-follow advice. Carry on the good work.
Mary Gurteen, Norwich, Norfolk
Reader’s
Quick
Tip
Amateur
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Meet the team! Features:
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TO create a bottle garden, use a
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or brandy glass. Use plants that need
high humidity, such as peperomia,
pilea, fittonia or ferns. Add a layer of
gravel, compost and dress with moss.
Jo Wering, Arundel, West Sussex
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20 JANUARY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
51
the look
Get
Ideas for gorgeous gardens
Embrace the view by sticking to planting that enhances rather than blocks the
countryside beyond the garden. Dahlia ‘Rebecca’s World’ and the globe
thistle Echinops bannaticus ‘Blue Globe’ are included in the mix.
High and mighty
A hillside setting means David and Elizabeth Smith are living the high life in
their third-of-an-acre garden that offers a variety of growing environments
Words by Sue Bradley/photography by Howard Walker
C
REATING a garden some 1,000ft
(300m) above sea level might
seem a daunting task, but David
and Elizabeth Smith were
prepared for a challenge when they
moved to West Yorkshire six years ago.
In fact, after a number of work-related
moves to different parts of the country,
it was almost as if the couple had been
building up the skills they would need
to make the most of a hillside setting
featuring a range of different growing
environments. Whether it was dry,
sandy soils or damp, shady spots, their
experience stood them in good stead
for ensuring year-round interest on their
third-of-an-acre plot.
“We looked at several houses in the
52 AMATEUR GARDENING 20 JANUARY 2018
area and it was important for us to have
a garden,” says Elizabeth, a teacher and
textiles artist.
Another reason for moving to Scape
“It’s the ultimate
challenge in
some ways”
Lodge, a 13-year-old house built on an
old quarry in the village of Scapegoat
Hill, was its fine views towards Bolster
Moor and the Peak District National
Park. From the beginning, Elizabeth and
David were keen to ensure their garden
sat comfortably in the landscape. This
meant working with what they found
when they moved in, including a
gazebo and pergola; removing anything
that didn’t fit, including conifers; and
taking their cues from the countryside
around them. They also drew on
landscapes and gardens they had
seen on their travels.
“We wanted the garden to have
a sense of the place,” says David,
who recently retired from his role
as a director of resources for a local
authority. “Some areas have a mixture
of herbaceous plants, grasses and
shrubs that are cultivated versions of
Make an entrance by lining a driveway with plants such as Eupatorium
maculatum Atropurpureum, Hydrangea aspera Villosa Group
and fragrant lavender. The conifers are in a neighbour’s garden
Attract wildlife by installing a pond. This one is attached to a stone wall, the edges
of which are softened with plants such as Melianthus major and pots of echeveria
Agapanthus sits
alongside Felicia
amelloides, a favourite with
Vita Sackville-West, Salvia
‘African Sky’ and
Convolvulus sabatius
the local flora. Likewise, the shade
garden has planting that is reminiscent
of the vegetation in the local cloughs
[steep valleys].”
The couple also wanted to grow fruit
and vegetables, plus flowers for cutting,
and earmarked a south-facing slope for
the purpose, with Elizabeth overcoming
its thin covering of soil by building deep
raised beds. She and David chose the
varieties carefully in order to ensure
success within the confines of a shorter
season brought about by the altitude
and climate, which can be windy and
cold. The kitchen garden’s proximity to
the lounge windows meant it needed to
look good, too.
Wildlife-friendly features such as
ponds and nectar-rich flowers were a
further consideration, as was Elizabeth’s
collection of succulents.
Clearly all the ‘training’ on previous
gardens has paid off for the Smiths, who
are relishing the opportunity to work on
a joint project.
“It’s the ultimate challenge in some
ways because the garden changes
over time and we cannot control
everything,” says Elizabeth. “We are in
quite an exposed spot, but the weather
conditions are not a barrier to having a
lovely garden: I think a lot of people are
surprised by what we can grow.”
