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Changing world of plant names, confusion or clarity

aster little carlow 2 Changing world of plant names, confusion or clarity

img 0736 Changing world of plant names, confusion or clarity

The plant commonly known as the Iceplant, former Latin name sedum spectabilis ‘Autumn Joy’ now Hylotelephium Herbstfreude

Now we all need names for the plants and we all need to know what plant is meant by that name. Common names can vary so much not only from county to county but also country to country so it was very important to have a name form that everyone commonly understand. I can remember as a young trainee being told that Latin was the only name to learn and I have kept that up up today, nearly some 30 odd years ago.

img 0855 Changing world of plant names, confusion or clarity

Mexican feathergrass is the common name of is Nassella tenuissima formally know as Stipa tenuissima

The use of Latin names as we know it, was set up by the great botanist Carl Linnaeus, who is know as the Father of taxonomy. In 1735, he published the first addition of his famous works, Systema Naturae, which laid out his system of categorising plants into various family’s and groups. These where all named by their reproduction systems, Both in numbers and arrangements. This system has been used ever since. In 1867 the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN) was first set up to carry on writing the guide lines for nomenclature and carried on this work until 2011 when it went under a big change and became International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN). The guidelines are used by botanists to write papers on why a particular plant should be changed, reasons including older names from which with Plant as first named but never caught one. International Association for Plant Taxonomy is the group that agrees the Plant name changes, these changes are written by botanists and have to have all the information and supporting documents explaining why the plants should change and now with the use of DNA, it can be proved beyond any reasonable doubt that the plant should be in its own family or indeed moved to another family. And it this DNA technology that is the reason we have so many plant changes happening over the past few years and I am afraid to say will be happening a lot more in the future.

Now I agree it’s right that plants should be known by the correct Latin name and like a true professional I will do my best to learn the new name, how ever difficult it is to say! A lot of these changes I can totally understand, Sedum speciblis ‘Autumn Joy’ so different from the smaller alpine forms so it does make sense to change it to Hylotelephium Herbstfreude but my gripe isn’t about it changing for me but the fact it causes so much confusion to the trade and general public that may of known this plant under that name for 20 odd years and suddenly it’s not there in one Nursery under that name but in another under its old name, magazines add to the confusion, taking ProLandscaper as a example, last year in one magazine, it had Stipa tenuissima Both as it’s old name of Stipa and it’s new one Nassellatenuissima again adding to the confusion. With more changes on the horizon like Iris possibly being spilt into 18 different names, this confusion is going to happen more and more. What we need if possible is some sort of agreement with trade, press and public gardens that each part of our industry agrees to put these new names in place within a certain timescale of say maybe 5 years during which the old name maybe is in brackets after the new one? Maybe better signage on sites would also let people know and get used to the new name. Changing anything let alone labels does cost so there’s always a cost involved, one well know Nursery told me they had a 60% drop in sales on the from aster family members that changed too Symphyotrichum and Eurybia.k

aster little carlow 2 Changing world of plant names, confusion or clarity

Was Aster little Carlow now Symphyotrichum ‘little Carlow’

But I suppose my biggest problem with it, is my internal one, we advise people to learn the Latin names as that’s the name that everyone knows it as worldwide, common names differ in different areas of the uk let alone around the world. It also the most stable name for the plant, one that explains how it grows, who discovered it etc. But by changing in as big away as is currently happening, aren’t we just adding more confusion into the world of gardening? Plant names are hard enough to remember without changing. Seeing bits and pieces on social media and talking to people as well, it seems to me there’s a 3rd level of plant names occurring, botanical latin is the first, common names the second and the new one gardeners Latin. Gardeners Latin is the form when the old name is used instead of the new one. Whether you agree or disagree, that to me seems to be happening, maybe until it’s all sorted out a little more and the names become more we’ll known, that’s what is going to have to be done and let’s be honest, changing a name from a simple one to a more complex name is going to take a long time to catch on, we need to give it time and for everyone one supplying and growing the plant in the public domain to be on board, let’s be honest, that sadly won’t happen but let hope!

049 Changing world of plant names, confusion or clarity

Bleeding Hearts used to be called Dicentra spectabilis but is now Lamprocapnos spectabilis

Whatever the name or indeed how difficult it is to say or learn, don’t forget it is still an amazing form of life on our planet and the beauty is there no matter what tag with give it or call it. And names are just tags, given to plants so we can identify them, if you want to enjoy their beauty just as nature intended without boxing it in, well there’s no harm in that what so ever.

