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Amateur Gardening - 21 April 2018

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● How to take them
BEST PRACTICAL ADVICE SINCE 1884
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27
Take
dahlia
cuttings
On test:
sowing
seed tools
Dramatic
Dahlias!
Best dark-leaved
varieties for impact
How to grow garden pinks — Anne’s top tips
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This week in
SUBSCRIBE
TODAY!
Amateur
Call
or:
21 APRIL 2018
0330 333 1113
amateurgardeningsubs.co.uk
Jobs for this week
6
4
6
7
8
13
14
“I am taking dahlia cuttings from
new shoots” says Ruth
SPRING CUTTINGS SPECIAL
Best techniques for taking softwood and basal cuttings
DAHLIAS – FROM SEED AND CUTTINGS
How Ruth makes more plants from spring shoots
CITRUS CARE IN SPRING
Get your fruit trees ready to move outside
DIVIDE ALPINE CUTTINGS
Pot-on last summer’s rockery cuttings says Ruth
FREE SEEDS: PANSY MR F’S EARLY MIXED F1
Plus how to sow indoors and outside
PRUNE EARLY-BLOOMING SHRUBS
Give them time to grow for next year’s blossom
Great garden ideas
20
20
24
28
32
55
“Vibrant blooms can outshine
the sun,” says Graham
PICK OF THE VERY BEST: FRENCH MARIGOLD
They are all gorgeous, but which are the top six?
THE SEED PEOPLE
New series about the companies that create our flowers
27 WAYS TO MAKE YOUR GARDEN ECO-FRIENDLY
How we can all do something to make a diference
DARK-LEAVED DAHLIAS
How these varieties really burst out of their background
GET THE LOOK
An ‘Arts and Crafts’ garden in Gwent
32
“Dark-leaved dahlias have
huge impact” says Graham
Alamy
Alamy
Gardening wisdom
10
16
17
18
37
38
44
48
51
59
PETER SEABROOK
Smart ways to more successful pots and containers
BOB FLOWERDEW
It’s time to ‘thin-out’ to get the best from your plants
VAL BOURNE’S GARDEN WILDLIFE
Are there orange-tip butterflies in your garden?
LUCY CHAMBERLAINS’S FRUIT AND VEG
Sow sweetcorn, leeks, peas and earth-up early spuds
ANNE’S MASTERCLASS
How to give your lupins the best chance of success
YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Moving wisteria, gooseberries in pots, care for hellebores
GARDENER’S MISCELLANY
Why England’s rose isn’t real, plus puzzles and teasers
HOW TO GROW GARDEN PINKS
Anne shows you how to get colourful perennials all summer
YOUR LETTERS
The truth about cats, plastic in tea bags, top tip for tulips
TOBY BUCKLAND
Where there’s a willow there’s a way says Toby
Product tests
37
“This week’s masterclass is all
about lupins” says Anne
GIVE A GIFT SUBSCRIPTION!
Call
0330 333 1113
or: amateurgardeningsubs.co.uk
Cover photograph: Dahlia Happy Single Wink (pic: GAP)
42
TRIED AND TESTED
6 seed-sowing tools to help senior gardeners
“It’s fiery breast was splattered with mud as it
emerged from the hole and then proceeded
to hop from side to side with a worm quickly
disappearing into its beak. It looked comical
and lovely at the same time. Was the Robin’s
dance a celebration, or was it thanking me for
digging the hole? Oh the joys of gardening!”
Garry Coward-Williams, Editor
21 APRIL 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
3
Gardening Week
with AG’s gardening expert Ruth Hayes
Step
by step
Take rose
cuttings
New plants by summer’s end
One parent plant can create
several new ones
1
Cut a length of this year’s
healthy growth up to 12in (30cm)
long from just above a leaf node.
Cuttings taken now should shoot away and
be ready to harden of by late summer
The tender growth of
softwood cuttings can be
prone to greenfly and other
pests, so keep an eye on
them and squish any
before they infest
your plants
2
Cut it into sections above each
leaf node, so each piece is
topped with a leaflet. Pinch out and
discard the growing tip.
Taking spring cuttings
A simple way to get more plants for free, says Ruth
O
Penstemon and verbena, as well as
NE of the most exciting things
deciduous shrubs including buddleja,
about spring is that it’s the
fuchsia and hydrangea.
prime time to get more plants
Another technique is taking basal
for free. As the garden surges
cuttings, when you remove a length of
back into growth, you can trim your
new growth from the base of the plant.
plants and use the off-cuts to create
n be used on plants that
new ones.
ate multiple stems from their
Between now and early
own, such as delphiniums
summer, when plant shoots
nd lupins.
are fresh and tender, you
Take cuttings early in the
can take softwood and
morning when the plants are
basal cuttings. Like small
ill turgid (full of liquid) using
children, they will soon put
Humidity stops the
arp, clean tools, and buy
on a growth spurt and
cuttings dehydrating
h compost and rooting
transform into mature plants
und each year.
that are ready to harden off
Softwood and basal cuttings usually
join their parents in the garden.
Semi-ripe and hardwood cuttings are only take a couple of months to root and
if taken by mid-summer, there may be
taken in late summer and autumn when
time to harden them off and plant them
the plant material has matured and is
out this year. In colder areas, however,
hard at the base, with soft tips.
you may need to overwinter them
Softwood cuttings are an easy way
undercover and plant them next year
of propagating hardy and tender
perennials such as roses, pelargoniums, when they have had time to mature.
4 AMATEUR GARDENING 21 APRIL 2018
3
Dip the cut end of each section
in hormone rooting gel or
powder to boost the development
of healthy roots. Tap off any excess.
4
Insert the cuttings into a mix
of compost and perlite. They
should root in 6-10 weeks and can
then be potted on.
Woody herbs: In next week’s AG (in the shops
April 24) I show you how and why you should
give your woody herbs their spring trim.
Cut out the spine
of long leaves
Right equipment
for the job
African violet leaves
are quick to root
Cuttings
compost
and perlite
being
mixed in a
4in (10cm)
clay pot
Set the streptocarpus leaves in a
gritty mix of compost and perlite
Make more houseplants
Leaf cuttings are the way of creating more young plants
ANY indoor plants can be
propagated using their
leaves. This is a simple
process, best done in late
spring or summer when the plants are
in full growing mode.
Select a healthy-looking, medium
sized leaf and cut it from the plant using
sharp, clean scissors or a knife.
You can either slice away the central
spine of the leaf, or cut the leaf across
into three or four broad sections.
These are inserted into trays of
dampened compost that has been
M
Step
by step
mixed with a little sharp sand or perlite.
African violets can be propagated by
removing entire leaves and inserting
their stems into the compost mix.
Seal the cuttings tray in a plastic bag
and place it somewhere light and warm.
New leaflets should start to appear at
the base of the parent cuttings within six
to eight weeks.
Once they are large enough to
handle, pot them up as individual plants
in houseplant compost. They should
flower once they have matured, around
a year later.
Cuttings root best in fresh seed
and cuttings compost mixed with a
little perlite to make a lighter
growing medium and
Help strong roots
allow air and water to
develop
circulate around
developing roots.
Use fresh compost
and new or wellwashed pots.
Clay pots can be
better than plastic as t
are slightly porous, which reduces
the risk of waterlogging and lets the
cuttings breathe.
Rooting powder or gel helps
strong roots develop. It can soon
get sappy, so buy new each year.
Increase lupin stocks by taking basal cuttings
1
Clear away some soil from the
crown of the parent plant. Choose
a strong shoot around 4in (10cm) long
and cut it off from the base.
2
Prevent the cuttings from drying
out by temporarily storing them in a
plastic bag somewhere cool and shady
while you prepare their pots.
Cut away the side leaves leaving
just the main shoot. If left, the
extra leaves would take energy
needed for the rooting process.
4
5
6
Dip the cuttings in rooting
compound and inset them
around the edge of a clay pot of
gritty cuttings compost.
Water them using a fine rose and
then place the pot in a heated
propagator or seal it in a plastic bag to
keep humidity around the cuttings.
3
Place the cuttings somewhere
warm and light. They will soon
take root and start to put on growth,
becoming ready for potting on.
21 APRIL 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
5
Gardening Week
with AG’s gardening expert Ruth Hayes
Dahlias from seed
Healthy tubers will develop
over the course of a summer
Dahlias grown from cuttings
will form tubers this year, so
you can lift them in autumn
and store them for next
year – and create
another generation
of shoots!
Lifting border dahlia tubers
Keep checking
stored tubers and
corms, and discard
any that don’t look
or feel healthy
Taking dahlia cuttings
Ruth makes more plants using this spring’s new shoots
HINGS are moving forward for
certain plants in the world of
tender corms and tubers, while
others are still sitting tight and
waiting for the frosts to finish.
Gladioli corms that were lifted last
autumn are best kept in storage until
after the last frosts have passed.
Mine have overwintered under the
greenhouse staging in stacked trays
of dry sandy compost.
I check them over every couple of
weeks to make sure they are still firm
T
Step
by step
and healthy, and haven’t been attacked
by rots or mould.
The dahlia tubers I potted up several
weeks ago have started to shoot, but I
will keep them undercover for a few
more weeks before I gradually harden
them off and plant them in the borders.
Again, I will wait for the frosts to clear,
but in the meantime I am going to get
more plants for free by using some of
the shoots as softwood cuttings.
After potting them up, they will start to
grow and root in a few weeks. You can
Last summer I sowed some
Dahlia ‘Mignon’, which are favoured
by bees and other pollinators.
They put on a
Sow thinly for
wonderful show
healthy seedlings
into early autumn
and by the time
they finished
had developed
healthy tubers.
I lifted and
overwintered
them and hope th
will flower again this year.
The seeds should be sown thinly
onto damp compost, covered and
kept somewhere light and warm
until germination.
Prick out the seedlings when large
enough and grow them on.
Plant them out in borders or tubs
when the threat of frost has passed.
then separate them and pot them up
individually. Harden them off and plant
them out where you want them to grow
– with any luck, they will flower this year.
Taking cuttings
1
Select strong, healthy
shoots that are around
3in (7cm) long. Cut them
from the tuber using a
sharp, clean knife.
6 AMATEUR GARDENING 21 APRIL 2018
2
3
Dip the cut ends into
Insert the cuttings
fresh rooting compound
around the edge of a
or powder to boost strong
4in (10cm) pot of dampened
root development. Tap off
seed and cuttings compost
any excess.
mixed with perlite.
4
Cover the pot with a
clear plastic bag and
place it somewhere warm
and light. Cuttings should
soon take root and grow.
Neat and tidy: Pinch out fast-growing
water shoots to keep your citrus in a
neat and manageable shape.
Step
by step
Top-dress your citrus plant if you
aren’t re-potting it this spring
Re-potting
a citrus
Plant up before moving outside
1
Citrus are hungry plants and like
free-draining compost, so I used
John Innes No3 with multi-purpose
compost and grit.
Feed with a summer
citrus fertiliser
Citrus plants don’t make
ideal houseplants (apart
from a light conservatory)
as a dry centrally heated
atmosphere can stress
the plant and scorch
its leaves.
2
Water the tree well so it’s easy
to remove from its pot. If roots
are circling, tease them open and
lightly trim the ends.
Citrus care in spring
Get your hardy trees ready to move outside, says Ruth
C
ITRUSES rarely do well if
overwintered outside in this
country, so my lemon spent
the colder months in the
greenhouse. Although it is unheated, it
is light (which they like) and I wrapped
it in fleece on very cold nights.
Citrus trees grow little, if at all, in
winter, but now the temperature is rising
they will start to shoot again. It will soon
be warm enough to move them back
outside and most will be happy in a
warm, sheltered spot between mid-June
and late September.
If your tree needs re-potting, do it
now while it is still undercover. If it is
staying in its current container, you can
either lift it and lightly trim the roots or
leave it as it is, and simply remove the
top few layers of old compost and
refresh with new.
The best compost to use is a loam-
based John Innes No2 or No3. If you
have to use hard tap water for irrigation,
counter it by planting in loamy
ericaceous compost.
Between now and October you
should also change your citrus fertiliser
to a summer food that is rich in
nitrogen. Specific citrus feeds are
available, but nitrogen-rich lawn food
is another option.
Your plant will also need frequent
watering, ideally with rainwater. Stand it
on a large saucer filled with gravel that is
kept damp to raise humidity around the
leaves. In summer, you should also mist
the leaves with water in the morning.
Citruses need minimal pruning, but
you should pinch out the tops of fastgrowing branches in summer.
Take care when pruning and avoid
stabbing yourself with their sharp,
well-hidden thorns!
3
Plant it so the top of the rootball
is 1in (2.5cm) below the rim of
the pot and in-fill with more of the
compost and grit mix. Firm it down.
4
Water the plant well. Stand the
container on a tray of gravel so
water can collect underneath and
keep the atmosphere humid.
21 APRIL 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
7
Gardening Week
with AG’s gardening expert Ruth Hayes
Helianthemum is attractive and easy
to propagate via cuttings
Rockery care
in springtime
Small cuttings will
soon take
If your cuttings surge
ahead and start to look
rather straggly, pinch out
their growing tips to keep
them in a rounded shape
and encourage more
robust, bushy
growth
Divide alpine cuttings
Pot on last summer’s rockery cuttings, says Ruth
T the end of last summer I took
a number of Helianthemum
(rock rose) cuttings. It was part
of our ‘rockery rehabilitation’
programme and I was hoping to
plant them out this summer to fill any
remaining gaps between the stones.
The cuttings took well in a large pot
and spent the winter in a cold frame.
