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Propagating dogwoods/Cornus from waste pruning

img 2369 Propagating dogwoods/Cornus from waste pruning

Well my job this week is pruning back the types of Cornus/dogwoods the delight us all winter with their stunning stem colours. Of course, one the delights from Cornus is that they tend to root petty easy from their stems just touching the ground. This trait means they are pretty easy to propagate from hard wood cuttings. Unlike most hard wood cuttings, an ideal time to to take these hardwood cuttings is just after you have pruned them, some of this waste material makes great cutting material and I have put together an easy step by step guide on how to do it

img 2366 Propagating dogwoods/Cornus from waste pruning

First of all choose your woody material, I prefer something that is about a year old, pencil thickness and straight. That’s not too say something thinner or thicker doesn’t work, it’s just I have found this size produces more plants

img 2367 Propagating dogwoods/Cornus from waste pruning

Then I make a cut at the bottom near a set of buds, a square cut us is fine but an angled one maybe better for the last stage

img 2369 Propagating dogwoods/Cornus from waste pruning

I like to have at least 4 sets of buds on each cutting, so I trim it down to just above the 4th bud and if the material is long enough, I sometimes can get a couple out of it

img 2370 Propagating dogwoods/Cornus from waste pruning

Next stage is to push the cutting into the ground, this is why an angled cut maybe easier to do. The ground doesn’t need to be too loose and can be even next to the dogwood you have just pruned down.

img 2373 Propagating dogwoods/Cornus from waste pruning

I push this stem down until it’s half between the 2nd and 3rd bud as per picture above, this leaves 2 buds under the soil and these buds are the areas the roots will grow from

img 2374 Propagating dogwoods/Cornus from waste pruning

A completed row, they don’t need to be in a row, can be done randomly around the area you require them but they are so easy to do and make such a great use of wood that would be burned or shredded. I would now leave these for a few months and when they are growing away strongly you know they have taken. Sometimes leaves break out and then die, this is the plant using up the stored water and then sadly dying afterwards. This also works with any Salix or willow with coloured stems

Good luck and I hope you get loads of free plants

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Plant of the week- Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’

img 2304 Plant of the week  Corylus avellana Contorta

img 2303 Plant of the week  Corylus avellana Contorta

There’s always a space for a bit of madness in the garden then this plant know more commonly as the contorted hazel certainly brings this trait into the garden in spades. The way the stems twist and turn amongst themselves is unlike any other plant in the garden. These stems, so loved by the florists, who use them both in their natural state and sprayed into a mix of colours, also have a huge use in the garden, even more if highlighted with a evergreen planting behind it, allowing the stems to really show off their twisted features. It is such a main feature in a winter garden

img 2304 Plant of the week  Corylus avellana Contorta

Corylus Avellana is of course a British native know as hazel. It has huge commercial use for thousands of years, being used to make all forms of items from charcoal to hazel fencing know as wattles. It’s main are of use is of course the hazel nut, loved by us for 1000s of years. The botanical name comes from the Greek word korys meaning helmet, from the calyx that covers the top of each nut while Avellana is named after the Italian town Avella, the centre of nut production many years ago.This form ‘Contorta’ commonly called the corkscrew hazel and Harry Lauder’s walking stick after a famous Victorian comedian, was discovered in a hedgerow near the small village of Frocester, Gloucestershire in 1863 by Canon Ellacombe. He was a very well respected gardener, who passed it on to his great friend, Edward Bowles who grew it at his home, Middleton House.

img 2300 1 Plant of the week  Corylus avellana Contorta

Small female flowers

Corylus Avellana ‘Contorta’ is a slow growing shrub, making a height of about 15ft in 20 years or so, it’s contorted stems look beautiful in the garden. Like all hazels, it prefers a nice loamy soil but it will grow in most soils including sandy, clay and chalky soils. It will take a quite a bit of shade being a woodland shrub but it also grows well in full sun. It doesn’t need a lot of care, just some mulch of well rotten compost or green waste and Vitax Q4 to keep the soil fertile. The leaves are like normal hazel leaves and the large male yellow catkins I find, are borne a little later than the straight form. The female flowers are much smaller and almost like a red spider and are found on the main stems. They are pollinated by the wind.