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Plant of the week: Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’

img 1990 1 Plant of the week: Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’

img 1900 Plant of the week: Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’

The plant of the week this week is a widely planted shrub that’s really starting to look great at this time of the year. And it rightly deserves this wide planting for its a tough plant

Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’ is a evergreen shrub that sometimes is called Silk tassel bush or Quinine bush. It is a native of USA where it grows in a couple of different areas, the first one is on the coast of South Oregon and into California very near the coast well within 20miles of it. The other place it can be found growing on the mountains around the Pacific coastline in areas like Montana and San Bruno mountain ranges. It tends to grow 200m above sea level in the more damper spots along the coast.

img 1990 Plant of the week: Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’

It was first discovered by one of the greatest plant collectors of all America, David Douglas in 1828. Garrya was named after Garry Nichols. Garry Nichols was the deputy governor of the Hudson Bay company and managed the merger between them and North West Company. Hudson Bay Company controlled the fur trade throughout North America and is still going as a trading company selling anything from clothes to digital space. The cultivar James Roof was named after the director of Tilden botanical gardens, California where this form was found growing in amongst some seedlings.

img 1993 Plant of the week: Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’

Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’ is an evergreen shrub with a sea green foliage. It makes a shrub that will reach 4m in height and width and makes both a great free standing shrub as well as a wall Plant. Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’ makes a Great Wall shrub thriving on a north facing wall. It’s grown for its very beautiful greenish/grey catkins at start showing early winter and then open up around now to their full length of 20-35cm in the case of the male form James Roof. These catkins are really what this stunning shrub is grown for. Once they have finished flowering, they can stay on the shrubs for months after they have finished. It is pretty tough shrub, Hardy down to -15c but it will suffer a bit of browning on the leaves and some dieback at these temperatures. It prefers a soil that is pretty damp but is free draining, it will survive in drier soils but never does as well. It will quite take slightly acidic and alkaline soils, ideally in the PH range of 6-8. I have grown it on shallow soils over chalk without too many problems. It’s prefect for poor soils and coastal areas. Pruning wise it just needs a little shaping in April cutting the growth from last year down to a couple of buds on established plants and trim new growth on plants in training, down by half. Feeding is down using a compost mulch and vitax Q4 in around March time. Propagation is best done by semi-ripe cuttings taken in late summer. It is pretty disease and pest free, rabbits and deer don’t really like eating them!

Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’ is available in most good garden centres and can be seen in most public gardens and in a lot of private gardens as well

img 1879 Plant of the week: Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’

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Plant of the week-Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. spectabilis

phyllostachys aureosulcata f spectabilis 1 Plant of the week Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. spectabilis

phyllostachys aureosulcata f spectabilis 3 Plant of the week Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. spectabilis

Well it’s time for another large group of plants I haven’t featured before, bamboos. They are a very useful group of plants as well, even more so at this time of year, as their bright canes help to enhance the winter garden and there is no bamboo that can do this better than Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. spectablis.

phyllostachys aureosulcata f spectabilis Plant of the week Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. spectabilis

Phyllostachys aureosulcata is also know as the yellow-groove bamboo. It is a native of Zhejiang Province, Eastern China and was introduced in the USA in around 1901. In its native sites, it grows on the edges of woodlands and into woodland glades. Bamboos are normally divided up into clump forming and runners. Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. spectablis is a clump forming bamboo and can make a very big plant up to 7m in height and well over 3m wide. Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. spectablis has stunning yellow stems, that unlike others in the family, has a green strip in the distinctive groove in the back of the canes, hence the common name. They also sometimes make Zig Zag shape kinks in the canes as well. When the new canes emerge from the ground they are called Colms. With Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. spectablis they emerge with a pinkish tinge to them and are quite beautiful indeed. The name Phyllostachys is derived from the Greek phyllon meaning ‘leaf’ and stachys meaning ‘spike’. Aureosulcata is derived from the Latin aurea meaning ‘golden’ and sulcus meaning ‘furrow’.

phyllostachys aureosulcata specabilis 4 Plant of the week Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. spectabilis

Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. spectablis is a pretty tough bamboo, it will grow in most soils but it does prefer to be in sun or semishade. Even though it is a clump forming bamboo, it still can send out underground stems called rhizomes that help it spread into new areas. It is best to encase the bamboo in a root barrier, leaving enough room for the plant to grow. These clump forming bamboos tend to spread if they run out of food and water, so the best idea to keep them from spreading is to mulch once per year in the spring with garden compost, green waste and ensure that it has enough water during the dry spells. Each cane or colm, grows to its maximum height within 1 year. It is a good idea in each spring to remove a few of the older weaker canes from the clump to keep the clump looking young. It also give the new colms room to grow within the clump. The worse thing you can do is try and control the spread by removing the new canes, this will make the plant want to spread even more as it feels it’s under threat in this space. In the autumn it is also worth removing the lower leaves on the stems up to 5ft to let the stems shine though. Only other maintenance required is cutting back any rhizomes that spread from the plant. It is pretty disease free and is only propagated by dividing up the main clump.

