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Wallflower Giant Pink

 

Giant Pink Wallflowers are still available in the Pink and White Biennial Flowers Collection. I have a few boxes left and they will sell out fast so to be completely fair it’s first come first served. Sow them this month then your young plants will carry on growing whilst the soil is still warm this autumn. All the seeds in this collection are Hardy Biennials so they will not only survive but thrive outside throughout the winter months then burst into life again in spring. You’ll have a good selection of early pink and white blooms which are lovely in the garden with tulips, perfect for pollinators and excellent for cut flowers of course. There are 6 packets of seed in this collection for £9.95.

  • Cynoglossum ‘Mystery Rose’
  • Dianthus barbatus ‘Albus’
  • Wallflower ‘Giant Pink’
  • Lunaria annua ‘Alba’
  • Dianthus ‘Rose Magic’
  • Walflower ‘White Dame’

I’ve sold out of individual packets of Giant Pink Wallflower seeds. Thanks very much if you bought them from me! They have been very popular because they flower early, they are tall (so great for cut flowers) and they’re very rewarding flowers to grow.

Also whilst I’m on the subject of selling seeds… I’m delighted to say that Country Garden Seeds has had some lovely REVIEWS via this website and my Amazon shop. It’s great to know that customers are happy with the fast and friendly service. If you have bought seeds from me over the past year then THANK YOU VERY MUCH! I really appreciate your custom and its lovely that you have taken the time to write a review for me.

Hope you had a lovely weekend and don’t forget you’ve still got time to sow your biennials!

Happy Gardening    Gillian 🙂

 

Big Butterfly Count

A Red Admiral butterfly kept me company whist I sat outside enjoying the sunshine and my mid morning coffee today. The beautiful creature fluttered from plant to plant seeking nectar to drink and occasionally rested on the lawn enjoying the sunshine just like me I guess. The butterfly above is a Peacock and the Red Admiral is below on the top left of the square picture.

There are many more butterflies visible now that the weather has improved and Buddlejas are in full bloom. You can see why they love them so much, each flower head is made up of hundreds of tiny tubular nectar filler blooms.

Which reminds me… it’s the BIG BUTTERFLY COUNT this month so I’ll be finding time to spend 15 minutes in the garden concentrating on counting our butterfly visitors. It’s lovely to take a few minutes to notice just how many butterflies pass through our garden and to spot the different varieties. It’s great fun for small children too.

Are there any butterflies in your garden today?
Thanks for reading, liking and commenting and Happy Gardening! Gillian 🙂

The Garden at Dalemain

We visit the Lake District a LOT… we’re less than an hour away so it’s very easy to drive to. We enjoy weekend jaunts to visit beautiful places we have’t seen before and of course we love relaxed lunches in welcoming county pubs! Even so there are some areas we haven’t explored yet and there are gems to uncover.

Last weekend we visited Dalemain. It’s name means manor in the valley and it really is a mansion house in a dramatic Lakeland setting. It’s a family home so only part of the house is open to the public but it’s so interesting to see that the house has a Georgian facade with parts of the house dating back four centuries or more. My husband can spend hours looking at architecture and pouring over old documents, admiring furniture and interesting collections… so whilst he was doing that I had a good look around the garden.

There are five acres open to the public including a woodland walk but it was the gardens closest to the house that caught my attention. In particular I loved the Knot Garden with Box topiary and a fresh white planting scheme.

There’s a long high wall backing the garden, festooned with roses and clematis at this time of year, it’s very attractive.

And of course set into that wall is a garden door. Not just any garden door… Oh No! This is a super duper double door which allows access for all the essential garden machinery that Dalemain could need. How pretty is this?

Dalemain is an RHS Partner Garden so entry is free if you are RHS members. There’s a Medieval Hall tearoom and a shop selling award winning Marmalade too. If you love wildlife you’ll be impressed by the gardens full of wild birds, bees and butterflies. There’s Deer in the parkland and you may be lucky enough to get a great view of them as we did. The old gamekeeper feeds them so they browse quite close to his cottage. This is one just a few feet away was keeping a beady eye on us!

On 20th August Dalemain is hosting the Cumbria Classic Car Show. So there really is something for everyone.
Dalemain is open Sunday -Thursday until October 26th this year. Please see their website for opening times.

