Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Flower buds.....

Sometimes we look forward to our plants blooming so much that we don't notice how attractive the buds, or the blooms as they open, are.
So what follows is nothing more than a collection of buds and blooms as they open.....

 Gloriosa Superba

 Aconitum "Sparks Variety"

 Datura Meteloids

 Centaurea montana


 Fuchsia magellanica 

 Clerodendrum ugandense

 Cleome spinosa

 Tibouchina urvilliana

 Salvia patens

Polygala myrtifolia

Monday, 22 November 2010

Climbers (part two)

This second (part one is here) and final part about our climbers kicks off with a very hardy Clematis....
Personally, I'm not a great lover of Clematis, but this one has always been there (hence, I don't know it's name), but it blooms prolifically in the early summer. The flowers are about 60/70mm in size.

Rhodochiton atrosanguineum (Purple Bell vine) is far too tender to survive outside in the UK winter. The good news is that it usually makes it through if placed in an unheated garage, shed or greenhouse and kept dry. It's also very easily grown from the seeds that it produces plenty of.....

I'm lucky enough to have three Sollya heterophylla, two in blue and one of the white form. Sollya is the old name, the "new" one being Billardiera heterophylla (why do they have to keep doing this). The common name is Bluebell Creeper.....
This has a vigorous growth habit, but once again is too tender  for our winters. Mine come into the conservatory for the winter where they continue to grow well. But, and it's a big but, they're very susceptible to the dreaded red spider mite.

Eccremocarpus  scaber (Chilean Glory flower) is thought of as tender over here, but I've always found it to be anything but! Another plant which is very easily grown from the masses of seeds that it produces.
If it has one drawback, it is that it grows very quickly indeed and will need to be trimmed or tied up as you require on a regular basis.

Here in the UK, Gloriosa superba is thought of as an exotic, which seems odd to me as it's so easy!
Chuck the tubers into fresh soil (in a pot) March time, water in and place in the conservatory or greenhouse. Give it something to climb up, water only as it gets to the point of starting to wilt and that is it. I withdraw water in September and allow it to dry out fully, before  putting it in a cupboard for the winter and repeating the whole process again the following spring.

Hopefully, this time next year I should have a few more to show off. I have some Allamanda seeds on the way, hopefully Plumbago too. And in January, a friend is off to India and has promised to return with some Thungergia grandiflora seeds. I can't wait!

Friday, 19 November 2010

Climbers (part one)

The great thing about climbing plants is that by their very nature, they always (well nearly always) give outstanding results for relatively little effort.
I've had a couple of failure this year! And in both cases for the same reason! I planted Ipomea "Heavenly Blue" and Cobea scandens alongside one of the most prolific climbers that I've ever grown - Aserina scandens.........
......a delicate little flower, but if you're not careful you end up with this......... 
That is about half of five plants in that photo! It has it's uses though, one of which is covering nasty wooden fences! Just don't try to plant anything with it!

We've also trained a Jasmine over steel tubing, which over the course of ten years or so has created a natural archway........

The small flowers are incredibly fragrant!

A classic traditional summer climber here in the UK is the good old Sweet Pea; this is the perennial form (Lathyrus latifolius).........

On the back wall we have a Hydranga (which I have to admit, I know nothing about as it's always been there)

As this is getting a bit longer than I'd anticipated, I'll close it for now with a beauty that had mixed fortunes. Tropaeolum perigrinum.....
 AKA The Canary Creeper
It's a delightful climber, with small flowers of 20mm, but something of a pest magnet! First it was blackfly (water and washing up liquid took care of them, followed my the cabbage white caterpillar which are easily picked off. But then it got attacked by flea beetles which killed it in two days flat! Despite all that, it has it's uses - nothing else in the garden (apart from my Cleomes, which are an annual feast for the cabbage white caterpillars) was bothered by pests. I remember my Grampy growing Nasturtiums strategically around his veg patch for the same reason. So it will be back next year, because whilst it lasts it is rather lovely!

Part two can be found here

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Oxford botanic gardens (part two)

Following on from my first post (part one is here) I'd like to share a few more of the more tropical gems that have been on display during 2010.

My first picture is of Ruizia Cordata, which is a small tree growing in the walkway connecting the various glass-houses. It's flower buds are far more attractive than the flowers themselves......
Ruizia Cordata is a member of the Malvaceae family and is only found growing in the wild on Reunion Island.

My next two photos are both climbing plants.
Clytostoma Callistegioides (Violet Trumpet Vine?) is a South American native.....
.......and Allamanda Cathartica
........which is also native to South America (Brazil). I have heard that gardeners in places such as California regard this as overly invasive - if that's true, try gardening in the UK! I'd love this outdoors!

