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Amateur Gardening - 05 May 2018

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Grass
Great
beddi
plants
Yes! Busy
Lizzies
are back!
replace
plastic
6 best lilacs to grow
Late spring
splendour!
How to keep the ga
colourful till summ
Anne?s tips for growing star jasmi
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This week in
SUBSCRIBE
TODAY!
Amateur
0330 333 1113
Call
or:
5 MAY 2018
amateurgardeningsubs.co.uk
Jobs for this week
4
?Coir is a great replacement
for plastic pots,? says Ruth
4
5
6
13
14
HOW TO PLANT WITH COIR
It?s a great replacement for plastic, says Ruth
REDUCE PLASTIC USAGE IN THE GARDEN
See how gardeners can make a diference
DIVIDING PULMONARIAS
You can boost the vigour of these plants, says Ruth
RE-HOMING SEEDLINGS
Find the right place for unexpected plants, such as honesty
HELP OUR BIRDS IN THE BREEDING SEASON
Good ways to give Mother Nature a helping hand
Great garden ideas
Alamy
PJS
22
26
30
34
10
?The busy Lizzie is back and
better than ever,? says Peter
22
?I?ll show you the six best
lilacs to grow,? says Graham
PICK OF THE VERY BEST: LILACS
Gorgeous fragrance and six to choose from
THE SEED PEOPLE
This week we have the story behind Suttons Seeds
PLANTS TO BEAT THE SPRING LULL
Lots of choice for a beautiful display before summer
BEST GRASSES FOR SMALL GARDENS
The best options for light and shady areas
Gardening wisdom
10
17
19
20
38
43
44
46
53
58
PETER SEABROOK
Busy Lizzies are available again, says Peter
BOB FLOWERDEW
Hardening of is the key to success, says Bob
VAL BOURNE?S GARDEN WILDLIFE
Love them or hate them, conifers have their uses
LUCY CHAMBERLAINS?S FRUIT AND VEG
Sowing parsnips, staking peas, smart ways with fruit
YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Attracting more birds, rooting in water, more mystery plants
ANNE?S MASTERCLASS
How to choose the best bedding plants
HOW TO GROW STAR JASMINE
Anne?s top tips for these fragrant and vigorous climbers
GARDENER?S MISCELLANY
The Channel Islands are the focus of our puzzles this week
YOUR LETTERS
Mowing tip, praise for postie and laced polyanthus
TOBY BUCKLAND
Fruit grown in moulded shapes? Toby reveals the future
Alamy
Latest news and product tests
30
?Plants to ?ll the gap before
summer!? says Louise
GIVE A GIFT SUBSCRIPTION!
Call
0330 333 1113
or: amateurgardeningsubs.co.uk
Cover photograph: Primula Bulleyana (pic: GAP)
8
50
TOP NEWS STORIES
Hedgehogs in food scare, bamboo cane shortage
TRIED AND TESTED
We put long-handled hoes to the test
?Let?s be honest, Easter was a wash-out,
literally. We?re at least three weeks behind
where we should be, but relief has come with
better weather and the ?rst of two three-day
weekends. Let?s really make the most of
them and reclaim the time needed to get our
gardens back on track. It?ll be hard work, but
isn?t it great to be out there doing it again!?
Garry Coward-Williams, Editor
5 MAY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
3
Gardening Week
with AG?s gardening expert Ruth Hayes
Step
by step
Start seeds in
cardboard modules
Planting
using coir
A one-step starter for plants
1
Before you start, give your
plants a good soaking ? this is
especially important if plants have
come through the post.
The Hairy Pot Plant Company
uses coir pots instead of plastic
2
Coir is made of
coconut husks
Leave them to absorb the
water while you dig a hole
that?s as deep as the plant?s
pot and slightly wider.
Ruth shows you how to reduce plastic use in the garden
HEN plastic was invented
in 1907, it was going to
change the world ? just
not in the way it has
done. Today, it is Public Enemy No 1, its
reputation tarnished by videos of divers
swimming through oceans of rubbish
and albatrosses feeding plastic to their
starving chicks.
There are 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic
waste on earth and the Pacific Ocean
has a floating plastic island the size of
Mexico! However, the fightback that
started with the 5p levy on carrier
bags is gaining momentum.
It is a movement that extends to the
world of gardening. Plastic products
are still the most widely available,
and cheapest, items on the shelf, but
alternatives are becoming more popular.
Clay pots are the best for rooting
cuttings because they are porous, so
waterlogging isn?t a problem and air
can get to the roots.
W
4 AMATEUR GARDENING 5 MAY 2018
Wood or metal labels, cardboard
modules and pots made of coir (coconut
fibre) are easy to get hold of. Several
plant nurseries are reducing their plastic
footprint and supplying plants grown in
biodegradeable pots.
For the past 14 years Kirton Farm
Nurseries ( kirtonfarm.co.uk), which
trades under the name of the Hairy Pot
Plant Company, has been reducing the
amount of plastic it uses, replacing it
with waxed card and wood.
The company grows plants in coir pots
and supplies them to the National Trust,
Kew Gardens, English Heritage and the
Eden Project. Sales to the public are
through its sister website The Natural
Gardener ( thenaturalgardener.co.uk).
On these pages I suggest a few
simple ways of using less plastic in our
gardens. Nobody is perfect and it isn?t
always practical to completely do away
with it, but every little bit less used will
help the natural world.
3
Place the plant in the hole
and infill around it, firming
the soil down with your foot to
remove air pockets.
4
Water the plant again well and
don?t let it dry out while it gets
established. Watch for pests and
keep the area weed-free.
Making plastic
work for you
Re-use plastic
pots as much
as you can
Courgettes growing
in a cofee pouch
Cardboard will suppress weeds as
well as black plastic or weedkillers
Other ways of going green
These simple steps will reduce your plastic footprint
HERE are many simple ways of
getting a great garden without
damaging the environment or
wasting natural resources.
Making your own compost is an
obvious step, as is re-using food
containers where possible.
Suppress weeds without using
weedkiller or plastic by anchoring a layer
of thick cardboard on the soil instead.
Below I show you how to transplant
seedlings into old egg boxes. As the
seedlings grow, the egg holders can be
cut up and planted directly into larger
pots or the ground, where they will
naturally break down.
T
Step
by step
Coffee pouches also make good
containers for starting plants that have
deep roots, and the cardboard centres
of loo rolls and kitchen paper are
excellent for the deep root systems
of pea and bean seedlings.
Plastic ready-meal trays are ideal for
starting seedlings, but do make sure
they are thoroughly washed first.
Every garden should have at least
one water butt and you can also use
domestic waste water to irrigate plants.
Unless it contains bleaching agents,
water from washing, bathing and
washing up can be poured onto the
garden in times of drought.
If using plastic in the garden is
unavoidable there
several things you
can do to limit the
amount you buy.
Labels can be
scrubbed clean
and re-used, as
can pots.
Large plastic bottles
Clean plastic
are ideal cloches
containers in warm
soapy water after every use to
remove traces of disease and pests
that might infect the new plants or
seeds you grow in them.
It is almost impossible to avoid
plastic, but it can be put to good use.
Fizzy pop bottles make good
cloches when cut in half, and food
trays can be used to start seedlings.
Pricking out seedlings into cardboard egg boxes
1
Cut your egg boxes in half and
place the egg holders in a tray.
Fill them with compost.
2
Once the trays are full (I used
John Innes No1) dib a hole in the
compost in each egg compartment.
Using an old teaspoon or the
end of a plastic plant label, lift the
seedlings? rootballs from the compost.
4
5
6
Holding the seedlings by a
leaf (never the stem), carefully
transfer each one into a dibbed hole.
Make sure all the roots are
contained in the planting hole, then
firm the compost around the seedling.
3
Water using fresh tap water. Keep
the seedlings damp and well
ventilated and check them for pests.
5 MAY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
5
Gardening Week
with AG?s gardening expert Ruth
The best tips for
splitting plants
Don?t worry if divided or
transplanted plants droop
slightly after splitting and
replanting. This is natural
and they will spring
back to life in a
day or so.
Newspaper wrapping helps
prevent roots from drying out
Flowers change colour
after pollination
Divisions should
have healthy roots
and shoots
Pulmonarias benefit from
division and will do well
in a shady site
Boost the vigour of overgrown plants, says Ruth
O
NE of my favourite early spring
plants is Pulmonaria officinalis,
more commonly known as
lungwort. A garden favourite, it
blooms in shades of blue, purple, pink
and white, and its spreading foliage
varies from white speckled to silver
and plain green.
Pulmonarias are a magnet for bees
and other pollinators, and the flowers
actually change colour once they have
Step
by step
been pollinated, turning from pink to
blue. This is because the action of the
insects causes the acidic cell juices to
turn alkaline.
This is fascinating to see and also
handy for the bees, because it?s the
plant?s way of saying: ?Don?t bother with
this bit as someone got here before you!?
Pulmonarias can soon become
overgrown, untidy and less vigorous,
and are an easy plant to divide.
Q The key to successful division is
preventing the roots from drying out,
then getting plants back in the
ground quickly.
Q Do the work on a day that is cool,
still and overcast, as wind and sun
will dry out roots fast.
Q Prepare planting holes before
starting the project, so you can
replant as soon as possible.
Q If there is a delay in getting plants
back in the ground, wrap the roots
in damp newspaper or plastic and
store them somewhere cool and
dark, but only up to 48 hours.
Do remember, when replanting, that
they do best in full or dappled shade, as
full sun can scorch leaves and make
them more prone to mildew.
How to divide a pulmonaria
2
1
Dig holes where you want to plant
your new divisions and add a layer
of well-rotted organic matter to each.
Dig around the plant, then lift it,
keeping as much soil around
the rootball as possible.
3
4
Keep the
divisions well
watered while
they get
established
Water the divided plants well and
add a layer of mulch to retain the
moisture and suppress weeds.
6 AMATEUR GARDENING 5 MAY 2018
Place the plant on to newspaper or
plastic. Divide the rootball so each
piece has healthy roots and shoots.
Replant the divisions to the depth
of their rootballs and firm them in.
They will soon grow and fill the space.
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-); 0(< 6-& / ->7;6)+ 7;; 6-& / ;+ B 08 9 Brambles Pets and Wildlife has developed
a range of nutritious and safe hedgehog foods
Gail and David Tracey
set up Brambles
Processed foods may be the cause of disease and obesity
HE plight of our
hedgehogs is
well known and
thousands of people
? gardeners in particular ?
are doing their best to help
the dwindling population.
Next week is Hedgehog
Awareness Week (6-12 May),
and the sad fact is that all this
extra help may still be killing
them ? with kindness.
Many people know that
T
bread and milk are not
suitable for hedgehogs, so
they give other proteinpacked goodies instead.
However, mealworms,
peanuts and sunflower hearts
can create an imbalance
between levels of calcium
and phosphate in the
mammals? bodies, causing
the calcium to leach out of the
bones and into their blood.
Research by biological
How to help hedgehogs
HEDGEHOG Awareness Week is
the perfect time for you to help
your local hog population.
The main thing you can do is
check long grass before mowing or
strimming ? rescue centres see
hundreds of casualties with terrible
injuries caused by strimmers and
mowers. Also, cut a CD-sized hole at
the base of your garden fence to let
hedgehogs roam and forage. Ask
your neighbours to do the same.
Hedgehogs are largely nocturnal
so if you see one during the day it
may be injured or unwell, but check
before going to their aid.
8 AMATEUR GARDENING 5 MAY 2018
scientist Gail Tracey and her
husband David, who has
worked in the pet trade for 27
years, shows that this mineral
imbalance causes Metabolic
Bone Disease (MBD), which
weakens bones and causes
deformities and fractures.
This could be catastrophic
for hedgehogs as it limits how
far they can forage and
makes it harder for them to
avoid predators or vehicles.
Dietary problems are
further compounded by
sugary foods such as dried
fruit, which can cause obesity
and dental decay.
Gail and David have set up
Brambles Pet and Wildlife,
which makes and sells its own
hedgehog food. They have a
website and Facebook and
Twitter feeds managed by
their daughter Laura.
Their products include
tinned and dry food and
duck and swan food.
Gail said: ?Although MBD
could be genetic, we have
found that it?s present in
hedgehogs that eat a lot
of prepared food.
?People want to do
their best, but they could
be causing problems
without realising it. We
need to get the message
out there and make sure
hedgehogs are not getting
the wrong food.
?Their main food source is
protein and molluscs and
they can?t cope with a high-fat
or sugary diet. Like children,
they will go for something
sweet or fatty and leave
what is good for them!?
Brambles food is available
online, from the RSPB, pet
shops and garden centres.
You can read more about the
work of the Tracey family at
bramblespaw.co.uk and by
following their Facebook and
Twitter feeds.
Here?s how you can
help hedgehogs
?If it is going about busily during
daylight hours it could be a mother
taking a break from her youngsters
and finding food or more nesting
materials,? said Fay Vass of the British
Hedgehog Preservation Society. ?If
it looks alert and active, it is fine so
leave it alone. But if it seems lethargic
or is injured it will need help.?
The advice from the BHPS is to
pick up the hedgehog wearing stout
gardening gloves and put it in a large
box with a towel at the bottom so it
has somewhere cosy to hide under.
Give it some water and cat or dog
food and leave it somewhere quiet
and warm indoors. Then call the
society on 01584 890 801 to be given
advice and put in touch with a local
hedgehog carer.
Q Poet Pam Ayres has donated the
advance for her new book The Last
Hedgehog to BHPS. For further
details and to order a copy, visit
britishhedgehogs.org.uk.
Got a story?
Call 01252 555138 or
email ruth.hayes@timeinc.com
REVIEW
lost to the flames include
5ft and 8ft bamboo canes,
hanging-basket liners,
wild-bird feed, propagation
equipment and solar lighting.
The company has taken
steps to mitigate the effects
of the fire and stock is now
being returned to a
previously used warehouse
in King?s Lynn, Norfolk, which
closed after the company
relocated to Daventry in 2017.
Garden centres risk running
out of bamboo canes
Alamy
Bamboo cane shortage!
GARDENERS are
STOP being warned of a
PRESS potential shortage
of summer
equipment after fire wrecked
the warehouse of one of the
UK?s main garden-centre
suppliers.
Around 50 firefighters
were called to the blaze at
the warehouse of gardencentre suppliers Gardman in
Daventry, Northants. Items
It is thought the fire
caused � million-worth of
damage to the building and
� million of stock was lost.
AG readers break record with garden visits
YOU
garden
visitors
are a
generous
lot and
last year
helped the National Garden
Scheme raise more than
�million for good causes.
Since the NGS was
founded in 1927, it has raised
more than � million for
charity. Last year the popular
scheme brought in �1
million. Beneficiaries include
Macmillan Cancer Support,
Marie Curie and Hospice UK,
each of which will receive
�0,000 from funds
raised in 2017.
Annual donations
continue to Carers Trust,
Queen?s Nursing Institute,
Parkinson?s UK and the
horticultural workers? charity
Perennial, as well as the
MS Society.
National Garden Scheme
CEO George Plumptre said:
?It?s been another recordbreaking year for the scheme
and we are extremely
pleased to be able to fund
even more vital work in the
areas that we are passionate
about ? nursing, gardens
and health, and support for
training gardeners.?
Q There are more than 3,700
gardens open nationally to
the NGS. Visit ngs.org.uk
or call 01483 211535 for
details and to request a
yellow book of gardens.
Let?s all celebrate National Garden Week!
SINCE it was launched
seven years ago, National
Gardening Week has become
one of the country?s largest
celebrations of outdoor life.
This year?s gardening
week (30 April-6 May), which
is run by the RHS, has
focused on people sharing
their passion for plants and
getting involved with their
own events.
A spokesman for the RHS
said: ?There are plenty of
things people can do
themselves, and get their
Build a bug hotel
to bring insects in
family involved in, to celebrate
National Gardening Week.
?It need not be a large
project ? you could grow
tomatoes on your windowsill
or tidy up your driveway!?
The National Gardening
Week website ( national
gardeningweek.org.uk) is
packed with ideas for the
garden and wildlife that
aren?t just for this week but
will keep going and growing
for weeks and years to come.
An RHS spokesman
added: ?No matter how big or
small your project is, the
important thing is you got
involved with us.?
If you did anything special
for National Gardening Week
we would love to hear about
it, so write in and let us know!
DEBUNKED GARDENING MYTHS
MYTH Crocks
orgravelatthe
baseofpots
helpsittodrain
andprevents
waterlogging.