It’s height and size makes it prefect to block off not so pleasant views from the garden so is excellent as either a specimen plant or as a screening plant.

It can be found at Both Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and round RHS Wisley. It can be brought from many Nurseries including The Big Plant Nursery and Burncoose of Southdown.

phyllostachys aureosulcata specabilis Plant of the week Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. spectabilis

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The great Snowdrop addiction

galanthus gone fishing The great Snowdrop addiction

img 2999 The great Snowdrop addiction

As soon as Big Ben finishes chiming into the new year, I start seeing the little green spires appearing though the soil and my heart starts to race a little faster. What delights could do that to a fully grown man? Not the start of hops appearing, but the slow start of the snowdrops slowly appearing. These tiny bulbs, with their snowy white flowers are now the equivalent to 17th tulipmania, with some of the bulbs reaching a massive £1300 a few years ago.

img 9748 The great Snowdrop addiction

I have always wondered what the magic was with them, yes I loved the massive displays of Galanthus nivalis, carpeting gardens and woodlands as far as the eyes can see, but I couldn’t see the differences between all the different forms , then one year a couple of years back, it twigged and somehow I started on the slippery slope of becoming a galanthophile!

galanthus franz josef 2 The great Snowdrop addiction

Everything about the snow drop is charming from the Latin name derived from Ancient Greek meaning the milk flower and there are so many common names like Candlemas Bells, White Ladies and Fair maids of February, all describing the first real carpeting flower over the season. Snowdrops are seen to to portray purity, hope and rebirth by most although the Victorian’s it mean death and sorry and was considered to be a harbinger of death. That’s not surprising considering the bulbs are indeed poisonous. However it is used in modern medicine though the compound Galanthamine to treat Alzheimer’s, nervous problems and being researched for use in treating HIV.

img 0604 The great Snowdrop addiction

Although they are spread all around the country they are not a native of the uk but of Greece, they have been spread around Europe and the uk possibly by monks. Some of the best collections happen to be around sites of old Abbeys and there is a old Christian belief that snowdrops represent the Virgin Mary and every candlemas day that falls on the 2nd of February, snowdrops are scattered on the altar in place of her picture. Indeed there are so many traditions surrounding the Snowdrop from all different countries, it is so easy to see how it has become such a desired plant. These tales both encompass Christianity like Eve when she left the garden of Eden, God sent snow to her, as she sat weeping, a angel appeared and took a snowflake, breathed on it and and when it touched the ground, a Snowdrop appeared or the Moldovan one where the Winter Witch didn’t want to let go on her hold of the season when the Lady Spring arrived, a fight broke out between then, the Winter Witch struck Lady Spring and from where her blood touched the ground, a Snowdrop grew and Lady Spring had won the battle. With such lovely tales, how can you not fall in love with a simple Snowdrop?

galanthus trym 2 The great Snowdrop addiction

. Galanthus ‘Trym’

Now what are the signs of this addiction? Well it starts with ground watching or in my case, pot watching! Every day, just checking to see how much the shoots have grown. Every day the shoots grow and slowly a flash of white starts to appear and then gets bigger and bigger until it slowly opens and there is the most simple but pure looking flower you could ever wish for. Then you start buying them! Maybe just the odd one to start with, you know Just with the slight differences to the common forms G. Nivalis, but that obsession grows until you start spending time looking at all the other snowdrops falling in love with their broad wide take on the simple colours of mainly green and white, seeing forms that have lovely green tips and green veining like Rosemary Burnham, tall forms like Fred’s Giant, small forms like Tiny Tim and not forgetting the more yellow forms like Wendy’s Gold. Whatever form you like, there’s loads to grow. Go on try a few different ones and see how you get on but be warned, they are really addictive once you start………

img 1753 1 The great Snowdrop addiction

Galanthus ‘Wendy’s Gold’

galanthus nivalis pusey green tip 2 The great Snowdrop addiction

Galanthus ‘Pusey Green Tips’

galanthus magnet 3 The great Snowdrop addiction

Galanthus ‘Magnet’

galanthus mighty atom The great Snowdrop addiction

Galanthus ‘Mighty Atom’

galanthus gone fishing The great Snowdrop addiction

Galanthus ‘Gone Fishin’

galanthus sallys double The great Snowdrop addiction

Galanthus ‘Sally’s Double’

galanthus elwesii comet 3 The great Snowdrop addiction

Galanthus elwesii ‘Comet’

galanthus james backhouse 4 The great Snowdrop addiction

Galanthus ‘James Backhouse’