img 2301 Plant of the week  Corylus avellana Contorta

The male catkins

Corylus Avellana ‘Contorta’ is general disease free but it does suffer a few pests like the normal aphids, sawflies, gall wasps and a few butterflies and moths lay their eggs on it like the large emerald, small white wave, barred umber and nut-tree tussock. The nuts are also eaten by a wide range of animals but famously as food for the dormouse. There is also a purple form called ‘Red Majestic’ that is for some reason rarely offered but should be!

Corylus Avellana ‘Contorta’ is propagated by grafting on to straight Corylus Avellana in most Nursery propagation so any long and straight stems need to be removed. It is possible to propagate by hard wood cuttings taken in late November but they are well known for being difficult! It doesn’t need any form of pruning, stems that are growing the wrong way or coming out too far can be pruned back either during the growing season or in the winter. Like all hazels, it can be copiced hard back, down to a stump if required, in late winter. This method is ideal to do every 2-3years if the stems are required for use in flower arranging.

It can be seen in most gardens and is widely available to buy from most good Nurseries

20180226 202933 Plant of the week  Corylus avellana Contorta
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Winter at Ellicar Gardens

img 4161 1 Winter at Ellicar Gardens

I saw Ellicar Gardens for the first time like many people, on Gardeners World, when the great Adam Frost took a look around the 5 acre garden with the owner Garden Designer Sarah Murch.

img 0673 Winter at Ellicar GardensThis was in the summer, when the natural swimming pool was looking stunning and the borders surrounding it again looked so beautiful with swaths of Iris in full flower just like Sarah’s photo above. Bearing this in mind I took up an offer to see the gardens after Hodsock on a cold, drizzly dank February afternoon. But what I found brighten up the darkness and really was a delight to visit.

img 4188 Winter at Ellicar Gardens

The gardens themselves are were started in 2008 by Will and Sarah Murch after they moved into this old farmhouse, that had been used for many years as a children’s home. After sorting out the house, they started on the garden. This was just an open field when they first started and everything you see is planting’s that they have done since then.

img 4158 Winter at Ellicar GardensThe Gardens are still developing today, with new borders being added this year. As the picture above shows the outlines of them

img 4186 Winter at Ellicar Gardensimg 4164 Winter at Ellicar GardensAmazingly the whole garden and small holding with pigs, goats, sheep, horses and the new Llama are managed just by Sarah and Will with one person who comes in and mows the grass and does the edges. Both work full time but still manage to look after this stunning garden to a high standard. They add that magical ingredient to a garden and that is love, you can tell that Sarah loves the garden and the wildlife it attracts and this love of them both is what makes it so special as the garden is managed for both and the way they work together is a real delight and I haven’t seen a garden so in tune with the needs of both humans and wildlife, it was really inspiring.

img 4153 Winter at Ellicar GardensPlants like the iris Siberica are left with their old leaves on to provide protection for the amphibians and small mammals for the winter months, this also has the effect of helping to keep down the weeds in the borders.

img 4134 Winter at Ellicar Gardensimg 4156 Winter at Ellicar GardensThe seed heads of plants stay on again to feed the birds, the flocks of goldfinches and chattering of sparrows was so lovely to here as we wondered around.

img 4141 Winter at Ellicar Gardensimg 4152 Winter at Ellicar GardensAnd course the main attraction for both humans and wildlife is of course the natural swimming pool. This pool hasn’t had any chemicals added too it and it is there for both humans and wildlife to enjoy, Sarah told us about swimming with dragonflies and grass snakes with the odd kingfisher dropping it whilst they are enjoying the pool. The pool also attracts bats with 9 species recorded in the garden, again thanks to the pool. It just fits in so well with the garden and feels part of the landscape unlike other swimming pools that feel alien to its surroundings.