I’ll leave you with one last look at that gorgeous garden door and a beautiful rose.
I’m joining in with Norms Thursday Doors today. Everyone is welcome to join in or simply pop along for a read.

Have you seen any colour themed gardens recently? I’d love to hear your recommendations for lovely gardens to visit.

Happy Gardening! Gillian 🙂

 

Papaver nudicaule Champagne Bubbles

Summer is the time to sow Iceland Poppies and here are my favourites right now. I love this new variety Papaver nudicaule ‘Champagne Bubbles’. They really are the most beautiful flowers to grow from seed. Poppy seeds are so tiny it’s hard to believe that such beautiful blooms are produced in just a few months. I was completely blown away by the large colourful flowers when I took these photos in April in my greenhouse. They have gorgeous open papery blooms which open like crumpled silk. Flowers are all shades of orange, pink, yellow, red and white. They are extremely hardy and will tolerate cold winters. Flowers are produced in late spring and early summer before the rest of the garden really gets going. I’m always looking for some early plants for my garden and these fit the bill beautifully. If you’re looking for some colour in your garden in spring and early summer too then Iceland Poppies may be just the thing for you.

Iceland Poppies grow to just 45cm tall x 30cm spread  (18 inches x 12 inches) so they are perfect for containers and brilliant planted in drifts at the front of the border. They make a lovely cut flower too!

How to Grow Iceland Poppies

Sow seeds in summer at 13-18°C for planting out in autumn. You don’t need any fancy equipment… a north facing windowsill in your home will do. Iceland Poppy seeds are tiny so do not cover them with compost or leave them in a dark place because they need light to germinate. It’s also important to remember to water seed trays from below to prevent the tiny poppy seeds being washed away.

Let the seedlings develop… they will take 14-21 days to germinate at 15°C. Allow them to grow until they are large enough to handle then carefully then pot up into large modules or 9cm pots to grow on. Plant well established young plants into their flowering position from the end of August to the end of September. Allow sufficient space (30cm) for the poppy plants to grow and develop. Throughout the long autumn season Papaver nudicaule produces a good root system and forms large rosettes of lovely pale blue/green foliage ready for bursting into flower in late spring.

What if I want Taller and Earlier Plants?

Iceland Poppies are extremely hardy and will survive outside… they ARE originally from Iceland after all! However if you are growing flowers for sale and want extra early blooms you may prefer to grow them like commercial flower farmers and grow them undercover in a polytunnel or greenhouse over winter. Poppies grown like this flower earlier and have longer stems than those grown outside.

Papaver nudicaule ‘Champagne Bubbles’ is actually a short lived perennial. Treating them as Biennials and sowing in summer gives your poppies the longest time to grow and develop. This is the method I use so that I’ll have the biggest healthiest plants by next spring. They can also be treated as annuals and sown in March for planting out 8 to 10 weeks later when the soil has warmed up in May. From a spring sowing Iceland Poppies take approx 14 to16 weeks from seed to flower. If you’d like plenty of Iceland Poppies you can sow twice, once this summer and again next year in spring.

Growing Conditions Required

Papaver nudicaule will grow in most garden situations ranging from full sun to shade. These Iceland Poppies can survive cold winters but they don’t perform well if it’s baking hot in summer or if the ground is waterlogged in winter. The perfect spot has some dappled shade and some sunshine. They prefer moist but well drained soil.

Flower Production

Treated as a biennial,  Papaver nudicaule flowers from April until July (or even longer) the year after sowing. It’s worth growing plenty because their early flowers are very welcome. If you are growing flowers for cutting blooms are produced for a good three months or more. Pick in the cool of the early morning or evening when the buds are just starting to break open. Ideally buds should just show a sliver of colour. Iceland Poppies are productive plants so harvest frequently to keep the blooms coming. Sear stem ends in boiling water for 10 seconds to prolong vase life and place immediately in fresh clean water. They should then last 5 to 7 days as a cut flower.

If you want a good show of early blooms and lots of flowers for cutting then I recommend planting lots of Iceland Poppies together in drifts. In my shop Iceland Poppy seeds are available in individual colours:

  • Pink
  • WhiteBoth very tasteful and great for wedding flowers! As you know I love bright colours so the mixed packets of seeds in bright warm shades plus white flowers is my choice again this year.

Are you planning to grow Iceland Poppies for next spring? Which are your favourite colours?

