Showing posts from July, 2007

Glad All Over?

This is 1980s pop sensation The Smiths, with lead singer and all round musical genius Morrissey holding his beloved gladioli. Now rock history has never suggested Morrissey took an NVQ at a horticulture college but he clearly had some favourite plants. They're in the shops now and have been flowering in gardens since mid July. Avid pop fans will recall the young Stephen Morrissey singing This Charming Man on Top of the Pops with these striking flowers swirling around his body. Courtesy of the BBC, here are the facts.

Common Name: Gladiolus
Genus: Gladiolus
Skill Level: Experienced
Exposure: Full sun
Hardiness: Half Hardy
Soil type: Well-drained/light, Clay/heavy, Acidic, Chalky/alkaline
Height: 110cm
Spread: 30cm
Flowering period: July to August

Botanic Gardens in Dublin

Well, I have just come back from Dublin with a friend and though I forgot to take my camera I got this image of the Botanic Gardens. The glass houses are impressive too as is the Rose Garden and the Japanese rockery. Surprisingly, perhaps, it was free entry which was refreshing and the grounds are big enough to walk around for a good hour or two. A truly lovely day out. If you're ever in Dublin check it out. And its true, the Guinness is better there.

RHS Tatton Park 2007

Yes, the summer is in full swing and we've experienced (on TV, most of us) the joys, highs and lows of the RHS Flower Shows and gardens of extraordinary designers. Chelsea was great and Hampton Court was superb. But is it all over? No! For there is another RHS show at Tatton Park on 18-22nd July. Maybe the reason I hadn't heard of it is because it is in the North, so we don't get to see much of it on TV. Maybe I'm just new to the gardening scene and am ignorant. Still the BBC is covering it on Thursday July 21st and Friday July 22nd on BBC2 and I expect it will be very good indeed. How exciting!

Olive Tree and Lavender

Well, I was wandering around Brighton today and came across this delightful front garden. Against the brilliant white of the house a clever designer has planted a vintage wooden container with bulging lavender springing from within, supporting the base of a beautiful olive tree. The floor is white slate and pebbles with flecks of black and grey sprinkled around. I thought it was so nice I would put it on the blog. Hope you like it too.

NGS Gardens Open for Charity

The National Gardens Scheme (NGS) have been involved in a recent series, still running I believe on the process by which members of the public are allowed into their excellent 'Yellow Book'. The Yellow Book contains over a hundred gardens nationwide which are deemed good enough to be advertised in the prestigious guide. The Garden House, linked to this blog, is just one such garden. The book is available on amazon and in all good book retailers. I know Sussex Stationers has a copy too. Even more useful, if you are only interested in gardens local to your area is the Yellow Book for Sussex, cheaper at just 50p. You'll discover there are so many beautiful gardens to see for free in Brighton and the surrounding area that you'll give up on all the grand, well known ones. Well, its possible. Click the link below for NGS Gardens for Charity.

BBC Gardening on How to Grow Strawberries

Good link on BBC Gardenings latest offering, giving us grewat tips on how to grow strawberries in your garden. How delightful! See the link below:

Before and After with England's Gardens

These are before and after shots of a garden I maintained today. The Fatsia japonica and beautiful hydranga were under attack from the deadly (not really) Dead Nettle weed, which, as a matter of fact, smells rather pungent and bad when you uproot it, or even get too close to it. The top picture shows how happy Fatsia and Hydrangea are now that they have room to breathe. The family for whom I maintained the garden are hoping to plant Thyme and other herbs in the area I have cleared. I wish them good luck in this endeavour.

Gardens Illustrated

Browsing Garden Tales, an interesting website by a Dublin gardening enthusiast, I noticed his love for Gardens Illustrated. I managed to pick up a copy for a pound at Hampton Court. It's a great BBC magazine with stunning pictures of plants and gardens, some of which will take your breath away. This month has some beautiful pictures of Great Dixter. It's quite pricey at £3.85, but if you're going to buy one gardening magazine a month, its a notch up from Gardener's World.

Ventnor Botanic Gardens, Isle of Wight

Located on the southern tip of the Isle of Wight the Botanic Garden has exotic plants, trees, flowers and shrubs from around the world displayed in a series of temperate and sub-tropical gardens. It has recently been renovated and developed and is a wonderful and inspiring garden to visit.