To finish off here’s a poem

Stunning spring is my favourite season

She swirls her skirts and drapes the garden in her finest clothes

Dressing the naked winter trees and bushes with bright brilliant foliage

Spring showers us with confetti of pink cherry blossom petals in the warm breeze

Gently opening the eyes of the snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils

They crane their necks from the melting snow and smile sweetly

Creating colour and scent in our glorious gardens

Written by Jan Allison

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Plant of the week- Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Orange Peel’

hamamelis x intermedia orange peel 6 1 Plant of the week  Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Orange Peel’

hamamelis x intermedia orange peel 5 Plant of the week  Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Orange Peel’

Yes after a couple of weeks break the plant of the week is back and opening up 2018 with a really special plant indeed and one of my favourites. Hamamelis have been one of my favourite group of plants since I was 18 and caught their scent on a cold January day, then I saw their tiny spider like flowers in such a wide of colours and I was even more hooked, even now 27yrs on, they have never lost their appeal to me.

hamamelis x intermedia orange peel 6 Plant of the week  Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Orange Peel’

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Orange Peel’ isn’t my favourite of all the witch hazels but it’s close too it and one that has such an adapt name! Every time I see I, I imagine Jamie Oliver with a zester, peeling off line thin lines of orange zest. It is a hybrid between H. Japonica and H. Mollis and this particular form was bred by one of the most famous of Hamamelis breeders, a Dutchman named de Belder. Unlike a lot of the hybrids, it does have a stunning spicy scent, thought to be like marmalade by many. As well as great scented flowers, this is also a good form to grow for autumn colour, with its leaves turning a brilliant orange colour during this time. The name Hamamelis comes from the Greek words, Hama means at the same time and Melon meaning apple or fruit, the earlier flowering autumn forms quite often have the fruits on the branches at the same time as the flowers

hamamelis x intermedia orange peel Plant of the week  Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Orange Peel’

It grows ideally in a moisture retentive soil that doesn’t dry out or get too wet, it dislikes Both greatly, almost as much as it dislikes thin chalky soils, it will tolerate alkaline soils as long as they are deep and loamy. That said it is well worth growing in a big container as long as it doesn’t dry out. When planting, it is worth adding lots of organic matter into the soil as well as some Vitax Q4 so the plant gets off to the best start it can. Once growing, it requires very little care, some formative shaping and removal of crossing branches etc is all that is required for the plant to reach its maximum size of around 3mx3m. There are no pests or diseases that target this plant apart from the normal ones like aphids etc and to make matters even better it’s pretty deer proof as well.

It can be seen at various gardens but the RHS at Wisley has a cracking specimen that is looking beautiful at the moment. Again it is stocked by a few nurseries with pan global plants being a good place to start

hamamelis x intermedia orange peel 2 Plant of the week  Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Orange Peel’

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Mistletoe and how to grow it

img 1577 Mistletoe and how to grow it

img 1576 Mistletoe and how to grow it

Mistletoe (Viscum album) is in most homes at this time of the year, indeed it’s history has deep roots into ancient England and Europe. Those fans of Asterix, will know of the Druid Getafix would be spending his time looking and finding mistletoe to use in his various potions and indeed it was actually set to facts. The druids cut mistletoe using a golden sickle from an oak tree on the 6th night of a new moon after the winter solstice. At the same time 2 white bulls were also scarified as a thank you for the mistletoe. It was then divided up amongst the villagers and hung above their doorways to prevent evils like lighting hitting the house. The druids also thought that the berries were indeed the sperm of the gods and used as a magical aphrodisiac. The leaves where also made into a tea and drink to ward off all kinds of evil like witchcraft, poisoning ect.

img 1575 Mistletoe and how to grow it

The Norse tale of mistletoe is also a good one. The most loved of all Norse gods was Balder, his mum, the goddess Frigga, so loved her son, she went around the world making peace treaties with all apart from the Loki, an evil spirt, who made an arrow from a mistletoe branch and used it to kill Balder. Frigga’s tears became the white berries and then Balder is restored to life and the plant mistletoe, becomes a symbol of love. Even in the Anglo-Saxon times, the mistletoe was a symbol of love goddess Freya and a kiss under the mistletoe was seen as a marriage proposal.