BOOK
FACT Adding crocks takes up space and
can create a puddle of water that the
plant roots sit in, potentially causing
rotting. Compost and soil will drain
perfectly well by themselves, just make
sure the pot has a hole in the bottom.
GARDENING
HACKS
Handy Hints to Make
Gardening Easier
By Dan Marshall
(Summersdale books,
�99)
There seem to be
?hacks? (quick hints)
about everything these
days and gardening is
no exception.
At first glance this
chirpy little book may
seem a bit gimmicky,
but it is worth further
investigation.
It is divided into 14
sections covering
everything from lawns
and wildflowers to pest
control and weeding,
with one hack per page.
Many of them are well
known, but some
involve common sense
and there are several
that got me thinking,
?Why haven?t I thought
of that??
And chiming with this
week?s AG theme of
using less plastic, I
particularly liked the
idea of labelling plants
by painting stones
bright colours and
writing on them with
indelible pen.
Although aimed
more at the novice
gardener rather than
someone with a wealth
of self-learned
knowledge, I?m still
making room for
Gardening Hacks on
my shed bookshelf.
k, AG?s classic gardening expert
Peter?s top tips
Peter was
at the trials
Impatiens are frost tender and will
need protection until the chance of
night frosts have passed.
The mildew-resistant ?Imara? bizzie Lizzie was
created for B&Q and is available in six colours
Return of the busyLizzie!
A new strain has brought a classic back to life, says Peter
T
10 AMATEUR GARDENING 5 MAY 2018
?Busy Lizzies were
wiped out in 2011?
Plant hanging baskets, patio pots
and windowboxes either under
glass or in protected positions to
help them become established and
give them a flying start to make
even larger plants through summer.
And if a shoot breaks off when
planting it will root easily in seed
and cutting compost to form
another plant for summer flowering.
You will get the best results by
adding slow-release fertiliser
granules to compost when planting
in containers.
Alamy/Time Inc/Peter Seabrook
HE widespread attack of a new
strain of downy mildew on the
popular summer bedding plant
busy Lizzie in 2011 pretty well
wiped out floral displays. The attack was
so widespread and serious Impatiens
walleriana cultivars pretty well
Last summer I visited trials with this
disappeared from seed catalogues and
retail plant benches from 2012 onwards. new strain and the difference was
outstanding. Once the weather turned
Cultivars with New Guinea hybrid
damp, old cultivars were wiped out while
blood were not affected and the very
popular traditional I. walleriana cultivars the ?Imara? bizzie (not busy) Lizzies
continued growing strongly and
were OK if grown with overhead
g freely. The name
protection so the foliage
a? means ?strong and
remained dry. Damp
lient? in Swahili, a
conditions are necessar
bute to the region in
for the spread of
ast Africa where they
airborne spores, which
originate.
first appear as a grey
Syngenta, the
powder on the
breeder, has such
underside of leaves.
onfidence in its new
The leaves then curl,
rain?s resistance that
turn yellow and fall, so
me six million plants
only bare stems remain.
?Imara? bizzie Lizzie
o on sale this month
This month sees the
wide. Busy Lizzies grow
introduction of a downy
nd shade, provide
mildew-resistant strain c
masses of colour from early summer
Impatiens ?Imara? (B&Q), in six different
through to winter frost, are easy to grow
colours, which will allow this very
in both beds and containers suiting our
popular bedding plant to be planted
back into UK summer bedding schemes unpredictable climate and the most
challenging of gardening situations.
and containers.
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Shading paint helps
prevent the sun from
scorching plants in
the greenhouse
Wetting the floor
lowers the temperature
Step
by step
Moving
honesty
Giving them more room
1
Dig a hole that will comfortably
accommodate the roots,
and add a layer of compost or a
handful of proprietary feed.
Start giving greenhouse
citruses a high-nitrogen
feed. They will be coming
into full growth now, and
will soon start to flower
and produce small
fruits.
Productive pottering
Use the extra day to do something enjoyable, says Ruth
S
OMETIMES a gardening
weekend feels like a full-on
military campaign where you
set out with an objective, toil to
accomplish it, complete it successfully
and collapse exhausted, just in time to
return to work on the Monday.
A major joy of a long bank holiday
weekend is the chance to potter and
catch up on supplementary jobs that
are enjoyable as well as practical.
I spent a very satisfying 15 minutes
moving a couple of honesty seedlings
that were growing around a tayberry.
I think they must have germinated in
Be ready for a
late winter sting
Q It may be May, but winter can still
give a sharp sting.
Q Late frosts devastate young shoots
that haven?t yet hardened off, so be
prepared to protect vulnerable plants.
Q Keep a cloche or several layers of
fleece ready to deploy on frosty
nights. Remove them as soon as
the temperature rises to prevent
condensation and mould forming.
Q Keep weeding borders, using a
dab-on chemical on weeds growing
tightly among other plants.
some homemade compost and it was a
real delight to move them somewhere
with more room.
I?m also using this weekend to
prepare the greenhouse for summer,
starting by covering the panes with
shading paint to lower the temperature
and prevent leaf scorch. Damping the
floor is another good idea, as it raises
humidity and keeps things cooler.
Other than that, I will be spending
time catching up on myriad five-minute
jobs ? tying back, pruning, deadheading
and weeding, getting the garden ready
for its early summer surge in growth.
Prepare for late
frosts and deal
with weeds this
weekend
2
Lift the plant with a trowel,
aiming to keep as much soil
around the roots as possible.
3
Plant up and infill around the
roots, firming down the soil
and keeping the stem upright.
4
Water well and add a handful of
mulch around the plant. Keep
it free of weeds and enjoy the new
addition to the border.
5 MAY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
13
Gardening Week
with AG?s gardening expert Ruth Hayes
Sow
free seeds
Q This week?s
Nest building is still going
on, so help the process by
leaving hair from brushed
pets (and your own
hairbrush) somewhere
in the garden for
birds to find.
A clean birdbath with
fresh water is essential
for washing and drinking
Nutritious
seeds are
perfect for
hungry
birds
Look after your breeding garden birds, says Ruth
HILE you?re enjoying the
long weekend, spare a
thought for the garden
birds that are building
nests and raising the year?s first broods
of chicks. Raising a family can be hard
work and the parents need to keep
up their strength.
Keep the birds supplied with fresh
food, including seeds, mild grated
cheese, mealworms and seed mixes
W
Solen Collet
What?s
on
that don?t contain whole peanuts, as
these can choke fledglings. If you do use
peanuts, keep them in mesh hangers so
the birds can only retrieve small pieces.
Bread should also be avoided.
Homemade fat balls can soon go
rancid in warmer weather, so buy
commercially produced ones that stay
fresh for longer.
Fresh water is important, so keep
your birdbath clean and topped up.
Things to do near you
Gardens come to life at Scotland?s
Growing Stories Storytelling (7 May)
5: Plant Hunters? Fair: 1620s House,
Donington Le Heath, Manor Road,
Coalville, Leics LE67 2FW. 01455
290429; doningtonleheath.org.uk
5: Chrysanthemum Society Show:
RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Creephedge
Lane, Rettendon, Chelmsford,
Essex CM3 8ET. 0203 176 5830,
rhs.org.uk/gardens/hyde-hall
5: RHS Gardening Advice: RHS
Harlow Carr, Crag Lane, Harrogate,
North Yorks HG3 1QB. 0203 176
14 AMATEUR GARDENING 5 MAY 2018
5830, rhs.org.uk/gardens/harlow-carr
5: Nursery Tour: D?arcy and Everest,
Meadowsweet Nursery, Pidley Sheep
Lane (B1040), Somersham, Cambs,
PE28 3FL. 01480 497 672;
darcyeverest.co.uk
5-6: Spring Plant Weekend: RHS Harlow
Carr, Crag Lane, Harrogate, North Yorks
HG3 1QB. 0203 176 5830,
rhs.org.uk/gardens/harlow-carr
6: Mammilaria Show: RHS Wisley,
Wisley Lane, Woking, Surrey
GU23 6QB. 0203 176 5830,
rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley
6: Nature Awakes: RHS Garden Hyde
Hall, Creephedge Lane, Rettendon,
Chelmsford, Essex CM3 8ET. 0203 176
5830, rhs.org.uk/gardens/hyde-hall
6: Spring Plant Fair: RHS Harlow Carr,
Crag Lane, Harrogate, North Yorks
HG3 1QB. 0203 176 5830,
rhs.org.uk/gardens/harlow-carr
6-7: Spring Plant Fair: Weston Park,
Shifnal, Shrops TF11 8LE. 01952
free seeds are
for delightfully
tatty-petalled
ragged robin
(Lychnis floscuculi), which
thrives in dam
meadows,
wild areas and
grassy banks.
Q They will
flower next
year, so start
them off now
on a tray of
fresh compost
Cover lightly
with soil, water
add a lid and
set them on a
warm windowsill.
Q Prick out seedlings when they are
large enough to handle and pot
them up individually.
Q Gradually acclimatise them to
outside conditions and plant them
out 10in (25cm) apart.
Q Ragged robin is extremely
popular with pollinators and will
attract bees, butterflies and other
beneficial insects to your garden.
852100; weston-park.com
7: Growing Stories Storytelling:
Dr Neil?s Garden, Old Church Lane,
Duddingston Village, Edinburgh,
EH15 3PX. 07849 187995;
drneilsgarden.co.uk
7: Scotland?s Garden Storytelling
Festival: Culzean Castle and Country
Park, Maybole, South Ayrshire
KA19 8LE. nts.org.uk
10-13: RHS Malvern Spring Festival:
Three Counties Showground, Malvern,
Worcs WR13 6NW. 01684 584900,
threecounties.co.uk
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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with Bob Flowerdew, AG?s organic gardening expert
Bob?s top tips
for the week
Tomatoes
need to be
hardened of
1
As everything gets busy
outside, don?t forget to feed
and water your houseplants.
It helps immensely if you keep plants
under cloches for the ?rst few weeks
Harden them off
2
Likewise, don?t forget to
water all the plants you?ve
put in during the last 12 months,
as there will be a surge of growth
at this time of year.
Let plants adjust to outside conditions gradually, says Bob
OU can make a tremendous
difference to how well your
plants establish when you
move them from your
greenhouse to open ground by
hardening them off. The same applies
with most plants you buy, especially the
more tender types, such as tomatoes
and bedding plants.
Plants that are used to the snug
conditions of a greenhouse or garden
centre can have a bit of a shock when
placed outside. If the process is too
abrupt then it can take plants several
weeks to recover.
The secret is to harden off your plants
properly before putting them out ? in
that way their growth won?t be so badly
checked and they?ll romp away. So how
do you successfully harden off? The
traditional method is to leave plants
outside during the day and then take
them back under cover at night.
This needs repeating over three or
four days to allow the plants to adapt to
harsher conditions gradually before
planting out. However, this technique
can be even better if more time is taken
Alamy/Time Inc
Y
or the plants are adjusted more slowly
and less dramatically.
Rather than putting them straight out
each day into the fiercest conditions,
construct a sheltered place for them. It
does not need be fancy, just a bit of clear
plastic sheet or windbreak netting held
up around the plants to keep the worst
wind off while they are out during those
3
Dragging earth around the
base of broad beans will
make the plants sturdier and
more stable. Nip out ?owering
tips once suiciently set.
?Warm the soil
beforehand?
first days. Then, after around three
daytime sessions, stand them out for a
further three days, but without that extra
protection. It will also help immensely
if you warm the soil on their sites
beforehand with black plastic sheet or
cloches. It helps even more if you keep
them under cloches for the first weeks
they?re planted out. And of course you
could use those cloches to stand them
under while they?re hardening off.
4
Inspect gooseberries almost
daily for signs of tiny saw?y
caterpillars ? the telltale sign are
lots of tiny holes in the leaves.
Destroy the leaves and any
caterpillars immediately.
5 MAY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
17
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Gardening Week
with Val Bourne, AG?s organic wildlife expert
Greenfinches, whose
numbers are declining, are
very fond of conifer seeds
Conifers provide food, shelter
and nesting for many birds
Conifer conundrum
Conifers are like Marmite ? you either love them or
hate them. However, as Val discovers, they provide
seeds, nesting and shelter for many birds
LOVE most plants, but there is
a spot somewhere deep in my
psyche that makes me veer away
from the conifer. I have friends
who adore them, like John Massey of
Ashwood Nurseries in Kingswinford in
the West Midlands, and I have to admit
that they look fantastic in John?s garden.
I?ve tried to analyse why I dislike them
and it may be because during the 1990s
I used to have a huge Leylandii conifer
hedge that ran for at least 80 yards
(73 metres). It towered above the garden
and was an impossible thing to manage
on my own, so I invited some rufty-tufty
gardening friends for the weekend and
fed them well. Together we took down
every tree and the resinous branches
were piled into the middle of the garden.
As my friends left they gave me one
piece of advice ? don?t burn it all at once,
Val. Women are notoriously bad at taking
advice and one still summer?s evening,
when the branches had dried out, I set
fire to the lot. I began to panic as the
flames licked up towards the electricity
wires and there was some hasty raking.
At the time I was living in Hook
Norton, an Oxfordshire village famous
All photographs Alamy
I
for its beer. My house was a stone?s
throw from the village church and there
were lots of mature trees and lots of
birds that regularly came into the
garden. However, once the conifer
hedge had gone, my bird numbers
plummeted overnight and I felt very
guilty. If only I had left one or two in
place, it might have been better.
?Once the conifer
hedge had gone,
my bird numbers
plummeted
overnight?
Taking refuge in the study, I picked
up a book by Robert Burton and the first
paragraph I read defended the conifer
because it was a good tree for birds,
who sheltered and nested in the
branches. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
My greenfinch numbers plummeted
and they seem to have a special
relationship with conifers because they
eat the seeds. Greenfinches need our
help. The RSPB records a 60% decline
since 1979, although this year the Big
Bird Watch reported a 5% rise. The
goldfinch increased by 11% and there are
also more coal tits and long-tailed tits in
2018. The long-tailed tit came ninth and
the goldfinch was sixth.
The RSPB think this was due to a mild
autumn and mild weather before the
count took place at the end of January.
February wasn?t so kind, although we
still have coal tits, goldfinches and
long-tailed tits visiting the feeders. There
is a mature conifer within yards of our
house, although it?s not in the garden.
Let?s hope nobody cuts it down!
If you?re
considering
taking out a conifer hedge, try
to leave a couple of the trees in
if you can, so that birdlife has
somewhere to shelter.
TOP TIP
5 MAY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
19
with Lucy Chamberlain, AG?s fruit and veg expert
Step
by step
All pictures Time Inc
Parsnips can suffer from carrot
root fly, but this is preventable.
Rotate crops onto a site that
didn?t grow parsnips or carrots
last year. Also, cover rows with
wire hoops cloaked in
insect-proof mesh
until harvest.
How to
start of
parsnips
1
Follow Lucy?s tips now for trouble-free
parsnips during autumn and winter
Tips for sowing parsnips
Choose an open, sunny, weedfree site. Buy new seed rather
than using last year?s because
parsnip seed doesn?t store well.
Opt for an F1 hybrid such as
?Panorama? or ?Duchess? as these
have strong canker resistance.
Make 8in (20cm) deep holes
10in (25cm) apart with a dibber.
Lucy explains how to avoid canker and forked roots
C
AST your mind forward to
cooling autumn days on the plot.
You come home, rosy-cheeked,
to a hearty sausage casserole
that?s been simmering away for hours in
the oven, complete with melt-in-themouth carrots, turnips and parsnips. If
that doesn?t get you salivating, nothing
will! While the carrots and turnips can be
sown later, slow-growing and sizeable
parsnips need to be started now.
I don?t sow my parsnips too early ?
I prefer medium-sized roots (plus early
sowings are more prone to canker).
To help develop a long taproot you can
follow this old trick I?m showing you
(see right). It?s especially handy on
stonier and heavy clay soils where the
developing taproot might come across
trouble as it pushes into the earth.