Alpines are relatively easy to grow
from cuttings as the mix of seed and
A
Step
by step
cuttings compost and perlite used to
start them off is similar to the thin, freedraining soils they favour.
The next stage for the cuttings is to be
moved on into individual containers of
richer compost where they can continue
to grow and develop strong roots and
healthy top growth. I used John Innes
No 2, but they would do equally well in
multi-purpose with a little sharp sand or
grit to help drainage.
Keep alpine plants free
of fast-growing weeds
Alpine plants wouldn’t have
minded the snow that heralded the
start of spring, but they won’t like
the wet weather that followed it.
Keep plants healthy by sitting them
on a mulch of gravel.
This raises the leaves off
wet earth and m
it harder for slug
Gravel keeps
and snails
foliage healthy
to attack.
Weed around
them regularly.
Many alpines
are low growing
and can easily be
swamped by fas
growing, invasive weeds.
There is no need to water as
alpines need little moisture unless
we experience prolonged drought.
Moving Helianthemum cuttings into pots
1
2
3
4
The cuttings I took developed healthy
Stand their pot in water until the
root systems and put on growth. They
rootball is saturated. This makes it
are ready to pot up individually.
easier to slide out intact.
The cuttings will continue growing
and can be planted out in summer
Put each one on a 4in (10cm) pot and
infill with John Innes No 2 compost
with a little sharp sand. Water and
place in a cold frame.
8 AMATEUR GARDENING 21 APRIL 2018
Using your thumbs, carefully tease
each cutting apart, taking care to
separate the roots without tearing them.
They should each have grown
robust root systems and put on
good growth. Check them for pests.
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-); 0(< 6-& / ->7;6)+ 7;; 6-& / ;+ B 08 9 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 top tips
New terracotta pots and wooden
half barrels are best soaked in
water before use. Put a cork in the
drainage holes and fill with water
overnight
Will simple terracotta give way
to colour-coordinated pots?
Everyone’s going potty!
Here are my tips for pots and containers, says Peter
T
10 AMATEUR GARDENING 21 APRIL 2018
gain height. The wider, more squat
shapes will be much more stable in
exposed positions.
Remember that the sunny sides of
black and dark containers get very hot in
summer weather, so roots against this
surface can get burnt. The answer here,
and when growing plants in Alibabashaped pots, is to have a slightly smaller
pot inside to hold the plant. A small air
Stand plants in
saucers through
the summer, so
if the compost
gets very dry
and water runs
straight through
it is caught in
the saucer and
drawn up again
by capillarity
“A small gap will be
a good insulator”
gap will serve as a good insulator, akin to
double-glazed windows.
When buying terracotta look for frost
resistance, and even here it may well be
worth having a pot within the pot to
prevent compost freezing, expanding
and cracking the terracotta if we have
another very hard frost.
Where you have a number of
plants in containers, an automatic
watering system will save work and
give better growth
Alamy/Time Inc/Peter Seabrook
HE steady increase in sales, year
on year, of potting composts is
clear evidence that more of us
are growing in containers than
out of the soil. There is also a move to
colour and style of pot coordination, if
displays in garden centres are a guide.
When buying pots there are a number
of things to remember. First and
foremost is the weight, because when,
for example, terracotta and reconstituted
stone are full of wet compost, they
become heavy – especially in the larger
sizes. Check too that the opening at the
top is straight and wider than the
shoulders and side, so the rootball can
be easily removed when you need to
pot on to a larger container.
If you plant up woody perennials in
what I call Alibaba-shaped pots, when it
comes to repotting you either have to
smash the original pot, or wash out the
compost with a pressure hose – which
is a messy business.
Tall containers that are narrow at
the base and wide at the top are very
prone to blowing over when leafy plants
Pots and
hanging baskets
with water
reservoirs built
into the base
do not need
watering quite
so often and
make irrigating
easier. Wilko
has a good
one for tomatoes
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Gardening Week
with AG’s gardening expert Ruth Hayes
Step
by step
Sow thinly and plant out later
Sow out
in summer
Preparation for germination
Plants stop flowering in
severe winters and enter a
period of dormancy. They
will start to bloom again
when the temperature
rises in spring.
1
Cheerful colour for
the colder months
Prepare the soil for sowing by
creating a fine tilth. Remove
stones, weeds and debris, dig
over the soil, break up any
remaining clods then rake well
to create light, grainy soil.
Sow some early cheer
Look to the future and sow for next spring, says Ruth
UCH of this season’s spring
bedding is still flowering
well, so it seems ridiculously
premature to start thinking
about next year’s plants.
But if you want to save money and
have the satisfaction of raising some of
yours from scratch, get sowing this
week’s free seeds.
Mr Fothergill’s ‘Early Mixed F1’ pansies
can either be sown indoors now, or
outside between May and July where
you want them to flower.
M
Caring for this
year’s flowers
Q Spring bedding planted up in
autumn should still be flowering well.
Q Keep it at its best by deadheading,
so the plants put energy into new
buds rather than ripening seeds.
Q Keep an eye out for pests.
Q Pansies and violas are prone to the
fungal disease leaf spot. Remove and
destroy infected plants – don’t
compost them.
Q You can reduce the risk of fungal
problems by weeding around plants
and keeping them well ventilated.
These pansies are large and showy,
blooming in a riot of bold colours, some
solid and some with ‘blotched’ centres.
They grow to a height of 6in (15cm)
and will look delightful clustered around
trees and in containers.
They should also flower well as part of
indoor arrangements.
They are easy to sow and if started off
now should be pricked out once the
seedlings are large enough to handle,
hardened off and planted out when the
threat of late spring frosts has passed.
Deadhead to prolong blooming and
watch out for the disease black spot
2
Sow seeds thinly where you
want them to grow. Gently
rake soil over the top, water and
protect from cats and birds. When
seedlings are large enough, thin
them out to 2in (5cm) apart. Keep
weed-free.
Sow your seeds
indoors now
Q Sow your seeds thinly in a tray or
pot of seed and cuttings compost.
Q Cover with a thin layer of
compost or vermiculite and water
the seeds well.
Q Label, cover the seeds and place
them on a light, warm windowsill.
Q Remove the cover after
germination, grow the seeds on
and pot on individually when large
enough to handle.
Q Harden them off and plant
outside in late summer or autumn.
21 APRIL 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
13
Gardening Week
with AG’s gardening expert Ruth Hayes
Prune your early blooming shrubs
Give them plenty of time to grow for next year’s blossom, says Ruth
S
HRUBS that flower in winter
and early spring need pruning
as soon as they have finished
blooming. They produce buds
on the previous year’s growth, so the
longer they have to grow, the better
their blossom will be.
Cutting back evergreen and
deciduous varieties such as Viburnum
tinus, flowering currant, witch hazel and
forsythia doesn’t just remove the spent
flowers, it also lets you re-shape the
shrub and deal with pests and disease.
My Viburnum tinus has fallen prey to
viburnum beetles, which have eaten
its leaves leaving them holed and
discoloured. I cut away as many as I
could and treated the rest of the plant
with an organic pesticide, which will
hopefully keep the larvae (active
between late April and June) at bay.
Always use sharp, clean tools and
start by removing dead, diseased and
damaged material. Cut out weak and
spindly branches and any that are
congested or rubbing together.
Create an open, attractive shape with
plenty of room for growth and good
ventilation, as this reduces the risk of
fungal problems.
What’s
on
Prune well for
fantastic blossom
Give early flowering shrubs plenty
of time to put on new growth
If you have an old, overgrown plant,
rejuvenate it by cutting one-third of its
branches right back to the base this year,
another third the next and so on. This
may look drastic, but it will encourage
new shoots that will soon mature.
Shrubs that already have a good
shape should need little attention – just
Things to do near you
Learn about pruning fruit trees
at Pennards Plants on 25 April
April 21: Alpine Garden Society
Midlands Show, Arden School, Station
Road, Knowle, West Midlands B93
0PT. 01386 554790,
alpinegardensociety.net
21: Auriculas Are Not Difficult: Hillview
Hardy Plants, Worfield, Nr Bridgnorth,
Shropshire WV15 5NT 01746
716454, hillviewhardyplants.com
21: The Annual Garden: Godinton
House, Godinton Lane, Ashford, Kent
TN23 3BP. 01233 643854,
godintonhouse.co.uk
14 AMATEUR GARDENING 21 APRIL 2018
Cut out unhealthylooking growth
21-22: Wild Food Wander, Kedleston
National Trust hall, near Quarndon,
Derby, DE22 5JH. 01332 842191
21-22: RHS National Rhododendron
Competition: RHS Garden Rosemoor,
Great Torrington, Rosemoor, Torrington,
Devon EX38 8PH. 0203 176 5830;
rhs.org.uk/gardens/rosemoor
21-22: Tregothnan Annual Charity
Opening, Tregothnan, Tresillian, Truro,
Cornwall TR2 4AN 01872 520000
tregothnan.co.uk
21-22: Spring Plant Fair: RHS Garden
Hyde Hall, Creephedge Lane,
Rettendon, Chelmsford, Essex CM3 8ET.
0203 176 5830, rhs.org.uk/gardens/
hyde-hall
21: Plant Hunters’ Fair: Battlefield 1403,
Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY4 3DB.
planthuntersfairs.co.uk.
22: Plant Hunters’ Fair: Bramall Hall,
Stockport, Cheshire SK7 3NX.
planthuntersfairs.co.uk.
22: John’s Garden: Ashwood Nurseries,
remove the flowered branches back to a
healthy, outward-facing shoot.
Evergreen shrubs should only need a
shaping trim, plus the removal of dead or
spindly branches.
Follow the pruning of all shrubs with a
generous mulch of well-rotted compost
or manure.
Kingswinford, West Midlands 01384
401996 ashwoodnurseries.com
25: Plants for Shade: Stillingfleet Lodge
Gardens, Stewart Lane, Stillingfleet,
York YO19 6HP. 01904 728506,
stillingfleetlodgenurseries.co.uk
25: Auriculas Are Not Difficult: Hillview
Hardy Plants, Worfield, Nr Bridgnorth,
Shropshire WV15 5NT. 01746
716454, hillviewhardyplants.com
25: Pruning and Training Fruit Trees/
Bushes: Pennard Plants, The Walled
Gardens, East Pennard, Somerset
BA4 6TP. 01749 860039,
pennardplants.com
Q Please send details and images
of your events to ruth.hayes@
timeinc.com or What’s On, Amateur
Gardening, Pinehurst 2, Pinehurst
Road, Farnborough Industrial Park,
Farnborough, Hants 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.
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JDUGHQKHDOWKFRP
with Bob Flowerdew, AG’s organic gardening expert
Thin early and thin
well if you want your
plants to thrive
Bob’s top tips
for the week
1
Lever or dig out plantains
(above) and thistles from your
lawn and paths, and then brush
some grass seed into each hole.
Use your space wisely
and don’t grow more
plants than you need
2
Room for improvement
Leave one asparagus plant
uncut to attract beetles to lay
on it, then cut and burn it when
you stop cropping the others.
Overcrowding leads to competition between plants, so
make sure you thin them out at the right time, says Bob
D
16 AMATEUR GARDENING 21 APRIL 2018
seedlings appear, the sooner we thin the
better – otherwise they just crowd each
other. Then, when we do get round to
thinning, it is probably too late and the
chosen have already suffered a check.
Years ago John Innes trials showed
much better results from thinning a few
days after emergence rather than
“Once the
seedlings appear,
the sooner we thin
the better”
leaving it any longer. The answer is to
steel yourself and be a bit more ruthless,
thin early and thin well. By all means pot
up the extra, but then give that surplus to
a friend, sell them by the gate or just find
a charity that can use them.
3
Plant teasels, lupins and
Alchemilla mollis (above),
as these all have special hollows
to catch rain and dew for birds
and insects.
4
Almost everything is now in bud
or leaf, so spray diluted seaweed
solution everywhere on everything.
Time Inc/Alamy
O you have enough space right
now for all your plants? Most of
us have limited space under
cover and limited space in the
ground – and we are simply not ruthless
enough. You know what I mean – we
sow far more seeds of each variety than
is necessary, pot up more seedlings than
we need and then spend time and effort
looking after far more wee plants than
we can ever find space for.
Each and every seedling has to be
kept and have a chance of survival. Our
hearts rule our heads and we cannot find
it in ourselves to throw out those surplus
ones, or rather surplus dozens. Thus, we
end up filling our limited spaces with
more plants than can ever comfortably fit
in. Too often we squeeze six in where
four would fit and then all do more poorly
as a result. This overcrowding leads to
shortages of air, light, water and
nutrients as all compete with each other.
The same goes when we sow direct.
Yes, I know we have to sow too many to
allow for the no-shows, but once those
Peter Eeles/Butterfly Conservation
Gardening Week
with Val Bourne, AG’s organic wildlife expert
Orange-tip feeding on lady’s smock. The
undersides of this butterfly’s wings
are beautifully marbled
While most butterflies are
afected by pesticides, the
orange-tip is bucking the trend
Two orange-tip butterflies mating
The joys of spring
Val eagerly awaits the first sighting of an orange-tip
butterfly as a sure sign that spring has arrived
HIS is one of my favourite weeks
of the year, because any day
now I hope to see swallows and
martins swooping and wheeling
in the sky above. Spring is well
underway and I’m having regular cups of
tea on the sun-soaked garden bench
right up against the house wall. I’m
butterfly watching every day and one
of my favourites is the orange-tip
(Anthocharis cardamines). This is a
member of the white family and, as
gardeners know, some members
decimate our brassica crops.
Thankfully, the orange-tip feeds
on daintier members of the brassica
family and its favoured food plant is
lady’s smock (Cardamine pratensis).