img 1577 Mistletoe and how to grow it

Throughout history, this plant has been a focus in our lives, mainly I think for its odd life cycle. Unlike most plants, it doesn’t grow in soil but is indeed what is called a hemiparasite. Hemiparasite are parasitic plants that need to grow on a host plant and use them for most of water and nutrients but the European mistletoe does have green leaves and does photosynthesise so can not be called a parasitic plant but a hemiparasite. It’s lifecycle is indeed fascinating too. It has male and female plants and it’s of course the female plants that have the white berries. It does need a host plant to live on and this European species can be found growing on over 200 species of trees but does favour members of the Rosacea family like apples, where it was grown like a second crop. As it does grow on a host species it can weaken it over time if it gets too big size wise. When his happens, it weakens the stem above the mistletoe clump, leaving it prone to dieback and breaking off, this is a particular problem in trees prone for breakages like populars and Robinias. Also if the mistletoe takes over the whole tree, it can increase the chances of the tree being blown over in strong winds. Best way to control the size and weight of the mistletoe on a tree is to prune it back hard if it getting too big. This doesn’t do it any harm what so ever and it will happily regrow away.

Mistletoe is however a very clever plant when it comes to reproducing itself. It’s made it’s berries very sticky indeed! Why may this be useful? Well for it to reproduce successfully, the seed needs to be on a host tree branch, normal seeds from other plants are normally eaten by the birds and pass though its digestive system and come out the other end, this is a bit hit and miss where the bird poo ends up! So they developed very sticky White berries that aren’t attractive to most birds, just ones that know how to deal with it best, Mistle thrushes and mainly Blackcaps. Whilst the Mistle Thrush tends to swallow a few whole, mainly them and the Blackcaps pick off the berries carefully on their beaks and wipe the berries onto the tree branches. This helps them push the inedible seed to one side and allows them to eat the edible pulp and skin. This is exactly what the mistletoe needs to germinate. First the little green leaves open and the root tries to push into the bark of the tree, this is the stage which is most difficult and the reason they do have a high failure rate but once the root has broken though, the young plant can then start taking the water and nutrients from the host plant and using its own photosynthesis, turn it into food for itself. Knowing how the birds spread mistletoe around makes it easy for us to do the same if required, just squeeze the seeds out of the pulp onto a good host plant like an apple tree, lime tree and that’s it, doesn’t need you to make a cut into the tree, cover with hessian as done in the past, just nice and simple. It’s worth doing this with at least 10 seeds to make sure you get a couple to germinate.

img 2002 Mistletoe and how to grow it

A wiped seed on a branch ready to germinate

img 2005 Mistletoe and how to grow it

Mistle thrush poo on a apple tree branch

img 2001 1 Mistletoe and how to grow it

Mistletoe a year after germinating

Next thing is in a few years time you have mistletoe to enjoy at Christmas from your own plant.

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Plant of the week Camellia sasanqua ‘Crimson King’ 

camellia sasanqua crimson king Plant of the week Camellia sasanqua ‘Crimson King’ 

camellia sasanqua crimson king 2 Plant of the week Camellia sasanqua ‘Crimson King’ 
Well after a couple of weeks of autumn colour through foliage and berries, it’s time for a few flowers that are blooming at this time of year. We always think of Camellias flowering in the spring but the gorgeous sasanqua is an autumn and into early winter flowering type. My plant of the week is indeed a hybrid called ‘Crimson King’ which is one of the best hybrids. It’s large single mainly red  flowers open in late October into November and are indeed so beautiful at this time of year.

camellia sasanqua crimson king 3 Plant of the week Camellia sasanqua ‘Crimson King’ 
They are native to Japan, where they are indeed one of the most popular of all Camellias grown and bred there. Camellia was named after Georg Kamel, a 17th century Jesuit missionary while sasanqua comes from the Japanese name for this plant, Sazanka. It is not only grown for the beautiful flowers but the young foliage is used to make a special tea and seeds are used to make the best camellia oil. Camellia oil has a wide variety of uses in Japan including being used to heat cooking and tea equipment and lighting. It also has lots of health benefits to the skin and hair, it was used by the Geisha girls to produce their famous soft skin and also sumo wrestlers in their hair. I also use it to keep my hand tools free of rust just like the Samurai warriors of old did on their swords.