Thin out the weakest seedlings
WITH last month being the time that
overcrowded. This can lead to
spring finally made an appearance for premature bulking up and reduced
us, I?m guessing that seed packets
yields, but thinning out surplus plants
were ripped open in celebration
now prevents this.
around the country. After a few weeks
It?s a bit of a fiddly job so don?t rush
of warm weather, seeds
neeler a handy piece
then in open ground wil
or this. Remove the
have now transformed
kest seedlings and
into seedlings.
y that are distorted
Yet in order for these
damaged. Gently
young plants to reach
ull them up so as
their full potential the
ot to dislodge the
drills must be hoed,
emainders, and once
watered and ? crucially
ished water the drill
? thinned. Germinating
Final spacings are
Thin carrot seedlings
seeds outside is a hit-an
ortant ? hopefully you
to 1in (2.5cm) spacings
miss affair, so sowing a
e seed packet as this
surplus makes sense in
g
y u (1in or 2.5cm
unfavourable conditions leave us
between carrots, 3in or 8cm between
with fewer seedlings. However, if
beetroot, 10in or 25cm between
conditions were good and most seeds lettuces). If not, a quick internet search
germinated, plants will soon become
will provide the information.
20 AMATEUR GARDENING 5 MAY 2018
2
Sow in a 10x10in (25x25cm)
grid pattern to ensure each root
has ample room to swell. Fill each
hole with multi-purpose compost
and water it in lightly. The compost
ensures the roots don?t hit a stone
or compacted patch of soil. The
results? Straight parsnips!
3
Parsnips can be slow, fussy
germinators. Because seed
isn?t expensive, sow half a dozen or
so into each hole, 3?4in (2cm) deep.
Cover over with more compost
and water in well. Once seedlings
emerge, thin them out to leave
the strongest one per cluster.
While you?re waiting for broad bean pods to swell?
IF you?re anything like me you?ll be
eagerly looking at a healthy patch
of flowering broad beans this month,
willing the pods to set and swell as
swiftly as possible. Being at their
absolute best when picked small
and eaten fresh, many of us prefer
home-grown broad beans to shopbought pods. So, while you?re waiting,
let me relieve that impatience by
explaining that there are parts that
can be eaten now.
Many of us pinch out the growing tips
to deter blackfly, but did you know you
can eat these just like spinach? If you can
bring yourself to pick them, the immature
pods can be steamed and eaten whole,
too. Harvest just a few once finger
thickness (before the cotton wool-like
pod innards have had time to form).
Pinch out the tips of broad beans to deter black?y.
The tips can be eaten just like spinach
Stake peas using sticks or netting
TO me, peas are the essence of
spring, so I always grow a few rows on
the plot. I?ve started them in pots in the
greenhouse, and the seedlings are
now hardened off and ready for life
outside. Before planting them,
however, it?s important to think
about their growth habit.
Peas are climbers, producing wiry
tendrils that latch onto supports. Their
height varies considerably, so check
your variety. For example, purple-
flowered mangetout ?Carouby de
Maussane? can grow over 5ft (1.5m),
whereas compact ?Half Pint? reaches
only 8in (20cm).
The shortest varieties need only
a few twiggy sticks pushed into the row
to support them, whereas lofty types
benefit from pea netting strung between
two sturdy vertical posts. My ?Hurst
Green Shaft? is a modest 30in (75cm) in
height, so this row of pea sticks (right)
should do the job nicely.
These 4ft high peasticks are perfect
for my ?Hurst Green Shaft? peas
Ideas for fruit in small spaces
By fan-training this peach I can keep it
tightly tied to my fence, yet it still yields
well over 80 fruits
WITH so many gardeners having a
limited outdoor growing area, it?s not
surprising that cultivating crops that take
up little room is increasingly popular. Veg
are quite straightforward when it comes
to squeezing them into tiny gaps, but
what about fruit? Luckily, nature?s sweet
treats are just as accommodating.
There are many crops that are
naturally small ? strawberries,
lingonberries and dwarf raspberries,
such as ?Ruby Beauty?. These will
grow happily in pots, windowboxes
or hanging baskets. Then there are
climbers, such as loganberries,
wineberries, honeyberries and kiwi
berries. All can easily be twined up a
pergola, balcony or trellis. The relatively
small walls of sheds and garages also
make perfect backdrops for these
more diminutive climbers.
Trees can also work in small spaces,
with dwarfing rootstocks, festooning,
cordons, stepovers, fans and espaliers
all sounding rather daunting but
being easy to create, I promise. This
?Peregrine? peach tree (left) fits nicely
into a couple of fence panels. It?s taken
me three years to fan-train it and the
branches look gorgeous smothered
in blossom. Cherries, plums, gages,
apricots and nectarines can all be
trained in this way, too ? they all
adore a sunny spot.
If you?re blessed with shade, then
look to gooseberries, Morello cherries
and currants to help you out. These,
too, can be easily fan-trained against
a wall or fence. Don?t let fan-training
worry you ? essentially it?s just a
plant that?s got a strong left and right
stem. The sideshoots that grow from
these stems are then tied in to fill the
gaps ? and that?s it!
5 MAY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
21
Pick of the very best
Graham Rice chooses his six top RHS Award of Garden Merit winners
�
Those fragrant flowers may be fleeting,
but plant a lilac and it will light up the
garden in late spring
Lilac makes a lovely cut
flower. To ensure stems
last longer in the vase,
dip the bases in boiling
water for 10 seconds and
strip off the majority
of the leaves.
This week it?s
Lilac
F
IRST, and above all else, it?s the
scent. Unlike roses, for example,
or sweet peas, fragrance is the
one feature of lilac that seems to
be consistent across all varieties of this
classic shrub. You can depend on it, no
matter which you plump for ? and there
are plenty of options.
All of them are derived from a single
species, Syringa vulgaris, which was
brought to Britain from the mountains of
eastern Europe in the 1500s. About
2,000 varieties have been introduced
over the years since, with nurseries in
Russia, the United States, Suffolk and
France all creating significant numbers
of new ones.
22 AMATEUR GARDENING 5 MAY 2018
Lilacs are strong-growing deciduous
shrubs that, left unpruned, can
sometimes grow to the size of a small
tree. Pruning is therefore vital, but luckily
it?s also easy to do. The foliage is, frankly,
undistinguished, but those dull-green,
heart-shaped or oval leaves make a
good background for the flowers.
Plants tend to grow upright at first, but
over time they usually develop a broad
crown, which looks spectacular when
in full bloom.
The individual flowers are small, up
to 8mm across, but the flowerheads
can be exceptionally dramatic and this
is due to their structure. The sprays
of flowers (technically panicles) are
branched, then branched again and
then branched again, on short stems.
Consequently, each 8in (20cm)-long
Stockists
Crocus crocus.co.uk 01344 578111
Perry Hill Nurseries perryhillnurseries.co.uk 01892 770377
Mail Order Trees mailordertrees.co.uk 0800 066 5972
All photos Alamy, unless otherwise credited
With exceptional fragrance and show-stopping flowers, a dozen varieties of Syringa
vulgaris are recommended by the RHS. Graham narrows the choice down to just six
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).
?Andenken an Ludwig Sp鋞h?
?Firmament?
?Krasavitsa Moskvy?
Delicious deep wine-red single flowers
in long conical heads in late May and
early June. Popular for years, it received
its first award in 1894 and is still going
strong today. H: 10ft (3m).
Pretty rose-pink in bud, opening to skyblue single flowers in May and creating
a unique colour combination. Very
prolific. Can be hard to find but is well
worth seeking out. H: 10ft (3m).
Pale rose-pink buds open to pure-white
double flowers, resulting in the prettiest
of colour combinations. Vigorous but
upright in growth. Also known as ?Beauty
of Moscow?. H: 10ft (3m).
?Madame Lemoine?
?Primrose?
?Sensation?
Creamy-yellow buds open to pure-white,
exceptionally well-scented double
flowers in late May. The flowerheads are
very well filled, but the plants tend to be
rather spreading. H: 13ft (4m).
The very pretty pale-primrose flowers
are smaller than many, but plants are
prolific and the late May flowerheads
well filled. Sometimes thought to be the
best scented of all lilacs. H: 10ft (3m).
Large flowerheads, well-filled with
unique bicoloured single flowers from
late May. Each deep purple-red bloom
is edged in white. May revert to plain
purple; cut out those shoots. H: 10ft (3m).
conical flowerhead is simply packed
with fragrant blooms.
These open from May or early June,
some varieties earlier than others.
For about three weeks they can be
the most impressive feature of any
garden. But then they are gone, and
after flowering, the plant is really rather
dull. My solution is to use it as the host
for a summer climber.
One thing you may notice is suckers
around the base of your plant. Years
ago, lilacs were propagated by grafting
on to unnamed seedlings; sometimes
the rootstock started to grow stems and
the wild, single-flowered parent took
over. These days, lilacs are propagated
from cuttings, so any suckers will be the
same as the named variety. What I?m
getting at is that if you inherit an old plant,
beware of suckers ? remove them or
they may take over.
Ultimately, lilac is a plant of extremes:
it has spectacular flowers and an
intoxicating scent, but boring foliage
and a short season. It?s all a question
of whether you are willing to put up with
one for the sake of the other. I know
I am. Just don?t forget to prune.
What makes a good lilac?
? Elegantly formed flowerheads
? Attractive colouring
? Prolific flowering
? Harmonious bud and flower colouring
? Good fragrance
? A long flowering season
5 MAY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
23
Pruning know-how
? Lilacs have a tendency to grow tall
and spindly unless pruned regularly.
? Prune by cutting out the growth
that has produced flowers; do this
immediately after flowering.
? It also pays to pinch out any
exceptionally strong shoots in midsummer ? this will help create an
attractive bushy shape.
? Overgrown plants can be renovated
by cutting back very hard in spring,
then snipping out the resulting growth
once or twice during the first season.
Flowering will skip a year.
? Ensure that renovated plants never
go short of water in their first year.
Pruning keeps plants bushy
Cut back immediately after ?owering
Small-flowered
varieties to try
GAP
Remove suckers
before they take over
For best results, choose a sunny site
Syringa meyeri ?Palibin?
Lilac planting and care
? Lilacs enjoy full sun, fertile soil and
good drainage.
? Limey or neutral soil suits them best,
so if you grow good rhododendrons
lilac may not thrive in your garden.
? Buy in flower, in containers, for
planting now, or at any time of year
when the soil is not soggy or frozen.
? Plants may take two or three years
before starting to flower.
? Mulch each spring using weed-free
organic matter ? any bought-in soil
conditioner is ideal.
? Suckers may spring up from the base
on very old plants. These should be
removed as soon as possible.
In my garden
There?s no denying that, after flowering
and pruning, these lilacs contribute little
to the look of the garden. But as they
mature the branches make good
supports for summer climbers.
I tried sweet peas and canary
creeper, but the lilac roots proved too
greedy. Clematis are the answer and
a C. texensis type (smaller flowers;
lighter growth) is ideal. Try ?Princess
Diana?, which has flared pink flowers.
24 AMATEUR GARDENING 5 MAY 2018
I grow Clematis ?Princess Diana?
through my lilac for support
In addition to the typical large and
dramatic lilacs, there is now an
increasing range of smaller (and
slower) growing types. The
resulting plants have smaller
foliage, plus smaller flowers in
smaller heads. The sheer number
of blooms creates a lovely display
? although not all are scented.
Ideal in small gardens, many
are too new to have been assessed
for the AGM. But one fine awardwinning variety is S. meyeri ?Palibin?,
with pink buds opening to paler
flowers and reaching about 5ft
(1.5m) when mature. It often flowers
again in autumn.
Look out, too for the new
Bloomerang series of varieties in
purples and pinks, all of which
begin with a dramatic flush of
spring flowers, then continue all
summer. Relatively short and bushy,
they thrive in large containers.
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Week
SUTTONS
SEEDS
THE SEED PEOPLE
Martin Hope Sutton introduced ?ower
and veg seeds to the company?s range
Suttons research has produced
blight-resistant and grafted tomatoes
Martyn Cox uncovers the
story behind Suttons
Seeds, a company that
has launched a host of
innovative products since
it was founded in 1806
W
AY back in 1865, a
Berkshire nurseryman
called Martin Hope
Sutton was delighted to
receive a letter out of the blue from
Queen Victoria?s husband, Prince Albert.
It requested that a collection of grasses
be shipped over to Osborne House, the
royal residence on the Isle of Wight.
As a passionate royalist, Sutton was
only too happy to oblige, setting in
motion a long and fruitful relationship
with the royal family. He returned to
Osborne several times over the years,
26 AMATEUR GARDENING 5 MAY 2018
Suttons is working with a sweet-pea nursery to ?nd
ways to get new or younger gardeners into sweet peas
and the company he ran, Sutton &
Sons, was issued with a royal warrant
in 1884, becoming the Queen?s oicial
seed suppliers.
Fast forward to 2018 and Suttons
Seeds still retains the royal warrant, with
the oicial coat of arms appearing on
catalogues, seed packets and above
the doorway to its headquarters in
Devon. ?Holding the warrant gives us all
a massive sense of pride,? says senior
horticulturist Tom Sharples.
So, does Her Majesty pop an order
into the post like ordinary customers?
Tom laughs at the suggestion. He
reveals that a representative from
Suttons visits Buckingham Palace and
12 other royal residences, including
Windsor Castle and Sandringham
House, in late autumn, where they meet
the property?s head gardener.
?We take along a gold-embossed
hardback version of the latest seed
catalogue,? says Tom, who has worked
at Suttons for 45 years. They go
through the catalogue with the royal
gardener, pointing out anything new or
interesting, and help them to compile
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
Beetroot Boltardy ?
launched in 1980, this is
one of the best-selling
veg seed of all time.
Producing traditional
spherical, purple roots,
it is highly resistant to
bolting and holds the
RHS?s Award of Garden
Merit. Sold as seed.
Tomato ?Crimson Crush?
? this disease-resistant
salad tomato is claimed
to be able to ?shrug of
the worst blight?. Bred
speci?cally for growing
outdoors, it produces
high yields of tasty fruit.
Grow as a cordon.
Available as seed or
grafted potted plants.
Carrot ?Rainbow Mix?
? purple, red, orange,
yellow and of-whitecoloured roots make up
this mixture. Expect to lift
the sweet-tasting and
tender carrots about
90 days after sowing.
Length 1ft (30cm).
Available as seed.
Nasturtium ?Dayglow
Mix? ? dubbed by
Suttons ?the hanging
basket nasturtium?, this
forms fairly short trailing
stems. Between June
and September they are
clothed with blooms in
many vibrant shades.
Length 1ft 4in (40cm)w.
Available as seed.
Sun?ower ?Giant
Yellow? ? a traditional
yellow sun?ower for
adding height in borders
or for bagging a prize in
growing competitions.
It produces massive
?ower heads the size of
dinner plates. Height
6-9ft (1.8-2.7m). Great for
bees and butter?ies.
Available as seed.
5 MAY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
All pictures courtesy of Suttons Seeds
a list of seeds and young plants for the
coming season.
Despite rubbing shoulders with
royalty today, Suttons started of in a
modest way. The company was founded
in 1806 by John Sutton, a 29-year-old
entrepreneur who set up a shop in
Reading, Berkshire, called The House
of Sutton. It dealt primarily with ?our,
pasture seed, wheat and arable seeds.
For many years, the business was
focused on the agriculture industry, but
that changed when the aforementioned
Martin Hope Sutton joined his father in
27
This
Week
THOMPSON
& MORGAN
THE SEED PEOPLE
the 1830s. A keen amateur gardener
and botanist, he introduced bulbs,
vegetable seeds and ?ower seeds to
the company?s range of products.
It is clear that Martin Hope was
determined to steer the company away
from agriculture and into the lucrative
market for plants ? garden seed only
accounted for 2% of stock in 1832, but
this rose to 42% in the space of just a
year. In 1836 he bought a local nursery
with its own trial grounds.
Martin Hope retired in 1888, passing
the baton to his three sons, Martin,
Arthur and Leonard. The foundations
set in place by Martin senior stood the
family ?rm in good stead. It continued
to expand, moving to a large site on the
outskirts of Reading in the 1960s, which
boasted oices, a factory, a warehouse,
glasshouses, trial ?elds and even a
bowling green for staf.
Despite being associated with
Reading for 170 years, Suttons made
the decision to up sticks to Devon in
1976, ?rst to Torquay and then to its
current HQ in Paignton. During this
time, the company acquired a trio of
seed companies, including mail-order
competitor Samuel Dobie & Son, which
now trades simply as Dobies.
Over the years, Suttons Seeds
has been responsible for a string of
innovations that we now take for granted.
In 1852 it became the ?rst company
to sell seeds in labelled packets and
Top varieties for 2018
Mulberry ?Charlotte Russe? ? the
world?s ?rst dwarf mulberry and
plant of the year winner at
Chelsea in 2017. Unlike other
varieties, it bears fruit in its ?rst
year, over a longer period, from
June until September. Height 5ft
(1.5m). Available as potted plants.