This April-flowering, silver-mauve
wildflower is often found in damp,
Wikimedia Tony Atkin/Alamy
T
Sweet rocket is a source of
food for orange-tip butterflies
sunny ditches, and the Latin species
name of the butterfly, cardamines,
acknowledges the link between the
two. Many butterfly names reflect a
food plant and the purple hairstreak
(Quercusia quercus), which feeds almost
exclusively on oak, contains the Latin
name Quercus for oak.
As with many butterflies, the colourful
males emerge first so they can establish
a territory, and I have seen pairs of
squabbling orange-tips in our garden
doing just that. The males have brightorange wing tips, but the females have
drabber grey-black markings and this
helps to camouflage them when they’re
laying eggs. When they mate, they
display the beautifully marbled
undersides of their wings.
The pale-green eggs are laid singly
on the stems of plants, but soon turn
pale-orange. They should be easy to
spot, although I keep searching without
success. Sometimes the butterfly will lay
one egg on a flower head. If several
eggs are laid near to each other the
largest caterpillars turn cannibal and
eat the other eggs or smaller larvae to
protect themselves.
The caterpillars are usually seen in
June and July, and then they pupate and
a triangular chrysalis forms, anchored
by a fine loop of silk. The butterfly
expert Matthew Oates pointed some
out on sweet rocket (Hesperis
matronalis) when visiting our garden. It
was possible to see a glint of orange
through the translucent skin of some
of the chrysalises.
Sweet rocket is another food plant for
this butterfly, although it’s thought to be
a poor one, but there are 16 other
brassicas these caterpillars also eat.
They include large bittercress, aubretia,
rocket, horseradish and turnip. The
larvae, or caterpillars, prefer to eat seed
pods, although they will eat buds,
flowers and leaves at times.
These fast-flying butterflies are found
in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland,
and Butterfly Conservation (butterflyconservation.org) tell us that numbers
have gone up by 7 per cent since 1970.
Dave Goulson’s lecture to Butterfly
Conservation explained that while most
butterflies are affected by pesticides,
orange-tips buck the trend, although it’s
unclear why.
The whiteflowered
biennial garlic mustard (Alliaria
petiolata, above), a popular food
plant for the orange-tip larvae, can
be grown on garden edges and in
hedge bottoms.
TOP TIP
21 APRIL 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
17
with Lucy Chamberlain, AG’s fruit and veg expert
Step
by step
All photographs Time Inc unless otherwise credited
Ideally, supersweet,
tendersweet, sugar-enhanced
and open-pollinated
sweetcorn shouldn’t be mixed
up, but many of us don’t have
the room for such luxury
How
to sow
sweetcorn
1
Sweetcorn plants develop
an extensive root system
and resent root congestion, so
– provided you’ve got room in
your propagator – bide yourself
a little time by using larger, 3.5in
(9cm)-diameter pots. Fill these
with good-quality multi-purpose
compost and water well.
Two to try: early ‘Swift’ and mid-season
‘Sparrow’ sweetcorn
Start off sweetcorn
It’s time to sow the deliciously sweet taste of summer
18 AMATEUR GARDENING 21 APRIL 2018
Sow one seed per pot, 1.5in
(4cm) deep. Water in lightly
and place in a heated propagator
set at 18-20˚C. Depending on the
variety you’ve sown, seedlings
should appear in 5-10 days. Don’t
overwater at this stage – keep
the compost just moist.
‘Autumn Giant’
Alamy
YES, I know nobody wants to think
about winter yet, but if you love leeks
then sow some now to see you
through from autumn until spring. I
sow mine in a wide, shallow pot and
then, once they’re the thickness of a
drinking straw, separate them out and
plant them in their final bed. That’s a
long time off, though, so let’s just
focus on the sowing for now!
Sprinkle the seeds on the surface
of some well-watered seed compost,
cover with a 3mm layer of vermiculite
and pop in a propagator at 16˚C or so.
Early (such as ‘Sprintan’) and late
(‘Northern Lights’) varieties help
prolong the season, as does choosing
a type that stands well through the
winter, like ‘Autumn Giant 3 Albana’.
2
DT Brown
Sow leeks
look for variations such as ‘White Lady’
and ‘Double Red’. Most modern varieties
are F1 hybrids, bringing uniformity and
guaranteed yields in less-than-perfect
summers. Older ‘open-pollinated’ types
are still worth growing, though. Just start
them off early to ensure they mature well
– they’ll give a staggered harvest rather
than a glut. Here’s what to do (see right).
‘Northern Lights’
3
Mr Fothergill’s
S
ITTING round the kitchen table,
butter all over our fingers – that’s
what home-grown sweetcorn
reminds me of. Sow early, mid and
late varieties now (such as ‘Swift’,
‘Incredible’ and ‘Conqueror’ respectively)
and you too can be devouring sweet,
crunchy cobs from August until October.
While yellow is the standard colour,
Once germinated, remove
from the propagator and
grow your seedlings on at 1518˚C. They should be ready for
planting out in mid to late May.
Choose a warm, sunny spot and
plant in blocks rather than rows
to ensure good pollination and
well-filled cobs.
Next Week: Pick forced strawberries,
sow French beans, pull unforced
rhubarb, prune figs, sow melons
Success with peas
YOU walk down to your veg plot,
morning dew still on the grass. You
pluck a pea pod fresh from the plant,
enjoy the satisfying ‘pop’ as you press
the end down with your thumb, then run
your finger along its entirety to reveal
perfect little green peas inside. All that
remains now is to throw th
contents into your mout
chew – and enjoy!
Freshly shelled peas
are an utter delight.
Plump sugar snaps and
the more slender
mangetouts also cry
out to be home-grown,
so how do you achieve
such utopia? Let me
share my secrets.
First, encourage a stro
root system. Do you reca
telling you to sow some early peas in a
warm greenhouse in February? This
gives the peas a head start before
summer heat and drought limit root
growth. Sowing outdoors in March
under cloches will also provide ample
time for good rooting.
So what about now? A mid-April
sowing is certainly worthwhile – just
choose powdery mildew-resistant
varieties like ‘Ambassador’ (pictured
below), ‘Lusaka’ and ‘Shiraz’ because this
fungal disease is more troublesome as
ogresses. Also, work
of compost into the soil
ck onto any moisture
at falls, plus irrigate
egularly (an organic
mulch will help keep
oots cool and moist,
oo). Using this method,
you can keep sowing
well into May (and even
ne on heavier soils).
One word of warning
h – later sowings are
e to pea-moth attack
so get remaining seeds in quickly
unless you’re happy to grow plants
under insect-proof mesh, or stick to
mangetout types.
You can get a row of peas in now – just be
sure to choose a powdery mildew-resistant
variety and keep plants well watered
Bee careful with blossom
NO, that’s not a typo – it’s a gentle reminder that bees and other
pollinating insects will be visiting your fruit flowers as soon as
they’re open to feed on nectar and collect pollen.
Simultaneously, many not-so-welcome insects will be raiding
plant shoots for nutrient-rich sap, or laying their eggs alongside
developing flowers and fruitlets so that their larvae can
ultimately feast on your harvest.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have a guest list at our garden
entrance? You may well want to use insecticides to control the
unwanted pests, but please don’t do so while your crops are in
flower. Both organic and non-organic sprays will harm the
pollinators as well as the pests. A carefully directed jet of water
will knock off hundreds of aphids without harming a single bee.
Alamy
Use a hoe or a rake
to earth up your
first earlies
I’m uncovering this peach on
sunny dry days so bees can access
the flowers – so there’s no
pesticide spraying allowed!
Earth up first-early potatoes
IF you’ve got a bit of bed space, I
severely hope you devoted some of it to
potatoes. And if room is limited I’m
crossing my fingers that you at least
managed to squeeze in a few first early
varieties for delicious ‘new’ tatties.
Unlike jackets, chippers and roasts,
which are easy to buy in the shops, new
potatoes are best eaten minutes after
harvest to maximise their sweet flavour.
Consequently, back in March I planted a
large bed of my favourite first early,
‘Lady Christl’. The foliage is just starting
to push through the ground, which tells
me it’s time to ‘earth them up’.
The literal phrase describes the
process of drawing soil up around the
developing tubers (I use a rake to do
this). It’s an important task because as
the tubers swell they can inadvertently
push themselves to the surface. When
exposed to light, the tubers turn green
and inedible, but covering them in more
soil prevents this.
Complete this job a couple of times
as the foliage grows through (you can
then leave them alone).
Are you growing your spuds in pots?
That’s good news, because provided
you planted them 8in (20cm) deep in the
first place, you don’t need to earth them
up at all.
21 APRIL 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
19
Pick of the very best
Graham Rice chooses his six top RHS Award of Garden Merit winners
®
They may not actually be French, but the bold blooms of
French Marigolds still have a certain je ne sais quoi
This week it’s
French marigolds
I
F it’s colour you’re after, pure and
simple, then look no further than
marigolds – French marigolds, in
particular. The intensity of their
brilliance is unbeatable, and with the
flowers packed so tightly on neat little
plants, the effect can be dazzling.
Despite its name, this is not actually
a French plant (any more than the
African marigold is African). Originally
from the mountains of Guatemala and
Mexico, seed was brought back to
France in the 16th century. From there,
the plant spread through Europe, where
it was widely grown for its colourful
yellow or orange flowers and its
essential oils, which are still used
by perfume houses today.
In the wild, flowering starts in late
20 AMATEUR GARDENING 21 APRIL 2018
summer and continues until it is cut short
by the first frosts, the flowers maturing
to seeds unusually quickly. In gardens,
these plants are half-hardy annuals,
best sown now indoors – although more
vigorous types can also be sown where
they are to flower in June. The seed is
large and easy to handle.
When growing well, French marigolds
can be in flower from June to October.
But because they develop seeds so
quickly, regular deadheading is key to
extending their flowering season.
Over the years, thousands of varieties
have been developed, and reducing the
height of the plants from the 2ft (60cm)
or more of those original introductions
has been a continuous theme. However,
varieties shorter than about 8in (20cm)
can start to look unnatural.
The flower form has also developed,
from broad-petalled single flowers to
Stockists
Dobies dobies.co.uk 0844 967 0303
Kings Seeds kingsseeds.com 01376 570000
Mr Fothergill’s mr-fothergills.co.uk 0333 777 3936
Suttons suttons.co.uk 0844 326 2200
All photos Alamy, unless otherwise credited
With vibrant blooms that threaten to outshine the sun, which varieties of this
long-flowering half-hardy annual make it onto Graham’s list?
Suttons
Mr Fothergill’s
The Award of Garden Merit is a mark of quality
awarded since 1922 to garden plants (including trees, vegetables and
decorative plants) by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).
‘Dainty Marietta’
‘Safari Tangerine’
Small, single flowers are vivid yellow,
with a small contrasting blotch of deep
mahogany red on each petal. Plants are
neat and bushy. Unusually good value
as the seed of this variety is inexpensive
to buy. H: 8in (20cm).
Early into bloom, large-flowered and
definitely a standout for its vivid deep
orange colour. The anemone-centred
2in (5cm) flowers are weather resistant
and, unlike many double varieties, even
the first is fully double. H: 10in (25cm).
Dobies
Mr Fothergill’s
Mr Fothergill’s
‘Queen Sophia’
Fully double, 3in (8cm) flowers open
in dark, coppery red with a very fine
orange edge to each petal, developing
redder, more fiery tints as they mature.
Will stand up exceptionally well to
summer rain. H: 10-12in (25-30cm).
‘Yellow Jacket’
‘Tiger Eyes’
‘Zenith Yellow’
With tightly packed, fully double
flowers in a wonderfully bright and
brilliant shade of yellow, plants will
spread more than most varieties, and
so can be planted at a wider spacing
than usual. H: 1ft (30cm).
The best crested variety. A row of
mahogany scarlet petals surrounds a
tight dome of orange filaments, creating
2½in (3-4cm) flowers that, although not
the largest, are as dramatic as they are
prolific. H: 8in (20cm).
Larger-than-usual plants smothered in
vivid yellow double flowers that keep on
coming until October. New blooms open
just above the old, fading ones. ‘Zenith
Golden Yellow’ and ‘Zenith Lemon
Yellow’ are also superb. H: 18in (45cm).
fully double blooms, plus crested and
anemone-centred types.
In terms of colour, the range is fairly
limited, but you can get just about every
warm shade from primrose through
yellow to orange and copper, and into
mahogany and not-quite scarlet.
Recently, the trend has been for taller
varieties– more the size of their wild
ancestors – rather than the smaller,
bushier ones. Meanwhile, the revival of
tall, striped Victorian forms has brought
us plants that are useful for the back of
the border – even for cutting.
There is also a small but highly
impressive group of hybrids between
African and French marigolds. This
Zenith Series features a trio of options
that have AGMs and, without hesitation,
I would choose these three as the best
of the whole group.
They are impressively prolific and,
because they so rarely set seed, will
flower for months with no deadheading.
The plants are larger than most, so you
need fewer of them, and although they
come into bloom a little later, they more
than make up for their tardiness during
the rest of the summer. Definitely ones
worth looking out for.
What makes a good French marigold?
■ Long flowering season
■ Attractive flower form that is
reliably consistent
■ Clean colours
■ Prolific flowering
■ Early flowering
■ Even height
■ Tough, resilient and rain resistant
21 APRIL 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
21
Sowing and planting marigolds
Use a propagator for early sowings
Marigold aftercare
Harden of before planting out
New heights
Look out taller types
like ‘Jolly Jester’
Deadhead to extend flower season
Nip out buds on young plants
■ Plants of some varieties can flower
while still young; nip off the first bud
to encourage bushiness.
