The Sunday Gardener's Blog

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  1. strawberries before cutting back

    Do your strawberries look like this?

    The image left shows strawberries before they have been cut back. Ideally, strawberries should be cut back in late summer, afterfruiting and once any runners have been removed or potted on to make new plants.

    Not everything in gardening goes to plan and I didn't get round to cutting back the strawberries until February. It still has to be done, as you do not want to start the growing season with lots of dead leaves which will only lead to problems and an inducement to Botrytis, Grey Mold.

    If you live in the south with lots of sun, or the east with low rain fall, Botrytis is less of a problem but anywhere tending on the wet side is higher risk and it is one disease strawberries are prone to.

    Start the season with clean-cut plants which allows plenty of light and air circulation.  More tips on growing strawberries. 

    strawberries after cutting back

     

  2. Helleborus--orientalis-double-310 Hellebores-lovely-310-x-240 hellebore-dark-mauve-310-x-240

    Hellebores are undoubtably one of the most beautiful perennials flowering from December through to spring. They are so welcome in the cold winter days boldly flowering even when covered with snow and all is frozen. They really are irresistible and an easy to grow Perennial which flowers reliably each year. In addition, Hellebores happily self seed and can easily be divided to have more plants for free. Hellebores do not need staking, or pruning or even feeding. Plant in the right place and Hellebores will look after themselves, with just one annual requirement.

    Hellebores do tend to suffer from black spot which is best treated by removing the leaves in December/January which has the added benefit of displaying the flowers nicely. For more information  about where and when to plant Hellebores, preferred growing conditions, treating Hellebore black spot and a comprehensive guide to Hellebores.

     

  3. Harlow Carr Glow Boxing Hares 310 Harlow Carr starry trees 310

    Harlow Carr looking spectacular with the garden illuminated;  a blaze of colour for Christmas. The path along side the lake is full of illuminations in the trees, and the stream appears ethereal with the different lights and takes on an ultra violet glow. Unfortunately, just too tricky for me to capture as my night photography and camera are just not up to it, but I managed a few passable images, and there are also a couple of photos kindly supplied by RHS, all of which give some idea as to how the garden looks.

    As soon as it turns dusk the lights will illuminate the garden. I was really impressed how lovely the garden looked, and I think it would be great for little ones as well. The show starts today23 November and is on until 30.12, three evenings per week Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and during which time Betty's tea room is open late, an added treat. There is more information on the RHS Harlow Carr web site along with other Christmas events and this is definately worth a visit.

    Harlow Carr Glow coloured grasses Harlow Carrs Main Borders Glow
    Harlow Carr Glow trees ablaze. Harlow Carr Glowing trees

     

  4. It's not to late to plant Allium bulbs for a great spring display. In the right place, Alliums are low maintenance and will return reliably every year and are surely one of the most stylish plants for a border, illustrated by the images.

    Alliums like a sunny spot with well drained soil, which means they are unhappy on wet boggy soil especially over winter, which can cause the bulbs to rot. If you do not have ideal growing conditions Alliums can be raised in containers for a patio display, or place the containers in the borders.

    Alliums are wide ranging in size, from the quite small suitable for the front of the border such as  Chives which the bees love (2nd image) and A. Moly, which is a bright yellow variety, both of which grow to around 30cms. Chives make a great edging plant, fodder for us and the bees.

    Amongst the taller  varieties Allium Cristophii (illustrated 3rd image), spectacular with it's spikey flower heads and A. Globemaster one of the taller varieties over 1m.

    Alliums need to be planted in early Autumn so from September up to mid/3rd week October is best. Buying and planting as bulbs is much cheaper than buying as plants next spring. Like all bulbs the rule of thumb is to plant 4x the depth of the bulb, and if you are container planting a deeper pot is best.

    There are also unusual varieties such as Nectaroscordum siculum, (6th image) technically not an Allium, but often sold as one. 

    Alliums look great planted on mass, as in the images 4 & 5, which is in an RHS garden, but most of us don't have that much space. In smaller gardens Alliums can be used to great effect as a theme, planted in groups,reoccurring maybe 3/4 times, will give a border real style.

    Taller varieties may need staking, especially in exposed areas. Allium are easy to grow and make a fabulous show. Good value for money as they will return and flower year after year with very little attention.

    The leaves on Allium are not attractive, especially after flowering and traditionally Allium are planting with companions to cover up the leaves such as Achillea Mollis  or Euphorbia.

    More about growing Alliums and planting combinations.

     

    Allium with butterfly

    bee on chive

    Allium Cristophii

    Allium with Camassia

    Alliums on mass

    Nectaroscordum siculum a close relative of the Allium