Sunday, 17 June 2012

Gardening Scotland at Ingliston


There are two major gardening events in my annual calendar. The Gardening Scotland at Ingliston in Edinburgh is in June and the Camperdown Flower and Food Festival in September. I take stands at both to promote and sell my Scottish saskatoons, but it also gives me the chance to see the best of horticultural products and new plants coming to the market as well as meeting gardening friends. There is such a wide range of great plants that you always come away with something special.
Last year our special purchase was Peony Doreen, and this year Anna chose three very colourful Heucheras and I found some gorgeous deep purple early flowering spray chrysanthemums. I have grown early flowering incurving, reflex and decorative chrysanths, but life is so busy I am now concentrating on sprays so I do not need to spend time disbudding to get those large single heads. I have most colours, but not the deep purple so now I have Jalta and Regal Mist.
The grower, Oska Copperfield Nursery in Leicester also had a very deep mauve from China called Barca Red which was not getting released for another four years. However I did get a full flowering shoot which I will try to find leaf bud sections and see if I can get them to root and grow.
My favourite Arisaema sikokianum from Japan was there in full flower. It is really weird and spooky, but I just love it. It is known as the Circumcised Jack in the Pulpit and starts life as a male plant but changes to female as it matures. One day it will be my choice to bring back.
Binny Plants had a fantastic display of Peonies, but you need to have a few bob in your pocket as they are not cheap with some new ones well over £200 each. However they were gorgeous and perfect for that one off special purchase to add a bit of sparkle to the garden.
The Scottish Begonia Society had a very colourful display of tuberous begonias and instructions on how to grow and propagate them. The large headed types can also be very expensive and are best grown under glass, but there are plenty more compact types suitable for outdoor flower beds.
Rhododendrons and azaleas were on show on many stands including Glendoick Gardens. Ken Cox was on the stand also promoting his new book “Fruit and Vegetables for Scotland”  Three hundred pages with ample pictures showing hands on growing from both amateur and professional gardeners growing their own plants to perfection. This book is a wealth of information covering every fruit and vegetable you need to know about. There is even a great article about this fellow in Dundee growing saskatoons.
I brought back a large bag of peat free compost made from composted sheep wool by Simon at Dalefoot composts. It comes in a range of strengths and looks good, so I will be potting up my young saskatoons in this new medium for showing at Camperdown flower show in September.
Several workshops were arranged each day just outside my stand so I got the full story. It was very interesting to hear Andrew Lear (the Appletree man) talk about the heritage apples, pears and plums which used to grow on the Carse of Gowrie. These old varieties may not be as commercial as those found in supermarkets, but they had flavours far superior to most of those around today.  Andrew is doing his best to find and restore these fruits.
Dundee College Gardeners won a silver gilt award with their Garden of Tranquillity showing excellent landscape skills integrating hard and soft landscaping to create a garden of calm and peace to relax in. Design and use of landscape planting was very impressive.

Plant of the week

Osteospermum is a low growing summer flowering plant that thrives in a sunny border, flower bed or hanging basket. There are hardy types that come up every year provided the winter frosts are not too severe, and the herbaceous ones grown from seed or cuttings and used as annuals. Although many people discard these at the end of the flowering season, if you have a particularly good one, it can be retained for another year by taking cuttings in the autumn and overwintering these on a sunny windowsill. Keep the cutting shaded for the first few weeks till well rooted.
This plant, a native of South Africa, needs full sun for the bright daisy like flower to be at their best.

Painting of the month

Paps of Jura from Port Askaig. A couple of years ago I visited some friends on Islay during the Whisky Festival week at the end of May. We were very fortunate in having a heatwave at the time, though our host Maggie told us it happens all the time. The scenery was breath taking and artistically I came away with photos and ideas for numerous paintings. However the highlight had to be our trip to Ardbeg distillery where a very happy and sociable crowd were celebrating the festival in great form with live music in the yard and the best malt whiskeys at £1 a nip. A trip across the island to Jura taking the ferry from Port Askaig gave me even more images to paint, and another brilliant whisky to sample. It was a fantastic trip that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys a wee dram, some great music and Scottish island landscapes. A wee touch of heaven.


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