■ Continue deadheading regularly,
every day or two, to ensure that as little
energy as possible goes into seed
production. A snip with the kitchen
scissors does the trick.
■ Ensure that taller plants do not fall
forward and shade the marigolds at
the front of the border.
■ The root secretions of French
marigolds are thought to kill eelworms,
while the oils in their foliage are
believed to deter other pests. As
a result, they are usually free of all pests
and diseases, so sprays and treatments
are unlikely to be necessary.
A new type of French marigold has
arrived in the past couple of years,
with fully double flowers that change
colour as they mature. The flowers of
‘Fireball’ open in deep red, becoming
fiery bronze and finally rusty orange.
‘Strawberry Blonde’ opens rustic
yellow with pink tints, matures to
bronze, then to straw yellow. Both are
too new to have received AGMs, but
I’m tempted to try ‘Fireball’.
22 AMATEUR GARDENING 21 APRIL 2018
Gardenphotos.com
In my garden
‘Fireball’ is a colour chameleon
In the late 19th century a tall, singleflowered variety of French marigold
with bicoloured chestnut and
yellow blooms was so popular that
different seed companies sold it by
different names: ‘Harlequin’,
‘Legion of Honour’ and ‘Old Scotch
Prize’. Eventually, the variety almost
completely disappeared
as more and more dwarf types
were developed and introduced.
Then, some 30 years ago,
these tall, bicoloured types started
to reappear in seed catalogues,
often with new names such as ‘Jolly
Jester’ and ‘Striped Marvel’. And
now there are new varieties
in the same style, including the
yellow and orange ‘La Bamba’,
and a mixture called ‘Jesters’.
None have been given AGMs,
they often need support and do not
have the colourful punch of dwarf
types. However, they will fit more
naturally into mixed borders and
make effective – and long-lasting
– cut flowers.
Kings Seeds
■ Sow now on the windowsill, in the
conservatory or in a propagator in
a cold greenhouse.
■ Or sow in a cold greenhouse
(minus the propagator) in May.
■ Sow two seeds in each 1in (2 or
3cm) cell of fresh seed compost,
and cover lightly.
■ Germination is quickest at about
20ºC; slower at lower temperatures.
■ After germination, thin seedlings
down to one per cell.
■ Grow in even light, frost-free,
until mid May.
■ Harden off before planting outside
after the last frost in your area.
■ Plant in any reasonable soil, in full
sun, and in containers.
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Week
THOMPSON
& MORGAN
THE SEED PEOPLE
William Thompson published
his first seed catalogue in 1855
John Morgan was brought in
to help develop the business
Over 900 flowers and vegetables are trialled each year at their 30 acre site
in Ipswich with the aim of improving current varieties and creating new ones
Tamsin Westhorpe uncovers the story of Thompson and Morgan
24 AMATEUR GARDENING 21 APRIL 2018
One of the vast glasshouses
used for growing plants
ALL PICTURES COURTESY OF THOMPSON & MORGAN
W
ILLIAM Thompson was
the son of a baker with
an insatiable passion for
plants. His enthusiasm
for growing, quickly resulted in him
moving to a nursery and later publishing
a magazine called The English Flower
Garden. He was highly regarded for
growing rare plants from all over the
world, and thanks to their shared interest
he counted both Charles Darwin and Sir
Joseph Hooker as his friends. He is one
of the elite horticulturists to have been
awarded the Victoria Medal of Honour
by the Royal Horticultural Society.
Thompson’s first seed catalogue
was published in 1855. His business
expanded quickly, and William realised
he needed an astute business partner.
He found this in John Morgan who
helped him grow the business from
strength to strength.
An occasional series in which we meet the people who create and
develop the gorgeous flowers, shrubs and trees we love to grow
NEW
SERIES
Gardener’s favourites
Begonia x tuberhybrida
‘Apricot Shades Improved’
F1 Hybrid – this trailing
plant has been a best
seller for over 20 years.
Large double blooms from
July to October. Height
30cm, spread 45cm. Sold
as tubers.
Petunia ‘Orchid Picotee
Mixed’ F1 Hybrid –
produces a constant
supply of lavish double
blooms from mid-May until
October. The blooms have
an attractive white edge.
Compact plants with
height and spread of
30cm. Sold as plug or
garden ready plants.
Tomato ‘Sungold’ – voted
the sweetest tomato for
the past 20 years. The
cordon cherry tomato
ofers plentiful bite-sized
orange fruits. Good
resistance to tobacco
mosaic virus and fusarium
wilt. Height 2m. Available
as seed or plants.
Ten years after William’s death in 1903
talented horticulturist Joseph Sangster
became a partner. Joseph added
thousands of plants to the catalogue.
After John Morgan’s death in 1921,
Joseph was joined by his son Murray.
After Murray retired in 1974 his two sons
took up the reins.
In 1990 the then managing director,
Paul Hansord, introduced the idea of
selling young plants via mail order. This
was ground-breaking and a time when
many new gardeners joined the evergrowing list of customers. Today the
company is a one-stop shop for seeds,
young plants, shrubs, and perennials.
Seed may be the first thing that springs
to mind when you think of T&M, but it
is the young plants that now make up
nearly 80% of their business.
Breeding programmes
Just like the company’s founder, its
inheritors are constantly developing
Tomato ‘Sweet Aperitif’
– expect up to 500
tomatoes per plant. A rival
to ‘Sungold’ when it comes
to sweetness. This cordon
is ideal for a greenhouse
or hot spot in the garden.
Produces red cherry
tomatoes. Height 2m.
Available as seed or
plants.
Beetroot ‘Boltardy’
one of the most popular
beetroots thanks to its
good yield and bolt
resistance. Ideal for
successional sowing
between March and July.
The roots are sweet, and
its foliage can be
harvested when young
for salads. Height
30cm, spread 15cm.
Sold as seed.
21 APRIL 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
25
This
Week
THOMPSON
& MORGAN
THE SEED PEOPLE
their ofering to gardeners. They have
a large breeding programme at the 30acre trial grounds in Harkstead, Ipswich
as their new product manager Peter
Freeman explains: “It is here that we
put plants to the test and monitor their
flowering or cropping times, flowering
length and resistance to pests and
diseases. There are a huge number of
varieties and my job is to choose the
best ones.”
T&M are particularly known for their
hellebores and buddlejas. They have
introduced some world firsts such
as Buddleja ‘Buzz’, the world’s first
patio buddleja and the new Anemone
Flowered Hellebores. These are unique
as they have an attractive central ruf of
small petals.
As well as breeding their own new
plants, they buy in plants to sell from
other European breeders and sell
their plants wholesale to nurseries
and garden centres. As for the seed, it
comes from all over the world as well as
being produced at the UK nursery.
New plants for 2018
Sunflower ‘Sunbelievable Brown
Eyed Girl’ – a new and exclusive
plant bred by T&M that’s taken eight
years to come to market. Flowers
from June to November with
approximately 1000 flowers
produced in the season. Height and
spread 60cm. Sold as potted plants.
Begonia ‘Funky Pink’ – a new
introduction set to give Begonia x
tuberhybrida ‘Apricot Shades
Improved’ a run for its money. A
trailing habit with double flowers from
June to September. Ideal for sun or
semi shade. Height and spread
50cm. Sold as plug plants.
Poppy ‘Supreme’ - bred by T&M and
launched in January this year.
Spotted by the head of the plant
breeding team Charles Valin 6 years
ago. Fully double flower much larger
than other similar Papaver rhoeas
varieties. Sow direct into flower
borders. Height 75cm. Sold as seed.
In constant development
“We have a huge range of plants under
development all the time. About 50
plants waiting to come to market is
not unusual and we currently have 60
genera and 100 projects on the go,”
says Peter. “We are one of the few seed
companies that do their own breeding.”
Alongside their breeding projects
the team stay in touch with other
breeders. T&M will approach breeders
about marketing their new varieties
Tomato ‘Primabella’ – a new
introduction for 2018. It is registered
under Dr. Bernd Horneburg from
Germany. This is the first late blight
resistant cherry tomato for UK
gardeners to grow outside. Large
cherry tomatoes. Height 2m. Sold as
plug plants or seed.
Carrot ‘Sweet Imperator Mix’ F1
Hybrid – a mix of pencil-thin carrots.
Includes ‘Honeysnax’ (orange),
‘Creampax’ (cream), ‘Snowman’
(white), ‘Yellowbunch’ (yellow), ‘Purple
Elite’ (purple), ‘Atomic Red (red).
Expect roots to be 25cm long. A very
healthy raw snack. Sold as seed.
Future trends
“There is a trend and demand for
scented plants and plants suitable
for patio gardens. With gardens
getting ever smaller people are
keen to grow compact plants in
pots,” explains Peter Freeman.
When it comes to veg, Colin
Randel is full of enthusiasm for the
future. “We have been working
on combatting blight in tomatoes
and potatoes and are having
exciting results. Our breeding
for the future will certainly focus
on plants that are resistant to
common pests and diseases. This
will allow gardeners to greatly
reduce their reliance on chemical
controls,” he explains.
26 AMATEUR GARDENING 21 APRIL 2018
for them and some new varieties are
sold as exclusives through T&M. “We
liaise with breeders all over the world
and keep up to date with their trials,”
says vegetable product manager Colin
Randel. “It would be far too costly
to breed all our own plants. Every
vegetable crop has a specialist breeder
and by working with them we can ofer
a wide range,” explains Colin.
When a plant is launched it is often
the staf who get to choose the name.
They try and choose names that
describe the uniqueness of the plants,
such as Sunflower ‘Sunbelievable
Brown Eyed Girl’. This sunflower, bred
by T&M and new for 2018, is set to be
one of the most important introductions
in the company’s long history.
One wonders if the young William
Thompson ever imagined a sunflower
ofering over 1,000 blooms?
Q The next in the series will feature
Suttons in the May 5 issue.
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1
Relax: having a lovely garden does not
need to cost the earth. Growing some
produce and installing an insect hotel
(below) are just two ways to do your bit
27
ways to make your
garden eco-friendly
Reduce the environmental impact of your horticultural habit says Louise Curley
W
HILE gardening might
seem like a ‘green’
hobby, it’s diicult
to ignore the ecological
footprint that tending our outdoor
spaces has on the wider environment.
As gardeners, we have come to rely
on plastic: whether in the form of
containers, horticultural fleece, netting or
the packaging that contains compost and
chemicals. But the BBC’s Blue Planet
documentary series recently highlighted
the devastating impact plastic waste is
having on our planet: how it’s polluting
our seas and killing wildlife.
So how can we make our gardens
greener places? Composting green
waste, making leaf mould and collecting
rainwater in a butt are all great starting
points. Another positive step is avoiding
the use of chemicals where possible, as
these can be harmful to all creatures –
not just the ones we think of as pests.
If you have a pile of unwanted plastic
pots, see if a local school or community
28 AMATEUR GARDENING 21 APRIL 2018
garden project could use them. Or
check whether your nearest garden
centre will take them for recycling.
The Horticultural Trades Association
is launching a plastic pot recycling
scheme this spring. Any garden centre
can sign up, so encourage yours.
Do you have any worn-out garden
tools you no longer need? Instead of
sending them to the tip, donate them
to the Conservation Foundation’s
Tools Shed recycling project. The tools
are reconditioned by prison inmates
Insect hotels can
be made from
waste materials
and then passed on to schools and
community gardens (find out more at
conservationfoundation.co.uk).
Rather than buying bamboo canes
that have been transported here from
the other side of the world, try using
locally grown hazel bean poles and
twiggy pea sticks as plant supports. If
you have the space, you could grow
your own; if not, seek out someone
who coppices woodland in your area
(visit coppice-products.co.uk).
When buying wooden garden
furniture, check that it has FSC or PEFC
labels. These indicate that it has come
from sustainably managed forests.
Alternatively, consider furniture made
from British-grown hardwoods such as
oak and sweet chestnut, rather than
tropical wood from rainforests, like teak.
It may feel as though environmental
issues are just too big to tackle, but there
are plenty of small changes we can all
make. Start today and, collectively, we
will have a massive impact.
Main photo: GAP. All others Alamy
9 great bee-friendly plants
Verbena bonariensis
Buddleja
Oregano ‘Herrenhausen’
Held on top of tall, wafty stems, the tiny
purple flowers of this borderline hardy
perennial are a magnet for butterflies
and, if you’re lucky, hummingbird hawk
moths. Plants will self-seed where
happy. H: 7ft (2m).
A shrubby plant with sweetly fragrant
flowers, also known as the ‘butterfly
bush’. Choose from compact cultivars
suitable for patio pots (like the Buzz®
series; above) or taller ones that are
perfect for borders. H: 2-10ft (60cm-3m).
Lovely ornamental herb with dark
green, purple-tinged stems and leaves,
and clusters of bright mauve/pink,
nectar-rich blooms. A perennial, it
thrives in sunny, well-drained spots.
H: 2ft (60cm).
Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’
Scabious
Phacelia tanacetifolia
Bees love the lavender blue flowers of
catmint, a cottage garden classic that
is especially useful because of its long
flowering period. It’s undemanding, too
– plant in a sunny location and let it
get on with it. H: 3ft (90cm).
Choose from hardy annuals or
perennials – both are appreciated by
bees and butterflies. Appearing from
May to first frosts, the pincushion-like
flowers come in a range of pastels, as
well as richer, darker tones. H: 39in (1m).
An incredibly easy annual – simply
direct sow where you want it. Often
used as a fast-growing green manure,
but if left to develop the pale lilac
blooms will provide a rich source of
food for bees. H: 39in (1m).