camellia sasanqua crimson king Plant of the week Camellia sasanqua ‘Crimson King’ 
It is hardy here in the uk and is one tough plant, the only problem being that the first frosts can effect the flowers making it an ideal plant to grow in a sheltered part of a garden or against a wall or even a in heated glasshouse or orangery.  It makes a pretty open plant floppy at times but can be pruned after flowering to help keep its shape. Soilwise it does like a nice water retentive fee draining acidic soil in full sun. A mulch of organic material and a feed of Vitax Q4 is helpful to the plant in the spring. It is also well worth making sure it doesn’t dry out in the early summer as it is at this time the flower buds for the autumn months are formed. If they dry out they will fail to form properly and fall off the plant. It will make a large shrub overtime in the right spot but don’t let that put you off as regular pruning can keep it in shape. It also does grow very well in pots as long as it is watered enough for the above reasons. Thankfully it’s pretty pest and disease free.

It can be found growing in a lot of gardens like Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, RHS Wisley and Kew. This form is widely for sale but Camellia specialist nurseries like Trehane are good places to try for mail order

2YnoBk1500924993 Plant of the week Camellia sasanqua ‘Crimson King’ 
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Plant of the week- Callicarpa bodinieri var giraldii ‘ Profusion’

callicarpa bodinieri var giraldii profusion 6 Plant of the week  Callicarpa bodinieri var giraldii ‘ Profusion’

 Plant of the week  Callicarpa bodinieri var giraldii ‘ Profusion’

This weeks plant of the week is once more mainly planted for its berries and is commonly called the ‘Beauty Berry’ for this reason. The stunning purple berries hang on the plant for a great deal of the winter, all for us to enjoy

This beautiful shrub is a native of China, mainly around the provinces of Szechwan, Hupeh and Shensi. It was first discovered by the famous plant hunter, Augustine Henry in around 1887 but it wasn’t until the late 1890’s that the German missionary Giraldi collected seed and sent it back to Hess’s Nursery in Germany, that it reached Europe. Hess sold the plants as giraldii but sadly the name wasn’t published until much later, after the name bodinieri had been given to this species. However var giraldii does differ from the bulk of C.bodinieri as the undersides of the leaves are less hairy and silvery. It reaches 6 to 9ft over a number of years, it’s leaves are a mid green colour on top with a slightly silver side underneath. The small white flowers are borne in the summer and really aren’t something you would notice but it’s the shining purple berries that really highlight this plant to us, these purple berries are one of the longest berries to stay on any plants, helped by their very bitter taste that puts the wildlife off until there’s nothing else to eat.

 Plant of the week  Callicarpa bodinieri var giraldii ‘ Profusion’

It is an easy plant to look after as well, it is happy to grow on most aspects including north facing sites, it does prefer to be in a sunny or semi shaded spot. It is happy in most types of soil as long as it is fertile and not water logged, not fussy whether it’s acidic or alkaline, clay or sand, all it needs is a good humus soil, so well worth mulching it with garden produced compost and also feed it with Vitax Q4 fertiliser in the spring it also requires very little pruning, just a little bit of shaping and dead wood removal. Easy to propagate from soft wood or semi hardwood cuttings. Also it has very few pests attacking it! In all, it does make it a very useful plant indeed!

It’s pretty well widely sold and grown in gardens, so should be easy to buy and see.

callicarpa bodinieri var giraldii profusion 4 Plant of the week  Callicarpa bodinieri var giraldii ‘ Profusion’

2YnoBk1500924993 Plant of the week  Callicarpa bodinieri var giraldii ‘ Profusion’
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Plant of the week- Fothergilla major Monticola Group

fothergillia major monticola group 2 1 Plant of the week  Fothergilla major Monticola Group

fothergillia major monticola group Plant of the week  Fothergilla major Monticola Group
There’s so many plants that could make the honour of plant of the week at the moment, those plants have so many attributes like flowers, leaf and stem colour and berries, it makes my job of choosing one beautiful plant for my Plant of the Week so hard.

