Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Wordless Wednesday; Late September Garden

Greenhouse Borders (21/09/2011)

Greenhouse Borders (21/09/2011)

Greenhouse Borders (21/09/2011)

Kitchen Garden (21/09/2011)

Kitchen Garden (21/09/2011)

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Gardeners' Holy Grail; Nursery Open Day

With the dogus in tow, one very determined gardener hustled down the motorway to attend the last open day of the year, at the renowned Crocus nursery. As Crocus is not open to the public, with sole access to their wares available online, the open days are normally a prominent fixture in my calendar.

Crocus' finest for purchase
Our garden is simply chock-full of delightful Crocus horticultural offspring, and offspring thereof. Consequently, being able to visit the mothership itself, is a real treat. There is nothing quite like wading through aisle after aisle, brimming with fantastic plants. Subsequently, the purchase of excessive quantities of plants, including plants one never heard of, nor ever expected to purchase, is very much on the cards here. Unstinting wallet in hand, emptied car, here we go...

Stunning array of plants available for purchase

It is difficult to recall where shopping is as easy and relaxed, as it is here. On arrival, one is presented with a number printed on a set of stickers. As you make your way around the nursery, find a plant of choice, you simply mark the desired specimen with your number and the rest, as they say is history.

Crocus employees picking selected wares for collection
A team of friendly, orange clad Crocus employees, swiftly collect all numbered plants and bring them to the payment area. Once there, the plants are carefully placed in corresponding numbered trays, ready for payment & collection. Genius. No need to push around trolleys, or carry anything during your visit. I wish airports could work as efficiently as this. Mind, with this system, purchases are very easily made, as there is no physical contact with one's mountain of plants, steadily swelling at the exit.

Extensive selection of plants & varieties
The attraction to come to one of these open days is not just in the friendlier pricing, but very much the layout and organisation of the plants in the nursery grounds. One is met with stunning, praire-like, sways of flowering plants, in the respective blocks of colour, all beautifully arranged. Indeed, one can always go to a garden to see this, but like yours truly, there is usually a strong itch to purchase the new (or revived) favourite. That is joy of this exercise; you can actually buy the display! Very much in the style of the last day of the Chelsea Flower Show, but without the throbbing crowds or the tedium of having to carry anything.

The forever impressive Sedums

Like many I am sure, it is inspirational to see collections of plants and respective varieties clumped together in such numbers. The effect is stunning. For most of us, difficult to emulate through lack of space, but some elements can be incorporated, be it on a smaller scale. The rows of flowering sedums seen at last years visit have subsequently led to a very popular Sedum hedge in our kitchen garden.

Chosen plants on their way to their new owners (the fallen over plants were swiftly put upright)

At home, our bookshelves are bulging with books on plants, but there really is no better introduction to plants than to see them in the flesh, so to speak. There are always new plants and varieties to admire at the open days. Now that need not mean, that yours truly heads to Crocus simply for a mindless plant binge. On the contrary, a list of plants is a prerequisite, but one keeps an open mind. For instance, for some time, I have been toying with idea of grasses in the border, but never quite found one that I liked or one that would 'fit' the Greenhouse Borders. Until yesterday, that is.

Proud new addition to the garden; Panicum Virgatum Rehbraun

Meet my new addition; Panicum Virgatum Rehbraun, commonly known as Panic Grass. Simply stunning plant, with deep purple and green spikes, which will provide structural interest and great autumn colour in the border. According to the gospel 'Dream Plants for the Natural Garden', by Piet Oudolf and Henk Gerritsen, the Panicum Virgatum is a robust plant, good in any garden soil given full sun, late season grower, and the leaves of which start to turn red/purple in summer. Quite a tall plant, growing to 1.25-1.5m, so will probably find itself somewhere in the back end of the border. I'm delighted to have it. Dudley (dog) certainly approved as he was all too happily nibbling at them, over the back seat of the car, on our way home.

Now, it would be untrue to say that the Panicum (x3) were the only purchase. I am proud to say that some restraint was successfully exercised, so fewer plants came home than usual, but still a fairly good haul; Veronicastrum Virgicum Album (x1), Lysimachia ephemerum (x2), Echinacea Purpurea Magnus (x1), Aster Umbellatus (x1) and Eryngium yuccifolium (x1).

Now all I need to do is plant them...

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Chelsea Chop: The Final Chapter

Encouraged by Rachel (thank-goodness-my-husband-wasn't-watching) de Thame's, notable report on Gardener's World in early June, the Greenhouse borders were subjected to their first ever Chelsea Chop. Since, their infamous crew cut, progress has been carefully monitored by yours truly, to gauge the chop's efficacy. No need to explain that this experiment has absolutely no lab coat & clipboard gravitas, though the results are interesting and will dictate next years approach.