Petunia ?Bella? ? a semi-trailing
variety that forms compact
mounds of foliage covered with
masses of white and deep-purple
?owers in summer. The double
?owers stand up well to rain.
Height 1ft (30cm). Available as
plug plants.
Nemesia ?Plums and Custard?
? sweetly scented violet-andyellow two-tone blooms smother
compact plants from June until
August. Dead-head fading ?owers
and displays will continue until the
?rst frosts. Height 1ft (30cm).
Available as plugs.
Zinnia ?Molotov Mix? ? forming
tall plants suitable for the middle
or back of a border, this annual
produces single or semi-double
?owers in a wide range of
colours. Ideal for cutting. Height
2ft (60cm). Available as seed or
garden-ready plugs.
Future trends
In 2015, Suttons embarked on
a research and development
programme with Exeter University
to discover what varieties not only
taste good, but are also packed full
of the highest levels of nutrients.
Its range of seeds and plants with
TV botanist James Wong, along
with those under its own name,
contain some of the best varieties
but ongoing testing will lead to a
greater range in the future.
?We are also working with a
sweet-pea nursery to find ways
to get new or younger gardeners
into sweet peas,? says senior
horticulturist Tom Sharples. This
may include launching varieties
suitable for smaller gardens,
along with taller ones that can be
used as a flowering hedge.
28 AMATEUR GARDENING 5 MAY 2018
Gerbera ?Sweet Series? ?
gerberas are considered
houseplants, but the ?Sweet?
series are hardy plants for
growing outdoors that will
produce up to 100 ?owers from
June until October. Height 1ft
(30cm). Available as potted plants.
launched the Harvest Fresh range
in 1965, where seeds were sealed
in aluminium foil packets with the air
removed, helping to extend the shelf life.
In more recent times, Suttons has
been at the forefront of developing
grafted vegetable plants, which are
praised for their vigour, early cropping
and high yields. It started with a range
of ?ve tomatoes 10 years ago, but now
lists almost 20, along with squash,
melons, aubergine, sweet peppers,
cucumber and chilli peppers.
?We?re still developing the range
of grafted plants and spreading the
message about their bene?ts to
gardeners,? says Tom, who reveals that
the company is trialling a new rootstock
that will give quicker and faster yields.
More than two centuries since it was
founded, it is clear that Suttons is not
content to rest on its laurels.
Q The next article in the series will
feature Mr Fothergill?s in AG 19 May.
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For a seamless transition from spring
bulbs to summer flowers, bridge the
gap with the likes of alliums, aquilegia
and biennials such as sweet William
Plants to
beat the spring lull
Don?t mind the gap ? ?ll it! Louise Curley reveals the shrubs, perennials and
biennials that will provide ample colour and interest after spring bulbs have faded
S
PRING is probably the most
exciting time in the gardening
calendar. Shrugging of their
winter coats of brown and grey,
our plots burst back into life, ?lled with
verdant green and shots of muchneeded colour courtesy of spring bulbs.
If you grow plenty of diferent types
you can have bulbs in ?ower from late
winter right through to May. But what
happens once they fade away? By
mid-May the tulips have generally
?nished blooming, but summer?owering plants are still a few weeks
away from producing their magic. After
all that exuberance this lull can be
somewhat disappointing, and leave
your garden ? and you ? a little ?at.
But you needn?t be simply counting
down the days until the roses, peonies
30 AMATEUR GARDENING 5 MAY 2018
and summer-?owering perennials
come into bloom. There are plenty
of plants that will seamlessly take
you from spring into summer, ?lling
this late-spring gap beautifully.
Suitable candidates include a range
of shrubs, perennials and biennials.
Some can be quick ?xes that give an
instant lift ? ready-to-plant biennials like
foxgloves, Iceland poppies and sweet
Williams will do the job perfectly. Of
course, it?s more cost efective to grow
these plants from seed yourself, but if
you didn?t get round to sowing biennials
last summer then investing in gardenready plants will give you a quick and
easy injection of colour. But do make a
note in your diary to sow your own in
June for blooms this time next year.
May-?owering bulbs such as alliums
and camassias should be planted in
autumn, but it?s possible to pick up
potted versions of these, too. Plant
them deeply so that the bulbs come
back strongly next year ? tip the plant
from its pot and make sure the bulbs
are buried at three times their depth.
Don?t worry if some of the foliage is
covered by soil.
And if you garden on acid soil then
think yourself lucky, as there is a wide
range of plants that thrive in those
conditions at this time of the year. Even
if your soil pH is neutral to alkaline, you
can still take advantage of these acidlovers ? simply grow them in containers
?lled with ericaceous compost. Choose
from gloriously colourful shrubs such as
rhododendrons, azaleas and enkianthus
? perfect to see you through to summer.
Top 9 gap fillers for late spring
Trollius x cultorum ?Orange Princess?
(AGM) The globe?ower gets its name
from the layers of golden-orange petals
held in tight globe-like clusters. Ideal for
the edge of a pond (in part shade) as it
thrives in moist soil. H: 32in (80cm).
Viola cornuta ?Belmont Blue?
Excellent groundcover plant with
masses of lavender-blue blooms from
May to September. A midsummer trim
will refresh the plant. Happily self-sows
in cracks and crevices. H: 6in (15cm).
Digitalis purpurea ?Pam?s Choice?
The white trumpet-shaped blooms of
this foxglove are speckled with maroon.
It?s biennial ? sow in June for ?owers
next spring, or look for containerised
plants for instant impact. H: 5ft (1.5m).
Camassia quamash
A late-?owering spring bulb with striking
purple-blue, star-like ?owers. Plant in
autumn or buy potted bulbs in spring.
Needs reliably moist soil and is frosthardy; mulch in autumn. H: 39in (1m).
Geranium phaeum var. phaeum
?Samobor?
A dry shade option (great for woodland
borders). Pairs deep-purple ?owers with
billowy green foliage that has distinctive
maroon markings. H: 32in (80cm).
Viburnum opulus ?Roseum? (AGM)
The clusters of lime-green ?owers fade
to white over time, while the maple-like
foliage takes on purple tones in autumn.
Happy at the back of a border, in full sun
or part shade. H: 13ft (4m).
Enkianthus campanulatus (AGM)
An underused shrub with delicate
bell-shaped, creamy-pink ?owers and
spectacular autumn foliage colour.
Needs well-drained acid-to-neutral soil
and full sun or part shade. H: 15ft (4.5m).
Rhododendron ?Princess Anne? (AGM)
Dwarf rhododendron with lots of greentinged pale lemon-yellow blooms, plus
good autumn leaf colour. Try at the edge
of woodland border, or in a container in
a shady spot. H: 2ft (60cm).
All photos Alamy, unless otherwise credited
GAP
Primula japonica ?Miller?s Crimson? (AGM)
A candelabra primula with rich crimson
?owers held in tiered circles around
sturdy stems, above rosettes of
crinkly green leaves. Plant in drifts for
maximum impact. H: 18in (45cm).
5 MAY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
31
Options for shade
Aquilegia chrysantha ?Yellow Queen?
(AGM) A delightful plant whose
lemon-yellow blooms have long spurs
that sweep back behind the ?ower.
The sweet fragrance and fern-like,
blue-green foliage add to its charms.
A short-lived perennial, but one that
will self-seed. H: 3ft (90cm)
Tellima grandiflora
Suitable for that trickiest of garden conditions ? dry shade. Mounds of
scallop-edged leaves cover the soil, while tall ?ower spikes of greeny-white,
bell-shaped blooms create a soft, airy feel. H: 32in (80cm)
Classic combination
Bring a hit of colour to
a doorstep or table top
with spring-?owering
plants that are readily
available from garden
centres. Bellis perennis
will bloom well into the
summer, and when the
heather and primula
(both perennials) have
?nished ?owering they
can be transferred
to the garden.
Colour pop
Missing the vibrant
colours of tulips?
Then Iceland poppies
(Papaver nudicaule)
are the plants to go
for. Either grow your
own from seed or
buy as plug plants.
For a contrast, plant
these orange beauties
alongside the cool
tones of Viola cornuta
?Celestial Blue Moon?.
Alpine adventure
Combine a dwarf pine
like this diminutive
Pinus mugo ?Mughus?
with dinky alpines
such as dianthus and
saponaria. Then, for
a touch of fragrance,
add a small lavender.
Opting for a metal
container and covering
the compost with
pebbles or grit will give
a contemporary feel.
Foliage meets ?owers
Mix foliage and
?owers for a longlasting display. Here
clipped box creates
a green backdrop for
the colourful leaves
of Heuchera ?Berry
Smoothie? and Tiarella
?Morning Star?, and rich
red primula blooms. By
adding trailing plants
like Vinca alba you will
soften the edges.
32 AMATEUR GARDENING 5 MAY 2018
All GAP
Container ideas for an instant colour
Tiarella ?Spring Symphony?
Handsome deeply lobed green leaves with dark-maroon blotches provide
good groundcover; then, from May to July, clusters of starry, fragrant ?owers
cover the slender stems, giving a bottlebrush efect. H: 1ft (30cm).
And finally...
foliage
The leaves of Photinia
x fraseri ?Robusta? are
a spring show-stopper
Don?t forget foliage. When we think
of spring growth, we tend to think of
vibrant greens and bold ?owers. But the
fresh new leaves of shrubs, trees and
perennials can be fabulously colourful,
making foliage a feature in itself.
Try these:
? Heuchera
? Physocarpus
? Photinia
? Acers
? Berberis
? Peonies
? Rodgersia
Planting tips
? Weed the planting area.
? Before planting, prepare the soil by digging in well-rotted compost ? or
leaf mould for woodland plants.
? Water thoroughly and keep well-watered throughout the summer as the
roots won?t have developed suiciently to seek out water during dry spells.
? Mulch, but leave a gap around the stems or crown of plants ? this will
help prevent them from rotting.
Remove any
weeds from
beds before
planting
5 MAY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
33
Invaluable for adding movement to planting
schemes, grasses with an airy feel and
golden colour like Stipa tenuissima work
well with the purples of salvia and lavender
The best grasses
for small gardens
Prairie-style planting offers texture and colour in summer and autumn. And there are
ways to buy into the trend without having an actual prairie, says Hazel Sillver
O
RNAMENTAL grasses are
enjoying a moment in vogue,
with top garden designers
using them to create an
informal ?prairie? effect in borders. For
the rest of us, too, they are definitely
worth considering ? their foliage and
flower plumes are an attractive foil
for perennials and annuals, and they
provide interest for most of the year.
They also create a relaxed mood: many
have a soft, arching habit, and when the
breeze blows their slender foliage
billows and makes a rustling whisper.
What?s more, there are specimens
to suit every situation. While some can
reach almost 10ft (3m), many forms
barely hit 1ft (30cm) so they are easy
to work into smaller plots.
If you have space at the front of the
border, opt for little guys such as
Sesleria, Festuca and Carex that reach
1ft-20in (30-50cm) and are evergreen or
semi-evergreen, thus providing colour
all year. Like most grasses they?re happy
34 AMATEUR GARDENING 5 MAY 2018
in containers, so can be planted in
windowboxes or pots, perhaps paired
with summer and winter bedding.
For movement and softness at the
back of the border, opt for compact
silver grass (Miscanthus), reed grass
(Calamagrostis) or fountain grass
(Pennisetum). Top choices include the
graceful pale Miscanthus sinensis
?Morning Light? (H: 3ft/1.2m) or feathery
M. sinensis ?Starlight? (H: 32in/80cm). Or
try Calamagrostis brachytricha, which
has soft silver flowers to 1m, and
Pennisetum alopecuroides ?Hameln?
(60-90cm), with its fuzzy flowerheads.
These deciduous grasses are a
delight during the colder months, aglow
in the sunshine and adorned with silky
spiders? webs or crystals of frost. In fact,
having a long season of interest is a
large part of the appeal of grasses. Many
take on fiery and golden tints as autumn
approaches. The glaucous foliage of
Schizachyrium scoparium, for example,
burnishes copper gold when summer
draws to a close, and Japanese blood
grass (Imperata cylindrica ?Rubra?) lives
up to its name, blazing bold crimson as
the season progresses.
If you?re unsure about grasses, start
by growing an annual or short-lived
perennial form, such as the squirrel-tail
grass (Hordeum jubatum), which has
pink barley-like flowerheads, or quaking
grass (Briza media ?Golden Bee?), whose
small lime-gold flowers shimmer on the
breeze. I?m willing to bet that, once you
do, you?ll soon be hooked.
Where to buy
Knoll Gardens knollgardens.co.uk 01202 873931
Meadowgate Nursery meadowgatenursery.co.uk 01243 641997
Top grasses for...
SEMISHADE
Main photo: GAP. All others Alamy, unless credited
SUN
Stipa tenuissima (syn. Nassella
tenuissima)
Mexican feather grass is a deciduous
border stalwart. Its soft straw-blonde
and green leaves arch and billow in the
breeze, providing a foil for perennial
and annual flowers. H: 20in (50cm).
Deschampsia cespitosa ?Goldtau?
This compact tufted hair grass
produces a cloud of delicate flower
plumes that turn gold as the season
progresses, catching the low autumn
sunlight. One for well-drained,
moisture-retentive soil. H: 32in (80cm).
Anemanthele lessoniana (AGM)
New Zealand wind grass forms an
arching evergreen haze of soft green,
which flushes amber-pink as summer
turns to autumn. It combines well with
perennials such as sedum and
astrantia. H: 2-3ft (60-90cm).
Molinia caerulea subsp. caerulea
?Edith Dudszus?
Purple moor grass has maroon-purple
flowers on upright purple-black stems
above golden-green foliage. Requires
well-drained, moisture-retentive soil.
H: 30-39in (75cm-1m).
Carex oshimensis ?Evergold? (AGM)
If you want a Carex that works well at
the front of the border or in a container,
bronze and green-leaved cultivars are
your best bet. This variegated form
features shades of cream, gold and
green. H: 1ft (30cm).
Milium effusum ?Aureum? (AGM)
For lush semi-evergreen leaves that
lighten a shady corner, choose
Bowles? golden grass, which morphs
from lamp-like gold to lime-green.
There are pale-gold flowers in early
summer, too. H: 2ft (60cm).
5 MAY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
35
GAP, unless credited
5 ways to use grasses in containers
Team with bedding
Festuca glauca ?Elijah Blue? is a very useful blue evergreen
grass for the front of the border or containers. It produces
silver-blue flowers in summer, and pairs well with bedding
such as these red petunias. Needs full sun. H: 14in (35cm).
Amp up the drama
Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrica ?Rubra?) can be
slow to establish ? but it?s worth the wait. As it ages, the
leaves blush-red. Combine with orange and pink dahlias for
an early autumn show in sun or semi-shade. H: 16in (40cm).
Focus on foliage
The slender, arching golden evergreen leaves of Acorus
gramineus ?Ogon? make it a striking option for containers.
Combine with other foliage plants (such as hostas and ivy) for an
elegant display of greenery. Sun or semi-shade. H: 1ft (30cm).
Mix and match
Miscanthus sinensis ?Morning Light? (AGM) is a graceful
deciduous grass with pale upright foliage that gently arches.
Partner with orange Diascia in a generous pot to create
contrast in both colour and texture. Full sun. H: 5ft (1.5m).
Alamy
Planting for success
Try a triple whammy
Hakonechloa macra ?Aureola? (AGM) forms dense mounds of
arching bamboo-like leaves that turn lime in semi-shade and
gold in sun. Plant with black mondo and Japanese blood grass
for a truly tempting trio. H: 16in (40cm). �
36 AMATEUR GARDENING 5 MAY 2018
Containerised grasses can be planted at any time so long
as the ground is not frozen, but there are ideal periods for
planting if you?re following the rulebook. Species that put
on a growth spurt in late winter (such as Stipa,
Deschampsia and Festu
best planted in autumn, w
those that grow in late
Get grasses like
spring (such as Panicum,
Panicum in the
Pennisetum and
ground now
Miscanthus) should go
in the ground in late
spring. Most grasses
like an open sunny spot
with moist, well-drained
soil, so dig in organic
matter on planting.
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Food tables and sheltering bushes
with berries will attract birds, such as
these long-tailed tits, into your garden
Many-headed tulips are not uncommon
Many tulip heads
Alamy
Q
How can I bring back the birds?
Q
I decided to clear my overgrown
garden and replace it with paving
and pots. Now all the lovely wild birds
have gone. How can I bring them back?
