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Recent Postings

My Wildlife Allotment April 2020
The allotment is looking greener every day with shoots emerging everywhere and early flowers popping up in many places. Some of the fruit trees, such as the peach trees, apricot, nectarine, almond and greengage, are flowering now as well. The rain has finally stopped and the days are mostly sunny an..
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March 2020 Conservation Feature

A new HPS booklet on Border Phlox will be published later this year, and it seems appropriate that we have several more phlox that are new to the Conservation List. Phlox paniculata 'Maude Stella Dagley' was featured in January, but here are four more of these lovely border perennials being grown and assessed for the Conservation Scheme this year.

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My Wildlife Allotment  March 2020

February was wet and windy here with one storm after another. I was a bit concerned that the new greenhouse might be damaged in the high winds but luckily it seems to be very solid and has weathered all storms so far. The first perennial seeds have germinated in the greenhouse but growth is very slow at the moment with night time temperatures close to 0C. 

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On a Chalk Hillside March 2020

Whilst as you saw last month I spent January reviewing our vegetable and fruit production, obviously this is a wet weather/darkness type of job.  As with all gardeners, as soon as I can after the Christmas/New Year festivities I am itching to get back into the garden to start the big winter clear up. 

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February 2020 Conservation Feature

Epimedium 'Milky Way' forms a mature clump approximately 30cm x 30cm; the new spring foliage is attractively speckled with deep purple and leaves mature to green with a silver overlay on the main veins; these are semi-evergreen, often persisting through the winter. Clusters of small white flowers with yellow stamens are held on long stems in April and May. 

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On a Chalk Hillside February 2020

When we moved here we inherited an orchard of mature plum, pear and apple trees. It was our intention to also grow a lot of vegetables to help us eke out our income and stop us blowing our savings and for many years we only ate fruit we grew ourselves, and continue to grow and store vegetables for our whole year.

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My Wildlife Allotment February 2020

It has not been very cold since the middle of December but we did have a few very frosty days recently which transformed the allotment into a winter wonderland. I really like frosty sunny mornings but most days have been quite dull and wet so every sunny day has to be appreciated. 

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January 2020 Conservation Feature

Phlox paniculata is native to Eastern USA and Canada and plants with mauve flowers were brought to Britain around 1730, but it was not until the early 1900's that plant breeders set about improving plants for the cut flower trade although it became popular in late Victorian and Edwardian gardens and a favourite of Gertrude Jekyll.

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On a Chalk Hillside January 2020

Continuing on from last months’ blog article regarding this particular bed in our garden I will start with my favourite plant in this border - Rosa glauca, planted centrally to the bed.   I just love this plant – its glaucous grey leaves, its delicate single pink flowers so fleeting and so enchanting against the leaf colour, and then its cinnamon coloured hips that gradually change to deep red as the autumn progresses.

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My Wildlife Allotment January 2020

My loquat tree is thriving in the relatively mild temperatures and looks very handsome with its large leathery leaves. Grasses are still looking good and especially Panicum virgatum, with its coppery-brown leaves and airy cloud-like seed heads ...

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Hardy Fuchsia Cuttings

I recall seeing the wild fuchsia growing along the hedgerows on the west coast of Ireland in the year 2000, a sight to behold. The  flowering image you see is the hardy fuchsia growing in the terrace borders of the Ryebeck Hotel in Bowness-on-Windermere

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On a Chalk Hillside December 2019

Opposite the Acer walk I talked about recently in the gravel garden is the grandly titled Shrubbery.  This is a rectangular bed that has the steps down through the gravel garden on one side, and the boundary fence on the other

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My Wildlife Allotment December 2019

The grasses look beautiful especially when covered in frost but best of all are the seed heads of Phlomis russeliana, standing tall and strong.

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<i>Hesperantha coccinea</i>

Hesperantha coccinea ( River lily) is a great example of late autumn colour in the garden. Hesperantha belongs to a genus of 79 species in the family Iridaceae native to South Africa.