Growing Biennials from Seed

Now is the time to sow Biennial Seeds. But what exactly are they and why do we need to sow them in summer?

What are Biennials?

Biennials are hardy plants which are grown from seeds sown this summer. They produce roots and foliage this year then burst into life next spring with masses more foliage, long stems and lots of flowers in late spring and early summer. Sown this summer they have eight to ten months to grow into super strong, healthy plants.

Why Grow Biennials?

Biennials are brilliant for early blooms next year. Most of them flower from May until July so they fill that annoying gap between spring bulbs and summer flowering perennials. Some biennials go on flowering for much longer. In our garden Wallflowers  Erysimum cheiri begin flowering in March, Sweet Rocket Hesperis matronalis very often starts flowering in April and goes on until August and Honesty Lunaria annua produces beautiful decorative seed pods which we like to leave on the plants as long as possible.

When’s the best time to Sow Biennials?

June, July and August are the best months to sow biennial flower seeds. The aim is to produce healthy, vigorous young plants that can be planted into their flowering position in September or October at the latest here in the UK before the cold weather hits.

How to Sow Biennial Seeds.

I usually follow the traditional method for sowing biennials by sowing them directly into a well prepared seedbed. It’s easy to let them grow and develop over summer then transplant the young plants to their flowering position in autumn. I also sow seed indoors in modules to keep them away from the wild creatures rampaging through our garden. We have visiting ducks and squirrels, mice and voles, slugs and snails. I love most of our wild visitors but it really annoys me if they eat my freshly sown seeds or my squeaky fresh young seedlings! Also, I’ve found that tiny seeds like Foxgloves Digitalis purpurea benefit from a little more care indoors. Once the plants are nicely established they are more able to resist attack and can be planted outdoors.

For a more detailed growing guide including how to prepare a seedbed please see How to Grow Foxgloves

Which Biennials are Best for Cut Flowers? 

Many Biennials produce long strong stems which are great for cutting. Here are some of my favourites:

  • Sweet William, Dianthus barbatus
  • Foxgloves, Digitalis purpurea
  • Sweet Rocket Hesperis matronalis
  • Honesty, Lunaria annua
  • Iceland Poppies, Papaver nudicaule
  • Wallflowers  Erysimum cheiri

You’ll find that each plant group mentioned above has many named varieties. There are lots to choose from! Some of them are dwarf varieties bred especially for bedding plants and to look good in a pack at the garden centre. They are not ideal for cut flower production but they are brilliant for a splash of colour in your garden and for your pots and containers. In the photo below you can see that the dwarf Forget-me-Not is a perfect partner for Tulips in large containers. It makes a lovely little bedside posie too but won’t really make the grade if you’re growing cut flowers to sell in bunches. It pays to choose carefully!

There are other much taller varieties which are much better for cut flowers and those are the plants I like to grow in my own garden. To make it easy for you here are some of my NEW Biennial Seed Collections with long stemmed flowers which I know grow particularly well together. I’d appreciate your thoughts on them if you have time to have a look and send me a comment.

     

     

Of course there are many combinations of Biennials that work really well together and the earliest biennial flowers (Wallflowers & Forget-me-Not) grow beautifully with Tulips too.

I know we’re only just getting started with summer 2017 and 2018 seems like a long way off right now… but I’m taking a little time to plan ahead and sow some Biennials now,  so by spring next year my garden will be full of beautiful flowers. For the cost of a few packets of seed you can grow lots of plants too. You’ll be so appreciative of your own foresight, there will be masses of blooms for cutting and plenty left for bees and butterflies to enjoy!

Are you planning to grow biennials for next spring?
Which are your favourites?

Happy Gardening Gillian 🙂

 

 

 

 

Plants for Butterflies

One of my plans this year was to attract more Butterflies to our garden. We are very lucky and already have a very wildlife friendly garden with wild creatures spilling in from neighbouring hedgerows, fields and woodlands. For the past 13 years we have planted hedges, gardened organically (zero chemicals) and provided food, fresh water and shelter for insects, birds and mammals. Despite all our efforts we have noticed that the number of visiting Butterflies has been falling each year. Declining numbers of Butterflies seems to be a UK wide problem for a variety of reasons ranging from adverse weather conditions to loss of habitat and food plants for adults and caterpillars.