On Saturday 28th July, we will take the train from Brighton, and pick up the ferry across the water, and then taxi to Ventnor. Irene Fletcher, the education officer, will guide us round the gardens. She is an engaging and knowledgeable host and the gardens are stunning.

There will be free time to wander along the marvellous cliff walk to Ventnor where we will meet at the Spyglass Inn for supper.
The cost of £70 includes all travel (trains, ferry and taxi), guided tour round the gardens and the pub supper.Leaving Brighton 8.30 am Return 10.00 pm. For more information visit email

Verbena bonariensis

This is an image I took at Hampton Court, not part of the Show but an interesting plant nonetheless. Verbena bonariensis was one of the first identifications our class had at college on the horticulture course and very nice it is too. It grows abundantly but is subtle and distinguished. According to BBC, "this is a short-lived perennial, and because it is borderline hardy, plants may be damaged by winter frosts. This may be avoided by leaving the dead stalks until spring, when new growth is evident, before cutting them back. A protective mulch should be added around them in the autumn with leaf mould or compost. They do, however, self-seed liberally and resulting seedlings are stronger and more drought-tolerant than those that are transplanted. This is a superb butterfly plant, rivalling even buddleja. The Royal Horticultural Society have given it the Award of Garden Merit." It is indeed a very nice plant.

Common Name: Verbena
Genus: Verbena
Species: bonariensis
Skill Level…

Coleus Collage

The Hampton Court Display also had a paisley pattern of coleus arranged amid a mat floor of helxine (Mind Your Own Business). This image reflects the variety at the show and just how beautiful these foliage plants can be. They are plantable in our gardens during the summer but would have to be brought inside for our winter as they would not survive our frost or climate. They're available from all decent garden centres at this time of year as well and not too pricey.

Mind Your Own Business!

It was an honour to be able to tell members of the public at Hampton Court about the plants on display at the House of Plants plot at Hampton Court. Interestingly, however, the great British public were fascinated not so much by the exotic plants from all over the World, but that hardy UK growing plant, Soleirolia soleirolii, the common name of which is, 'Mind Your Own Business.' According to the BBC here are the main details of the plant species:

Attractive and maintenance-free alternative to grass as ground cover in moist, shady areas. It will tolerate sun or shade. Frost hardy, its leaves are killed by winter frost, but it will recover to grow vigorously in spring. The masses of tiny leaves clothe slender spreading stems that root as they run, forming a dense deep-pile carpet. As it covers the ground it will run over rocks, fallen logs, and so on, clinging to their shape so the features of the landscape are picked out. Quick to establish, it survives periodic dry spells …

House of Plants

The grand majority of the exotic plants used in the Hampton Court Show were provided by House of Plants. Paul, a former City College student, who set up his own indoor plants business in Balcombe, nr Lewes, provided an amazing selection of tropical plants for the display and hopefully will have drummed up plenty of business with the array on show. Check out the company's website at He has a great selection.

Guzmania Mania!

One of the most stunning flowers we had at Hampton Court. Vibrant orange/red with yellow tips on a spike that can reach up to three foot in hight. Guzmania is a glorious cenrtepiece that will outlast any bunch of flowers. They attracted alot of interest at the show and are available for delivery from House of Plants, providing house plants and conservatory plants nationwide.
Site: Bright indirect light.
Temp: Average warmth after flowering and hates cold or dry air, keep the humidity up.
Water: After flowering keep the well at the centre of the plant topped up over the growing season. In winter keep on the dry side and do not water into the 'well'. Keep humidity up by misting.
Feeding: A very weak liquid feed every month or so over the growing season.Tip: A tip to get it to reflower is to let the water dry in the centre of the plant then place it in…

City College Wins Silver Gilt at Hampton Court

From RHS Website

City College have won the Silver Gilt award at Hampton Court Flower Show. The tropical garden display, with plants provided by House of Plants is an exciting and delightful presentation of a relaxing garden of tropical plants.

This tropical garden has an Eastern feel and is inspired by the designers' travels, as well as TV horticulturist Chris Collins who gave a talk on exotics to students at City College of Brighton & Hove. The garden has a bamboo fence on three sides and other Eastern influences such as Indian stone urns, an Indian temple room and a Buddha's head statue, to create an air of contemplation and meditation. Antique stepping stones lead through the lush lawn to the temple room which is draped with rich fabrics and cushions.

The rear and sides of the garden are densely planted to display a wide variety of unusual, beautiful tropical plants from around the world. The temple room has plants climbing up it and trailing down from its roof. Innovativ…