Anne Allen, Shotton, Deeside
A
The solution is simple ? put out
food for them! I assume your
garden is surrounded by a wall or fence
that you can attach feeders to and fill
them with nuts, seeds and fat balls.
You could also introduce a bird table,
ideally one with a top for some shelter,
plus water dishes or a birdbath. It may
take a few weeks to bring them back,
but once they have discovered the
food and drink they will come flocking.
You could also introduce some large
or long-term plants to encourage insects
and birds. If you placed larger containers
against a wall or fence you could plant
climbers such as honeysuckle. The
planters would need to be substantial ?
at least 2ft (24in) deep and wide ? but
they would be long-term.
Trees would be ideal but more difficult
to grow. Could you remove the odd
paving slab or patch of gravel and plant
into the soil beneath? Woody plants
provide shelter and a source of food ?
try holly, cotoneaster and pyracantha
that all have berries too.
This multi-headed tulip came from
a supermarket bulb. Is it unusual?
Sandra Organ, Preston, Lancs
A
Multi-headed tulips are not
uncommon and there are several
named varieties to be found in
catalogues. According to the internet,
they ?mostly derive from single late and
botanical tulips?, which means they are
often closely related to species tulips.
However, the fact that they are not
uncommon should not detract from
your pleasure in their flowers.
Field garlic is a sneaky interloper
How dangerous are flatworms?
Q
A
flatworm is observed in the bag,
New Zealand flatworms are a
squash it or place it in salt water.
menace, predating earthworms
As a colony of flatworms
that are vital for aerating
can devastate the worm
As you have seen sever
population of a given
and discovered them in
area, making it
the rootball of a shrub
vulnerable to flooding,
bought from a local
I urge you to contact
garden centre, it could
your local branch of
mean that they are
DEFRA, which may
proliferating in
Flatworms are a danger
have a solution to the
your garden.
to earthworms
problem. I also urge you
Unfortunately, there
to mention to your local
are no chemicals approv
garden centre that you
for killing them. The bes
discovered flatworms in the compost
to control them is to place polytheneof a plant that you bought from them.
bag ?traps? on the soil. Then, when a
38 AMATEUR GARDENING 5 MAY 2018
Alamy
Do flatworms cause any problems? I?ve found several while digging
plus a couple in the rootball of a plant bought from my local nursery.
The blackbirds seemed to like them!
Wanda Speirs, via email
Strange infiltration
Q
Please can you tell me what this
plant is?
Joyce Hall, Potters Bar, Hertfordshire
A
The weed is the interloper field
garlic (Allium oleraceum). Its
slender stems infiltrate their way into
garden plants and are hard to remove. It
spreads quickly and will colonise a bed.
Apart from digging out its tiny bulbs,
of which there are many in one clump,
the only other less tedious way is to dab
leaves and stems with Roundup Gel.
Based on glyphosate, it travels through
the sap stream to the whole plant.
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
What is this spreading plant?
Quick questions
& answers
Woundwort will spread,
but isn?t too invasive
Alamy
Q
Could you please identify this
weed for me? The roots creep
under the soil, and any small bits that
break off grow quickly.
Tom Higgin, Thornaby-on-Tees,
Cleveland
Q
What is this plant
please?
Mrs J Smith,
Willersey,
Gloucestershire
A
A
It is a British native
called dropwort
(Filipendula vulgaris). Its foamy
sprays of small white flowers, often
tinged pink in bud, make summer a
special treat!
Its cultivated ?Multiplex? form is
famed for double white blooms.
It is a native of Europe and
Central Asia and romps in damp,
Alamy
Do the leaves have a rather
pungent scent when rubbed or
crushed? If so, then I think the plant is
hedge woundwort (Stachys sylvatica).
This is a native wildflower flowering July
to September. It is in the same family as
lavender and mint, but even though the
flowers are quite pretty you can see why
it hasn?t caught on as a garden plant!
It is not as big a nuisance as some
pernicious weeds, but it does spread. I
find that the youngish plants pull up fairly
easily in good moist soil, but need a bit
of encouraging with a hand fork where
the soil is a bit harder.
However, it is most annoying when it
pops up in the middle of other plants,
and sometimes pulling it leaves a trail of
tipped-up seedlings and young plants
where the rhizomes have gone through
and under other plants.
It is possible to control it by persistent
digging and pulling, and being vigilant to
get the young plants before they have
wandered too far. But if it is a problem in
among choice plants, then a spot weed
killer might be the answer.
Please help me make this gift thrive
Q
Alamy
A friend gave me a Skimmia
japonica ? do you know how
best to grow it?
James Couling, Portsmouth, Hants
Skimmia produces attractive
?owers and berries
A
Skimmia japonica is a hardy shrub,
which does best on rich slightly
acidic soil, happy in both sun and shade.
It reaches a height of 3-5ft (1-1.5m) with
an equal spread, but it is not a rapid
grower and can be kept in check by
pruning if necessary.
It does best in a shady area and can
even tolerate deep shade. Too much
sunlight can turn its leaves yellow.
Plant yours in neutral or acidic soil. If
you garden on very chalky soil, you will
do better putting it in a container of
ericaceous or John Innes No3 compost.
Skimmia comes in a number of forms.
but has male and female flowers on
separate plants. You won?t know
whether you have a male or female until
it flowers, but if you have a female and
there are other, male plants, nearby,
then the flowers will be followed by
richly coloured red berries.
Skimmia is a lovely plant and some
forms have wonderful spring foliage as
well as the colourful flowers and berries,
but even just the ?plain? foliage is very
attractive and forms a good backdrop
to the flowers.
Q
My cyclamen tuber
is 12in (30cm)
across and around 15
years old. What should
I do with it?
Mrs N Morley,
Whitstable, Kent
A
If you would like to propagate
it, do so this summer while it is
dormant. Simply cut the tuber into
good-sized portions, each with a
?growth nodule?. Replant the
divisions, one each to a suitably
sized pot, filled with loam-based
ericaceous compost.
Q
Is a bag of manure
a good thing to
add to a border to
help plants grow?
Mrs C Cramp,
Leicester
A
Bagged manure is a perfect
choice for improving the soil
? simply spread it over the surface
between plants, leaving a small
gap around the stems/trunks.
Any well-rotted organic matter
can be used, like from old bags of
compost, compost from tipped-put
pots and containers, and compostbin compost.
Before spreading, apply a
granular general fertiliser such as
Growmore or blood, fish and bone
to the soil surface.
5 MAY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
39
Dr Jane Bingham and John Negus
Sea hollies bloom with
beautiful blue heads
ID needed for my
mystery plant
Water-storing granules are
good for pot compost, and
some plants will root in water
Q
I brought this plant as roots. I am
not sure it is what I thought it was
as I have lost the label. Can you help?
Kathleen Young, via email
Rooting cuttings in water A
Q
I have heard that you can have
success with striking cuttings in a
mixture of water-storage granules, water
and Miracle-Gro. It has never worked for
me ? is there a recipe for it I could have?
Rosemary White, via email
A
Water-storing granules can be
added to compost (of any make) to
reduce the amount of watering that is
needed. Generally, this compost mix
would be used for growing plants on or
in tubs, but there is little reason why it
can?t be used for striking cuttings.
It is best to follow the guidelines given
with the granules as to the proportion in
different situations, but a general guide
would be to use about 1g of dry weight
granules to 1 litre of compost.�
However, according to the RHS some
makes of water-storing granules can be
used neat to make a medium in which to
root cuttings. You used to be able to buy
pots of something called Swellgel with
foil tops that you pierced to stick the
cuttings through and these were
excellent for rooting some types of
cuttings. The RHS isn?t specific about
which brands are suitable, but I did find
one reference that suggested mixing
one scoop (about 5g) with 1 pint of water,
leaving it an hour to allow the granules to
swell, and then using this jelly-like
substance to strike cuttings.
This is best used for cuttings that
would also root in water. Generally, softstemmed plants do OK and woodystemmed plants don?t.
I?m being bitten - what can I do?
Q
I have a small greenhouse and
while working in it I am getting
bitten by small insects. How can I deal
with them?
Evelyn Fordyce, via email
A sticky trap will deal
with flying pests
40 AMATEUR GARDENING 5 MAY 2018
The dragon arum produces
a fascinating flower
A garden dragon
Q
This unusual plant appeared in our
raised bed. Is it a friend or foe?
Christine Thornley, via email
A
A
Keep the greenhouse well
ventilated ? plenty of air
movement through will discourage
insects intent on hovering in one spot.
Try to keep surfaces on the dry side
? moist air and water encourage such
insects to linger.
Hang yellow sticky traps (but
beware of sticking to them yourself)
to trap the insects ? you might then
also be able to determine what they
are. Burn a citronella candle while you
The plant you have asked us to
identify is a perennial sea holly. The
Latin name is Eryngium and I think this is
probably the species planum, which is
known as the flat sea holly.
It is fairly nondescript in its leafy
rosette form, but very attractive when
the spiky blue flowerheads appear from
July onwards.
are working in the greenhouse (they
are supposed to repel mosquitoes)
and wear insect repellent so that even
if you can?t deter the insects, they are
discouraged from biting you.
This is the dragon arum
(Dracunculus vulgaris) from the
Mediterranean, Madeira and Canary
Islands. It is a member of the cuckoo-pint
family. When mature, it grows to about
4-5ft (1.2-1.5m) high and intrigues with its
foul-smelling maroon-purple bloom
(spathe) from which emerges a similarly
coloured poker (spadix). It grows from a
tuber and is not fully hardy, so is best
positioned in a warm, sunny and freedraining part of the garden, ideally
next to a south or west-facing wall.
Your plant will increase in height
from now until mid-summer and may
bloom this year.
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Before planting,
I prised a few
cuttings from
the side of a
new gazania
Anne Swithinbank?s masterclass on: bedding plants
Step Cuttings of
by step swan river
Time Inc unless otherwise credited
daisy
These large-?owered gazanias would
look great in a container, but I?m planting
mine out near the kitchen garden patio
where they?ll receive full sun
What are the best bedding plants?
Q
On my weekly visit to the garden
centre I?m tempted by all the
bedding plants on display in a massive
greenhouse. They come in all shapes
and sizes and I?m confused about
what I can plant now. What would be
your top three plants that carry on
blooming all summer?
Eva Harborn, Liverpool
A
Years ago, in the south, we wouldn?t
dream of ?bedding out? until around
the third week in May and plants didn?t
go on sale until then. My Saturday job
was to sell them at a pet and garden
centre and the boss would pick them up
in seed trays, all hardened off. Even then,
a late frost could brown the soft tops of
lobelia and nemesia. There were no
modules and I?d have to cut strips of
plants from the boxes with a knife.
These days, bedding plants appear
for sale in spring. While some are hardy
(spring bedding, hardy annuals and
toughies like antirrhinums) the rest are
likely to be frost tender and designed for
those with greenhouses. You can buy
trays of seedlings to transplant at home
or young plants to set up in baskets and
pots ready to go out later. You can also
take cuttings of bought plants (see right).
Plants displayed in greenhouses will
be ?soft? and need ?hardening off? before
being planted out. This means standing
plants out by day, then 24 hours a day, but
put back in the greenhouse or protected
by fleece on especially cold nights until
they adjust to outdoor weather. When
they are planted in May or early June
depends on location and type.
My favourites include Tithonia
rotundifolia ?Torch? (tall, orange-flowered
Mexican sunflower), purple-flowered
zinnia and Nicotiana langsdorffii (a
green-flowered tobacco). These don?t
always turn up in garden centres, but
could be ordered earlier in the year. I
raise mine from seed.
1
Take short shoot tips of
brachycome (swan river daisy),
trimming just below a leaf, and
remove the bottom leaves.
2
Remove the flowers, flower
buds or soft shoot tips.
3
Insert six cuttings around the
edge of a 3.5in (9cm) pot of
50:50 multi-purpose compost
mixed with grit or vermiculite.
All Alamy
Top three long-season bedding plants
Nicotiana Tobacco plants
come in all sizes and many
colours. I prefer the taller,
scented kinds. Above is
Nicotiana sylvestris.
Mimulus Monkey musk
produce beautiful flowers
with pretty patterns. They
appreciate moisture and
thrive in shade.
Gazania These South
African daisies may survive
a mild winter. They love
well-drained soil and need
sun for flowers to open.
4
Water in and place in a loosely
knotted poly bag to stand in a
lightly shaded spot.
5 MAY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
43
When cut, stems of
trachelospermum yield a
milky sap. This can be an
irritant (though it has never
affected me), so make
sure you wear gardening
gloves to protect
your skin.
The stems of my star jasmine were
shortened last autumn to reduce an
attack of scale insects. It does not
require repotting, so I?ll tie in loose
stems and give it a feed
How to grow...
star jasmine
These vigorous climbers will fill your garden with fragrance come dusk
Time Inc/Alamy
S
OME of the classiest good looks
belong to plants whose pale,
fragrant blooms open against
glossy evergreen foliage. Think
of gardenia, citrus, Magnolia grandiflora
but also Trachelospermum jasminoides,
otherwise known as star, pinwheel or
confederate jasmine.
Originally from China, Korea and
Japan, this twining climber is not a
jasmine at all but belongs to the plant
family Apocynaceae, along with vinca,
mandevilla and hoya. Buds like small
furled parasols appear during summer
and open to windmill-like flowers.
T. asiaticum is similar but more compact,
slightly hardier and with creamy-yellow
blooms dotted with darker yellow
centres. The spicy honey fragrance
reaches peak intensity at dusk.
In sheltered positions, protected
from freezing winds, star jasmines will
44 AMATEUR GARDENING 5 MAY 2018
My plant bought last year gave a fine
achieve vigorous growth, clothing
display in our north-facing porch but
walls, fences, trellis or arbours. They
picked up an infestation of scale insects,
thrive in sheltered city gardens and
with adults and new, soft ?baby?
favoured nooks. Cold winter
ttling down to suck
temperatures sometim
om the leaves.
bring a red blush to lea
Trachelospermum
jasminoides
ning removed two
that is quickly smother
rds of the insects
by new growth in
nd the rest were
spring. Temperatures
defeated by wiping
below -10癈 may
and spraying with a
cause more damage,
solution of SB Plant
but wait until April or
nvigorator, repeating
May, prune away
he application the
damaged tops, and
lowing day and then
established plants will
eek later.
surge back into growth
ft the plant outdoors
Trachelospermums
tered spot during
grow well in containers
onths, which has
there?s a strong motive
hopefully killed any remaining pests,
enjoying their scent in a lightly shaded
and the plant now looks clean, healthy
conservatory. In colder gardens, move
and ready to return to growth.
plants under cover during winter.
Star jasmine care
Plant into good,
well-drained soil in sun
or partial shade with
a support to climb.
Given a favoured,
sheltered spot,
plants can reach
up to 20ft (6m).
Alternatively, pot on
every other year to a
container of 50:50 John
Innes No2 and a soilless
multi-purpose compost.
Apply a slow-release fer
in spring, and if not potti
top dress with fresh compost.
Regular pruning isn?t needed. Tie in wayward growth,
and if plants outgrow their space trim in early spring.
Other evergreen
climbers
Clematis armandii
This Chinese native is a
luxuriant climber, whose
richly fragrant ivory or pinktinged blooms open in
spring against a backdrop
of older leaves and a
swarm of new shoots.
Reaches 10-15ft (3-5m) and
is hardy in most areas.
Dregea sinensis
From the same family as
trachelospermum, Chinese
dregea resembles a hoya
or wax flower. Umbels of
fragrant white blooms
dusted with pink open in
summer against attractive
heart-shaped leaves.
Grows up to 10ft (3m).
Holboellia coriacea
Again from China, this
vigorous vine from the
Akebia tribe bears palmate
leaves and in spring,
pendulous bunches of
pinkish flowers. Likes a
sheltered wall and rich
soil. Reaches 22ft (7m).
Pileostegia viburnoides
Climbing with stem roots,
this hydrangea relative from
India and China takes its
time to get going, but once
established grows steadily
to 20ft (6m), opening in a
froth of creamy-white
flowers in late summer.
5 MAY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
45
A Gardener?s Miscellany
Gardening?s king of trivia and brain-teasers, Graham Clarke
THIS Gardening
WEEK history
IN
1-7 MAY
Gardening island-by-island
In the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey, Liberation Day is celebrated each
year on 9 May, to mark the end of the Occupation by Nazi Germany during World
War II. This day is also celebrated as Guernsey and Jersey?s national day.
I thought, therefore, that we could celebrate in our own way, by putting in
ome plant and gardening trivia about the beautiful Channel Islands.