img 4161 1 Winter at Ellicar Gardensimg 4160 1 Winter at Ellicar Gardensimg 4151 1 Winter at Ellicar Gardensimg 4132 Winter at Ellicar GardensWalking around the garden, there were so many lovely views, with the stems of the grasses still looking stately and the use of plants with coloured stems like willow and dogwoods really lit up the views. The pines and conifers that are mixed into the garden, just added that touch of green to intensify the other colours

The whole garden is planted up with some stunning plants, space denotes that I can only show a few so here’s

img 4146 Winter at Ellicar Gardens

Salix gracillstyla ‘Melanostachys’

img 4176 Winter at Ellicar Gardens

Acer capillipes

img 4159 Winter at Ellicar Gardens

Pinus patula

img 4181 Winter at Ellicar Gardensimg 4175 Winter at Ellicar Gardensimg 4170 Winter at Ellicar Gardens

The garden to the north of the house is planted up more as the winter garden and it is full of winter gems, many different forms of dogwoods, hellebores and snowdrops and looked stunning when we visited. It was full of form, texture and colour and very well designed

img 4130 Winter at Ellicar Gardensimg 4196 Winter at Ellicar Gardens

The one thing you see around the garden are plants put to artistic use by Sarah, with roses trained into shapes, held in place by willow and willow woven into dens and living fences.

img 4195 Winter at Ellicar Gardens

I had to finish in the eduction section and the fun way things have been recycled!

In all I throughly enjoyed my visit to the garden and it’s a garden I can recommend you to visit at anytime of the year. It’s not just a beautiful garden but it is one that managed for the wildlife as well. And that is been achieved by careful and thoughtful management of the garden, better than I have seen before in any garden. Sarah and Will’s life ethos shines though in all areas of the garden and their love and pride of what they have achieved in 10yrs again is clear to see and rightly so! it shows off that the two aspects of gardening for nature and as a well designed beautiful gardens can be achieved hand in hand. It’s a garden I shall certainly be going back to see again at sometime and see it in its summer glory after seeing it look so beautiful on a damp February day!

It is open this Sunday, the 25th of February for Nottinghamshire NGS. Then the gardens will be open from June 8th onwards, Fridays in June, July, September and October and there will be a natural pool open day in mid June, date to be confirmed. The tea rooms and plant courtyard will be open at the same time.

More information about how to get there and about the garden can be found at www.ellicargardens.co.uk with the full address Carr Road, Gringley on the Hill,Doncaster, DN10 4SN

Here’s a few summer pics from Sarah to attract you to visit the garden in the summer months as well

img 0674 Winter at Ellicar Gardens

img 0675 Winter at Ellicar Gardens

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Snowdrops of Hodsock Priory

img 4029 Snowdrops of Hodsock Priory

Though my blogging, I sometimes get invited to some special open days and it was a lovely surprise to be invited up to Nottinghamshire to visit the place that really ignited the winter opening of gardens for snowdrops, Hodsock priory. They have been opening for snowdrops here since 1991 and currently welcomes over 20,000 people to enjoy the 4 million snowdrops on this privately owned 800 acre family estate. It has been in the safe keeping of the Buchanan family for over 200yrs, with Sir Andrew Buchanan handing the management reigns over to George Buchanan in 2006.

img 4045 Snowdrops of Hodsock Priory

George Buchanan looking over the parkland

The snowdrops themselves grow in two main areas of the estate namely the garden that is 5 acres and the 12 acre Horsepasture Wood.

Horsepasture Wood is well over 400yrs old with some stunning 400yr old oaks and great beech’s trees mixed it. It is within this setting the snowdrops really carpet the woodland floor, followed by the slowly emerging bluebells, set in amongst the woods are some great tree stumps, used architectural within the settings, making a great back drop for the snowdrops. There is also an open fire, where everyday when the garden is open for the snowdrops, George meets people at 2pm and explains the estate and family history. As for the carpet of snowdrops, words in any form can not give justice to the spectacular display, so I won’t even both and let the photos do the talking

img 4027 Snowdrops of Hodsock Priory

The walk into the woods

img 4029 Snowdrops of Hodsock Prioryimg 4032 Snowdrops of Hodsock Prioryimg 4042 Snowdrops of Hodsock Prioryimg 4043 Snowdrops of Hodsock Prioryimg 4053 Snowdrops of Hodsock Priory

img 4035 Snowdrops of Hodsock Priory

The great warming fire! I think every garden should have one!

