Long House Plants Newsletter 2014
All I want for 2014’s weather is a nice average year but it doesn’t look as if I’m going to get it. We’ve already had more than 5 inches of rain in January and by mid February, the same amount of rain as the first four months of last year. This has made it difficult or impossible to garden this winter as the ground was so wet that it would have caused compaction if walked on, let alone trying to work the soil. We are, however, much more fortunate here than in flooded parts of the country. So far, no snow – just think back to last winter when we had snow each month for 6 months.
The rainfall for last year was more normal. We recorded 26 inches of rain here, so much drier than 2012’s 39 inches. The weather didn’t warm up until late June and I noticed that everything flowered a lot later and plants that usually don’t bloom together were flowering at the same time and it looked glorious.
I have again added some new and different varieties of plants to my range for this year, some of which are mentioned in this newsletter. They appear on www.longhouse-plants.co.uk as they become available throughout the year. If you are looking for something and you cannot see it on the website or in the nursery, it’s always worth asking because I do have a habit of hoarding plants!
Our opening hours – from the beginning of March to the end of September, every Friday and Saturday 10am – 5pm, Sunday 10am – 4pm and Bank Holidays 10am – 5pm, or by arrangement; via the website or 01708 371719.
I look forward to seeing you at the nursery this year.
The Ajugas or carpet bugles are very useful for evergreen ground cover Ajuga reptans ‘Burgundy Glow’ has variegated foliage flushed deep red and blue flowers in spring to summer and is happy in ordinary to moist soils. Astilbe ‘Deutschland’ and Astilbe ‘Radius’ prefer damper soils, producing respectively red and white fluffy plumes of flowers in summer above very attractive leaves
I have mentioned the perennial cornflowers – Centaurea with their attractive ‘ragged’ flowers before as being well worth growing. They flower for ages and are enjoyed by insects, they are happy in sun to semi shade in ordinary to well drained soils. New for this year are Centaurea ‘Blewitt’, with mauve blue flowers, Centaurea montana ‘Lady Flora Hastings’ has white flowers with a pink eye, Centaurea orientalis has yellow blooms and Centaurea triumfettii ‘Hoar Frost’ has white flower with a hint of pink.
Coreopsis are another very good garden plant, they flower for ages, especially if dead headed. New for this year are; Coreopsis auriculata ‘Nana’, Coreopsis grandiflora ‘Sunray’ and Coreopsis tripteris.
The Bishop’s Mitres, Epimedium are another little obsession of mine. They are rhizomatous woodland perennials, some deciduous, some evergreen with decorative foliage and dainty flowers. New for this year are; Epimedium ‘Akebono’, Epimedium ‘Buckland Spider’, Epimedium franchettii, Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Jennie Maillard’, Epimedium leptorrhizum and Epimedium ‘Little Shrimp’.
Perennial Geraniums are another really useful group of plants. Not to be confused with the bedding Geraniums (Latin name Pelargonium), these are reliably perennial, pretty and grow in a wide range of conditions. New for this year are Geranium cinereum ‘Rothbury Gem’, Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Bevan’s Variety’, Geranium sanguineum ‘Elsbeth’, Geranium sanguineum ‘Glenluce’, and Geranium sanguineum ‘New Hampshire Purple’
I have continued to propagate different varieties from my collection of Hemerocallis. Day lilies are very well suited to our clay soils – they really don’t mind if it’s very wet or very dry and as long as they have some sunshine they will thrive and flower. New for this year are; Hemerocallis ‘Black Stockings’, deep rich velvety purple with a green throat, Hemerocallis ‘Copper Windmill’, large coppery fragrant flowers, Hemerocallis ‘Get All Excited’ burgundy flowers with a green throat, Hemerocallis ‘High Tor’ has elegant yellow trumpet shaped flowers at about 5 feet tall (154cm), Hemerocallis ‘Little Girl’ with peach pink flowers on short stems , Hemerocallis ‘Little Fantastic’ has rose pink flowers with a green centre, Hemerocallis ‘Mahogany Magic’ has deep mahogany red flowers with a black eye zone and yellow throat, Hemerocallis ‘Ruby Spider’ with large ruby red spidery flowers, Hemerocallis ‘Siloam Peewee’ has clotted cream coloured flowers with purple eye zone and Hemerocallis ‘Siloam Sugar Time’ has fragrant apricot flowers.