Echium ‘Blue Bedder’
Hedera helix
Erysimum ‘Bowles’ Mauve’
Viper’s bugloss is a quick-growing hardy
annual with bluey-pink tubular flowers
that cover the stems. Likes full sun
and well-drained soil. Take care when
handling as the tiny hairs that cover the
plant are a skin irritant. H: 18in (45cm).
Ivy may seem an unlikely bee attractor
but in late summer and autumn the
yellow-green flowers are a valuable
source of nectar. Blooms appear after
several years, once the plant reaches
maturity. H: 40ft (12m).
This perennial wallflower is good news
for pollinating insects as it can bloom
from late winter through to autumn.
Ideal for the edge of borders, with greygreen, narrow leaves and vibrant pink
flowers. H: 30in (75cm).
21 APRIL 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
29
nematodesdirect.co.uk
3 solutions for pest and disease-prone plants
HOSTAS
ROSES
THE
PROBLEM:
Hostas are
great foliage
plants for
shade, but
slugs find them
particularly
tasty and love
to tuck in.
THE
SOLUTION: If
you really can’t
resist hostas,
grow thickleaved varieties
like ‘Sum and
Substance’,
and use copper
rings around
the plant rather
than slug
pellets.
PEST-FREE
ALTERNATIVE:
Ferns
THE PROBLEM:
Blackspot,
mildew, rust,
aphids… Roses do
seem to suffer
from more than
their fair share of
pests and
diseases.
THE SOLUTION:
Choose cultivars
that are diseaseresistant, such
as pretty pink
‘Olivia Rose
Austin’ (above).
Also consider
wild/species roses
– these tend to
be more robust
plants and are
less likely to
succumb.
PEST-FREE
ALTERNATIVE:
Hydrangeas
Thick-leaved ‘Sun and Substance’ hostas
Copper rings are more environmentally friendly
Ferns are more slug-resistant
Blackspot
Olivia Rose Austin
Hydrangeas
3 strategies for plastic pots
Wash pots after use to make them last longer. It also helps to keep disease at bay
Buyer beeware!
Evidence suggests that pesticides
containing neonicotinoids are harmful to
bees. And while you might not use these
pesticides yourself, many flowering plants
available from garden centres and online
– even those sold as bee-friendly – have
been treated with the chemicals.
Where possible, grow from seed or swap
cuttings with friends and neighbours. Or buy
from independent nurseries like Caves Folly
Organic Nursery ( peatfreeplants.org.uk)
and garden centres (including B&Q) that
have pledged not to sell flowering plants
treated with neonicotinoids.
30 AMATEUR GARDENING 21 APRIL 2018
Ensure ‘bee-friendly’ plants
are free of chemicals
Store pots carefully for next time
7 ideas to
green up
your garden LILIES
THE
PROBLEM:
Members of
the lily family
make beautiful
additions to
borders and
containers,
but the red lily
beetle can
reduce them
to shreds.
THE
SOLUTION:
Rather
than spraying,
simply
pick these
beetles off
with your
fingers and
dispose of
them.
PEST-FREE
ALTERNATIVE:
Astrantias
Coir is a great alternative to plastic
Lilys are beautiful, but prone to pests
Pick red lily beetle of with your fingers
Astrantias are the alternative
REUSE Wash and store when not in use
so that they last as long as possible.
RECYCLE Ask your local garden centre
to collect plastic pots for recycling –
award-winning company ashortwalk
( ashortwalk.com) uses old unwanted
plastic pots to create stylish new
planters and other products.
REDUCE Seek out alternatives to
plastic. It’s increasingly easy to find pots
made from biodegradable materials
such as coir, compressed wood fibre
and miscanthus. Or what about making
your own small containers out of
newspaper or toilet rolls?
Greener growing tips
■ Add a green roof to a shed,
recycling store – even your
bird table.
■ Grow your own salad leaves
and herbs, rather than buying
supermarket versions that
come swathed in plastic.
■ Sow green manure on bare
soil – it will act as a weed
suppressant, prevent erosion
and feed the soil when it’s dug
in. Crimson clover and bitter
blue lupin are two choices that
look good.
Add a green roof to your shed
■ Collect
rainwater in a
butt.
■ Make your
own organic
compost
and leaf mould.
■ If buying
compost, look
for peat-free.
■ Make your
own liquid
plant food
from nettles
and comfrey –
it’s easy.
■ Choose
wooden plant
labels instead
of plastic ones.
■ Use jute
netting. Unlike
that made from
plastic, it is
biodegradable.
■ Grow plants
that attract
beneficial
insects such
as ladybirds.
That way, the
hungry little
critters will
do your pest
control for you.
Grow your own salad
Sow green manure
21 APRIL 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
31
Understandably popular, dark-leaved dahlias come in all (flower)
shapes, colours and sizes, including single types like ‘Dragon’s Ball’,
a compact cultivar with salmon pink and red petals
Dark-leaved
dahlias
I
T all started with ‘Bishop of
Llandaf’. Raised on a Cardif
nursery in 1924, this dramatic
dahlia was picked out by the
Bishop, a friend of its grower, and named
for him. It went down a storm, and in
1936 The Spectator magazine reported:
“The most popular flower of the moment
in many parts of England in any test is
the dahlia known as ‘Bishop of Llandaf’.”
The combination of elegantly
dissected bronze foliage and vivid
scarlet semi-double flowers fired the
imagination of gardeners UK-wide, and
spawned a number of imitations. Other
dark-leaved varieties with diferent
flower colours and forms also became
popular, particularly among those
responsible for town and seaside parks.
And it’s not hard to see why. After
all, there’s no getting away from it:
the foliage of many dahlias is dull and
unremarkable. However, the addition
32 AMATEUR GARDENING 21 APRIL 2018
of bronze colouring brings about
a transformation, and the contrast
between that richly coloured foliage
and summer-long fiery scarlet, pink,
orange or yellow flowers, in a range of
flower forms, is undeniably dramatic.
‘Bishop of Llandaf’ has since been
joined by a whole series of other
Bishops, in other colours. Based in
Cornwall, the National Dahlia Collection
has developed some impressive dark
dahlias, among them one, ‘Twyning’s
After Eight’, that features that most
elusive of combinations: dark leaves
and white flowers.
In more recent years, shorter
varieties, the Happy Single Series and
the Mystic Series in particular, have
brought dark-leaved dahlias down in
scale and provided plants that fit easily
into today’s smaller spaces, including
containers, with some stunning flower
colours. You can grow these from seed,
Love dahlias but craving
something with a bit more
drama than your average
cheery tuber? It’s time to
come over to the dark
side, says Graham Rice
but the plants are poor in comparison
to tuber-raised ones. I wouldn’t bother.
Group them with cannas, ornamental
bananas or ricinus to create a tropical
look. Or, on a smaller scale, plant
alongside the new generation of supersized fibrous ‘Whopper’ or ‘Dragon
Wing’ begonias, slender blue salvias, the
colourful foliage of ‘Kong’ coleus, or with
silver-leaved Helichrysum petiolare.
You can now buy dark-leaved dahlias
– individually and in collections – from
garden centres, online and by mail
order. They are available as tubers,
rooted cuttings, young plants or garden
ready plants, and the type you chose
should be dictated by the frost-free
facilities you have. My advice is: snap
them up. With foliage that is attractive
for weeks before the first flower even
opens, these indispensable varieties
are a great investment.
All photos Alamy, unless otherwise credited
Dark-leaved favourites
‘Bishop of Llandaf’
‘David Howard’
‘Ellen Huston’
(AGM) The classic, with its winning
combo of jaggedly toothed, almostblack foliage topped by yellow-eyed,
scarlet, 2in (5-6cm) semi-double flowers.
Good with crocosmias and lime green
Helichrysum ‘Limelight’. H: 4ft (1.2m).
(AGM) Perhaps the most popular of
older dark-leaved varieties after the
Bishop, with lovely soft orange, fully
double flowers featuring a touch of
peach, set against bold purple-bronze
foliage. H: 32in (80cm).
(AGM) Fully double, 4in (10cm) burnt
orange flowers shine against their
backdrop of bronze foliage, often with
a little green showing through for a
slightly softer efect. May occasionally
throw a single flower. H: 2ft (60cm).
‘Fascination’
‘Moonfire’
‘Happy Single Wink’
(AGM) Dark bronze foliage makes an
efective contrast for the 4in (10cm),
semi-double flowers in cerise pink –
paler at the edges of the petals. These
appear on long stems, and are held well
above the foliage. H: 2ft (60cm).
(AGM) Softly coloured creamy gold
single flowers with a few reddish
streaks feature a contrasting red
feathered flare at the base. These are
perfectly partnered by deep purplebronze leaves. H: 32in (80cm).
(AGM) My pick from the Happy Single
Series of single-flowered varieties. Lilacpink petals with slightly darker streaks
are set of by plum-red marks at the
base – all against neat bronze-purple
leaves. H: 2ft (60cm).
‘Mystic Dreamer’
‘Roxy’
‘Twyning’s After Eight’
My choice from the superb Mystic
Series, with their exceptionally dark,
daintily divided, almost black leaves.
‘Dreamer’ teams these with pale pink
single flowers, the petals boldly striped
in magenta. H: 30in (75cm).
Vivid magenta single flowers, shading
to bright scarlet at the base and
sometimes featuring slightly paler
tips, combine spectacularly with
bronze-coloured foliage. Plants are
medium-sized. H: 28in (70cm).
Clean white, 5in (12cm) flowers, with a
few pale pink tints and yellow sparks
at the base, open on black stems from
red buds and stand out brightly against
leaves that are so dark they appear
almost black. H: 3ft (90cm).
21 APRIL 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
33
GAP
What to team with your tubers
Canna
Cosmos
Eucalyptus
Bold tropicals growing from stout
rhizomes, the green, brightly striped
or purple foliage showcases fiery
flowers until the first heavy frosts.
Try ‘Phasion’ (gold-striped leaves) and
‘Roi Humbert’ (scarlet flowers, purple
leaves). H: 5-8ft (1.5-2.5m).
The bright green, feathery foliage of
cosmos contrasts well with dahlias,
as do the daisy-like flowers of white
varieties (‘Apollo White’, ‘Hummingbird
White’). Meanwhile, red-flowered types
(‘Rubenza’, ‘Versailles Tetra’) are more
harmonious. H: 2-4ft (60cm-1.2m).
With small, silvery leaves on slender
stems, this fast-growing tree contrasts
well with the form and colour of darkleaved dahlias. Cut back plants hard
each spring. Eucalyptus globulus
(above) has the best colour; E. gunnii
is hardier. H: 6½ft (2m).
Salvia
Verbena
Many sages come in blue, the one colour you don’t find in
dahlias, and those slender spires of flowers create a lovely
contrast. ‘Indigo Spires’ is deep blue; S. uliginosa (above)
is pale blue. H: 4-6½ft (1.2-2m).
V. bonariensis features stif upright stems topped with flat
heads of purple flowers. This see-through perennial can be
allowed to self seed and, thanks to its diaphanous nature,
will never block the view. 5-61/2ft (1.5-2m).
Dahlia planting and care
■ Keep an eye on the forecast and wait until after the last
frost in your area before planting out.
■ On receipt, start tubers in 2 litre pots; pot on rooted
cuttings into, first, 9cm and then 1 litre pots. Pot on young
plants and grow on frost-free.
■ Plant in a sunny site in rich, fertile but well-drained soil;
poor soil should be improved with added humus.
■ Your plants will need support. Before planting, position
a stout stake in the ground.
■ Tie in shoots as they develop.
■ Deadhead or pick regularly to keep the flowers coming.
Pot on young plants, for planting out after frosts
Where to buy dark-leaved dahlias
Halls of Heddon hallsofheddon.com 01661 852445
National Dahlia Collection nationaldahliacollection.co.uk
Sarah Raven sarahraven.com 0345 092 0283
34 AMATEUR GARDENING 21 APRIL 2018
01736 339276
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Anne Swithinbank’s masterclass on: Growing and caring for lupins
Lupins can thrive
in poor soils, but
suffer during
droughts.
Dividing the
crown and
taking cuttings
1
Remove
loose soil,
assess the
young plant
and decide
where to
cut in order
to separate
growths and
cuttings.
The ‘Russell lupin’
Young lupins need space
to thrive and this one has
been smothered by nearby
plants. Instead of
replanting, I’ve opted to
separate the growths to
make more
Creating a better home for lupins
Q
Several times I’ve introduced lupins
to our cottage-style garden, but
they struggle, sometimes wilt and are
often attacked by masses of giant
greenfly. The last survivor is down to
one small side shoot. What can I do?
John Beckwith, Cardiff
Time Inc/Alamy
A
Spires of colourful lupins make a
strong show in early summer, but
these seemingly easy-going cottagegarden plants are often short-lived.
Growth dies back for winter, but unlike
other herbaceous perennials, mature
plants are difficult to divide and
rejuvenate. They eventually form a
chunky, solid base prone to rotting in wet
winters. As you’ve described, they
dwindle to a cluster of shoots but the
good news is, these make great cuttings.
Back in the 1800s, blue or pink North
American Lupinus polyphyllus was the
popular garden lupin, but in 1911, on his
allotments near York, George Russell
began a selective breeding programme.
By allowing a number of different lupins
to pollinate each other and sowing the
seed, he created many hybrids. From
rigorous selection, by grubbing out plants
with unwanted characteristics and
leaving the best to pollinate and set seed,
he created the familiar ‘Russell lupin’.
These have rounded ‘bells’ in strong
colours, quality spikes with no gaps and
fresh blooms from top to bottom.
Lupins need an open, sunny position
in moisture-retentive yet well-drained
neutral-to-slightly-acidic soil. Mulching
while the soil is well moistened helps
prevent drying out, but never pile soil
conditioner over the crowns.
