British flowers straight from a british garden

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How to maintain a mixed border : Mid-Summer (1)

In this short video Alix demonstrates how to tend to various plants after flowering is over, including Aquilegia, Verbascum, Heuchera, Penstemon, Geranium, Yucca and Sisyrinchium, with a surprise ‘find’ at the end…

Malope trifida ‘Vulcan’

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It’s the first time I have grown this annual plant and I just adore it.  Great for the front of a border. You should pinch out the tops when they are small to make them bushy.  I forgot to do this with some but for the first time ever, the slugs helped me out…

Niwaki Pruning Courses – Niwaki

Niwaki Pruning Courses – Niwaki.

The Garden says thank you for the rain

And I say thank you to the Tree of Shelter:

Jobs in the garden this week

We dragged ourselves around the gardens this week in the searing heat with plenty of jobs to keep us busy. With gardens this size most of the plants have to fend for themselves in the dry conditions, watering them all is not an option. Sadly there is plenty of cutting back to do as we move through the peak flowering period of summer.

Plants that have been cut right back to the ground are:
1) EchinopsIMG_1250
Seen here, right at the back of the border with blue spherical spiky flowers. The bees are still buzzing around a few but generally they have started to collapse and if we cut them down now we should get a second growth spurt and more flowers on shorter stems for the end of summer.
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The Echinops in the foreground of this photo were given the ‘Chelsea chop’ in May – cutting the growth by half. They are flowering later, are slightly shorter stems and are still strong and upright.
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You don’t have to throw everything on the compost heap!

2) Delphiniums
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I have made the mistake in the past of just cutting off the dead flower spikes, but if you cut the whole thing right down to a couple of inches, they will shoot and flower again.

3) Alstromerias
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When the red/orange flowers in this photo are over just grab the stems and pull them out. It looks like there is nothing left by the time you have finished but miraculously they sprout again too.

4) Aquilegias.
Unfortunately I don’t have a photo, but by this time of year the seed pods have dried out and self sown and the foliage is looking very tatty, so cut the whole lot off and fresh new foliage will replace the old.

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Verbascum bombyciferum and opium poppies can be pulled out of the ground now. They won’t grow again but will have self seeded. The poppy seed heads may not be quite dried out yet but can be hung upside down with a paper bag over the heads to catch the seed for next year.

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With Kniphofia (Red Hot Pokers) and Hemerocallis (Day Lilies) – you can cut down the flower spikes but leave the strappy foliage to keep them tidy.

Finally, as you go round chopping things down don’t forget to save seed where you can.. pop it in an envelope with the name and date of collection ready to sow next year or swap with other like-minded individuals. Last year at Seedy Sunday in Brighton, I swapped my everlasting sweet pea seeds for some beautiful single white opium poppies and gorgeous blue corn cockles. There’s nothing like free flowers 🙂

Shades of Yellow take centre stage

Gladioli

Gladioli

Inula

Inula

Knifophia

Knifophia

Helianthus 'Lemon Queen'

Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’

Verbascum bombyciferum

Verbascum bombyciferum

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Hot Borders

Alstromerias, Day Lilies. Achillea filipendula, Dahlias.Cotinus coggygria...

Alstromerias, Day Lilies. Achillea filipendula, Dahlias.Cotinus coggygria…

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My best bulb purchase this year

Big blousey and beautifully scented, these Lilium ‘Zambesi’, Oriental x Trumpet have definitely provided an impact and smell to die for, every time I enter and leave the house. For £5.25 for 3 bulbs from www.hwhyde.co.uk they have been worth every penny.
They even stood up to the incredible storms we had the other night which left a yellow pollen stain on the white petals below, reminding me of the mornings when I have forgotten to remove my make-up and wake up a little smudged and bleary-eyed.IMG_1320

Cloud Pruning!

This was a large Box shrub when we found it in the garden initially. It no longer looked right in the border as it was just a ‘blob’ in an area that has now been cultivated with vegetables. However it was quite old so we didn’t want to remove it. Having recently taken a course in the Japanese art of Cloud Pruning with Jake Hobson at Niwaki, I decided to try out my new skills on this poor old shrub. We are now 3 years down the line and it is ready for its annual ‘short back and sides’ Here are the photos:

Before

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After

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This is not a high-maintenance job, as we only prune it once a year, but the results are to create a light and airy architectural focal plant out of an otherwise previously dull and homogenous green mound in the landscape. Well, it’s growing on me!

Further down this border I have planted several Phillyrea latifolia, which are an evergreen plant similar to those in Japan that are cloud pruned. This time I thought I could try and train them as they grew. I’ll give them a few more years for them to fulfil their potential. Meanwhile I will torture them a little bit more to see what they can do!