? 1 May 1851
The Great
Exhibition was
opened in
Hyde Park by
Queen Victoria.
The vast structu
was designed by
Thomas Paxton, and was 1,851ft
long (to match the year). The Times
called it ?a monstrous greenhouse?.
? May 1958 Notcutts opened its
first garden centre at Woodbridge,
Suffolk ? one of the earliest garden
centres to open its doors in Britain.
Other pioneers included Russells,
Wyevale and Stewarts.
? 2 May 1949
TV gardener Alan
(Fred) Titchmarsh,
one-time Deputy
Editor of Amateur
Gardening, was
born in Ilkley,
West Yorkshire.
? 3 May 1884
The first edition of
Amateur Gardening
was published,
promising to be
?generally useful?.
The first edition
had just 16 pages
and no pictures!
The Jersey lily
Although the autumn-flowering
Amaryllis belladonna is sometimes
referred to as the Jersey lily, nobody
knows the reason why. One school of
thought has it that ?Jersey Lily? does not
refer to a plant at all, but Emilie Charlotte
Langtry (n閑 Le Breton, 1852-1929,
pictured left), an actress who used the
name Lily. Her father was the Dean of
Jersey and she was the most infamous
of King Edward VII?s mistresses.
The Guernsey lily
This lovely flower (right) is a species of
nerine (N. sarniensis), a South African
bulb that became naturalised in
Guernsey after a ship carrying the bulbs
was wrecked there in 1680. The ship?s
original port was in Japan, where the
plant did, in fact, grow, and was known
by botanists as the ?narcissus of Japan?.
5
edible plants with ?Jersey?
in the variety name
Cider apple ? Malus domestica
?Harry Master?s Jersey?
Asparagus ? Asparagus
oicinalis ?Jersey Knight?
? 6 May 1997 Frosts of -5癈 (23癋)
destroyed more than 80 per cent
of the commercial fruit crop in
south-east England.
46 AMATEUR GARDENING 5 MAY 2018
Pear ? Pyrus communis
?Louise Bonne of Jersey?
Blueberry ? Vaccinium
corymbosum ?Jersey?
Tomato ? Solanum
lycopersicum ?Jersey Devil?
Special spuds
In around 1880
a Jersey farmer,
Hugh de la Haye,
showed friends a
large potato, with
15 ?eyes?. He cut
this potato into
pieces, which the
friends planted in
a sloping field in
the Bellozanne
Valley. One plant
produced thin-skinned kidney-shaped
potatoes, which they called the ?Jersey
Royal Fluke?, later known as ?Jersey Royal?.
Today, this is Jersey?s biggest crop
export, accounting for around 70 per
cent of agricultural turnover ? with 99
per cent of export going to the UK.
Jersey
cabbage
walking
sticks
For nearly 200 years, the giant Jersey
cabbage has been grown for the
manufacture of walking sticks! It?s a
slow process and can take between
two and three years to grow one.
The Jersey cabbage (Brassica
oleracea longata), is native to the
Channel Islands. Plants grow very tall
and were formerly used for livestock
fodder. Seed is sold by D.T. Brown
0333 003 0869.
Alamy/Time Inc/Wikimedia
Sark, Herm
and Alderney
The smaller
Channel Islands
have plants
named after
them, but
none seems to
be available
now. ?Alderney? has been a variety of
both rosemary and cauliflower, while the
orange ?Dame of Sark? rose was named
after Dame Sibyl Hathaway, the ?head?
of the island until her death in 1974.
Come on, plant breeders, let?s pay
tribute to the smaller Channel Islands
and name some plants after them!
Prize draw
Gro-Sure Smart Lawn Seed is guaranteed to
grow! It can be used in full sun, shade and on
worn areas and patches. Its aqua gel formulation
soaks up to 400 times its weight in water,
reducing seed loss due to erratic watering, and
keeps working for the whole season.
We have two packs to give away, each worth
�.99 and each offering 25m2 coverage. See
below for details of how to enter the prize draw.
How to enter
Send your name and address on the back of a postcard to Gro-Sure Smart
Lawn Seed Draw (5 May), Amateur Gardening, Pinehurst 2, Pinehurst Road,
Farnborough, Hampshire, GU14 7BF. Or you can email your details to
ag_giveaway@timeinc.com, heading the email Gro-Sure Smart Lawn Seed
Draw (5 May). The closing date is 10 May 2018.
WIN
�
Word search
This word search comprises
words connected to Britain?s
islands and some of the plants
associated with them.
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 10 letters
remaining; arrange these to
make this week?s KEY WORD.
ALDERNEY
ANGLESEY
ARRAN
BARRA
BENBECULA
CERASTIUM
CLEMATIS
FUCHSIA
GUERNSEY
ISLES
JERSEY
JURA
MAN
SARK
SKYE
THRIFT
WIGHT
M
Y
E
S
R
E
J
L
F
N
Y
U
W
I
G
H
T
U
B
C
E
E
I
A
S
F
C
E
L
J
S
Y
N
T
I
H
N
E
U
E
E
K
O
R
S
B
M
R
S
S
L
S
H
I
E
A
A
A
I
A
No:
414
G
T
A
C
T
D
R
R
N
R
N
C
U
I
T
K
L
E
R
R
A
L
S
E
L
S
I
A
C
A
A
Y
E
S
N
R
E
U
G
N
HOW TO ENTER: Enter this week?s keyword on the entry form,
and send it to AG Word Search No 414, Amateur Gardening,
Pinehurst 2, Pinehurst Road, Farnborough, Hampshire
GU14 7BF, to arrive by Wednesday 16 May, 2018. The first
correct entry chosen at random will win our � 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.
5 MAY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
47
The English comedian
Cyril Fletcher (1913-2005),
famous for his catchphrase
?Pin back your lugholes?, was
best known for his ?Odd Odes?
which, in the 1970s, formed
a section of the hit TV show
That?s Life.
In later years he became a keen gardener, specialising
in roses. In 1990, AG ran a feature on him and his
spectacular rose garden at his home in St Peter Port,
Guernsey. He had a rose named after him, claiming that
he had chosen it for its distinctive smell: it was a case of
one ?odd ode-r choosing another?, he said.
Here is a little extract of one of his ?Odd Odes?:
This is the tale of Herbert Hay,
Who dined on whale meat every day,
His missus cried: ?It makes me quake
The way you scoff that ponky steak!
For when you walks into the room
It smells like Billingsgate in Bloom!?
Battle of Flower
Jersey?s Battle of Flowers was first
staged in 1902, in celebration of the
coronation of Edward VII.
It has since grown to become one
of the largest floral carnivals in
Europe. Millions of flowers adorn
dozens of floats, many up to 45ft
(14 metres) long. The ?Battle? part
originally consisted of dismantling the floats to
provide floral ammunition for a battle between participants
and spectators, but this aspect was abandoned in 1964.
This year?s Jersey Battle of Flowers will take place on
9-10 August. Guernsey also has its own version, which
takes place as part of the North Show on 23 August ? one
of the island?s three agricultural summer shows.
Wow! I(sle) didn?t know that
? Clematis expert Raymond Evison (below) grows three
million clematis each year. His nursery in Guernsey
supplies more than 20 countries worldwide.
? Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens) makes a pretty border
plant. But why ?candy?? The plant was imported from
Crete ? and an earlier name for
the island was Candia.
? When Napoleon was exiled
to the island of Elba he said he
would return ?with violets?. He
became known as ?Corporal
Violet? among his supporters.
48 AMATEUR GARDENING 5 MAY 2018
(
)
*
+
,
-
.
/
0
('
()
((
(*
(+
(,
(-
ACROSS
1 Your lawn should be this
? and this! (5,5)
7 Locate and correct errors in
a computer, but it sounds as if
you are removing insects from,
say, a greenhouse! (5)
8 Botanically, a fruiting
structure resembling an
umbrella that forms the top of
a stalked, fleshy fungus, such
as a mushroom (5)
9 Sang hits to save up
for future use ? rather as
squirrels do with nuts in
autumn! (8) (anag)
11 The nerine
Channel Island! (8)
14 Popular leafy perennial,
which used to be known
as funkia (5)
15 Common name for a tree
of the olea genus (5)
16 One of the alternative
common names for the
bleeding heart (Dicentra
spectabilis) (4,6)
DOWN
1 Dizzy and unsteady, as in the
daylily (hemerocallis) variety
?_____ Go Round? (5)
2 Backwards island at the
end of a vegetable! (4)
3 The European singing bird,
Luscinia megarhynchos, as
well as a cultivar of both
rhododendron and fuchsia (11)
4 Viscus product of Brassica
napus, a bright-yellow
flowering member of the
cabbage family (8,3)
5 The sage genus (6)
6 Old common name for
Calluna vulgaris (heather) (4)
10 The lily Channel Island! (6)
11 Loose earthy deposit from
water occurring in the cavities
of rocks, consisting of a
varying mixture of clay
or ochre (4)
12 Plant, shoot or stalk,
as of grass, asparagus or
broccoli (5)
13 The range of the eye, as
in a large garden perhaps, as
well as the variety of daylily:
?Inner??_____ (4)
ANSWERS
Cyril Fletcher
Crossword
ACROSS 1 Green grass 7 Debug 8 Pilei 9 Stashing 11 Guernsey 14 Hosta 15 Olive
16 Lyre flower
DOWN 1 Giddy 2 Elba 3 Nightingale 4 Rapeseed oil 5 Salvia 6 Ling 10 Jersey
11 Guhr 12 Spear 13 View
A Gardener?s
Miscellany
KEYWORD TO WORD SEARCH 409 (AG 31 MARCH)
WEDNESDAY
AND THE WINNER IS:
ROSALIND WARD, SOUTHAMPTON, HAMPSHIRE
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9
Tried&tested
We try before you buy
Long-handled hoes
A hoe is essential to keep on top of weeds, says Tim Rumball, who tests six models
GOOD hoe is a gardener?s best
friend. Pushing a sharp metal
blade through the top half-inch
of soil is the most efective way
to knock down weed seedlings just as
they peep through. Designs for the
business-end of a hoe ? the cutting
blade ? vary widely, as does the length
A
and thickness of handle. Long handles
generally suit taller people, and thick
handles can ofer a better grip. Cutting
blades may be sharp on one edge,
chopping down weeds only on the
forward thrust. Others are sharp front
and back so that a push-pull motion
through the soil cuts in both directions.
Wide blades are great for covering big
areas, but can be clumsy when working
in tight situations around valued plants.
Here small blades are best. Truth is, if
you?ve only got one hoe in your toolkit,
you?re doing your garden a disservice.
We?ve tested six very diferent models
to ?nd their strengths and weaknesses.
Kew Stainless Dutch
Hoe �.49
Darlac Great Little
Weeder �99 �99 delivery
Long Handled Weed
Slice �.99 �99 delivery
0114 281 4242
spear-and-jackson.com
Score
13
0844 5576700
marshalls-seeds.co.uk
0114 2338262
burgonandball.com
Score
Score
11
/15
14
Features
Features
Features
Stainless steel with sharp cutting edges
back and front. 30mm thick weatherproofed handle. Leather wrist/hanging
strap. Dimensions: Head width 5in
(13cm), overall length 661?2in (169cm).
Carbon steel, spade-shaped head with
sharpened leading edge. Wood handle.
Dimensions: Head width 2in (5cm),
overall length 4ft 5in (132cm).
Performance
Carbon steel curved bar head
sharpened front and back, stainlesssteel neck, FSC-certi?ed ash wood
handle. Dimensions: Head width 4in
(10cm), overall length 4ft 11in (148),
weight 622g.
Thick, long handle ofers good grip and
excellent reach. Easy to control and
manoeuvre. Cuts through weeds really
well on push strokes, not so well on the
pull. Working to the full length of the hoe
was easy. The head glides through light
soil. Covers a big area fast, but tends to
pile soil at the end of the stroke. Cutting
blade is ?ne between rows of veg, but
not between individual plants.
Very light, with a narrow and quite short
shaft. The tiny head is excellent for
working tight up to plants. Blade slides
through the soil nicely, cutting weeds
efectively. It will weed bigger, open
areas but is slow because of blade
cutting on one edge only. Narrow
handle made my big hands ache after a
while, but will probably suit small hands.
Short shaft not really an issue ? you still
get a decent reach.
Value
Value
Value
A traditional hoe, best for clearing big
areas, but good as an all-rounder
Ideal tool for detail work, and a small,
tightly planted garden.
A good all-rounder for smaller gardens,
and a great detail hoe.
/15
50 AMATEUR GARDENING 5 MAY 2018
Performance
/15
Performance
A light hoe with a narrow handle. The
small ?aeroplane wing? style head glides
just below the soil surface, cutting
weeds cleanly on both push and pull
strokes. It?s very controllable, so good
for detail work close up to plants. Works
well between rows of veg. Not quite
wide enough for big areas. Damp soil
didn?t stick to the blade.
BEST BUY...
Swoe Style Hoe
�.99 with free delivery
01869 363635
wilkinsonsword-tools.co.uk
LONG
2018
0208 8298850
worldofwolf.co.uk
01788 298795
quickcrop.co.uk
Score
Score
12
/15
HA
Multi-Change Push-Pull Stirrup or Oscillating
Weeder �.99 not inc handle Hoe �.95 �95 delivery
N
BESTBUY
DL
ES
Amateur
O
ED H
12
/15
Amateur
Best buy
Features
15
/15
Features
Features
Stainless-steel, bar-shaped head
serrated and sharpened front and back.
Separate aluminium handle with
push-button click ?t and removal.
Dimensions: Head width 6in (15cm),
overall length 5ft 63?4in (167cm).
Steel, loop-shaped head with curved,
replaceable blade sharpened front and
back. Blade, said to be self-sharpening,
oscillates on a steel pivot. Ash wood
handle. Dimensions: Head width 51?4in
(13.5cm). Length 731?2in (187cm)
Performance
Performance
Long, light handle ofers good, comfy
grip. Blade works well between rows
of veg, but too wide to ?t between
individual plants. Works well on big
areas but needed more efort because
of light weight. Slightly better cut on pull
stroke than on push. Head runs fairly
shallow but can dig in. Doesn?t pile soil
at end of strokes.
Thick long handle felt well balanced.
Blade slides easily through the soil
cutting well on push and even better on
pull. Covers big areas quickly, slicing
through weeds neatly. Tends to pile soil
at end of each stroke and head can dig
in. Good between rows of veg, but too
chunky between individual plants.
Value.
Value
A lightweight tool for clearing big areas
or working between rows of veg.
Good on big areas and between rows
makes this a nice tool for the allotment.
Stainelss-steel ?L?-shaped
head sharpened on three sides.
30mm thick, ergonomically
designed, weatherproofed ash
handle. Dimensions: Head width
51?2in (14cm), overall length 64in
(163cm). 10-year guarantee.
Performance
Thick handle is a pleasure for big
hands and length gives good
reach. A substantial tool of a good
weight, but nice to use. The head
slides easily just below the soil
surface ? it doesn?t seem to lift as
much soil, so lighter to use but
just as efective. ?L?-shaped head
is easy to wiggle close to and
between plants for detail work.
Big areas are covered quickly
as the wide blade cuts well in both
directions and doesn?t pile soil at
the end of stroke.
Value
Impressive performance both in
tight situations and over big areas
makes this the best all-rounder.
5 MAY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
51
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
star
letter
Laced lovelies
are good mixers
Laced polyanthus and tulips
Gill?s potted plug plants
and the one that got away
A ?plug? for my postie
H
AVING recently received an
order through the post from an
online gardening company
that I have dealt with for many
years, without a problem, imagine my
surprise when opening my plug plants
to ?nd that one was missing.
I decided that as it was only one it
wasn?t a problem. It was just unfortunate
that the packaging had got battered
and maybe it had fallen out.
But, the next morning, our postman,
Nick Williams, knocked on the door and
when I answered it he was standing
there holding my single plug plant. He?d
returned to the depot and found the
plant in his van, took it home, watered
Star of spring
OUR beautiful Magnolia stellata
is blooming its socks of at the
moment. We are lucky that we
haven?t had any cold winds during
?owering, as these will turn the
pure-white ?owers brown.
Stellata is a small magnolia and
is suitable for a small space. As
long as there is moisture the tree
with thrive. Magnolias are really
beautiful and I for one am cheered
when they bloom in April. Their life
span is long too? ours has been
here for over 20 years.
Peter Dean,
Cambridge
it and brought it back to me. We live in
a very small village and of course he
knew it would be mine.
