GARDENING SCOTLAND 2013
Gardening Scotland at Ingliston in Edinburgh in June is always a major event for many gardeners.
Every year is different from previous years. This year every exhibitor has had to reschedule plants as the season is so far behind that normal plants for June are just not ready, but those that are normally finished are still in full flower.
However this year the sun shone, the cold east wind subsided and the event went ahead just like an early summer event should. The highlight of this event for me was more musical than horticultural when the invited band the Red Hot Chilli Pipers played on stage and gave their version of Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars. So absolutely brilliant that I had to leave my Saskatoon stand to go and see them perform that number.
I have always been very keen on large flowered tuberous begonias, but this year the The Scottish Begonia Society stand had to fall back on the begonia rex foliage plants, that may well be quite showy but cannot compete with the tuberous begonias that unfortunately were not available in great numbers.
I attend this event every year to promote and sell my Scottish grown Saskatoon plants, but as I have to arrive quite early to restock my stand it gives me plenty time to wander around the site and see all the other stands before the public arrives.
My saskatoons are proving very popular as this new fruit is slowly getting some recognition as buyers from a few years hence are now giving me positive feedback that bushes are now in flower and the first fruit crops are only a few weeks away.
There were great displays of peonies by Binnie Plants, clematis, chrysanthemums, rock garden plants and numerous other specialist plant growers. One of my great finds was the Trillium Snow Bunting with double white flowers in great profusion, but at £25 per plant a wee bit beyond my budget. Apparently the seed takes three years to germinate and another three years before it comes into flower.
Many stands are still selling a lot of heucheras in a wide variety of colours which are still the in plant to grow, and Jacques Armand still had perfect specimens of my favourite Arisaema sikokianum.
There were many stands and great displays of bonsai plants which were very old but in fantastic health with many rhododendrons and azaleas in full flower on miniaturised plants but as perfect specimens. These old knarled plants had great character and commanded attention.
However going back to my artistic side I was very impressed with the stand of original paintings by Daniel Campbell who is having a great run of popularity. Daniels Scottish landscape paintings are full of colour, selling very well and he also publishes many of his images in prints. Daniel also takes a stand at the Dundee Food and Flower Festival at Camperdown Park in September.
I spent a lot of time in my apprenticeship years training at Kingsway Technical College, now just Dundee College, so it was great to see that their stand had been awarded with a Silver Gilt for the stand designed by Ally McCloud. When I visited the stand two trainees, Lettie Bridgewater and Kathleen Coutts were on hand to offer help on the design as well as training at Dundee College.
The current idea for plant composts is a great reduction of peat in the mixture. However there are lot of very inferior products being marketed as peat free, and giving very inferior results. I have lost many plants as seedlings or cuttings in peat substitute composts that leave a lot to be desired. Good drainage is often compromised unless you add extra grit or sand.
One supplier of compost, Dalefoot Composts, creates their own brand using wool mixed with bracken and composted indoors in large sheds to control composting. Sheep need to be shorn and now there is no commercially viable market for sheep’s wool, but it can still be used as a very valuable composting material at times when there is a move away from peat based composts.
Wool and bracken are mixed in heaps and turned every week to assist breakdown, and once the wool and bracken has broken down to the correct degree, mixtures are created and designed for seed sowing, potting and soil amelioration. I tried some of these composts on my young Saskatoon plants and got great results though they are quite expensive.
Plant of the week
Laburnum vossii is also commonly known as Golden Rain as it is very striking when in full flower in late May to June. This small deciduous tree is very easy to grow but gives the best display of long golden flower racemes in full sun in a sheltered spot.
This plant however has a bad reputation as all parts of the tree contain the alkaloid poison cytisine and it is strongest in the seeds and seedpods. Unfortunately these can resemble garden peas and young children have been known to eat them. They can cause severe illness but are rarely fatal, though this poison is a favourite for authors and television dramas. Gardeners often remove the seedpods after flowering to conserve the tree strength so it flowers profusely the next year.