Despite providing the best conditions I
can for good hybrids bought as young
plants or seed from Westcountry
Nurseries in Devon, my lupins have a life
expectancy of about six years in our clay
soil. They perform brilliantly, but I must
remember to take basal cuttings in mid to
late spring before plants dwindle. These
are normally 4-6in (10-15cm) long and
should contain a portion of woody base.
If growth is soft, nip out the growing tip.
Spring-sown seed germinates readily in
pots or trays under glass.
2
While some
shoots are
removed with
roots attached,
others are
made into
cuttings, each
containing
a portion of
woody base.
3
Pot the
rooted
growths
separately
into good
well-draining
compost.
4
Insert
cuttings into
50:50 soilless
compost and
grit or perlite.
Cover with
ventilated
polythene and
shade from
harsh sun.
Lupin aphids
The grey-white lupin aphids (see
right) are monsters, reaching almost
a 1⁄4in (5mm) long. They are capable
of decimating flower spikes and
distorting foliage. This North
American pest seems immune to
our natural garden parasites and
predators, and early detection is
paramount. Gentle removal by hand
can work, or use a spray based on
plant oils or fatty acids.
21 APRIL 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
37
Anna Toeman, Dr Jane Bingham, John Negus
Transplant young wisteria in autumn
Can I cut this
erysimum back?
Ungainly erysimum
Q
How can I cut back my Erysimum
‘Super Bowles’ so it doesn’t get too
big and unattractive?
Stephen Wilkes, Northampton
When can I move my wisteria?
Q
A
I have a small wisteria in my front
garden that has grown as a runner
off a larger one. I would like to try to
transplant it into my back garden – how
and when should I do this?
Sue Langridge, via email
A
The best time to transplant your
small wisteria is in autumn when
the leaves are turning yellow. Lift it
with as much soil as possible around
the root system.
If the ground is dry, water liberally
to ensure that soil sticks to the roots.
Unusual bee
activity
You did not say how large your plant
is. If it is more than 6ft (1.2m) and has
been established for some years, you
will need to prepare it for transplanting.
All you do, in autumn, is to dig a
trench about 12in (30cm) deep around
the root system and fill it with gritty soil.
Fresh feeding roots will fill the trench the
following year, when in autumn, the
climber can be lifted and transplanted.
Ideally, set it in a generous planting
hole enriched with organic soil
conditioner, such as old crumbly manure
or well-rotted garden compost.
These super plants put on a lovely
display of fragrant flowers for a long
period, but do tend to become large,
woody and straggly with age.
The best plan is to have a succession
of new plants growing on by taking
cuttings of leafy stems. Once you have
taken some ‘insurance’ cuttings, reduce
the size of your plant by cutting it back in
midsummer. You will sacrifice the flowers
for the rest of the season, but hopefully
the plant will recover well and regrow.
Ashy mining bees and bumble bees
(inset) clean themselves of dust and mites
Q
I watched a bee scrape itse
into a hollow in the grass an
then use its legs to rub over its
body. Why would it do this?
Mrs I Chisholm, Lichfield, Staffs
A
Most bumblebees do have
many tiny mites clinging to
their bodies. Most are fairly harm
to them and are simply clinging to
the bumblebee so they can be
transported to new nests. When
in the nest, the mites usually feed
upon the wax, pollen, nest debris
and other small insects, so do not
feed on the bees.
However, there are such things as
mining bees. These look similar to
bumblebees, but are generally less
hairy and often, though not always,
smaller. Almost all of them are
classed as solitary bees, which
means the female doesn’t stick
around after laying the first batch of
eggs to provide a food supply (pollen
38 AMATEUR GARDENING 21 APRIL 2018
nd nectar), so the
est is tiny.
However, some do
communally, either
close together or using a
common entrance hole, making it
look a little like they are social bees.
Mining bees generally nest in the
ground, often in paths or lawns. The
entrance to their burrow is often
marked by a small mound of
excavated soil. These bees are good
pollinators of economically important
plants such as fruit trees and, in
reasonable numbers, they won’t
harm your lawn.
So it might be that your bee was
having a dust bath to clean off a few
mites, or was beginning the process
of mining a nest in which to lay eggs. ‘Goldcot’ apricots like a
warm, sheltered spot
No flowers or fruit
Q
How can I get my ‘Goldcot’ apricot
to produce more than a few
flowers? It hasn’t fruited yet.
Martin Hadlington, via email
A
A good way to encourage your
‘Goldcot’ to flower and then to
fruit is to liquid-feed it weekly with a
high-potash tomato fertiliser from April
until September. The potassium content
will help shoots ripen, and flowers and
fruits to form.
I also urge you to position it in a warm
sunny spot outdoors, sitting the pot on
feet so that any surplus moisture is able
to escape freely.
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
How to care for hellebores
Q
I have been given a wonderful
Helleborus. How should I look
after it for the best results?
George Melrose, Galashiels, Scotland
Q
I saw this while in Scotland –
is it a type of fern coming up?
Neil Petts, via em
A
Being fully frost-hardy, these
gorgeous plants can be planted
outdoors – and now is a good time.
Choose a sunny, or lightly shaded spot,
that doesn’t dry out in summer.
Enrich the soil with well-rotted garden
compost or farmyard manure and water
freely to settle the soil around the roots
after planting.
Encourage robust flowering shoots
by feeding with blood, fish and bone
monthly from April until September.
After a year or so, when the clump has
increased in size, you can propagate it.
A
Helleborus niger are hardy plants
Lift the plant in August and divide it
into chunky portions, each with a good
root system. Re-plant and water well.
Gooseberries need
a large pot to grow in
Will gooseberries grow in pots?
Time Inc/Wikimedia Andrew Butko/Alamy
Q
Is it possible to grow gooseberry
bushes in pots? If so, what diameter
and depth of pot would be best, and
do gooseberries need any special type
of compost?
Nicky Shinn, via email
A
Gooseberries can be grown in large
pots or half barrels, ideally around
15-18in (38-45cm) in diameter.
Start by covering the drainage hole
with 2in (5cm) of crocks or pebbles.
Then fill in with 4in (10cm) of John Innes
loam-based potting compost No3.
Quick Questions
& Answers
Assuming that you are planting a
containerised bush, water it the night
before, then ease it from its container.
Tease out encircling roots and nestle the
rootball into the compost.
Fill in with more compost, to within 2in
(5cm) of the pot rim, ensuring that the
bush is planted at the same depth at
which it was growing in the container.
Firm the compost around it and set
the pot on pot feet so that any surplus
water freely escapes. Finish the job by
watering copiously to settle compost
around the roots.
It is wood
horsetail
(Equisetum
sylvaticum). The
genus grew to
around 30ft (9m)
high 250 million
years ago in the
Cretaceous Period when giant
dragonflies abounded.
Not common, the wood
horsetail’s finely divided, almost
lacy, leaves make it the most
attractive of the nine species
indigenous to Britain.
Q
A
What is this plant, please?
Robert Wood, Ryde, IoW
Q
A
Is this a weed or can I keep it?
Sandra Baxter, via email
It is honesty
(Lunaria
annua), a
cottage-garden
biennial with
seeds growing
and germinating
the first year and
flowering the nex
The pink or white blooms are
followed by flat, papery seed
heads that are often used in
flower arrangements.
It likes most conditions and is
nectar-rich for insects.
The intruder is
wild arum,
also called
cuckoo pint or
lords and ladies
(Arum
maculatum). A
rampageous
weed, it is best hoed
off the moment it appears.
It has a deep root system so you
may need to tackle it several times
to exhaust its energy reserves.
21 APRIL 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
39
21 APRIL 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
41
Tried&tested
We try before you buy
Seed-sowing tools
If you’ve got lots of seeds to sow and your fingers aren’t as nimble as they used to
be, a seed-sowing tool could be just what you’re looking for says Tim Rumball
OWING seeds can be a fiddly
business. You’re either
grovelling in the soil on your
knees or tiny seeds are slipping
from your fingers into compost-filled
modules – too many, too few, never
quite right! Those losing dexterity in
S
their fingers will know what I mean.
Accurate seed sowing with correct
spacing saves money on seeds, and
using special tools can help. Some are
designed for sowing long rows of veg in
open soil – best suited to allotment
gardening or smallholdings where long
rows of peas, brassicas are required.
Small hand-held types are ideal for
sowing in trays and modules. They can
be used for sowing in open soil, but
you’ll be on your knees and they’re
slow-going. We tried six very diferent
designs to see what worked best.
Handy Seeder
£3.99
SeedSava
£19.50 delivery free
Multi-Change Small
Seed Sower £16.99
01476 564230
creativeproducts.ltd.uk
Score
8
No phone number available
seedsava.co.uk
0208 8298850
worldofwolf.co.uk
Score
Score
10
/15
11
Features
Features
Features
Syringe-style plastic tool. Screw-of lid
for filling and sprung plunger for
dispensing small seeds up to 2mm
diameter into trays, modules or the soil.
Simple instructions. No assembly.
Base unit, four colour-coded hoppers
with evenly spaced holes for diferent
sized seeds, and cover. Made from
plastic. With step-by-step instructions.
Performance
Single wheel plastic sowing mechanism
on stainless steel handle designed to fit
Wolf Garten Multi-Change long handle
(not supplied) for sowing veg in rows.
Six dial-in adjustments for seed size. No
assembly required.
Easy to fill with seeds. Only works with
small seeds, and tricky with irregular
shaped seeds – lettuce tended to jam.
Small carrot and rocket seeds were
diicult to control. One light press of the
plunger might deliver one, five or six
seeds, or none. Bigger seeds like
brassicas were better but inconsistent.
Select a hopper, clip it to the base unit,
fill with seeds then rock it to distribute,
place it over the drill in the soil, slide
hopper on the base unit to release
seeds. Tried it with carrots, rocket,
cauliflower and parsnip. Delivery was
reasonable but random, each hole
delivering between none and four
seeds. Not for big seeds like peas.
Value
Value
A cheap tool for rough sowing of some
evenly shaped small seeds. Useful for
sowing into trays or cells if you have
limited dexterity in your fingers.
Not bad at sowing light scatters of small
seeds like carrot in the soil in rows or
into standard seed trays, but there’ll still
be seedlings to thin out.
/15
42 AMATEUR GARDENING 21 APRIL 2018
Performance
/15
Performance
Easy to fill with seed. Good eyesight
needed to align arrows for right hole
size. Some trial and error to get right
settings for diferent seeds (practice
over paper). Slightly erratic dispensing
of lettuce and brassica seeds, but
reasonable overall distribution in the
row. Big peas, sweetcorn and French
bean seeds didn’t work.
Value
Simple to use, and efective for sowing
small veg seeds in rows in the soil. Can
be used without clip-on handle.
BEST BUY...
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with free delivery
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Amateur
Sow EZ Precision
Handheld Seeder $25
Weeding and Seeding
Trowel £9.99
No phone number available
sowez.com
01753 547790
darlac.com
Score
Score
11
/15
BEST BUY
TOOLS
11
/15
Amateur
Best buy
Features
13
/15
Features
Features
Plastic tool with trigger for pelleted
seeds of veg and flowers. Four seed
settings. Works with some unpelleted.
Stainless steel curved blade narrowing
to channel at tip to funnel flower or veg
seeds into trays, modules or the soil.
Bamboo handle. No instructions.
Performance
Pelleted seeds limited in the UK (try
simplyseeds.co.uk or seekay.co.uk).
Simple dial to adjust for seed size. Small
hopper easy to fill. Hold over soil and
click trigger. Pelleted seeds delivered
one at a time. Unpelleted artichoke
seeds worked OK. Unpelleted sweet
pea seeds and brassicas worked well,
delivering one to two seeds each click.
Value.
Limited uses, but if you sow a lot of
brassicas, sweet peas or similar evenlysized seeds in modules, then this tool is
well worth a look. Price displayed in US
Dollars as exchange value fluctuates.
German-made twowheeled dispenser with long
handle (included) for sowing all
seeds up to pea-size in long rows.
Separate disc attachments for
diferent seeds. Adjustable furrow
depth and seed spacing. Plastic
body, steel handle. Assembly
required. Instructions included.
Performance
Sprinkle seeds onto curve blade, then
gently tap the edge while guiding the
tip along the sowing row. Round seeds
like radish and sweet peas were diicult
to control as they rolled out. Unevenly
shaped seeds like lettuce, calendula
and carrot were easier to control and
worked quite well, giving a thin, even
scatter along the row.
Assembly took 20 minutes from
scant instructions. Fiddly disc setup for diferent seed types.
Sowing depth adjustment trial and
error. Worked consistently well for
small seeded peas (big ones
jammed), brassicas and French
beans. Getting settings right for
carrots was tricky (practice on a
sheet of paper first). Easy to push
through light, crumbly, wellprepared soil.
Value
Value
A handy tool for sowing unevenly
shaped flower or veg seeds in trays or
in the soil – and not a bad little weeding
tool, either.
A surprisingly eicient seedsower for the allotment gardener
or smallholder.
Performance
21 APRIL 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
43
A Gardener’s Miscellany
Gardening’s king of trivia and brain-teasers, Graham Clarke
THIS Gardening
WEEK history
IN
18-22 April
18 April 1802
Erasmus Darwin,
scientist, poet,
naturalist and
grandfather of
Charles Darwin
(below), died.
19 April
1882
Charles
Robert
Darwin,
naturalist
and
biologist,
died.