I gave him lots of thanks and a
mention on our village Facebook page
thanking him for his kindness, and
everyone shared my view that he is
just the best, kindest postman we could
ever wish for!
Gill Summerfield
Kirtlington, Oxon
WITH so many diferent varieties
of polyanthus, the garden can be
?lled with a lot of colour.
I do love the laced lovelies as
shown in the article (AG, 31 March)
and gradually getting more myself
by splitting them as they become
decent clumps. The diferent types
are gorgeous and mix so well with
dafodils and tulips. I shall now
also look forward to sowing my
polyanthus seeds for even more
colour next year.
Sylvia Monk, Hayling Island
Wendy says Nice to hear your postman
goes the extra mile for his customers.
We?d love to hear about our readers?
experiences when buying plants by mail
order. Do you try diferent companies?
?Magnolia stellata
is suitable for a
small space,?
says Peter
A gardener?s
appreciation
I WANTED to write to say how much
I enjoy Graham Clarke?s ?Miscellany?
page each week. He manages to
come up with such interesting, unusual
snippets of information, making my
weekly anticipation of AG dropping
through my letter box even keener.
Do please keep it going.
AG helps me so much with weekly
tips, special ofers and all the lovely
free seeds, some of which are ideal for
my little cottage garden, which is my
current all-consuming passion.
Mrs Rita Wild, Epsom, Surrey
5 MAY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
53
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
Sue Wilkes
Sue is picking fresh salad leaves
New season salad
I?M very pleased with my homegrown
salad (picked ?rst week in April). Shown
are leaves of land cress, French lettuce
(?Rougette de Montpellier?) and ?Winter
Density? lettuce. Not bad for the hungry
gap when little else is cropping!
Sue Wilkes, Northwich, Cheshire
The giant?s head at The Lost
Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall,
was created from the
rootball of a fallen tree
Day of adventure
A FAMILY away-day on Easter Monday
was spent at The Lost Gardens of
Heligan in Cornwall. After a four-hour
car journey we were not going to let
the rain dampen our spirits. In fact,
the wet weather only added to the
ambience of the place and we spent
the day admiring the romantic pools,
exploring the outdoor jungle and
discovering surprises in the wood!
Kelly Harris,
Havant, Hants
Reader?s Quick Tip
Spring bulbs
at Heligan
Change direction from north/south
to east/west each time you mow
CHANGE the direction of mowing every
time you mow to ensure an even cut
and catch the blades of grass that have
been ?attened by the mower.
John Simpson, Rotherham, S Yorks
Wendy says A great place to visit
whatever the weather.
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
54 AMATEUR GARDENING 5 MAY 2018
Content director: Mark Hedges
Group managing director: Oswin Grady
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Making the
most of moulds
fruitmould.com
fruitmould.com
Love grows: a
personalised apple
Shape of things to come?
Star-shaped peppers, heart-shaped cucumbers ? fruit
can be grown in all shapes and sizes, says Toby
O
NE of the joys of home-grown
veg is their idiosyncratic
shapes so unlike the uniformity
of the supermarket aisle. Last
summer one of my butternut squash
grew in the split on top of a driftwood
post. At first the fruit grew normally, but
as it swelled it became so squashed
(pardon the pun) that the skin took on
every detail of the rough wood as surely
as if its flesh were made of putty.
Moulding members of the gourd
family isn?t new. Cucumber growers
keen to ensure saleable fruits have long
grown their crops in clear plastic tubes
to satisfy pernickety supermarkets.
Some have even given the tubes starshaped profiles and these can now be
bought from Suttons Seeds, among
others, to fit cucumbers, tomatoes and,
if you?ve got a conservatory, lemons
and mandarins.
I?ve also discovered that in the USA,
moulds ($4.99 plus tax) are available
for growing heart-shaped apples and
even strawberries. Like the cucumber
tubes they are made of clear plastic
and clamp around the young fruits that
then swell to fill out the shape turning
58 AMATEUR GARDENING 5 MAY 2018
already heart-shaped strawberries into
even more heart-shaped strawberries.
Perhaps the greatest gourd-moulders
are the Chinese. For a mere $24.99
per design a whole world of moulds
is available, from baby Buddhas to
put on pears, cubes for apples and
Frankenstein heads for pumpkins. The
most ghastly are the moulds in the
shape of Donald Trump?s head ? the
ultimate Halloween horror!
Another way of customising fruits
is with tattoos created by excluding
light to the skin. Back in the 1990s, as
a romantic gesture to my then fianc閑
Lisa, I tattooed an apple with a love
heart by covering what would have
been a red apple variety with a sheet of
black fabric while it was still green. This
excluded all light to the skin except to a
single area of flesh cut out in the shape
of a heart which, after a few weeks,
flushed a distinctive rosy-red.
This year for our daughter I?m
tattooing a smiley emoji on a courgette.
I wonder if it?ll make her more likely
to eat one?
Toby?s top tip
The trend for moulded fruits
originated in Japan, where one-off
designs can (reputedly) cost as much
�,000 each. However, plastic
bottles and Tupperware containers
also make good moulds, but work
best when the plastic is clear.
Alamy
Suttons Seeds
Moulds can be used to grow
tomatoes and cucumbers in
the shape of stars and hearts
Always grow your marrows and
pumpkins in a sunny spot that?s
protected from breeze. Once
gourds start to swell, water in dry
weather to keep the fruit soft and
cut away leaves that are shading
the gourds. Place the fruits on
straw, cardboard or a bit of old
carpet to keep them clean, and
scatter slug pellets beneath.
Choose only blemish-free fruits
and handle carefully. When the
gourd has filled out the container,
cut with a few inches of vine
attached and leave for a few
days for the rind to harden
before removing the mould.
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create
contrast in both colour and texture. Full sun. H: 5ft (1.5m).
Alamy
Planting for success
Try a triple whammy
Hakonechloa macra ?Aureola? (AGM) forms dense mounds of
arching bamboo-like leaves that turn lime in semi-shade and
gold in sun. Plant with black mondo and Japanese blood grass
for a truly tempting trio. H: 16in (40cm). �
36 AMATEUR GARDENING 5 MAY 2018
Containerised grasses can be planted at any time so long
as the ground is not frozen, but there are ideal periods for
planting if you?re following the rulebook. Species that put
on a growth spurt in late winter (such as Stipa,
Deschampsia and Festu
best planted in autumn, w
those that grow in late
Get grasses like
spring (such as Panicum,
Panicum in the
Pennisetum and
ground now
Miscanthus) should go
in the ground in late
spring. Most grasses
like an open sunny spot
with moist, well-drained
soil, so dig in organic
matter on planting.
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Food tables and sheltering bushes
with berries will attract birds, such as
these long-tailed tits, into your garden
Many-headed tulips are not uncommon
Many tulip heads
Alamy
Q
How can I bring back the birds?
Q
I decided to clear my overgrown
garden and replace it with paving
and pots. Now all the lovely wild birds
have gone. How can I bring them back?
Anne Allen, Shotton, Deeside
A
The solution is simple ? put out
food for them! I assume your
garden is surrounded by a wall or fence
that you can attach feeders to and fill
them with nuts, seeds and fat balls.
You could also introduce a bird table,
ideally one with a top for some shelter,
plus water dishes or a birdbath. It may
take a few weeks to bring them back,
but once they have discovered the
food and drink they will come flocking.
You could also introduce some large
or long-term plants to encourage insects
and birds. If you placed larger containers
against a wall or fence you could plant
climbers such as honeysuckle. The
planters would need to be substantial ?
at least 2ft (24in) deep and wide ? but
they would be long-term.
Trees would be ideal but more difficult
to grow. Could you remove the odd
paving slab or patch of gravel and plant
into the soil beneath? Woody plants
provide shelter and a source of food ?
try holly, cotoneaster and pyracantha
that all have berries too.
This multi-headed tulip came from
a supermarket bulb. Is it unusual?
Sandra Organ, Preston, Lancs
A
Multi-headed tulips are not
uncommon and there are several
named varieties to be found in
catalogues. According to the internet,
they ?mostly derive from single late and
botanical tulips?, which means they are
often closely related to species tulips.
However, the fact that they are not
uncommon should not detract from
your pleasure in their flowers.
Field garlic is a sneaky interloper
How dangerous are flatworms?
Q
A
flatworm is observed in the bag,
New Zealand flatworms are a
squash it or place it in salt water.
menace, predating earthworms
As a colony of flatworms
that are vital for aerating
can devastate the worm
As you have seen sever
population of a given
and discovered them in
area, making it
the rootball of a shrub
vulnerable to flooding,
bought from a local
I urge you to contact
garden centre, it could
your local branch of
mean that they are
DEFRA, which may
proliferating in
Flatworms are a danger
have a solution to the
your garden.
to earthworms
problem. I also urge you
Unfortunately, there
to mention to your local
are no chemicals approv
garden centre that you
for killing them. The bes
discovered flatworms in the compost
to control them is to place polytheneof a plant that you bought from them.
bag ?traps? on the soil. Then, when a
38 AMATEUR GARDENING 5 MAY 2018
Alamy
Do flatworms cause any problems? I?ve found several while digging
plus a couple in the rootball of a plant bought from my local nursery.
The blackbirds seemed to like them!
Wanda Speirs, via email
Strange infiltration
Q
Please can you tell me what this
plant is?
Joyce Hall, Potters Bar, Hertfordshire
A
The weed is the interloper field
garlic (Allium oleraceum). Its
slender stems infiltrate their way into
garden plants and are hard to remove. It
spreads quickly and will colonise a bed.
Apart from digging out its tiny bulbs,
of which there are many in one clump,
the only other less tedious way is to dab
leaves and stems with Roundup Gel.
Based on glyphosate, it travels through
the sap stream to the whole plant.
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
What is this spreading plant?
Quick questions
& answers
Woundwort will spread,
but isn?t too invasive
Alamy
Q
Could you please identify this
weed for me? The roots creep
under the soil, and any small bits that
break off grow quickly.
Tom Higgin, Thornaby-on-Tees,
Cleveland
Q
What is this plant
please?
Mrs J Smith,
Willersey,
Gloucestershire
A
A
It is a British native
called dropwort
(Filipendula vulgaris). Its foamy
sprays of small white flowers, often
tinged pink in bud, make summer a
special treat!
Its cultivated ?Multiplex? form is
famed for double white blooms.
It is a native of Europe and
Central Asia and romps in damp,
Alamy
Do the leaves have a rather
pungent scent when rubbed or
crushed? If so, then I think the plant is
hedge woundwort (Stachys sylvatica).
This is a native wildflower flowering July
to September. It is in the same family as
lavender and mint, but even though the
flowers are quite pretty you can see why
it hasn?t caught on as a garden plant!
It is not as big a nuisance as some
pernicious weeds, but it does spread. I
find that the youngish plants pull up fairly
easily in good moist soil, but need a bit
of encouraging with a hand fork where
the soil is a bit harder.
However, it is most annoying when it
pops up in the middle of other plants,
and sometimes pulling it leaves a trail of
tipped-up seedlings and young plants
where the rhizomes have gone through
and under other plants.
It is possible to control it by persistent
digging and pulling, and being vigilant to
get the young plants before they have
wandered too far. But if it is a problem in
among choice plants, then a spot weed
killer might be the answer.
Please help me make this gift thrive
Q
Alamy
A friend gave me a Skimmia
japonica ? do you know how
best to grow it?
James Couling, Portsmouth, Hants
Skimmia produces attractive
?owers and berries
A
Skimmia japonica is a hardy shrub,
which does best on rich slightly
acidic soil, happy in both sun and shade.
It reaches a height of 3-5ft (1-1.5m) with
an equal spread, but it is not a rapid
grower and can be kept in check by
pruning if necessary.
It does best in a shady area and can
even tolerate deep shade. Too much
sunlight can turn its leaves yellow.
Plant yours in neutral or acidic soil. If
you garden on very chalky soil, you will
do better putting it in a container of
ericaceous or John Innes No3 compost.
Skimmia comes in a number of forms.
but has male and female flowers on
separate plants. You won?t know
whether you have a male or female until
it flowers, but if you have a female and
there are other, male plants, nearby,
then the flowers will be followed by
richly coloured red berries.
Skimmia is a lovely plant and some
forms have wonderful spring foliage as
well as the colourful flowers and berries,
but even just the ?plain? foliage is very
attractive and forms a good backdrop
to the flowers.
Q
My cyclamen tuber
is 12in (30cm)
across and around 15
years old. What should
I do with it?
Mrs N Morley,
Whitstable, Kent
A
If you would like to propagate
it, do so this summer while it is
dormant. Simply cut the tuber into
good-sized portions, each with a
?growth nodule?. Replant the
divisions, one each to a suitably
sized pot, filled with loam-based
ericaceous compost.
Q
Is a bag of manure
a good thing to
add to a border to
help plants grow?
Mrs C Cramp,
Leicester
A
Bagged manure is a perfect
choice for improving the soil
? simply spread it over the surface
between plants, leaving a small
gap around the stems/trunks.
Any well-rotted organic matter
can be used, like from old bags of
compost, compost from tipped-put
pots and containers, and compostbin compost.
Before spreading, apply a
granular general fertiliser such as
Growmore or blood, fish and bone
to the soil surface.
5 MAY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
39
Dr Jane Bingham and John Negus
Sea hollies bloom with
beautiful blue heads
ID needed for my
mystery plant
Water-storing granules are
good for pot compost, and
some plants will root in water
Q
I brought this plant as roots. I am
not sure it is what I thought it was
as I have lost the label. Can you help?
Kathleen Young, via email
Rooting cuttings in water A
Q
I have heard that you can have
success with striking cuttings in a
mixture of water-storage granules, water
and Miracle-Gro. It has never worked for
me ? is there a recipe for it I could have?
Rosemary White, via email
A
Water-storing granules can be
added to compost (of any make) to
reduce the amount of watering that is
needed. Generally, this compost mix
would be used for growing plants on or
in tubs, but there is little reason why it
can?t be used for striking cuttings.
It is best to follow the guidelines given
with the granules as to the proportion in
different situations, but a general guide
would be to use about 1g of dry weight
granules to 1 litre of compost.�
However, according to the RHS some
makes of water-storing granules can be
used neat to make a medium in which to
root cuttings. You used to be able to buy
pots of something called Swellgel with
foil tops that you pierced to stick the
cuttings through and these were
excellent for rooting some types of
cuttings. The RHS isn?t specific about
which brands are suitable, but I did find
one reference that suggested mixing
one scoop (about 5g) with 1 pint of water,
leaving it an hour to allow the granules to
swell, and then using this jelly-like
substance to strike cuttings.
This is best used for cuttings that
would also root in water. Generally, softstemmed plants do OK and woodystemmed plants don?t.
I?m being bitten - what can I do?
Q
I have a small greenhouse and
while working in it I am getting
bitten by small insects. How can I deal
with them?
Evelyn Fordyce, via email
A sticky trap will deal
with flying pests
40 AMATEUR GARDENING 5 MAY 2018
The dragon arum produces
a fascinating flower
A garden dragon
Q
This unusual plant appeared in our
raised bed. Is it a friend or foe?
Christine Thornley, via email
A
A
Keep the greenhouse well
ventilated ? plenty of air
movement through will discourage
insects intent on hovering in one spot.
Try to keep surfaces on the dry side
? moist air and water encourage such
insects to linger.
Hang yellow sticky traps (but
beware of sticking to them yourself)
to trap the insects ? you might then
also be able to determine what they
are. Burn a citronella candle while you
The plant you have asked us to
identify is a perennial sea holly. The
Latin name is Eryngium and I think this is
probably the species planum, which is
known as the flat sea holly.
It is fairly nondescript in its leafy
rosette form, but very attractive when
the spiky blue flowerheads appear from
July onwards.
are working in the greenhouse (they
are supposed to repel mosquitoes)
and wear insect repellent so that even
if you can?t deter the insects, they are
discouraged from biting you.
This is the dragon arum
(Dracunculus vulgaris) from the
Mediterranean, Madeira and Canary
Islands. It is a member of the cuckoo-pint
family. When mature, it grows to about
4-5ft (1.2-1.5m) high and intrigues with its
foul-smelling maroon-purple bloom
(spathe) from which emerges a similarly
coloured poker (spadix). It grows from a
tuber and is not fully hardy, so is best
positioned in a warm, sunny and freedraining part of the garden, ideally
next to a south or west-facing wall.
Your plant will increase in height
from now until mid-summer and may
bloom this year.