We can’t do much about the weather I know but we can provide food and shelter. So this year we are growing some plants specifically to provide vegetation for egg laying and food for caterpillars such as Honesty (Lunaria annua), Sweet Rocket (Hesperis matronalis) and Nasturtium (Tropaeolum). We already have lots of hedges with shrubs such as Blackthorn and Holly with Ivy and Honeysuckle scrambling through them. These are suitable food plants and good egg laying places for certain butterfly species. In addition we are leaving strips of grass to grow long and flower in strategic places such as around the pond and along a sunny hedge. Apparently long grass is essential for many species of moths, crickets and butterflies. I’ve persuaded my lovely husband to be a bit more restrained with his mower and strimmer this year. To the despair of my Dad (who is a very tidy gardener!) we are also leaving patches of fresh young nettles in sunny places too. Juicy young nettle leaves are delicious caterpillar food… apparently!

The number one plant for adult Butterflies is Buddleja. We have several Buddleja bushes and it doesn’t seem to matter which variety or colour you choose. Butterflies love them all. Each conical bloom is made up of hundreds of tiny tubular flowers filled with nectar that the butterflies love. Buddleja shrubs are widely available, inexpensive and easy to grow. What’s more it’s easy to take Buddleja Cuttings and grow more plants if you want to.

Buddleja is an amazing shrub… but we haven’t stopped there. Many smaller, easy to grow garden plants and wildflowers also provide food for adult Butterflies. We’re growing them in the borders and in large containers too. Here are some of my favourites in flower this month.

Plants for Butterflies in June

 

Top row: Achillea millefolium, Lychnis coronaria, Lathyrus latifolius, Silene dioica
Bottom row: Lonicera periclymenum, Cosmos bipinnatus, Geranium pratense, Knautia arvensis

In our garden Verbena bonariensis (below) will be in flower by the end of June and go on flowering until September/October. Like Buddleja, Verbena flowers have many tiny tubular blooms filled with nectar that butterflies find irresistible. What’s not to love about these plants? They are beautiful, good for cut flowers and great for wildlife!

All of these nectar rich wildlife friendly flowers will attract more butterflies into our garden this year. I’ve already spotted quite a few flitting about on warm, still days. It’s the Big Butterfly Count next month. It runs from 14th July until 6th August… so I’ll soon see if these plants are having the effect we hoped for. Are you joining in with the butterfly count in your garden this year?

Which is your favourite plant for Butterflies? I’d love to know. Please leave a comment.

Thanks for visiting and Happy Gardening. Gillian 🙂

 

 

 

 

Bluebells

There is nothing quite like the sight of an English woodland full of Bluebells. Deciduous trees with fresh lime green leaves unfurling with a carpet of deep blue flowers so beautiful it takes your breath away. There’s patches of sunshine with ferns unfurling and dappled shade with mossy fallen trees. Bluebell woods are usually full of wildlife making the most of the early supply of nectar and pollen. Look closely and you’ll see bees and butterflies and wild birds taking advantage of the glut of insect life to feed their young. I was lucky enough to visit Bluebell Cottage gardens yesterday where the Bluebell Wood is in full bloom right now. If you know of woodland in your location where there are Bluebells then the end of April and beginning of May is usually the best time to see them in full flower. Times vary slightly from year to year depending on the weather conditions.

What’s the difference between English Bluebells and Spanish Bluebells?
English Bluebell
 Hyacinthoides non-scripta

  • The English Bluebell is deep blue.
  • Flowers are narrow, bell shaped and strongly recurved.
  • All the flowers are on the same side of the stalk.
  • They have creamy white pollen.
  • English bluebells have a strong honey like scent.
  • When the flowers are open the stalk curves downwards giving the Bluebells their characteristic nodding appearance.

Hybrid Bluebell Hyacinthoides x massartiana
(cross between Spanish Bluebell Hyacinthoides hispanica and the British Bluebell Hyacinthodes non-scripta)

  • Spanish/Hybrid Bluebells are light blue or pink or white.
  • Flowers are wide and bell shaped curling back only slightly.
  • Flowers are produced all around the stalk.
  • When the flowers are open the stalk stays erect.
  • They have blue or pale green pollen.
  • Spanish bluebells have little or no scent.

