Tag Archives: Dahlia

Prepare your garden for winter

Prepare your garden for winter
what to do to prepare your garden for winter, gardener Bourne End, Marlow

The first frosts have made their mark, leaving all tender bedding and perennials are black and mushy. Here are a few things that must be done now to prepare your garden for winter.

This list of jobs includes lifting tender plants to protect overwinter and mulching those that will be left in situ. You’ll also need to clear the residue of perennial plants that have now died back for winter. And now is the right time to move and replant dormant shrubs. You can also plant new bare root or root ball plants.

Clearing the detritus means the winter framework is left to be enjoyed. Those nagging jobs would otherwise distract you from the winter beauty.

Deal with leaves now

The worst problem now is the masses of leaves that need collecting from lawns. Those in borders are untidy but won’t do any harm. Those left on the lawn for more than a week will set it back, so get them into leaf bins or onto the compost heap.

The dahlias and cannas have been hit by frost and need to be cleared, as do the calla lillies. I have treated them all largely the same, but this year am leaving some cannas in the ground. These will have an initial mulch of grit or gravel.  Mulches can be topped up when I do a winter compost mulch of the entire bed.  Others will retire to the greenhouse to be kept slightly damp. If the ground looks like it will freeze I might have to remove them all to the greenhouse.

The gravel serves to stop frost penetration but does not keep moisture at the crown, or that is the theory anyway.  It also shows me where they are, so when I dig the beds over to remove weeds I don’t stick my fork into them.

Prepare your garden for winter
Using a gravel mulch to mark location and protect the crown.

I employ a similar tactic when planting bulbs. Just covering the surface where they are planted with gravel helps me to  see where they are. It eventually gets turned into the soil and helps with the overall balance and my drive towards perfect soil; eight years working on it and some to go still.

Some bulbs  will also benefit from having a little grit or gravel underneath to prevent rotting in damp soils. They need just enough to stop water gathering and rotting the basal plate.

Clearing the decks to prepare your garden for winter

Clearing away the detritus of the autumn will also prepare your garden for winter. That way you may enjoy the structure left behind in the post-perennial period.

Mine is buxus shapes – still forming – and multi-coloured stems of dogwood, under-planted with cyclamen, narcissus and primulas.

Removing the decaying growth also enables the first shoots of spring to be seen more clearly, something we’ll be awaiting with anticipation of warming and longer days. Replacing it later with an even mulch of compost brings a neat background where new growth sings out.

The waste collected  of course contributes to the compost heap,  continuing the cycle of material grown from compost and returned to it.

Prepare your garden for winter
Blackened dahlias en- route to the compost heap

I have also cut down my – or more correctly my daughters – banana tree. This will also be left in place with a fleece wrap and wire cage, topped with bubble wrap to prevent water getting at the crown. Now three years old, leaving this plant out is nerve racking. But in the sheltered spot I am hoping it will not just survive but benefit from the southern sun as it rises in spring.

Hot bed hot colours

Hot bed, hot colours
Creating a tropical garden with hot colours, design cut flower bed

Earlier this year I planted out a secluded south facing bed with a hot and tropical feel, hot bed, hot colours. This tropical feel garden, with hot colours for cut flowers catches the sun all day and would be in view from our main outdoor summer seating area .

This area is currently occupied by lots of Nerines, so flowers for the late summer  were already ahead. A Musa Basjoo Banana (£5 from a nursery at J1 on the M40) was key to the tropical feel. It just oozes tropics. Anchoring the bed at either end are Helianthus Lemon Queen and Romneya, the California Poppy Tree.

Filling in the spaces I used Zinnias grown from seed, Oesteospurmums from cuttings, and lots of bright Dahlias.

The objective of providing cut flowers from this bed would be bolstered by my first attempt at growing Alstromeria, the peruvian lilly. These are included as I read that they stay fresh in a vase for 3 weeks. I bought them mail order, and about half of them grew. Not ideal, but enough growing strongly to make up for losses.

Some Agapanthus I had been given are dotted in, with a view to them establishing to flower in forthcoming years.

So all planted and promises of hot coloured cut flowers all summer.

This bed also happens to be overlooked from my hallway, so is what we see coming downstairs in the morning. And what any visitors see when entering the house.