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Shade Monthly September 2019

Arisaema consanguineum ‘The Perfect Wave’

Forms of Arisaema with silvered leaf markings occur in the wild and have entered cultivation a few times. In the past ...

 

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On a Chalk Hillside November 2019

Several times in the past few posts I have mentioned increasing or replacing old plants by taking cuttings.  I take a lot of cuttings – some plants work well from cuttings, others I have less success with.

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My Wildlife Allotment November 2019

Watching the butterflies making use of nectar produced by late flowers is a joy; I have seen several painted ladies, some looking very fresh, a few admirals and one or two peacocks.

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Shade Monthly August 2019

I really like Roscoea but have difficulty establishing most of them in the garden. They do well for a couple of years, but then ...

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November Conservation Feature

One of the new introductions to the Conservation Scheme this year, suggested by Southern Counties Group following a recommendation from one of the National Collection Holders, is Chrysanthemum E.H. Wilson'.

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On a Chalk Hillside October 2019

I don’t know why it comes as a bit of a shock each year, but by late July I suddenly go into a bit of a panic about collecting seed for the Hardy Plant Society seed distribution scheme.  Each year I think I’ve run out of time and each year I have to remind myself of the date by which I need to send the seed to the designated collection person.

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Shade Monthly July 2019

I suspect that most shady gardeners have been tempted to buy Pteridophyllum racemosum when it’s been offered as a flowering specimen at a plant fair or HPS event. I first saw this beautiful Japanese woodland endemic at the HPS annual general meeting in 2015. ...

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October Conservation Feature

 It was decided that it is time to say goodbye to a few plants that have featured on the list for a number of years because they are shrubs, plants with a woody structure and conservation of this type of plant does not fulfil our constitutional objective to preserve the older and less well known hardy perennials.

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My Wildlife Allotment October 2019

After weeks and weeks of no rain, grass turning brown, soil looking like dust, and endless lugging of watering cans, the rains have now returned. And they have returned with a vengeance. There is hardly a day without rain now ...

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Shade Monthly June 2019

This is undoubtedly my favourite tulip. It is fully hardy, seeds itself around, does well in shade and is not dug up and eaten by the stripy faced weasels that think they own our garden and consume all other tulips with relish. ...

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On a Chalk Hillside September 2019

Over the months that elapsed from moving the plants in the original hospital bed to create the courtyard until we created the gravel garden, a new idea emerged.

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My Wildlife Allotment September 2019

Other good butterfly flowers for late summer are Echinacea, Eryngium and Dianthus. Especially Brimstone butterflies seem to like Dianthus carthusianorum which has a very long flowering season, with peak flowering in June and continuing on a low level right into autumn. ...

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On a Chalk Hillside August 2019

 In the 80’s I assisted an ecology/botany graduate friend of mine to lead a botanical/walking holiday in the Plakias area of Crete in the spring to see and identify the spring flowers.  We were not at or on beach level, but walking through the foothills above the beaches (where all the original villages were), and enjoying the beautiful Maquis environment.

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Shade Monthly May 2019

Cardamine heptaphylla 'Big White' is neither a disappointment nor a thug. It is large for a cardamine, growing to about 40 cms tall and as much across. The leaves are large with, as the name suggests, seven toothed leaflets. In spring it produces good heads of pure white flowers. ...

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My Wildlife Allotment August 2019

A few days ago I spotted a hornet hoverfly which is quite an impressive insect. The hoverfly mimics hornets (but is completely harmless) and likes to visit nectar-rich flowers for nectar. The larvae live in hornet nests. I once watched a female hornet hoverfly walk into a large hornet nest with the hornets completely ignoring her ...

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August Conservation Feature

Plants in the Conservation Scheme should be completely hardy and perform well in the garden, but we don't grow plants in isolation and I've been looking out for some interesting planting combinations.

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