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Before planting,
I prised a few
cuttings from
the side of a
new gazania
Anne Swithinbank?s masterclass on: bedding plants
Step Cuttings of
by step swan river
Time Inc unless otherwise credited
daisy
These large-?owered gazanias would
look great in a container, but I?m planting
mine out near the kitchen garden patio
where they?ll receive full sun
What are the best bedding plants?
Q
On my weekly visit to the garden
centre I?m tempted by all the
bedding plants on display in a massive
greenhouse. They come in all shapes
and sizes and I?m confused about
what I can plant now. What would be
your top three plants that carry on
blooming all summer?
Eva Harborn, Liverpool
A
Years ago, in the south, we wouldn?t
dream of ?bedding out? until around
the third week in May and plants didn?t
go on sale until then. My Saturday job
was to sell them at a pet and garden
centre and the boss would pick them up
in seed trays, all hardened off. Even then,
a late frost could brown the soft tops of
lobelia and nemesia. There were no
modules and I?d have to cut strips of
plants from the boxes with a knife.
These days, bedding plants appear
for sale in spring. While some are hardy
(spring bedding, hardy annuals and
toughies like antirrhinums) the rest are
likely to be frost tender and designed for
those with greenhouses. You can buy
trays of seedlings to transplant at home
or young plants to set up in baskets and
pots ready to go out later. You can also
take cuttings of bought plants (see right).
Plants displayed in greenhouses will
be ?soft? and need ?hardening off? before
being planted out. This means standing
plants out by day, then 24 hours a day, but
put back in the greenhouse or protected
by fleece on especially cold nights until
they adjust to outdoor weather. When
they are planted in May or early June
depends on location and type.
My favourites include Tithonia
rotundifolia ?Torch? (tall, orange-flowered
Mexican sunflower), purple-flowered
zinnia and Nicotiana langsdorffii (a
green-flowered tobacco). These don?t
always turn up in garden centres, but
could be ordered earlier in the year. I
raise mine from seed.
1
Take short shoot tips of
brachycome (swan river daisy),
trimming just below a leaf, and
remove the bottom leaves.
2
Remove the flowers, flower
buds or soft shoot tips.
3
Insert six cuttings around the
edge of a 3.5in (9cm) pot of
50:50 multi-purpose compost
mixed with grit or vermiculite.
All Alamy
Top three long-season bedding plants
Nicotiana Tobacco plants
come in all sizes and many
colours. I prefer the taller,
scented kinds. Above is
Nicotiana sylvestris.
Mimulus Monkey musk
produce beautiful flowers
with pretty patterns. They
appreciate moisture and
thrive in shade.
Gazania These South
African daisies may survive
a mild winter. They love
well-drained soil and need
sun for flowers to open.
4
Water in and place in a loosely
knotted poly bag to stand in a
lightly shaded spot.
5 MAY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
43
When cut, stems of
trachelospermum yield a
milky sap. This can be an
irritant (though it has never
affected me), so make
sure you wear gardening
gloves to protect
your skin.
The stems of my star jasmine were
shortened last autumn to reduce an
attack of scale insects. It does not
require repotting, so I?ll tie in loose
stems and give it a feed
How to grow...
star jasmine
These vigorous climbers will fill your garden with fragrance come dusk
Time Inc/Alamy
S
OME of the classiest good looks
belong to plants whose pale,
fragrant blooms open against
glossy evergreen foliage. Think
of gardenia, citrus, Magnolia grandiflora
but also Trachelospermum jasminoides,
otherwise known as star, pinwheel or
confederate jasmine.
Originally from China, Korea and
Japan, this twining climber is not a
jasmine at all but belongs to the plant
family Apocynaceae, along with vinca,
mandevilla and hoya. Buds like small
furled parasols appear during summer
and open to windmill-like flowers.
T. asiaticum is similar but more compact,
slightly hardier and with creamy-yellow
blooms dotted with darker yellow
centres. The spicy honey fragrance
reaches peak intensity at dusk.
In sheltered positions, protected
from freezing winds, star jasmines will
44 AMATEUR GARDENING 5 MAY 2018
My plant bought last year gave a fine
achieve vigorous growth, clothing
display in our north-facing porch but
walls, fences, trellis or arbours. They
picked up an infestation of scale insects,
thrive in sheltered city gardens and
with adults and new, soft ?baby?
favoured nooks. Cold winter
ttling down to suck
temperatures sometim
om the leaves.
bring a red blush to lea
Trachelospermum
jasminoides
ning removed two
that is quickly smother
rds of the insects
by new growth in
nd the rest were
spring. Temperatures
defeated by wiping
below -10癈 may
and spraying with a
cause more damage,
solution of SB Plant
but wait until April or
nvigorator, repeating
May, prune away
he application the
damaged tops, and
lowing day and then
established plants will
eek later.
surge back into growth
ft the plant outdoors
Trachelospermums
tered spot during
grow well in containers
onths, which has
there?s a strong motive
hopefully killed any remaining pests,
enjoying their scent in a lightly shaded
and the plant now looks clean, healthy
conservatory. In colder gardens, move
and ready to return to growth.
plants under cover during winter.
Star jasmine care
Plant into good,
well-drained soil in sun
or partial shade with
a support to climb.
Given a favoured,
sheltered spot,
plants can reach
up to 20ft (6m).
Alternatively, pot on
every other year to a
container of 50:50 John
Innes No2 and a soilless
multi-purpose compost.
Apply a slow-release fer
in spring, and if not potti
top dress with fresh compost.
Regular pruning isn?t needed. Tie in wayward growth,
and if plants outgrow their space trim in early spring.
Other evergreen
climbers
Clematis armandii
This Chinese native is a
luxuriant climber, whose
richly fragrant ivory or pinktinged blooms open in
spring against a backdrop
of older leaves and a
swarm of new shoots.
Reaches 10-15ft (3-5m) and
is hardy in most areas.
Dregea sinensis
From the same family as
trachelospermum, Chinese
dregea resembles a hoya
or wax flower. Umbels of
fragrant white blooms
dusted with pink open in
summer against attractive
heart-shaped leaves.
Grows up to 10ft (3m).
Holboellia coriacea
Again from China, this
vigorous vine from the
Akebia tribe bears palmate
leaves and in spring,
pendulous bunches of
pinkish flowers. Likes a
sheltered wall and rich
soil. Reaches 22ft (7m).
Pileostegia viburnoides
Climbing with stem roots,
this hydrangea relative from
India and China takes its
time to get going, but once
established grows steadily
to 20ft (6m), opening in a
froth of creamy-white
flowers in late summer.
5 MAY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
45
A Gardener?s Miscellany
Gardening?s king of trivia and brain-teasers, Graham Clarke
THIS Gardening
WEEK history
IN
1-7 MAY
Gardening island-by-island
In the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey, Liberation Day is celebrated each
year on 9 May, to mark the end of the Occupation by Nazi Germany during World
War II. This day is also celebrated as Guernsey and Jersey?s national day.
I thought, therefore, that we could celebrate in our own way, by putting in
ome plant and gardening trivia about the beautiful Channel Islands.
? 1 May 1851
The Great
Exhibition was
opened in
Hyde Park by
Queen Victoria.
The vast structu
was designed by
Thomas Paxton, and was 1,851ft
long (to match the year). The Times
called it ?a monstrous greenhouse?.
? May 1958 Notcutts opened its
first garden centre at Woodbridge,
Suffolk ? one of the earliest garden
centres to open its doors in Britain.
Other pioneers included Russells,
Wyevale and Stewarts.
? 2 May 1949
TV gardener Alan
(Fred) Titchmarsh,
one-time Deputy
Editor of Amateur
Gardening, was
born in Ilkley,
West Yorkshire.
? 3 May 1884
The first edition of
Amateur Gardening
was published,
promising to be
?generally useful?.
The first edition
had just 16 pages
and no pictures!
The Jersey lily
Although the autumn-flowering
Amaryllis belladonna is sometimes
referred to as the Jersey lily, nobody
knows the reason why. One school of
thought has it that ?Jersey Lily? does not
refer to a plant at all, but Emilie Charlotte
Langtry (n閑 Le Breton, 1852-1929,
pictured left), an actress who used the
name Lily. Her father was the Dean of
Jersey and she was the most infamous
of King Edward VII?s mistresses.
The Guernsey lily
This lovely flower (right) is a species of
nerine (N. sarniensis), a South African
bulb that became naturalised in
Guernsey after a ship carrying the bulbs
was wrecked there in 1680. The ship?s
original port was in Japan, where the
plant did, in fact, grow, and was known
by botanists as the ?narcissus of Japan?.
5
edible plants with ?Jersey?
in the variety name
Cider apple ? Malus domestica
?Harry Master?s Jersey?
Asparagus ? Asparagus
oicinalis ?Jersey Knight?
? 6 May 1997 Frosts of -5癈 (23癋)
destroyed more than 80 per cent
of the commercial fruit crop in
south-east England.
46 AMATEUR GARDENING 5 MAY 2018
Pear ? Pyrus communis
?Louise Bonne of Jersey?
Blueberry ? Vaccinium
corymbosum ?Jersey?
Tomato ? Solanum
lycopersicum ?Jersey Devil?
Special spuds
In around 1880
a Jersey farmer,
Hugh de la Haye,
showed friends a
large potato, with
15 ?eyes?. He cut
this potato into
pieces, which the
friends planted in
a sloping field in
the Bellozanne
Valley. One plant
produced thin-skinned kidney-shaped
potatoes, which they called the ?Jersey
Royal Fluke?, later known as ?Jersey Royal?.
Today, this is Jersey?s biggest crop
export, accounting for around 70 per
cent of agricultural turnover ? with 99
per cent of export going to the UK.
Jersey
cabbage
walking
sticks
For nearly 200 years, the giant Jersey
cabbage has been grown for the
manufacture of walking sticks! It?s a
slow process and can take between
two and three years to grow one.
The Jersey cabbage (Brassica
oleracea longata), is native to the
Channel Islands. Plants grow very tall
and were formerly used for livestock
fodder. Seed is sold by D.T. Brown
0333 003 0869.
Alamy/Time Inc/Wikimedia
Sark, Herm
and Alderney
The smaller
Channel Islands
have plants
named after
them, but
none seems to
be available
now. ?Alderney? has been a variety of
both rosemary and cauliflower, while the
orange ?Dame of Sark? rose was named
after Dame Sibyl Hathaway, the ?head?
of the island until her death in 1974.
Come on, plant breeders, let?s pay
tribute to the smaller Channel Islands
and name some plants after them!
Prize draw
Gro-Sure Smart Lawn Seed is guaranteed to
grow! It can be used in full sun, shade and on
worn areas and patches. Its aqua gel formulation
soaks up to 400 times its weight in water,
reducing seed loss due to erratic watering, and
keeps working for the whole season.
We have two packs to give away, each worth
�.99 and each offering 25m2 coverage. See
below for details of how to enter the prize draw.
How to enter
Send your name and address on the back of a postcard to Gro-Sure Smart
Lawn Seed Draw (5 May), Amateur Gardening, Pinehurst 2, Pinehurst Road,
Farnborough, Hampshire, GU14 7BF. Or you can email your details to
ag_giveaway@timeinc.com, heading the email Gro-Sure Smart Lawn Seed
Draw (5 May). The closing date is 10 May 2018.
WIN
�
Word search
This word search comprises
words connected to Britain?s
islands and some of the plants
associated with them.
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 10 letters
remaining; arrange these to
make this week?s KEY WORD.
ALDERNEY
ANGLESEY
ARRAN
BARRA
BENBECULA
CERASTIUM
CLEMATIS
FUCHSIA
GUERNSEY
ISLES
JERSEY
JURA
MAN
SARK
SKYE
THRIFT
WIGHT
M
Y
E
S
R
E
J
L
F
N
Y
U
W
I
G
H
T
U
B
C
E
E
I
A
S
F
C
E
L
J
S
Y
N
T
I
H
N
E
U
E
E
K
O
R
S
B
M
R
S
S
L
S
H
I
E
A
A
A
I
A
No:
414
G
T
A
C
T
D
R
R
N
R
N
C
U
I
T
K
L
E
R
R
A
L
S
E
L
S
I
A
C
A
A
Y
E
S
N
R
E
U
G
N
HOW TO ENTER: Enter this week?s keyword on the entry form,
and send it to AG Word Search No 414, Amateur Gardening,
Pinehurst 2, Pinehurst Road, Farnborough, Hampshire
GU14 7BF, to arrive by Wednesday 16 May, 2018. The first
correct entry chosen at random will win our � 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.
5 MAY 2018 AMATEUR GARDENING
47
The English comedian
Cyril Fletcher (1913-2005),
famous for his catchphrase
?Pin back your lugholes?, was
best known for his ?Odd Odes?
which, in the 1970s, formed
a section of the hit TV show
That?s Life.
In later years he became a keen gardener, specialising
in roses. In 1990, AG ran a feature on him and his
spectacular rose garden at his home in St Peter Port,
Guernsey. He had a rose named after him, claiming that
he had chosen it for its distinctive smell: it was a case of
one ?odd ode-r choosing another?, he said.
Here is a little extract of one of his ?Odd Odes?:
This is the tale of Herbert Hay,
Who dined on whale meat every day,
His missus cried: ?It makes me quake
The way you scoff that ponky steak!
For when you walks into the room
It smells like Billingsgate in Bloom!?
Battle of Flower
Jersey?s Battle of Flowers was first
staged in 1902, in celebration of the
coronation of Edward VII.
It has since grown to become one
of the largest floral carnivals in
Europe. Millions of flowers adorn
dozens of floats, many up to 45ft
(14 metres) long. The ?Battle? part
originally consisted of dismantling the floats to
provide floral ammunition for a battle between participants
and spectators, but this aspect was abandoned in 1964.
This year?s Jersey Battle of Flowers will take place on
9-10 August. Guernsey also has its own version, which
takes place as part of the North Show on 23 August ? one
of the island?s three agricultural summer shows.
Wow! I(sle) didn?t know that
? Clematis expert Raymond Evison (below) grows three
million clematis each year. His nursery in Guernsey
supplies more than 20 countries worldwide.
? Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens) makes a pretty border
plant. But why ?candy?? The plant was imported from
Crete ? and an earlier name for
the island was Candia.
? When Napoleon was exiled
to the island of Elba he said he
would return ?with violets?. He
became known as ?Corporal
Violet? among his supporters.
48 AMATEUR GARDENING 5 MAY 2018
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ACROSS
1 Your lawn should be this
? and this! (5,5)
7 Locate and correct errors in
a computer, but it sounds as if
you are removing insects from,
say, a greenhouse! (5)
8 Botanically, a fruiting
structure resembling an
umbrella that forms the top of
a stalked, fleshy fungus, such
as a mushroom (5)
9 Sang hits to save up
for future use ? rather as
squirrels do with nuts in
autumn! (8) (anag)
11 The nerine
Channel Island! (8)
14 Popular leafy perennial,
which used to be known
as funkia (5)
15 Common name for a tree
of the olea genus (5)
16 One of the alternative
common names for the
bleeding heart (Dicentra
spectabilis) (4,6)
DOWN
1 Dizzy and unsteady, as in the
daylily (hemerocallis) variety
?_____ Go Round? (5)
2 Backwards island at the
end of a vegetable! (4)
3 The European singing bird,
Luscinia megarhynchos, as
well as a cultivar of both
rhododendron and fuchsia (11)
4 Viscus product of Brassica
napus, a bright-yellow
flowering member of the
cabbage family (8,3)
5 The sage genus (6)
6 Old common name for
Calluna vulgaris (heather) (4)
10 The lily Channel Island! (6)
11 Loose earthy deposit from
water occurring in the cavities
of rocks, consisting of a
varying mixture of clay
or ochre (4)
12 Plant, shoot or stalk,
as of grass, asparagus or
broccoli (5)
13 The range of the eye, as
in a large garden perhaps, as
well as the variety of daylily:
?Inner??_____ (4)
ANSWERS
Cyril Fletcher
Crossword
ACROSS 1 Green grass 7 Debug 8 Pilei 9 Stashing 11 Guernsey 14 Hosta 15 Olive
16 Lyre flower
DOWN 1 Giddy 2 Elba 3 Nightingale 4 Rapeseed oil 5 Salvia 6 Ling 10 Jersey
11 Guhr 12 Spear 13 View
A Gardener?s
Miscellany
KEYWORD TO WORD SEARCH 409 (AG 31 MARCH)
WEDNESDAY
AND THE WINNER IS:
ROSALIND WARD, SOUTHAMPTON, HAMPSHIRE
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