It started slowly, and I thought the dry summer would wipe out much if it. Not only did it survive, but it has thrived. The area is now our first call for cut flowers. They have been abundant from June and still plentiful going into October.

Hot bed, hot colours, lessons learned

I was caught out by the  late season exuberance, and found many plants were not adequately supported. This meant they leaned forward into the grass path, and left the back of the bed looking open.

Hot bed, hot colours
As the season went on bigger plants leaned in too far. Nerines came out early this year, in the past they’ve not shown until late October.

Some thought into what plants go where, and some discrete canes, should solve that for next year. And some planning to get through the dry weather. I will add further loads of compost. And install a leaky pipe irrigation system there, to make sure the water gets right down below the foliage and into the roots.

And the proof of the pudding? You can see that it is still bringing spectacular colour, especially for a cheap and fast go at a hot bed, hot colours idea. And especially compared to the perennials borders  that lose colour fast from October.

And the great thing is that it will only get better. I love it!

Hot bed, hot colours
Overall it met the brief, hot colours all summer long

Hot bed, hot colours Hot bed, hot colours Hot bed, hot colours

June when borders are without flower Week 23

June when borders are without flower

June when borders are without flower
Mind the June gap. I have only become aware of this supposed null period in the borders in the last few years, but I have to ask “what gap?”

June gap refers to a period, usually June when borders are without flower.  It is the time after spring bulbs have gone, and before the herbaceous border kicks in. This is, in theory, boring for plantsmen and gardeners, and critical for bee keepers. Bees without flowers to feed on can be a catastrophe.

But in my Thames Valley plot I have to ask “what gap?” I am not without flower in any of my  borders with any aspect. In fact, I can already barely keep up with dead heading day lillies. It is a great chance to spend 10 mins morning and evening with a cup of tea (or glass of something cool later) taking in what is actually going on.

I have found one or two plants not maturing as they should, and hence being fenced in by their more vigorous neighbours. And a couple of gaps where there should have been something by now; that is where my pots of Dahlias will come into their own, as gap pluggers.

Non-stop flowering

Roses are starting to flower freely, there are foxgloves everywhere. Geranium Wargrave Pink is so prolific that I have had to make the first cut backs.

Not a “Chelsea chop”, but more a back to earth and start again.

There are late contributions from bulbs in the form of Camassia leichtlinii Alba, a happy mistake of packing as I am sure I ordered blue. The cream white flowers that progress up the stem ave reached halfway, whereas the blue form were finished in early May.

And the Alliums are in various stages of growth; Purple Sensation out and some nearly done, and Christophii just emerging.

June when borders are without flower
The East border with plenty of flower for bee and gardener

Plants to fill the June gap

Otherwise perennials have taken over with Digitalis, Verbascum, Geranium, Iris Siberica, Antirrhinum, Lupin and Papaver leading the way.

June when borders are without flower
Delphinium and Lychnis ready to join Iris and Geranium in flower

Here is a list of other plants that can help fill the gap.

 

Garden springs into growth Week 21

Garden springs into growth

Garden springs into growth
With temperatures up and the recent rain the garden will really spring into growth. Most of the later planting is done, but I still have a few more Dahlias and Cosmos to plant out.

And decisions need to be taken about those Dahlia and Canna roots that have not done anything. It’s always a puzzle that some perfectly healthy looking specimens just refuse to shoot.

Those that have gone soft have already been discarded, but the remaining few still take up space. I should adopt a time limit for them, rather than allow them to clutter up the planting plans for other beds and the greenhouse.

This week I watched daily as the greenhouse springs into growth. I have sown some French Marigold specifically as companions for them, and they are now planted, along with Coriander and Basil  to keep the Cucumbers and Chillis free from at least a few bugs.

In the borders the task of dead heading has started. Hemerocalis, Iris Siberica and the bearded Iris all need attention. Poppies are another that will flower all summer if they can. Leave some pods to turn though, and let them self sow through out the border.

Many “annual”  plants have made it through the last few winters here, including Poppy Papaver Comutatum, the one with black spots like a ladybird. Snapdragons and Scabious are also popping up where I had them last year, a most welcome and pleasant surprise.

Garden springs into growth
Ladybird poppies are a spectacular red

Early crops a winner

The peas I started in the greenhouse have produced an early crop, and encouraged me to make it really worthwhile next year. those outside are not really far behind. The broad beans though are several weeks ahead, and the first pods are ready to pick now.