Over the past years they have moved the snowdrops from the fringe areas of the woodland into the middle areas where they can be enjoyed. This superb setting if the back drop for an outdoor theatre group, The Whispering wood Folk preforming the Snowdrop Queen over the 16th-18th of February.

The walk though to the main garden area from Horsepasture Wood is a walk of pleasure as you are flanked by sweet smelling Winter Honeysuckle Lonicera fragrantissima.

img 4125 Snowdrops of Hodsock Priory

The main gardens are set in about 5 acres of land surrounding the main house, the use of water has been cleverly done so it reflects views of the house and garden. On your way into the main garden you follow this delightful stream, flanked with winter colour, provided by of course snowdrops, dogwoods and Salix all playing a part too.

img 4123 Snowdrops of Hodsock Prioryimg 4122 Snowdrops of Hodsock Priory

The main pond used to be part of the old mote in past times and on a still day catches the house perfectly

img 4073 Snowdrops of Hodsock Priory

The scent of winter catches you as you wander around the gardens with Sarcococca and Hamamelis providing the overtures. The garden is home to lots of other spring flowering plants like Iris reticulata, winter aconites, cyclamen, crocus and of course the Snowdrops! They have over 17 different forms of snowdrops in the garden including Lady Beatrix Stanley who happened to be Sir Andrews grandmother!  Snowdrops of Hodsock Priory Snowdrops of Hodsock Priory Snowdrops of Hodsock Priory Snowdrops of Hodsock Priory Snowdrops of Hodsock Priory Snowdrops of Hodsock Priory Snowdrops of Hodsock Priory

img 4075 Snowdrops of Hodsock Priory

There’s also a huge fan of snowdrops in the main lawn, that sadly wasn’t out fully but will look amazing when it is!

img 4089 Snowdrops of Hodsock Priory

The site of one of the old glasshouses was used to great effect,

img 4094 Snowdrops of Hodsock Priory

The formal parterre area has standard roses planted in there

img 4086 Snowdrops of Hodsock Priory

The gardens themselves are indeed full of little horticultural gems and the whole garden is a delight! It’s surprising to hear the main gardens and Horsepasture Wood are managed with just 6 part time workers including Sir Andrew and Lady Belinda. George did say this may change this year as 4 of them maybe retiring.

The gardens are a true delight of Nottinghamshire, they have a real family feel about them and it’s clear Sir Andrew and George Buchanan care deeply about the estate and its long term survival, long term plans include extending the woodland, producing cricket bat willow for production of cricket bats and expanding the wedding venue experience. This family pride really shines though on the estate and for me the 31/2hr journey seemed well worth it to see somewhere so special.

Hodsock priory is open for the snowdrops every day 10am-4pm until the 4th of March with the Whispering Woodfolk preforming this 16th-18th of February. There is also a couple of excellent eating points, the large heated marquee that produces rather excellent bacon rolls and another watery in the woods near the wood fire. Adults cost £5.00 and Children £1. Theres a £2.50 surcharge for the evening performance of the Snowdrop Queen.

For more information please see their website which is http://www.hodsockpriory.com/snowdrops/plan-your-visit/

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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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Plant of the week- Cornus Alba ‘Sibirica Ruby’

cornus alba sibrica ruby 2 Plant of the week  Cornus Alba ‘Sibirica Ruby’

cornus alba sibrica ruby Plant of the week  Cornus Alba ‘Sibirica Ruby’

Ahh another week returns and this plant of the week is surprisingly one of a group of plants that haven’t featured yet, so there’s no time like the present is there!

Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’ is as its name suggests is a form that came from Siberia. Cornus alba itself does have a wide range, growing from Siberia into Russia and China. These forms of C.alba also grow in thickets up to 3m tall while ‘Sibirica’ is slightly smaller growing up to 2.4m tall, which is some of the reasons it makes it a good plant for the smaller gardens. This form Ruby was selected from a batch of seedlings for having the most brightest red stems. Sibirica was first introduced into the uk though Westonbirt arboretum in around 1838.

cornus alba sibrica ruby 2 Plant of the week  Cornus Alba ‘Sibirica Ruby’

Cornus alba ‘Sibirica Ruby’ is mainly grown for its bright red stems that give us so much delight during the winter months. If left unpruned, it will make a shrub up to just over 2.4m in height that produces while flowers in May and June which are followed by white flushed with purple fruits. The dark green leaves turn a stunning dark red colour before falling off to expose the red stems.

cornus alba sibirca 4 Plant of the week  Cornus Alba ‘Sibirica Ruby’

Growing wise, it prefers a nice damp soil but will grow away quite happily in alkaline or acidic soils. It prefers a sunny or semi shady spot in your garden. When planting, it is best to add plenty of organic material. It can be left to form a medium sized shrub but if you do this, you lose The intense redness of the stems. To get the best stem colour, you have to prune hard back down to 150mm each spring around the end of March, you can prune the whole plant like this or if you would like flowers, thin out half the plant as per above and leave half, next winter it is these 2yr old stems you cut down and leave the 1yr stems alone. After pruning, I tend to mulch with garden compost and feed with Vitax Q4. It doesn’t suffer from too many pests and diseases. Propagation wise, it is pretty easy to grow from either layering a stem onto the ground or from hardwood cuttings taken in early November and left in a cold frame until the spring

Best place to see it, is indeed RHS Wisley where it can be found near the big pond. Buying wise this form can be a bit tricky! Last in the plant finder in 2015!

cornus alba sibrica ruby 3 Plant of the week  Cornus Alba ‘Sibirica Ruby’

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Plant of the week- Luma apiculata

luma apiculata 2 Plant of the week  Luma apiculata

luma apiculata Plant of the week  Luma apiculata

This weeks Plant of the week is again one of those most beautiful of plants that isn’t sadly widely grown here in the uk but it has so much to offer us.

Luma apiculata is a native of South America, mainly around the Andes mountain range that encompasses Chile and Argentina. In its native counties, it mainly grows in temperate forests like Valdivana in Chile and Los Arrayanes National Park in Argentina, where there is a complete forest of Luma. Although it is from these areas, it is completely hardy in most parts of the uk, although it will struggle in the colder areas. It is one of the taller members of the Myrtle family, reaching 10-15m in its native areas but a lot smaller here in the uk making it an ideal tree for a small garden. It has also naturalised in some parts of The uk, mainly in the west and also in parts of Ireland as well as some parts of the USA.

luma apiculata 2 Plant of the week  Luma apiculata

It is mainly grown for its stunning cinnamon and cream coloured bark that really shines out during the winter months but the summer borne flowers are also highly fragrant and well worth growing for the scent alone. The honey produced by the bees from luma, is very much sort after. An edible black/blue berry about 1cm across then follows the flowers. The leaves themselves are quite small and delicate around 2x1cm in size, a lovely dark brown colour and like most other members of the Myrtle family, have a slight scent to them. It is also happy to grow on all types of soil including clay and chalk as long as it is free draining but also doesn’t dry out too much. It is pretty easy going without any major pest and diseases and requires very little pruning other than removing dead wood and crossing wood. It does make a good bonsai subject and is on my want list for pruning in the Japanese Niwaki style. It is quite easily propagated by either sowing seed or taking hard wood cuttings of it at this time of year.

There is another form available called ‘Glanleam Gold’ which is a delightful variegated version and is a little more widely sold.

It can be seen again at the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and can be brought from my reliable sources at Pan Global Plants and Botanica

luma apiculata 4 Plant of the week  Luma apiculata

2YnoBk1500924993 Plant of the week  Luma apiculata