fothergillia major monticola group 2 Plant of the week  Fothergilla major Monticola Group
This week I have chosen one that has really great autumn foliage but unlike many, it’s a pretty smallish shrub, indeed this form of the Mountain Witch Elder takes up to 10yrs to gain its maximum height of 2m. It is a member of the Witch Hazel family and was named in honour Dr John Fothergill, an physician, who in the 18th century, was one of the earliest collectors of North American plants, all kept in his garden in Essex. He also helped to fund several plant hunting expeditions in North America. The first Fothergilla to be discovered was a form called F.gardenii in 1765. It was discovered by Dr Garden, a Scottish physician based in Charlestown in South Carolina. Dr Garden spent over 20yrs discovering the local plants and wildlife and sending quite a few new plants back home to the uk. No one knows who or when F.major was discovered but it has certainly been documented to being grown since 1780. Its native habit, it grows 500m above sea level in the mountains though North and South Carolina and into Georgia and Alabama. It grows in light woodland often under Plants like Quercia coccinea, rubra, Lirodendron tulipifera and Magnolia fraseri. In these environments, it can grow to 6m in height although rarely achieves this in our gardens, with this group Monticola being a bit smaller too.

fothergillia major monticola group 3 Plant of the week  Fothergilla major Monticola Group
It can be grown on most types of acidic soil from sand to clay but does prefer it to be free draining very fertile soil with lots of humus. It is good to grow in full sun or semi shade and is one of the few plants that will grow away comfortably in any aspect whether it’s North, South, east or west. The flowers are borne in late March, early April and appear just before the leaves, it was the flowers that made me first notice this plant when I was only 18yrs old and working at Hilliers Garden. The leaves when they appear, are a good green colour but turn this stunning mix of colours in the autumn months. It is pretty easy to propagate as well, either softwood cuttings taken early summer works or air layering a branch during the summer works equally well. It doesn’t need any real bits of pruning, just removal of crossing branches, taking out any dead wood and just generally shaping it up if required. This work is best done during the winter months.

fothergill majir Plant of the week  Fothergilla major Monticola Group
The flowers are borne in later March early April

It can be found growing in gardens like Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and the RHS gardens like Wisley. It can be brought from such fine nurseries like Burncoose of Southdown.

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Plant of the week- Decaisnea fargesii

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As autumn appears, so do so many other Horticultural delights, brought to us by the change in the season, the plants start to turn wonderful shades and nature’s bounty of fruits and seeds start to ripen and it is only right that the my weekly feature of Plant of the week tries to feature all sides of autumn so this week, we have a very unusual shrub that has some stunning seed pods for us to admire

Decaisnea fargessii is sometimes better known as dead mans fingers, blue sausage plant and blue bean plant. This name comes from the dark blue long finger like seed cases that hold a mushy sweet flavoured flesh and of course the seeds themselves. The flesh inside the pods is supposed to taste of watermelon and is a valued food source in the Plants native area, western China by the indigenous Lepcha people. One word of warning, while the mush it’s self is edible, the black 1cm wide seeds are slightly toxic so avoid eating those at any cost!

decaisnea fargestii Plant of the week  Decaisnea fargesii

It was discovered by Abbé Farges growing in western China, in around 1895. It was named after the French botanist Joseph Decaisne and also after Abbe Farges.It can be found growing in damp woodlands and in damp areas in mountain ravines, normally in areas 900-3600ms above sea level. It can make a large shrub up to 6m tall and 4m wide but normally it is a lot smaller than this, with most groups of plants I have seen around the 3m mark after many years of growing. It is pretty happy in most soils from alkaline to acidic as long as the soil doesn’t dry out, this is the thing the plant hates more than anything else is to dry out. It does prefer a semi shady spot in the garden, it will grow in full sun but the leaves do suffer a little sun scorch. It is pretty pest and disease free. The leaves are pretty impressive as well being pinnate and up to nearly a metre in length. They do change to a yellowly colour in the autumn as well, so you do get some autumn colour appearing. The flowers themselves are not too easy to spot being a greenish colour and born in May. It does have both male and female flowers on the same plant, although it’s not always necessary, it is better to have a couple of plants in your garden and they will fruit much better if there is. Pruning wise, it doesn’t need any real pruning to help make it fruit better, just a bit of shaping pruning to keep in in check if it’s growing to big. I would try and reduce the long walking stick like stems down to a side branch if possible to keep the shape, ideally in late winter while the plant is dormant. Propagation is easy, just sow the seeds into a cold frame in November, about 25mm deep and they should germinate in the spring.

