Monday, 14 August 2017

LUXURIOUS LILIES



LUXURIOUS LILIES

I have had a fascination and love for lilies most of my gardening life. My earliest memory was in Kirkton in Dundee where my granny lived. She had a gravel path on the south side of the house and every summer up came a mass of tall white scented lilies straight through the gravel. At that time I was being trained as a gardener and since I was in my early teens I knew all about gardening!!!
I mean, I cut grannies grass, planted a rose border for her plus a flower border and some grew some vegetables for her. I knew that plants grow better if they get good soil, so I thought I would
Lily Chelsea
rejuvenate the lilies that grew underneath the gravel path. In the dormant season I dug up the lilies and was horrified to find there was no soil, just a heap of broken bricks left behind by the builders. Being young, keen and full of energy I soon excavated a deep trench of rubble and replaced it with good top soil before replanting grannies special lilies. I waited patiently for the massive display the following summer. The lilies never recovered, but grannies are very forgiving. Lessons learned at great expense. Good drainage is essential.
Lily Brasilia
Today my garden is just full of lilies, but with knowledge that to keep them happy good drainage is very important, and a warm sunny border is much preferred. They still get good soil, as well as a mulch as many varieties are stem rooting. Most are grown with other plants at their feet to shade the ground and retain moisture as well as giving them support. Azaleas are a good plant as they do not have deep roots so less competition and they will accommodate those that only grow a few feet tall. For taller varieties of lily I plant them in between peonies. Tall varieties may need canes to support them otherwise the large heavy flowers will arch down to the ground.
Lily Stargazer
In the early days I started off with the cheaper Lilium regale. It has large white flowers with a strong exotic scent and is easy to grow but needs staking. Then I had to try the very special Golden Ray of Japan, Lilium auratum. A real cracker, but quite tall so they needed good support. In the autumn I collected the seed pods and tried to germinate these after some winter chilling. The following spring I got about thirty young plants which are now all over my garden.
When the scent is important you must go for the oriental types, so bulbs were purchased in autumn of Casa Blanca, Muscadet, Brasilia and Stargazer.
Hemmerocallis Patricia
Another brilliant white lily is Lilium candidum the Madonna lily, but take care with this one as the stems are not surface rooting so do not plant it deep, otherwise it can be prone to botrytis.
Asiatic lilies come in a wide range of colours and only grow a couple of feet tall but unfortunately have no scent.
Many plants are termed lilies, but are not really in the lily family though they can still be very attractive. Water lilies are a must if you have a pond, and the day lily, Hemmerocallis is very popular. I am trying out the yellow Patricia with double flowers. These only last for one or two days, but they are quite prolific so put on a good show.
Calla Lily
Calla lily, also known as the Arum lily, is also very popular both in white form as well as many other colours. The Arum lily, Zantedeschia aethiopica is quite hardy but likes moisture and fertile soil as well as a warm aspect. The Callas come from South Africa so warm conditions improve growth and flowering. Some species of Calla are not hardy and may need winter protection with a mulch or may need lifting up and overwintering in a frost proof shed.

Wee jobs to do this week
Tidying up borders

Mid summer has the garden looking at its best for our enjoyment as well as visitors, so we must keep it tidy. Wet weather following on from warm days has encouraged weeds to grow rapidly so hoe or pull these out before they get established. Many shrubs and roses have completed their first flush of flowers and these plus older leaves fall down to the ground encouraging slugs and snails and looking very untidy. This debris plus the summer flush of weeds can all go on the compost heap, which will be building up with rhubarb leaves and grass cuttings.

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Sunday, 6 August 2017

PLANT A TREE FOR FOOD



PLANT A TREE FOR FOOD

Growing fruit trees like apples, pears and plums today is quite normal in gardens, as there is a huge range of varieties available as well as different forms to suit restricted spaces. Wide open spaces take our standard trees, and walls take the cordons and fans but then for those with very limited space we can grow either stepover trees growing a few feet tall or the narrow columnar styles like the Starline Firedance apple. As our Scottish weather could be taking a turn for the better temperature wise now could be the time to extend our range with other fruiting trees once considered too exotic for the north.
Ripening figs
Figs may only form a very small tree or large bush, but with some shelter and a south facing wall or fence fruiting can be very successful outdoors.
Sweet cherries, like Cherokee is also a winner outdoors now it can be grown on the dwarfing rootstock Gisela 5. This rootstock plus some summer pruning keeps the height down to six feet and allows netting the tree otherwise the birds would very quickly get the lot.
Hazelnuts
Hazelnuts are now quite popular as part of the woodland fringe mix for shelterbelts and windbreaks. Hazelnuts have been grown all over UK for centuries as a source of food as well as for the wood for fencing. The nuts are harvested in autumn and can store for many months. The nuts are very high in protein, numerous vitamins and minerals and much of the production which is a main crop in Turkey goes into Nutella and Ferrero Rocher
Mulberry trees make great specimen trees for the small garden and look brilliant in late summer when covered in black to red fruits looking
Mulberry fruit
like a raspberries. However they take up to ten years to fruit from planting so patience is required. Mulberry fruit can be white red or black, but the best flavoured is the black variety of Morus nigra. They are often planted in a lawn to aid fruit collection when plastic sheeting is laid down and the fruit collected daily as it ripens and falls to the floor. It is very soft and juicy which can be quite staining so wear gloves when collecting the fruit. The fruit is sweet but tart and is eaten fresh with cream and honey or yoghurt, or it can be used in pies, tarts or brewed into a delicious wine. The fruit is high in vitamins and minerals and antioxidants.
In its natural habitat growing in southern Europe, Asia, India and North Africa the dark anthocyanin pigment can be extracted quite easily leaving behind the juice to be used in cordials, wine and sauces. Scientists are now evaluating the anthocyanins for use in biotechnology and pharmacology.
Walnut in autumn
Walnut trees are coming up in scale so need plenty of room to grow, but make a very majestic tree on maturity. They prefer warmer climates coming from China and Southern Europe but grow very well all over UK having been brought here as a food source by the Romans. In UK we grow the English walnut, Juglans regia but needs a good summer and autumn to ripen up the seeds. However most of the walnuts we buy in the supermarkets come from China, USA and other warmer countries. Research on the health benefits of eating walnuts just about puts them into the superfood category. They are packed with proteins, minerals and numerous vitamins and also high in the omega 3 oils. I use them almost daily in my morning muesli and always added to salads, but they are used in very many other dishes including cake, soups and the oil is used in salad dressings.
Sweet chestnut
Sweet chestnut, Castanea sativa, is native to Europe and Asia Minor but now grown widely. Introduced by the Romans, who made porridge from the ground down nuts. It makes a huge tree that can live up to 2000 years, and if you want the chestnut harvest soon, plant a grafted tree otherwise those raised from seed take about 20 years to mature. They have been widely used in parkland landscaping and found in monasteries as a source of food. The chestnuts are usually roasted to remove the outer skin. They have similar health benefits to walnuts.
Botrytis on tomatoes

Wee jobs to do this week
Tomatoes are now cropping quite well and growth will have reached the top of the glasshouse, so remove the growing point and keep an eye out for any signs of botrytis on leaves. Remove any of these immediately before it spreads and keep removing the lower leaves once they start to go yellow.
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