Other crops have started to bolt with the extra heat, and so they should have a planting companion to provide shade. Not quite sure what that is yet though.

Now I am watching for fading planting and the inevitable “June gap”.

 

 

Spring planting Week 19

Spring planting – again

Spring planting
The warm weather – tempered by a couple of chilly nights last week – has really sprurred the garden along. Much needed rain was the catalyst to kick-start growth, with many perennials noticeably taller. Lupins, Delphiniums, Digitalis  and Rudbeckias have almost doubled in size over a few days

And now the ground is wet and warm I can get a few more projects under way.

A narrow south facing bad seems ideal for some tropical plants. It has a dry and a damp end, so will acomodate a wide range of plants. I have a banana – Musa Basjoo – and Cannas fr that tropical leaf feel, and colour from Dahlias and Callas. Some previous residents will stay, including Nerine Bowdenii, Helianthus Lemon Queen, several Penstemons and a Phlox.

For spot plants I have some Lilly Regale and Tiger Lillies. This is also the spot I like to try to grow the best sunflowers, and they disguise an ugly downpipe as well.

Agapanthus – a trade in at the last plant swap – and Alstromeria provide additional interest, and  the latter hopefully long-lasting cut flowers. The slightly banked front will be covered by Osteospermum, Alchemilla Mollis and Sedums.

Finally a few Mammoth sweet peas for scent.

Food glorious food

In the kitchen garden I have planted out the Chard, Pak Choi and about a million beetroots. There are four varieties, one of them a golden one that I have never tried before.

Potatoes were another benefactor of the rain last week, requiring earthing up already.

And the peas in the greenhouse experiment has worked, to the degree that we have mange tout to eat from the garden for the first time. The broad beans in the greenhouse beds are pinched out and all  in flower.

 

The main flower border is now storming ahead.

Spring planting
The main front border on April 17th
Spring planting
And the same border 4 weeks later

The bad news is though… that there are only 4 weeks until midsummer.

This week in the garden Week 7

This week in the garden Week 7

This week in the garden week 7
After a w
eek away for some winter sport and I have come back to – not much change in the garden. Or that is perhaps how it looks at first. A deeper look reveals cyclamen flowering well, primula and polyanthus colour dotted all over the beds, crocus in various stages of life and colours and daffodils not flowering.

Yes, not flowering. At one stage I had suspected that they would all be done and over by the end of January but the irregular cold checks have worked perfectly to delay them. In fact I don’t recall some of the varieties I have being this late in the years in this house.

Good news.

But the early growth in perennials has been checked back again, this week quite severely. Notably Crocosmia and Nerines, but also Osteospermum. This time they may take a while to recover, but in turn means that the first rush of colour in the borders will be pushed back, perhaps smoothing over a gap period I have in mid May.

In the greenhouse everything is rosy. Or perhaps beany. Broad beans and peas are growing well in the vacant greenhouse borders and in pots. This year I have not applied any water to them, leaving them to fight for whatever they can scrounge from the sopping earth outside.

And I have sown some runner beans too using the same principle, setting pots on damp earth in one corner and leaving them to it.

Keep an eye on Dahlia tubers

I have been checking the Dahlia tubers that are stored in there too, opening the crates and leaving them on the bench as much as possible to ensure no dampness gets in. I lost over 50 per cent of my stock last year to damp.

This week in the garden
Dahlia tubers drying out in storage

In the other greenhouse seeds are sprouting everywhere. Many are perennials that I will use to fill borders while other plants bulk up to split in the spring. These were sown on January 1st and are being pricked out and potted on already. Some are tough annuals like Calendula and French Marigold; I want to use as companion planting in the vegetable beds.

Another highlight this week in the garden were the chillies. Some regular, some small and brightly coloured and some for flavour. The Rotocos hit 350,000 on the Scoville scale; you don’t want to be taking a bite out of them. These are now pricked out into their first pots. I will keep the heat on them for a while to get them ready to plant out in May, some in pots and some just outside the greenhouse.

Cuttings taken in early January are also fully rooted and now being potted on, providing more plants for the first Abbotsbrook plant swap late in April or early May.

Another couple of frosty nights are forecast, so I have covered up a few things and tucked others into a cold frame.