The range of Iris on offer this year has increased again – I do so enjoy them! I have bearded iris which suit dry stony soils and the sibirica varieties for ordinary to damp soils and Louisiana varieties for wet soils. There really are too many to mention so I have picked out a few stunners; Iris ‘Butterscotch Kiss’, is a tall bearded iris with perfumed caramel yellow flowers and Iris ‘Rajah’ a tall bearded iris with yellow standards and burgundy falls. Iris sibirica ‘Teal Velvet’ has very deep purple flowers with yellow and white markings at the base of the petals.
Paeonia are just so glamorous and I have several new varieties this year, including a very limited number of Paeonia ‘Bartzella’ an itoh hybrid with perfumed semi double to double creamy yellow flowers with red blotches, Paeonia lactiflora ‘Charles Burgess’ has single maroon red flowers with yellow staminoids, Paeonia lactiflora ‘Do Tell’ has single pink blooms with pink staminoids, Paeonia lactiflora ‘Lady Alexandra Duff’ has double pinky white flowers, Paeonia lactiflora ‘Sword Dance’ has single maroon perfumed flowers with yellow stamens and Paeonia lactiflora ‘Twitterpated’ has soft pink flowers streaked with tones of raspberry pink and a frilly centre. Just a quick reminder, do not plant them too deeply. They do not enjoy this and may not come up or may not flower until they have settled themselves in at the correct level.
My collection of Phlox has continued to expand and I have 8 new varieties for you this year. Every garden should have some!
Tricyrtis ‘Blue Wonder’ is a new variety of toad lily whose flowers are white and covered in blue spots and flecks. These are fantastic plants for shade, enjoying ordinary to dampish soil.
Veronicastrum ‘Red Arrows’ flowers from July to September and brings wonderful vertical accents to the garden. It has spikes of deep violet flowers opening from red buds.
Shrubs and Trees
I have grown a good batch of young Japanese maples – the Acer palmatum types, in some cases only a few of each. These are ideal trees for a small garden, either planted out or kept in a pot. They enjoy being sheltered from winds and do not appreciate drying out, so in some cases can do better in a pot as they are more likely to be watered during a dry spell! The varieties available are; Acer palmatum ‘Aoyagi’, Acer palmatum ‘Beni-schichi-henge’, Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’, Acer palmatum ‘Butterfly’, Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’, Acer palmatum ‘O-kagami’, Acer palmatum ‘Orange Dream’, Acer palmatum ‘Oridono-nishiki’, Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’, Acer palmatum ‘Peaches and Cream’, Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’, Acer palmatum ‘Satsuki-beni’, Acer palmatum ‘Shindeshojo’, Acer palmatum var dissectum ‘Garnet’, Acer palmatum var dissectum ‘Tamukeyama’, Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’
I always find that evergreen Euonymus are very useful hardy evergreen shrubs tolerant of damp or dry soils and happy in sun or shade. I have added Euonymus fortunei ‘Sunspot’, which has dark green foliage with a bright yellow splash, Euonymus japonicus ‘Bravo’, green foliage edged with yellow and white and Euonymus japonicus ‘Microphyllus Aureovariegatus’ with small green and yellow leaves. Euonymus japonicus ‘Microphyllus Albovariegatus’ has small green and white leaves.
I grow several different hardy Hibiscus. These shrubs are late into leaf but then clothe quickly. They produce showy attractive blooms from July to October. They enjoy an open sunny site in ordinary to well drained soils and also are happy in clay. New for this year are; Hibiscus ‘Eruption’, Hibiscus syriacus ‘Marina’ an improved blue variety and Hibiscus syriacus ‘Woodbridge’
Hoheria are evergreen shrubs or small trees originating from New Zealand, I have grown the delicately perfumed white flowered H. sexystylosa ‘Stardust’ for several years. It’s a lovely plant, well suited to our local soils and weather conditions – just site in a sunny to lightly shaded place in the garden away from cold winds. They do not need to be pruned but if you need to cut them back, do it in early spring. New varieties for this year are; Hoheria ‘Ace of Spades’ and ‘Borde Hill’.
I love growing the perfumed varieties of Philadelphus and can offer 12 varieties this year including the return of P. ‘Belle Etoile’ and new to the range P. ‘Minnesota Snowflake’. We have been asked for more Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Lady in Red’ and these are once again available. Pittosporums are grown for their attractive foliage and are a popular choice for flower arrangers. They can also have sweetly perfumed flowers in spring. My new varieties are; Pittosporum anomalum, Pittosporum ‘Arundel Green’ and Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Variegatum’.
