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October 2009

September 2009

Guildford Gala of Flowers - this week 1st-3rd October


  i've been busy this week scanning through my photos and putting together a series of must have flowering plants for my talk this Thursday and Friday at the Guildford Cathedral Flower Gala, - I must admit to being a little bit nervous. Apparently there will be thousands of visitors to this show, and over half of the parishes in the Guildford Diocese have put on a display of flowers. There will be up to 50 people who can attend my presentation, so I hope I don't get tongue tied.
I was lucky enough to be given a tour of the Cathedral and shown where each of the displays will be. As someone who's regularly been round the small marquees of flowers at Chelsea, Hampton Court and Malvern shows, and marvelled at how they get the flowers to show them selves off like that, I know i'm going to enjoy having a good nosey around before I give my talk. 
I'm following on from the morning workshop about Clematis from one of my former colleagues at RHS Wisley, - David Jewell  - no pressure on any front then!

If you are planning to go along on either Thursday or Friday then I do have a couple of complimentary tickets available for my talk, please leave a comment on this blog and I will get back to you. The event is open Saturday as well, with Childrens activities between 11 and 2 for more information about the Feast for the Soul, Flower Gala, click here

Shedloads of seed sowing


I've had a great gardening day today, - ok so maybe the house is a mess, but I got lots done out in the garden, including a huge amount of seed sowing.  i've been deadheading over the last few weeks, but in my "can't throw anything out that might be useful manner," i've been keeping loads of seedheads wrapped in Newspaper in the greenhouse. These are all nice and dry, so today i've been seed sowing frantically.

Allium Christophii close up

As some of the seeds are very small, - my first job was to sieve the multipurpose compost i'm sowing into. - Ideally i'd sow into a low fertiliser compost (a sowing and cutting mix), but they are very expensive, and usually only come in 15-20l bags, so I multibuy a fairly cheap and cheerful compost in 75l bags, and then sieve, add in nutrients or feed less dependant on what the plants or seeds need. Normally i'd use some homemade compost in my mix, - but this isn't good for seeds as it isn't sterilised, so may contain weed seeds. Even I can't always tell the seedlings from the weedlings, so best to sow these into a propitiatory growing media.

I used to buy a new load of seed trays each season, - but i've found now that reusing trays I got my bedding in, or using recycled fruit trays or meat trays (with holes put in the bottom) gets just as good results. They just need washing out first.


So what am I hoping for from my trays and trays of (currently) bare compost.

I've sown, - As well as my regular saladings and herbs, - purple & red poppies, Eryngium planum, Tulips (don't know which colour as I didn't mark the stem with a label ) Aquilegia, Allium Christophii, Astrantia, (i'm hoping they come true from seed as it's a very nice red flowering variety), Campanula (probably persicifolia), Eriginium Karvinskianus, and of course seeds from my mistake of the year


This fantastic yellow verbascum which has added height and colour to my front border was sown from seeds sent to me in a packet labelled Verbena Rigida. However I decided I liked them , I had lots germinate so I planted them liberally through the border in the sun. They are now rewarding me with amazing seed heads, If you'd like to grow this plant, and you're in the uk, just leave a comment on this blog, and i'll send you some seeds.

September Garden bloggers bloom day

it's the middle of September already, and today has been a really gloomy wet day, - so it's a good job I got my camera out yesterday to record what's flowering in my garden.
The front border has the most colour in it
The Rudbeckia Goldstrum is still in full colour, and the Heleniums are now being shown off by the purple of the Aster. The Rose is having a second flush of flowers and the Verbena bonariensis is still doing its thing.

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Totally loving my tomatoes

Alicantetomatosforweb last week after 8 weeks of school holidays, the topic of conversation in the playground, was... The Weather?, Activities that kept our children out of mischief?  Beaches that were safe to lie on while our children played, - no.. the topic of conversation was tomatoes.- The plant sale that our parents association ran in May which I contributed rather a lot of seedlings to, meant that other parents (and their offspring) had grown tomatoes for the first time. The overwhelming consensus was that homegrown tomatoes tasted better, were sweeter, and were easy to grow, - well i've know that for years, but it's great to know others share my view.

This year I've grown 5 different types of tomatoes, - this first photo is of the larges type, Alicante. It's an old variety, and has grown really well, - it's put up with me not watering it every day, and has produced 3 really big vines of tomatoes, plus a few extra. An extra bonus is that they've stayed on the plants for a long time ripening, so have been really juicy when i've picked them, - great for pasta sauce.

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Red Spider mite and how to spot it

I manage to spot Pest and Disease on plants wherever I go, and this mottled Banana plant leaf was unfortunately in a "hot" border that my parents have in their garden.  It was put in at the beginning of the year, and hasn't thrived and grown, unlike the Cannas at the other end of the bed, and the reason is that the mottling between the leaves and the small patches of white are indicative of red spider mite.

This most likely arrived with the plant, as a tropical variety is likely to have been grown on in a nursery greenhouse at the beginning of the year.

Continue reading "Red Spider mite and how to spot it" »