Sedum Spectabile Brilliant (01/09/2011)

Just to recap, in the first week of June, the Asters, Sedums, Eupatoriums, Veronicastrums, Chelone and Phlox all had the Colin-Crosbie-50%-off short back and sides treatment.  Progress recorded in July, showed, varied levels of regrowth, with the Phlox, Asters, Sedums, Eupatoriums, and Chelone leading the way, and the Veronicastrums trailing behind substantially. Since then, this pattern has continued, where apart from the Veronicastrums all put on full regrowth.

Both varieties of Sedum; Sedum Spectabile Brilliant and Sedum Matrona, have much enjoyed their chop. The resulting plants are more upright than before, no sign of flopping over as was customary, and all with abundant flowers. Their delayed flowering is really beneficial at this time of season, as the Sedum Spectabile Brilliant, has just come into flower and the Sedum Matrona, still in bud, to follow shortly. I may just have been dazzled by their stunning flowers, but it does seem that despite their being somewhat shorter, and smaller flowering heads, there do seem to be many more of them. The result is lovely and consequently, all the sedums will be subjected to many a Chelsea Chop in the future.

Sedum Matrona (01/09/2011)

The fastest recovery title is certainly to be bestowed on the Eupatorium and Aster varieties. Similar results should not be surprising, as they are both members of the Asteraceae family. In the border we have both Eupatorium Maculatum (Atropurpureum group) and Eupatorium Chocolate (renamed Ageratina altissima Chocolate). Both Eupatoriums have done well, set upright new growth and have bushed out beautifully. Most are still in bud at this time, but the odd flowers are appearing.

Eupatorium/Ageratina altissima Chocolate (01/09/2011)

It is still early days for Asters, though they so seem to have enjoyed their chop. Just two Asters grace our border, planted early spring this year; Aster Little Carlow and Aster Lateriflorus Lady in Black. This being their first year in the border, I am unable to compare results, but since the chop in June, both have bushed out beautifully and are covered in throng of buds. Their display should be imminent.

Aster Little Carlow (01/09/2011)

The Chelsea Chop stars have to be the Phlox. The result is wonderful, and compared to their non-Chelsea Chop past, they are far more upright and strong enough to withstand strong winds. The flowers are smaller, but there are more of them. The plants look so good, that it makes one wonder, why it wasn't ever done before.

Phlox Paniculata Blue Paradise (01/09/2011)

There are clear variations in the rate of regrowth between the two varieties; Phlox Paniculata Blue Paradise and Phlox Paniculata David. The latter was quicker off the mark, though slower to produce flowers. Blue Paradise started off very slow indeed, but first to delight with a flood of blue flowers. Either way, delighted with the results.

Phlox Paniculata David (01/09/2011)

So far so good, although as alluded before, not everything has come up roses. The Veronicastrums have simply hated their chop. Their regrowth solely consists of thin weedy little side shoots, and the plants have therefore not really grown beyond the point of the initial cut. Thinking I had lost plot, the original Gardeners' World report has been revisited more times than necessary, which (re)confirmed that Veronicastrums certainly are Chelsea Chop candidates. Despite some research, it is still unclear as to why they have not recovered as their fellow neighbours. Perhaps it was timing? Should they have been chopped much earlier? Or could it be that Veronicastrums require more intensive post-surgery care? Was it our dry spring and subsequent summer?  It would be interesting to know if Colin Crosbie's Veronicastrums at RHS Wisley fared better, though somehow I suspect they did. If not, I am sure they had ample replacements to make up for it!

Poor Veronicastrum, cowering well below their plant support(01/09/2011)

Overall, the result of the Chelsea Chop has been very pleasing indeed. Plants have recovered, producing shorter, but stronger growth and producing smaller, but more flowers, at the desired later stage in the season. The latter being particularly advantageous, where active plants and colour is very much needed in the border at this time. Furthermore, since the chop back in spring, every time one looked at the border, the idea that 'more' was yet to come, was delightful. A sentiment,  I am still enjoying to date. All good news, apart from one much loved plant. Having been reduced to almost ground dweller status, the Veronicastrums have and continue to be sorely missed in the border. They are a wonderfully statuesque plant, providing great interest and are very much the backbone to the border.

Whilst recording the progress of the plants, the rate at which they recovered was most interesting. For next year, I did plan to do the chop more gradually, but will now also take into account the time they need to recover and consequently to flower. So come Chelsea 2012, the Sedums and Phlox will be the first up for the chop, then Eupatoriums and Asters. As for the Veronicastrums, I promise, no secateurs will ever go near them again!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...