20 JANUARY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
53
High and mighty
These seats are located on a warm spot along the
driveway. Lavender makeS this an especially fragrant spot
An inverted
ridge tile is used to
channel water between
the wildlife and
goldfish ponds
Terracing on this steep
slope makes beds easier
to access. This slope faces
south, making it the perfect
spot for a kitchen and
cutting garden
Create a cool spot by training plants such as golden hop, clematis and
honeysuckle over a pergola. Pots of plants add extra interest
Arrange succulents on a small table
to provide an eye-catching display
54 AMATEUR GARDENING 20 JANUARY 2018
Embrace shady spots and make the
most of the opportunity to plant
them with attractive ferns, such
as Cyrtomium fortunei and
Gymnocarpium dryopteris
Attract butterflies
by planting insect-friendly
specimens such as
Eryngium giganteum
‘Silver Ghost’
Meet the owners
OWNERS
David and
Elizabeth Smith
ADDRESS
Scape Lodge,
11 Grand Stand,
Scapegoat Hill, Golcar,
Huddersfield, HD7 4NQ
GARDEN SIZE One-third of an acre
ASPECT Mostly south-east facing
SOIL Mixture of thin and sandy
acidic soil and imported clay
VISITED August
SPECIAL FEATURES Hillside
garden with naturalistic planting,
wildlife and ornamental ponds,
fruit, vegetable and cutting beds
on a terrace, shaded area and deck
OPEN FOR THE NGS IN 2018
Sundays 20 May and 19 August,
1pm-5pm, and by arrangement in
June, July and August
20 JANUARY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
55
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Toby Buckland
Nurseryman and former Gardeners’ World host
Toby’s top tips
Rosa Teasing Georgia
1
David Austin Roses
Rugosa roses are disease-free
and tough enough to grow
even in very sandy soils. They
also make excellent hedges.
Through rose-tinted glasses
Toby says choose a rose with your head, not your heart!
Photos Time Inc/Alamy
N
OMOPHOBIA is the terror of
being in the garden without a
mobile phone signal. It shouldn’t
be confused with gnomophobia,
the terror of being in the garden with
a garden gnome. Thankfully, I suffer
from neither, although I must take care
when choosing roses not to succumb to
a different modern affliction known as
‘options paralysis’.
Knowing I’m a potential victim is
the first step to recovery. The next is
to set strict selection criteria and
then try to stick to them.
First, decide on what shape of rose
you want, whether it’s a shrub, dwarf
floribunda, climber and so on. Then,
rather than go straight in on a colour,
look for varieties that suit the soil type
and aspect of the garden. Roses are
hungry plants that love having their
heads in the sunshine and their feet in
clay or silt, soils that cling to nutrients
in the same way that they cling to the
bottom of your boots.
Only a few roses thrive in “poor”
soils, such as chalks and sands or
where the topsoil is shallow. Once
you’ve got a list of roses that work in
your soil, only then choose for disease
resistance, scent and finally colour.
It might seem counter-intuitive, but
if you dive in with a fixed idea of shape
and hue you’re in danger of ending up
with a rose that displays more signs of
disease than flowers.
Finally, once you’ve chosen a colour
scheme, stick to it – although this is
harder than it sounds.
This winter I’m planting up a wall
with poor soil at its feet where, as a
rule, white or yellow rose varieties
would work well. ‘Teasing Georgia’, a
beautiful butter-yellow scented shrub,
is brilliant, as is the single yellow/white
blossomer ‘Kew Gardens’. With ‘Roserie
de l’Hay’ (a rugosa rose), foxgloves and
blue cranesbills for company, the area
should look stunning.
Planting a rose
DIG a hole big enough to
accommodate the roots without
bending them if planting a bare-root
rose, or five times the width of the
pot if it is containerised. Fork over
the base to break up any compaction
and add a few buckets of well-rotted
manure or compost, then backfill.
If planting near a wall, dig the hole
2ft (60cm) out from the brickwork,
angling the top of the rose towards
the wall and the roots away. Sprinkle
roots with mycorrhizal planting
powder (see right) and plant deep,
2
Before replanting into soil
previously occupied by roses,
replace the top 4sq ft (60x60cm)
with soil from elsewhere.
Yet time and again I’m tempted to
add some sumptuous sherbet-pink
roses like ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ and ‘Blairii
No2’, which would not only clash but
also fail to thrive.
So when selecting roses, prioritise
varieties that suit your soil, then plump
for disease resistances. Finally, pick the
colour and stick to it – if you can.
burying the knobbly rootstock and
the bottom 4in (10cm) of stem below
the surrounding level of the soil. Firm
and water in.
20 JANUARY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
59
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