All the photos above were taken yesterday in the Bluebell Wood at Bluebell Cottage Gardens.  There’s free entry to the wood, plant nursery and tearoom and it’s £3.50 to look around the garden (Gardener’s World 2 for 1 card accepted and RHS Members free)

The photos below were all taken in my own garden.

You can grow our wild English Bluebells and Spanish Bluebells in your garden however I’m offering a word of caution here… please be aware that they can spread rapidly and may quickly become a nuisance in small spaces spreading quickly through borders. I recommend them only for large gardens. If you are happy to allow them to naturalise then they will grow well under any deciduous trees, especially Oak and Beech.

In my own garden there is a mix of English and Spanish Bluebells. From what we know about the area there was a wood here long ago. I’ve inspected the plants closely and I believe that some of our Bluebells are British natives. But many of them are hybrids and it’s too late for me to do anything about that now. We know that the previous land owner planted Spanish Bluebells because she liked the pink ones. They are lovely but must be kept in a garden situation… NOT planted in the wild because they easily cross with our natives.

I hope this has helped you determine if your Bluebells are English or Spanish. They are both lovely!

Thanks for reading and Happy Gardening. Gillian

 

Gresgarth Doors

Gresgarth Garden in Lancashire is open to the public from February to November just one day each month. Sunday 12th March was Hellebore Day and visitors were offered Hot Chocolate on the terrace.

On warm days from April onwards tea and home made cakes are served in the courtyard by the ladies of the local Womens Institute. Usually the place is full of tables and chairs and happy garden visitors enjoying refreshments so it’s hard to photograph the beautiful old buildings. On Sunday it was overcast and drizzly and most people stayed close to the house so it was the perfect opportunity for me to take a few pictures.

I love the way the garden owner and designer Arrabella Lennox-Boyd has matched the painted wooden planters with the doors of the old barns.

It’s lovely to admire the plants when visiting open gardens and I like to look at the details too because it’s those unique touches that add to the character of the garden.

I’m joining in with Norms Thursday Doors today. Why not pop across for a look at some interesting doors around the world?

Are you visiting any interesting gardens this month?

 

 

 

Hellebores and Daffodils

If you visit my blog now and again you’ll already know that I love bright colours. However I’m not usually a fan of purplish red and yellow together… but somehow they seem to work in this little jug of spring flowers.

I know they won’t last long. The Tete a tete Daffs and Hawthorn twigs will but we’ll get two or three days at the most out of the Hellebores. Really it’s better to wait until the flowers look like the picture below and have started to develop their seed pods before cutting them for a vase. You can clearly see how Hellebore flowers fade as their seeds ripen. They are still attractive though and worth cutting if yours have got to this stage already.

Happy 5th Blogging Anniversary to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden and Happy Gardening to you!

 

 

 

Hellebore Hybrids

Hellebore season is in full swing. There are so many beautiful plants available to us these days. Many of them come from specialist breeders who are developing new Hellebores with intense colours and unique markings. The Hellebore blooms floating in the shallow bowl of water below are Ashwood Hybrids. If you’d like to know more about Ashwood Nurseries then you may be interested to read about Susan Rushton’s visit. You may also like to visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to see some cut flowers from garden bloggers around the world.

I went to Gresgarth Garden yesterday. If you were there you may have spotted me drooling over massed Hellebores. In a long shady border backing onto the Walled Garden there are Hellebores in all shades from pure white to deep burgundy. Hydrangeas provide the shrubby backdrop to this border and there are Daffodils to follow too. But for now, without question, Hellebores are the stars.

I was lucky enough to speak to the garden owner and designer Lady Arrabella Lennox-Boyd. She told me that she started her Hellebore collection with just a few expensive plants and these have self seeded to create the impressive show today.

As a contrast to all the glamorous Hellebore Hybrids I spotted a group of Helleborus foetidus the foot of a climbing Hydrangea. Very understated yet quite lovely too with their creamy green flowers and glossy leathery leaves.

But I have something more like this in mind for our garden…

Today I’ve been removing ferns (useful but not very interesting!) from our Spring Border. I’m making space for just a few more Hellebores. We have the right conditions and a some well established plants already. With a bit of luck they will cross pollinate and self seed like they have at Gresgarth to give us a spectacular show each March. Wish me luck!

Do you grow Hellebores? Your tips to encourage seed production would be most welcome.

Happy Gardening!        Gillian 🙂