Finally, before you wander off, one from the cactus house; Dasylirion Wheeleri........
.........which has such a perfect shape to it! Another South American plant, this time native to areas of northern Mexico.

Hope you enjoyed this brief look at our botanic garden!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

My orchids

I'm no orchid expert, but I do like to have a few about. I haven't killed any yet, and can now get reblooms. I do however seem to be really good at getting plenty of new growth! But as I now move them around the house in order to offer them different levels of light and heat, more and more are producing flower spikes.
Most of my orchids are just Phalaenopsis noids, but I have a couple of Paphiopedilums and this year successfully  grew and bloomed Habenaria Radiatta.

Bit of a love it or hate one!

Bought in bloom like this, but as soon as this spike finished it started producing another, and should be back in bloom in the next few weeks!

Lovely little dwarf gift that bloomed all summer outdoors!

A gem of a bloomer, that has been in flower since April. Now has six flowering spikes!

This rebloom was also put outdoors for the summer. Bought it indoors a few weeks ago, it has responded by throwing out a new flower spike.

A Paphiopedilum noid with a sequential flowering habit. Happily flowered all summer outdoors, but suffered bud blast when bought back indoors. Now that it's adjusted it's forming new buds again. Another that started flowering way back in April!

My pride and joy this year! Habenaria radiatta (White Egret orchid). 
Read a few stories of this terrestrial orchid being a little tricky, so I went instead for the option of growing it in a pot. Made up a medium consisting of sphag moss, bark chips which I beat up a bit in a pestle and mortar, perlite and vermiculite. It's eventual site got early morning and late evening sun. The only other point to observe it to keep it constantly moist, which is why my medium was a bit of a mix - the last thing that I wanted was to risk the small tubers rotting!

Bye for now....

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Garden Blues (part two)

Following on from yesterday, yet more of the blue flowers in my garden this year.
I'll start off with a trio of Campanula - the first one was a small plant that I bought last year which has done a pretty good job of taking over this summer. The early blooming C.glomerata........
.......followed by C.persicifolia, which I started off from seed last spring
My third Campanula is C.punctata.......

Perennial Lobelias are my favourite garden plant and this is L.siphilitica..........
It performs best in the shade and likes to be kept moist. As with all my Lobelias, in September I gently tug out and pot up new shoots to be kept under cover over the winter in order to replace any losses.

The next photo was a present of bird poo I think, as it sprang up between the paving slabs! I think (and I may be wrong) that this low grower is called Isotoma. Either way, a nice surprise!

The final two are both Salvias - firstly Salvia "Black and Blue"..........
......... which is rumoured to be a little tender so I have a cutting under cover just in case.
The Salvia patens above was only started from seed in July in preparation for next year. One of them has decided to flower though so, as I have more than enough for my needs, I've bought it into the conservatory.

Next time, I'll concentrate on the tender blues that have thrived outside this summer.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Garden Blues! (part one)

Being stuck at home sick looking out the window as the rain lashes down has made me all retrospective! So I got to thinking about all the blues in my garden this year.......
I've always had the perennial Lobelias in their blue form, but this year has seen an explosion in blue flowers in my little patch.
The first one to land in the garden this year was Aconitum cammarum "Stainless Steel".....
Apart from the initial flush of flowers I was a little disappointed with it, until the other day when I was planting bulbs - the tuber has spread under the soil about six inches in all directions, so hopefully there should be quite a display next year. All that after I went to the trouble of collecting seed from it to increase my stock!

Later in the year I added two more Aconitums; the first was bought at a school fete, labelled simply as Aconitum "Sparks Variety".........
.........with the third and final newbie being A.fischerii "Azure Monkshood"...........
All they seem to need is a little shade and a reasonable amount of moisture. One of the joys of them is how they glisten when the sun catches them (open the third photo in a new tab to get the full effect).

The blue Penstemons have been around for years, and this first one came from a cutting so I don't have a name for it............
The pastel colours of it are such a contrast to my other blue Penstemon, P.heterophyllus "Electric Blue".....
This has a reputation for being a little tender, which is unfair - since I grew this from seed it has been the most prolific flowering Penstemon that I've seen, and survived being dug up when I moved house in the middle of a frosty February. Despite the flowers and the plant being small (the whole plant stands at less than 30cm) it more than holds it's own against the larger stuff around it! I've lost count of the number of cuttings that I've had to give away.

To keep this at a reasonable length, I'll add one more for now; Cerinthe major.......
It may be stretching the blue theme a bit (although one of its common names is Blue Shrimp plant), but I was so pleased that it made a re-appearance this year (whilst it's not a hardy perennial it self seeds reliably) after not germinating last year! Weird how the seeds can sit dormant for a whole year without doing anything, and then decide to germinate!