If you don’t want to grow one yourself, they are offered by a few nurseries with Burncoose of Southdown again being one of my favourites

Can be seen in places like Sir Harold Hillier gardens, RHS Wisley or Kew Gardens

decaisnea fargestii 2 Plant of the week  Decaisnea fargesii

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Plant of the week- Buddleja davidii ‘Black Knight’ 

img 0204 Plant of the week  Buddleja davidii Black Knight 

img 5180 Plant of the week  Buddleja davidii Black Knight 
Well after a few weeks break with the Rose of the week, we are back to the plant of the week but with a slight difference. For the next month it’s The Butterfly count. This is carried out each year by the Butterfly conservation to monitor the more common types of butterflies we see in our gardens. So to celebrate this, for the next month I will be focusing on plants that are looking great at this time of year but also attract in butterflies. To start this off, it has to be the Butterfly Bush, Buddleja. There are so many great forms of great plant (check back in a few weeks for a more indepth look) but I have chosen my favourite form and also one of the darkest forms of Buddleja, Black Knight. 

img 0201 Plant of the week  Buddleja davidii Black Knight 
Buddleja davidii is a native of Central and west China, were it grows up to 8000ft above seas level, where it can grow in some  pretty poor soils, hence the reason it selfseeds and grows in any space in the uk, whether it’s a bit of waste ground, roof top or sides of a quarry. Sadly this ability has labelled it as a invasive plant. It was introduced into Europe by the French missionary Father David (hence davidii) from east Tibet in 1869. Buddleja itself was named of the British amateur Reverend Adam Buddleja by Von Linne in 1737. The form ‘Black Knight’ was bred by the famous Moerheim nursery in Holland by Ruys. It has become the most popular form of Buddleja to be grown mainly due to is stunning flowers that are the darkest form of any Buddleja. The flowers funny enough are smaller than the normal size of Buddleja flowers by are bourne on plants that will quite happily make 4m in height. It was grow away in most forms of soil, although it will struggle on heavy waterlogged ones. 

img 0200 Plant of the week  Buddleja davidii Black Knight 
It is pretty pest and disease free apart from the horrible eel worm. They are a microscopic nematodes that live in the young shoots of leaves of the plant, they tend to cause yellow patches in the leaves and deformed growth on the tips of new growth. To check if it has it, cut an infected shoot up and place into a glass of water and leaves for 30 minutes, if they are present, you will see tiny little balls of these tiny tiny worms at the bottom of the glass. To treat, best way is to remove infected shoots during the growing season and all old leaves in the winter and burn. 

Pretty easy to prune, I tend to prune mine in March and more details can be found here https://thomasdstone.blog/2017/03/17/job-of-the-week-pruning-buddeja/

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Rose of the week- Buff beauty 

rosa buff beauty 2 Rose of the week  Buff beauty 

rosa buff beauty6 Rose of the week  Buff beauty 
This is the last rose of the week this week as I will be going back to the plant of the week not because the rose season is over, indeed far from it, the roses in my garden are still flowering away so well, just feel I want to carry on exploring other plants, with the Butterfly count starting, I think it would be great to focus on plants that butterflies love as well, during the survey time. 

rosa buff beauty 2 Rose of the week  Buff beauty 
So on with the Rose of the week and I have left one of the best roses until last, buff beauty. This rose brings back memories of childhood as my dad planted one alongside a path to the White House ( no not The White House!) that grew into a fine specimen, pretty disease free and full of these beautiful buff yellow colour flowers, delightly scented and flowered all summer long. Buff Beauty is a hybrid musk rose, a wonderful group of roses are thought to be a cross between rosa multiflora, chinensis and moschata and the hybrid teas from early 20th century. These crosses were started by the Rev Joseph Pemperton at his home, the round house, Havering atte bower, Romford, Essex, a house he was both born (1852)and died (1926). He wanted to bred roses like he remembered from his childhood visits to his grandmas houses, rose that not only looked beautiful but also smelt wonderful! And he succeeded with this wonderful range of plants. We know one of the parents and that’s William Allen Richardson, (a beautiful yellow noisette) sadly not the other. But there’s also a little confusion about whether he did bred the rose, it was introduced by Ann Bentall, in 1936. Ann was the daughter of Pemerton’s head gardener and it is thought she introduced it from his garden. Others have said she wanted to carry on his rose breeding programme and bred this rose and another. My feeling is that it’s the first version that is true, looks so much like his type of breeding, I may aso be incorrect. 

img 5740 Rose of the week  Buff beauty 
No matter where it came from, its a great great garden plant, I have used it as a small climber, shrub and a bush rose to great effect, as a bush I prune it down to 300mm in the spring and then it responds with 600mm lengths of growth. It will make about 1.5-1.75m in height as a climber and it works so well with underplanting of blues, as I have said it’s pretty disease free and will grow away quite happy on most soils as long as it well fed. 

It can be brought from most of the main rose dealers like David Austin roses, Peter Beales and Trevor White Roses. 

img 1296 Rose of the week  Buff beauty