The genus Prunus includes plums, almonds, nectarines, cherries and peaches. The varieties I grow are ornamental. Prunus ‘Pink Perfection’ has large double pale pink flowers in spring with the new foliage flushed with bronze and in autumn, it is golden. Prunus ‘Royal Burgundy’ has double pink flowers and the foliage is a deep velvety burgundy turning dramatic shades of red in autumn. Prunus ‘Shizuka’ is also known as ‘Fragrant Cloud’ – which describes the sweetly perfumed double white flowers. The autumn foliage is soft orange.
Rosemary is not only a delicious herb, popular in folklore – Shakespeare said ‘rosemary for remembrance’ but also a very useful early flowering evergreen shrub. I have Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Green Ginger’ with pale blue flowers and a ginger tang and Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Iden Blue Boy’ with bright blue flowers.
Sarcococca also known as Christmas or Winter Box is a lovely shrub with wonderful elegant foliage and highly perfumed flowers in winter to spring. They are very useful for dry shade where it can be difficult to plant. I grow many different varieties with different habits – new this year is Sarcococca ruscifolia var. chinensis ‘Dragon Gate’
Another highly perfumed shrub is Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Charles Lamont’. This is a deciduous shrub with pink flowers on bare wood in the spring. I do have quite a collection of these already, so there must be one to suit you!
Climbers and wall shrubs
Vertical gardening always gives you the chance to cram a few more plants in the garden! Some plants although not classified as climbers do better if wall or fence trained, they benefit from some support and warmth. Abutilons with their pretty bell shaped flowers look fantastic and flower for ages. New this year is Abutilon megapotamicum ‘Variegatum’. Chaenomeles, the flowering quince can also be wall trained; Chaenomeles x superba ‘Crimson and Gold’ is very striking with deep red flowers with golden anthers. X Fatshedera lizei ‘Variegata’ gives very dense cover of robust variegated foliage. I have grown Ribes speciosum the fuchsia flowered currant for several years; it is superb as a wall shrub
I am often asked how to prune Clematis. There are three pruning groups;
Group 1, which flower on shoots produced last year, is the first to flower in the spring. They do not need to be pruned, although it is possible to trim lightly after flowering if they are in the way.
Group 2 flower in midsummer, they tend to have large showy flowers. They flower on short spurs from old wood and generally do not need to be pruned. If you find however, that the plant is getting too large, I find it best to cut one third of the shoots down by a quarter, one third down by half and the remaining third, cut down by three quarters. You then end up with a climber that will still have some flowers in the year it was pruned and will have better coverage, rather than having all the flowers at the top, where you often cannot see them.
Group 3 flower towards the end of summer into autumn. This clematis can be hard pruned each year at the end of February, cut them down to about 45cm (18 inches) from the ground. Group 3 Clematis produce flowers on new wood.
Knowing the pruning group can help you decide which clematis to choose – don’t put a Group 2 with another climber that needs to be pruned. If you choose Clematis from each group, then you will have flowers from spring to autumn.
New for this year are; Clematis ‘Alba Luxurians’ (Grp 3), Clematis ‘Blekitny Aniol’ (Blue Angel), (Grp 3), Clematis ‘Fireworks’ (Grp 2), Clematis florida var. Florida ‘Sieboldiana’ (Grp 3), Clematis ‘Giant Star’ (Grp 1), Clematis ‘Minuet’ (Grp 3), Clematis ‘Romantika’ (Grp 3)
Many of the visitors to the nursery ask how they can help birds and insects, so here are a few ideas. Plant a few plants that flower over winter and ensure that there is always something in flower so that there is always some nectar around. Strong perfume isn’t there for us; it’s to give the insects a map reference for lunch! Similarly the petal arrangements of, for example, an Iris isn’t there to please us but to support the insect while visiting the flower.
Generally, the centre of daisy like flowers are full of food for insects, so plants like Asters are useful, especially as they flower in late summer to autumn. I’ve also noticed goldfinches feeding on Aster seeds. Some double blooms do not have as much food as the simpler single flowers for insects. There are plants like Buddleias and Trifolium which are insect magnets – although last year I noticed that for a couple of weeks the bees preferred the Penstemons to the Buddleias. A few nettles around the garden and a little bit of water or a damp area can also help. Don’t cut down all the perennials in the autumn (always leave Penstemons to the spring anyway – they resent an autumn cutting) as it gives insects somewhere to shelter in the winter.
There are lots of new and exciting plants – more than I have room to mention here, so please join me at the nursery during the year.