St George’s Day
Next Monday (23 April) is St George’s
Day. As with the feast days of Saints
Patrick, David and Andrew, it will
be a day of national pride and
ommemoration. These three saints
ave the shamrock, the daffodil and the
istle as symbols, respectively. For St
George’s Day it was customary to wear
red rose in one’s lapel, but this is no
nger widely practised.
Although St George is very much
garded as England’s saint, we do have
share him with many other countries
of the world, from the Iberian Peninsula
to Hungary, the Czech Republic and
other Eastern Bloc countries, as well as
the Middle East.
Q In Catalonia, Spain, St George is the
patron saint of the former Crown of
Aragon, and here, on 23 April, they
celebrate El Dia de la Rosa (The Day of
the Rose). Similar to St Valentine’s Day,
this is when boys give girls a flower
(usually a rose), while the girls tend
to give the boys… a book!
A rose for England
kimedia/Time Inc
21 April 1637 The three-year tulip
mania in Holland ends, with the
collapse of the tulip market. At its
height, a single tulip bulb was sold
for more than the price of a house
in Amsterdam.
21 April 1752 Humphry
Repton, the last
great English
landscape
designer of the
18th century
and the
successor to
Capability Brow
was born. He die
on 24 March, 1818.
2 April 1662
ohn Tradescant
he Younger,
otanist and
ardener, died.
44 AMATEUR GARDENING 21 APRIL 2018
England’s national flower is the rose. Officially it
is the Tudor rose, but unofficially we can make
do with any red rose as the Tudor rose doesn’t
actually exist horticulturally. It is a depiction of
a rose that is a combination of the red rose of
Lancaster and the white rose of York.
The Royal House of Tudor united the warring
Houses of York and Lancaster and, along with lasting
peace, the Tudor Rose was the main outcome.
Q The English oak (Quercus robur) is also an official na
emblem for England – but it is not so attractive in the lapel!
5 decorative plants with
‘English’ in the name
Q Rose ‘English Miss’
Q Narcissus ‘English Caye’
Q Iris ‘English Cottage’
Q Hosta ‘English Sunrise’
Q Hemerocallis ‘English Skies’
Iris ‘English Cottage’
Rose ‘English Miss’
Britain’s leading rose breeder and
grower David Austin has spent the past
60 years developing his award-winning
English roses. These rose varieties have
been bred and selected to combine the
charm and fragrances of the ‘old roses’
with the wider colour range and repeatflowering nature of modern roses. They
are also loved for their vigour and
reliable nature, and their ability to resist
most of the diseases that affect roses.
English roses look good in mixed
borders, planted in large containers
or in their own dedicated rose border.
Some can also be used to create
fragrant, flowering hedges or even
trained as climbers.
Q Orange
– ‘Lady of
Shalott’
Q White
– ‘Kew
Gardens’
David Austin Roses
David Austin Roses
David Austin Roses
5 of the best
English roses
Q Yellow –
‘Charles
Darwin’
David Austin Roses
Time Inc.
Q Pink –
‘Princess
Anne’
Q Crimson
– ‘Falstaff’
Prize draw
Westland Gro-Sure Smart Ground Cover is a
protective and decorative natural mulch ideal for us
in beds, borders, planters, containers and pots – its
natural wood fibres lock together to stay in place
ofering better coverage than standard bark. To use
spread a 11⁄4in (3cm) layer, break up lumps and fluf
the mulch before watering to lock fibres together.
We have one 10-litre pack to give away, worth
£9.99. See below for details of how to enter the
prize draw.
Westland
Award-winning
English roses
How to enter
Send your name and address on the back of a postcard to Westland Water
Indicator and Plant Feed Draw (21 April), Amateur Gardening, Pinehurst 2,
Pinehurst Road, Farnborough, Hampshire, GU14 7BF. Or you can email
your details to ag_giveaway@timeinc.com, heading the email Westland Water
Indicator and Plant Feed Draw (21 April). The closing date is 26 April 2018.
WIN
£30
Word search
This word search contains
words associated with
England and St George – and
‘English’ plants. They are
listed below; 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 eight
letters remaining; arrange
these to make this week’s
KEYWORD.
SAINT
GEORGE
BLUEBELL
ENGLISH
ESSEX
GARDENING
HAREBELL
IRIS
ISLE
LAVENDER
LONDON
MARJORAM
OAK
PRIDE
ROSES
VIOLET
YEW
H
M
A
R
O
J
R
A
M
H
A
S
E
S
O
R
G
L
S
G
L
O
I
S
L
E
L
I
A
L
O
A
W
T
O
E
L
R
L
S
N
K
V
R
B
G
D
E
I
T
D
P
G
E
N
E
B
R
E
T
No:
412
O
E
R
E
N
E
I
L
S
N
N
A
W
I
U
D
O
R
S
I
H
E
N
L
D
I
E
N
E
A
Y
G
B
H
V
E
O
R
X
S
HOW TO ENTER: Enter this week’s keyword on the entry form,
and send it to AG Word Search No 412, Amateur Gardening, 2
Pinehurst, Pinehurst Road, Farnborough, Hampshire GU14 7BF,
to arrive by Wednesday 2 May 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.
21 APRIL 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
45
A Gardener’s
Miscellany
Crossword
8 ‘English’
plants
(
Q English elm
(Ulmus procera)
Q English harebell
(Campanula rotundifolia)
Q English hawthorn
(Crataegus laevigata)
Q English marjoram
(Origanum vulgare)
Q English oak
(Quercus robur)
Q English yew
(Taxus baccata)
-
*
)
+
,
.
/
English bluebell
(Hyacinthoides non-scripta)
('
0
((
()
English
iris (Iris
latifolia)
(*
(+
(,
(-
(.
2
famous gardening
Georges
Q George Russell (1857-1951)
In 1937, the RHS awarded the Veitch
Memorial Medal to George Russell
from Yorkshire. Over 23 years,
George had crossed, recrossed and
selected lupins until he got a better
range of colours and more flowers
per stem. Russell lupins (right) and
their offspring are still available today.
Q George Forrest (1873-1932)
Born in Falkirk, Scotland, George
Forrest (right) became one of the first
explorers of China’s then remote
Yunnan province. He eventually
became the foremost collector of
Yunnan flora, introducing them to the U
46 AMATEUR GARDENING 21 APRIL 2018
1 Summer bedding plant
distantly related to the
potato (7)
6 Pack down by frequent
gentle strokes, as to flatten
compost in a pot or tray
prior to sowing seed (4)
7 and 15 across Soothing
succulent! (4,4)
8 North Yorkshire river
that empties into the
North Sea at Whitby, as
in the sycamore tree variety
Acer pseudoplatanus
f. variegatum ‘____
Sunset’ (3)
9 Used in snooker, but
sounds like the Royal
Botanical Gardens (3)
10 Small supernatural
creature, as in Agapanthus
‘Blue ___’ and Fuchsia
‘Red ___’ (3)
11 Cedrus libani is the
cedar of _______ (7)
12 Receding movement of
the tide, as in web bark! (3)
13 Tillandsia argentea is
commonly known as the
___ plant (3)
14 Member of the deer
family in North America
and Eastern Asia, as in
the North American crab
apple Malus coronaria
‘___ River’ (3)
15 See 7 across
16 Pinus contorta is known
as the lodgepole ____ (4)
17 ‘Palace’, ‘Gladiator’ and
‘Tender and True’ are all
varieties of this vegetable (7)
DOWN
2 Hybrid berry (form of
rubus) similar to the tayberry,
but with fruits that are
brighter red (11)
3 Botanical name for
orris root (4,7)
4 Fertilisation by the
transfer of pollen from an
anther to a stigma, as
effected by insects, birds,
bats and the wind (11)
5 Any plant (such as ivy
or periwinkle) that grows
by ‘crawling’ along the
ground (7)
9 The herb Anthriscus
cerefolium (7)
ANSWERS
There are some species names of
plants that can tell you where in
England they came from.
Q altaclarensis (as in holly: Ilex x
altaclerensis) comes from Highclere
Castle, Hampshire.
Q beesianum (as in jasmine: Jasminu
beesianum) comes from the old Bees Nursery, Chester.
Q darleyensis (as in heather: Erica x darleyensis) comes
from Darley Dale Nursery (James Smith & Sons), Derbys.
Q kewensis (as in primula: Primula x kewensis) comes
from Kew Gardens, London.
Q stevenagensis (as in gentian: Gentiana x
stevenagensis) comes from Stevenage, Hertfordshire.
ACROSS
ACROSS 1 Petunia 6 Tamp 7 Aloe 8 Esk 9 Cue 10 Imp 11 Lebanon 12 Ebb 13 Air 14
Elk 15 Vera 16 Pine 17 Parsnip
DOWN 2 Tummelberry 3 Iris pallida 4 Pollination 5 Creeper 9 Chervil
Latin Names and English
Geography
Ilex x altaclerensis
KEYWORD TO WORDSEARCH 407 (AG 17 MARCH):
GALWAY
AND THE WINNER IS:
MRS CHRISTINE OSBOURNE OF RUSHDEN
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9
If you don’t have a lot of
space, rock or alpine
pinks make a colourful
collection to fill a windowbox
of well-drained compost.
Most are scented and
range from 3-10in
(8-25cm).
Dianthus ‘Musgrave’s Pink’
has single white flowers
with a fresh green eye
My new Devon Pink
will be added in
between lavenders,
sage and thymes
edging the kitchen
garden pathways
How to grow
Garden pinks
With their evocative clove-like scent, garden pinks are available in
a range of colours and last all summer long, says Anne Swithinbank
Time Inc/Alamy
G
ARDENERS often ask for short,
colourful, fragrant, evergreen
perennials capable of flowering
all summer long, and the
modern pink certainly delivers. Unlike
the once-blooming old-fashioned
pinks (probably derived from Dianthus
plumarius), modern varieties produce
their flower stems over several weeks
while retaining that clove-like scent.
I use them to edge pathways in our
kitchen garden, as the petals (minus
the bitter green base) are edible. We
add them to herbal teas, use them to
decorate salads, and when crystallised,
they look pretty on cakes. Longstemmed pinks are great for the cutting
garden too, their blooms interwoven
with annuals like nigella (love-in-a-mist)
and orlaya.
Yet romantic, old-fashioned pinks are
full of charm and I’m drawn to their
stories. Their old name ‘sops in wine’
48 AMATEUR GARDENING 21 APRIL 2018
reminds us that the flowers were once
used to flavour wine in Medieval and
Tudor times, when mulling with
expensive cloves was beyond many a
pocket – although whether the cultivar
currently enjoying this name is the same
plant (it may have been an ‘old clove
carnation’) we may never know.
The double white flowers with frilled
petals have a deep-maroon centre and
strong clove scent. ‘Musgrave’s Pink’,
possibly dating from 1730, bears single
white flowers each with a fresh green
eye and clear sweet perfume. It is
certainly old enough to have gathered
a clutch of pseudonyms (‘Charles
Musgrave’, ‘Old Green Eye’, ‘Washfield’).
Modern pinks have been bred by
crossing old varieties with tender
carnations capable of flowering for long
periods, but mainly under glass.
The colour range is white, every
shade of pink, red, purple and yellow,
and typically for florist’s flowers, there
are descriptive words for their markings.
Until the late 1800s, a florist was
someone who collected, bred and
exhibited plants like ranunculus and
auricula for their beautiful blooms. Self
(one colour), bicolor (with contrasting
eye), laced (with eye colour extending
around rim), fancy (flecks, streaks or
stripes against a background) and
picotee (petals with contrasting rims) are
still used to describe the flowers.
While pinks grow best on chalky, welldrained soils, they can be persuaded to
bloom in heavier, wetter ground like
mine. They look rather sad during winter,
and may need replacing more regularly,
but they do perk up in spring and
produce plenty of flowers.
Plant them in a sunny position and
remove dead heads to keep plants clean
and encourage those that repeat to
produce more buds.
Taking
cuttings
of pinks
I’ll take cuttings of
pinks any time when
tempted by strong,
non-flowering
shoots. However,
the ‘correct’ time
is in summer when
rooting is quicker.
Trim under a node to
make a cutting 3in
(8cm) long, or pull
the growing tip so
it comes away as
a ‘piping’. Insert
several in 3.5in (9cm
pots of gritty cutting
compost.
Allwoods.net
Four pretty pinks
‘Eileen’
Dating from 1927, a largeflowered single whose
crimson-eyed, white blooms
have daintily ‘pinked’ petals
and delicious clove scent.
Reaches 12-14in (30-35cm).
‘Old Square Eyes’
Dating from 1980, large
single white flowers are
bathed with a warm peachy
pink centre and faint peach
edging. Highly scented and
reaching 12-15in (30-38cm).
‘Widecombe Fair’
A modern cultivar with
double champagne-pink
flowers and rich sweet
perfume over long periods
at a flower height of 14in
(35cm). Great for cutting.
Hardysplants.co.uk
‘Bright Eyes’
This is a modern pink
whose double white
blooms are lit by a
burgundy eye. There’s
delicious perfume and a
flower height of 11in (28cm).
21 APRIL 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
49
50 AMATEUR GARDENING 21 APRIL 2018
Write to us: Letters, Amateur Gardening magazine,
Pinehurst 2, Pinehurst Road, Farnborough Business Park,
Farnborough, Hants, GU14 7BF.
Email us: amateurgardening@timeinc.com
with Wendy Humphries
The rose
star
letter
Patricia is emptying the bags to
compost the leaves: “It’s worth the
efort to help the environment,” she says
Quite a stir!
A
TV show recently reported that
a small amount of plastic was
used when making teabags. I
use decaf teabags so I emailed
the company to see if I could purchase
loose decaf instead. Their reply was no,
but as there was only a small amount of
plastic used, it was safe to put them in
the compost bin. I am not comfortable
with this as when I sieve my compost,
the teabag casings are still in there.
Given the damage that plastic is
doing to larger creatures, what does
IN 1952 when I started gardening
everyone grew roses – it was the only
plant everyone knew!
Then came the garden centres and
people saw a vast collection of plants,
many that they had never heard of, all
ready to be planted straight away.
I am, or was, a member of the RNRS
(Royal National Rose Society) and am
very sorry it had to close. The Gardens
of The Rose are, or were, not far from
where I live and the first plants I bought
were roses because I didn’t know about
much else!
Mrs Joyce Hall,
Potters Bar, Herts
this do to the tiny ones in our compost
bins? I still want the tea leaves in my
compost so to overcome this I collect
the bags by the sink, then split them so
only the tea leaves go into the bin.
We as gardeners are doing our best
to protect our environment and by not
putting teabags in our bins this would
be another small step towards that.
Patricia Lush via email
Wendy says Good news, the Co-op and
Typhoo are trialling a heat-sealed bag
Dear Bob, how do you know cats
kill more rodents than birds?
COULD you tell me where Bob Flowerdew gets his information that cats
kill more rodents than birds and that the birds they kill by the hundreds of
thousands if not millions are old or ill (AG, 31 March).
Paul Chandler, Droitwich, Worcs
this as most probable. Rodents are
Reply from Bob: What I said was:
“Cats actually kill far more rodents
far easier prey, available in greater
than birds, and as with wolves they
numbers and give the mousers a
meal whereas birds are harder to
most often kill the sick, old and infirm
catch and then seldom eaten. It
thus keeping bird populations
seems that whenever a bird
healthier.”
has flown into a window,
I drew my opinion from
been hit by a car or
exactly the same source
dropped dead from old
as yourself when you
age it is invariably a
claim cats kill hundreds
cat that is blamed for
of thousands if not
the death. My point re
millions of birds. No-one
predators is pertinent, if
has any real statistics,
Rodents are easy
I
were
a sick bird unable
how could they, all reports
prey for cats
to get away a quick death
can only be estimates ope
might well be a mercy. I’m sorry
to huge variation. As to killing
you have been upset by my article,
more rodents than birds, a lifetime of
perhaps you might consider getting a
studying natural history and having
cat to observe its actual habits.
owned many cats has demonstrated
Mrs Hall remembers the RNRS
Gardens, when massed planting
was the usual style for roses
Reader’s Quick Tip
HERE’S an
florists’ tip.
Always cut
the stems
of tulips
a little
shorter
because
they
carry on
growing in
the vase. A
some wallfl
to the vase for a winning combination.
Gemma Knight, King’s Lynn,
Norfollk
21 APRIL 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
51
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!
Photo
of the
week
Poison warning
A cheery camellia to put a
‘spring’ in our steps
I WAS interested to see the letter
regarding the cuckoo pint plants (AG,
Q&A 31 March) but a bit surprised that
the reply did not mention how VERY
poisonous they are, especially when the
attractive looking berries appear.
Ed Davis via email
Wendy says Good point. The leaves
and berries are an irritant so handling is
not a good idea. Dab the leaves with a
systemic weedkiller as suggested
Capturing the vibrancy of spring
I WOULD like to share a photo of my camellia, which I’m pleased to say
is flowering well. I am a particular fan of camellias as my late gran had
one in her garden. I hope you are able to share it with your readers.
Grant Rivers, South Ockendon, Essex
Arum maculatum berries appear in
autumn, once leaves have died back
Traditions are a matter of history
WHAT ridiculous interpretation of
political correctness makes Graham
Clarke feel a need to apologise for
describing the association between
some plants and Easter? (AG, A
Gardener’s Miscellany, 31 March).
It is simply a matter of history that
these traditions have developed.
Irrespective of personal beliefs
one may (or may not) find such
background information about plants
adds interest to gardening. What is
Editorial contacts:
Editorial offices: Amateur Gardening, Time Inc
(UK), Pinehurst 2, Pinehurst Road, Farnborough,
Hampshire, GU14 7BF 01252 555138
Email: amateurgardening@timeinc.com
Subscriptions: 0330 333 1113
Editor: Garry Coward-Williams
Gardening editor: Ruth Hayes
Designers: Al Rigger, Emily Secrett
Picture editor and Letters: Wendy Humphries
Marketing: Samantha Blakey
Features: Kathryn Wilson
Classified advertising 07572 116044
Advertising director: Kate Barnfield
07817 629935
52 AMATEUR GARDENING 21 APRIL 2018
there to apologise for?
Michael Stephens,
Liskeard, Cornwall
Garry Coward-Williams, Editor says
“I would not describe Graham’s
introduction as ‘politically correct’,
but rather sensitively aware. More
importantly, like many readers, I enjoy
‘Miscellany’ for the fun and diversity of
extraordinary facts Graham manages to
corral into each week’s theme.”
Content director: Mark Hedges
Group managing director: Oswin Grady
Complaints procedure: We work hard to achieve
the highest standards of editorial content, and
we are committed to complying with the Editors’
Code of Practice ( ipso.co.uk/IPSO/cop.html)
as enforced by IPSO. If you have a complaint
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Manager, Time Inc. (UK) Ltd Legal Department,
161 Marsh Wall, London E14 9AP. Please provide
details of the material you are complaining about
and explain your complaint by reference to the
Editors’ Code. We will endeavour to acknowledge
your complaint within five working days and
we aim to correct substantial errors as soon as
possible. amateurgardening.com
The passion flower is used to
recount the Easter story
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the look
Get
Ideas for gorgeous gardens
Mix together strong geometric shapes, such as these zigzag-clipped box fences, and
surround them with a profusion of colourful grasses, perennials, climbers and shrubs
Arts and Crafts Garden
A garden for all seasons has been created around a
former private estate house in Gwent, writes Sue Bradley
HE impressive crest dominating
the front gable of Ralph and
Helen Fergusson-Kelly’s home
in Monmouth, Gwent, sets the
tone for the garden in front of it.
This visible reminder that the Arts
and Crafts-style property was built as
part of the Rolls estate has inspired
Ralph and Helen to create a formal front
area dominated by evergreens clipped
into strong geometric shapes.
However, it’s another story on
the other side of the house, with a
flamboyant collection of colourful plants
dominating the sloping site, which
enjoys views over the countryside
towards Raglan.
Helen and Ralph have built a series
of terraces and used an adapted
Photographs by Peter Chatterton
T
version of the prairie planting technique
pioneered by designers such as Piet
Oudolf, mixing together grasses and
perennials, along with climbers and
shrubs, to ensure year-round interest.
A pathway runs across the summit of
the slope, while rustic-looking steps
lead to a lawn below.
Geometric evergreens are the link
between the two distinct sections of
the garden, with Helen using them at
strategic points behind the house to
lend a sense of structure.
“I use shears to keep them looking
good,” explains Helen.
“They look super when there’s snow
on them.”
While both gardens have been
designed to look attractive, some
areas also have practical uses, such
as a cosy octagonal summerhouse
and a gravelled sitting area with a
small water feature covering the base
of an old building that’s perfectly
positioned to make the most of the
south-facing slope.
Helen, a management consultantturned-gardener, and Ralph, an
engineer, have lived at The Hendre
for 26 years.
“The house was built in 1903 for
a farm manager on the Rolls Estate,”
explains Helen.
“When we moved in, the back area
was overgrown and there was hardly
anything here, apart from the old apple
trees and things like asters, which we
often see in other gardens around here;
being an estate village, people used to
share plants.
“The biggest problem in the garden
21 APRIL 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
55
the look
Get
Ideas for gorgeous gardens
Create layers of hue, bringing shorter
specimens to the front and placing taller
ones at the back
Bees are still active as summer moves
into autumn. They love the pretty pink
flowers of Sedum spectabile
is drainage: we have had to think about
where the watering is going to be
draining from. The slope immediately
behind the house is dominated by
a large perry pear and planted with
shrubs and perennials that will help
retain the bank but don’t need too much
maintenance because it’s so steep.
“On the plus side, the position of the
house close to a hill means we’re quite
sheltered.”
A further issue for Ralph and Helen
has been the garden’s thick clay soil, to
which they add two loads of composted
garden waste from the local council
every year.
Plant hunting has become something
of a passion for Helen since she
decided to put her stamp on the
garden, and over the years she’s visited
specialist nurseries to find specimens
that look good over several seasons,
including a paper-barked maple Acer
griseum with its stunning red trunk, a
‘Golden Hornet’ crab apple, with its
beautiful blossom and yellow fruit, and
the late-flowering Clematis tangutica
‘Golden Tiara’.
“There’s always something in the
garden to enjoy, whatever the time of
year,” says Ralph.
56 AMATEUR GARDENING 21 APRIL 2018
Pinpoint a flight of steps by planting the
base with a pair of pear-shaped evergreens.
Dark-leaved yew works well
Bamboo Fargesia nitida Jiuzhaigou 1, stripped to reveal its attractive stems, with late-summer
flowering aster and striking Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ for blocks of colour
Front of house with box balls and
contrasting textures of grasses
Welsh black cows love fallen apples
and Helen says they’re pretty docile
Choose plants for year-round colour. Apples, sedums, asters, dahlias and the golden flowers
of Clematis tangutica ‘Golden Tiara’ keep the hue coming into September and beyond
Choose ‘prairie planting’ to make the
most of a sunny sloping site
Fill a dry, shady area in bold style by
planting Liriope muscari ‘Royal Purple’
Use contrasting textures and materials,
such as clipped hedging and lofty
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Abundance’ to
draw the eye along the garden
Sunnyside’s crest, which dates back to the
time it belonged to a large estate, is
reflected by the formal feel of the front plot
Gladiolus callianthus blooms stand out
against the dark-green foliage of a yew
Meet the gardeners
Build hedgehog houses to welcome this threatened slug-munching species
into the garden, as well as add interest to a bare area under a tree
Mexican fleabane Erigeron
karvinskianus, fits into
nooks and soften steps
A box ball brings order
to a mixture of grasses,
roses and dahlias
Yellow foliage: Choisya
ternata ‘Sundance’ and
Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’
OWNERS:
Helen and
Ralph
FergussonKelly
ADDRESS:
Sunnyside,
The
Hendre,
Monmouth, Gwent, NP25 5HQ
GARDEN SIZE: 1/3 acre
ASPECT: South-facing back
garden
SOIL: Clay
VISITED: September
SPECIAL FEATURES: Year-round
garden surrounding former
private estate house. Formal
geometric evergreens at the
front, while the back features a
profusion of colour from trees,
shrubs, grasses and perennials on
a sloping site with rural views.
OPEN FOR THE NGS IN 2018:
Sunday 23 September, from noon
to 6pm and by appointment, from
May to November.
21 APRIL 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
57
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Toby Buckland
Nurseryman and former Gardeners’ World host
Facts about
willow
Willow Man creator
Serena de la Hey
and Toby Buckland
1
The sketch of the
new sculpture
planned for the
festival at
Powderham
Willow can be ‘green’ (living)
or ‘brown’ (dried). Dried willow,
when soaked for a few days (one
day per foot), regains pliability
but won’t grow when in contact
with the ground.
Willow Man was unveiled in September
2000 to celebrate the millennium
Save our
sculpture
2
Toby plans to help save the iconic Willow Man sculpture
HEN I read that the M5
Willow Man was in danger
of disappearing, I got
straight on the phone to
his artist creator Serena de la Hey to
hatch a plan to help.
If you’re not familiar with this
sculpture, Willow Man’s 40ft (12-metre)
frame strides beside the motorway at
Bridgwater in Somerset and in his short
18 years he’s come to represent far more
than the sum of his steel frame and
woven body.
For visitors to the West Country he
says the holidays have begun, while for
commuters along the M5 he’s a sign that
home is just around the corner.
Serena tells me the years haven’t
been kind to him, as the surrounding
landscape is now home to an industrial
distribution hub and huge new housing
estate. The weather has also taken its
toll, birds steal sticks from his body and
then there are the inherent flaws in
his construction.
Back when he was built he was
conceived as a temporary structure for
the millennium, and unless he’s reimagined with strategically placed new
steel his life expectancy could be less
than two years.
Alamy/Chris Chapman/Serena de lay Hey
W
I plan to raise awareness of his plight
and money for a crowdfund that ensures
his ongoing repair. To that end, Serena,
fellow willow artist Stefan Jennings and I
are building another sculpture for my
Festival at Powderham Castle, Devon,
on 27 April. Designed by Serena, the
giant head watches over the parkland
and illustrates how the man is built and
what’s needed to extend his life.
For a living willow structure,
push the ends of the willow
6in (15cm) into the soil and, if the
ground is kept moist, leaves and
shoots will grow from the stems.
I’ve long been a keen weaver of
garden wigwams and tunnels. I’ve always
loved handing the rods that the druids
thought to be magical. Some say this is
because they root even when upside
down. But I think there’s something more,
as willow is a shape-shifter that takes on
any form, and in the case of the Willow
Man represents a past that’s disappearing
– and one that is down to us to preserve.
Where to find willow
Willow is available via mail order from
specialist suppliers, but you can also
use cornus (aka dogwood) such as the
bright C. alba varieties (below left) and
the acid-yellow C. flaviramea (below
right), which add a vibrant splash of
colour. Hazel may be available from
local woodland trusts or thatchers,
as they often manage/coppice
woodlands when not fixing roofs. This
wood is also bendy and strong,
especially when freshly cut.
When making seats, bowers or an
arch, hammer uprights into the soil and
then plait pairs of wands around them,
rather than just weaving individually in
and out, as this makes for a tightly
bound and strong structure.
21 APRIL 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
59
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