Hello Everyone. Here it is, the usual mix of bits and bobs in no real order. Hot weather here in the UK. My garden is looking the worse for it. Everything drooping and cracks in the ground big enough to lose a barrow and an under-gardener down but I can't bring myself to put the sprinkler on.
New postings announced on twitter @pwhorticulture.
Dobies or Suttons?
Where does your loyalty lie? Would you rather buy your seeds from Dobies ...........
......or Suttons Seeds?
The Greater Celandine is rather an exotic looking UK native wild flower. It is a member of the Poppy family whereas the more common Lesser Celandine which is low growing and a bit of a garden weed and really looks nothing like it apart from having a yellow flower, is a member of the family Ranunculaceae, the Buttercup family. Both however are in the order Ranunculales so there is a kind of relationship albeit a bit of a way back in the family tree.
The foliage is light green and a bit ferny but really not like anything else. It has a lightness and open style that makes it very pretty and you feel it would have served particularly well as an ornamental plant in medieval times before more exotic looking plants started arriving from abroad.
The sap turns a vivid orange when exposed to air and is variously described as a cure for cancer and a serious irritant but whatever it is it is certainly an eye catching colour.
I recently sprayed some herbicide onto some creeping buttercup in a lawn and it wasn't until the buttercups started dying and turning yellow that I realised just how regularly it was spreading. It made a very definite straight line away from where it started in the middle top of the picture. The stolons (Stolons run above ground, rooting and putting out leaves at the nodes whereas rhizomes run underground and put up a shoot from the nodes.The rhiza part of rhizome is the Greek for roots and will be recognised in the genus Glycyrhiza which is the licorice plant. The name of the genus comes from the Greek 'glukurhiza', 'sweet root' ( is the gluku bit the derivation of glucose?) and this went through, bastardised, into old French as licoresse and so, slightly less bastardised, into English as licourice or licorice. The plant licorice is Glycorhiza glabra, a one metre high member of the legume family, it is hardy and has pale bluish flowers and as chance would have it it spreads by stolons not rhizomes. The root is where the sweetness is.)(That must be the world's longest bracket.) run across the grass rooting as they go and very soon colonise quite large areas of lawn.
Back to licorice. I remember eating things called Pontefract cake or, as the Normans would have said, Pomfret cakes. which were like thick but pliant coins stamped with a picture or logo and made out of licorice. Yorkshire
I have been trying to eradicate Hedge Bindweed (Calystegia sepium), the bane of many gardeners's lives, from a garden and I have been using the systemic herbicide Glyphosate. I was trying an idea suggested to me by someone who swears it works but I had my doubts. The idea is to put the spray strength mix of herbicide in a jar or bottle and secure it so that it wont fall over and then take as many bindweed stems as you can and cut off the tops and put the ends into the weedkiller solution. In theory the weedkiller gets taken up through the stem ends and kills the plant. Well. my plants just went a bit yellow and that was it - not much killing going on. Maybe I need to refine my technique. What did surprise me though was that the following season the Euphorbia griffithii over which the bindweed was growing showed classic symptoms of herbicide damage. I have no idea why unless there was a spillage of herbicide at some stage but it does show why you have to be careful with weedkillers. As well as this being a lesson in being careful with weedkillers I also put the picture up to show what weedkiller damage looks like. People have sent me parts of plants asking me what disease is affecting their plant , often roses, and it has been herbicide damage not a pest or disease.
I was having a general poke about on gardening blogs when I came across the American Juniper Hill Farm blog and what a blog it is too. It is mightily well presented and there are some very impressive guest writers, some big names in the garden world worldwide.
But what particularity caught my eye were pictures of a garden structure that I had built many years ago and it prompted me to dig out some old pictures of my own from the late 1980s. The structure was in the garden at Bourton House and was built to provide shade so that a wider range of ornamental plants could be grown. Very often the shady parts of a garden are in the dry and rooty soil under trees and shrubs and not conducive to growing good healthy plants so we decided to build some artificial shade from a pattern, with modifications, spotted by the garden owner on a trip to Canada. The garden is in the Cotswolds and has alkaline soil so we took the chance to build up some acid soil in the shade house so an even greater range of woodland shade lovers could be grown.
A curious but innocent enough looking garden feature until, that is, you go inside on a sunny day and .......
........you begin to think did someone slip something in my tea at lunch time.
Zig Zag ain't in it.
What surprised me most was that the structure is still standing some twenty odd years on with, as far as I know, no major repair.
A discreet member of the orchid family.It is not easy to spot amongst the grass because of its green flowers but it is a curious thing to see and a real treat when you stumble upon it.
At least these aphids had the decency to be of a colour that compliments the host plant, Thalictrum aquilegifolium, that they are destroying.
Black bean aphid, Aphis fabae, on the underside of a broad bean leaf. Aphids are great!They have some interesting life styles. For instance this one overwinters on the Spindle Tree , Euonymus europeaus and some Viburnums. Eggs are laid on the winter twigs after winged males and females have had sex on the winter host plant. The eggs hatch in late spring and when they mature they fly onto the summer hosts which can be beans and some weeds such as Fat Hen, Docks and Poppies. Many wingless young are produced parthenogenetically, ie without sex taking place, during the summer. Also during summer winged females will be produced and these migrate to other plants to start new colonies. As winter approaches winged males are produced and they fly off along with winged females to the winter host where they mate and the female lays eggs for the next years generation. In warm summer conditions each aphid can give birth to several young a day and each young has young within it. The young aphid matures in a week and starts producing more young. It has been estimated that if all the young produced from one aphid from the start of the summer survived then by the end of a season there would be over a million tonnes of aphids from just that one aphid. Stand back! ( I have heard a figure of ten million tonnes in a hundred days of breeding in the summer.Whichever is right either is a staggering statistic.)
Black bean aphids shooting up off the main veins. Aphids get their protein from the sugary sap of the plants they live on. They suck up a great amount of sap to get the protein they need and much of that sugary sap is squirted out of their back ends and given the unduly charming name of Honeydew. It is this sticky Honeydew that coats the leaves beneath and on which the black Sooty Mould grows. Sooty Mould is often seen on plants with infestations of sap sucking insects such as scale insects and aphids.
If you look carefully at the picture you will see what look like white skeletal aphids. These are the shed skins of the aphids which as they get bigger shed several skins much like snakes do.
Control the aphids by rubbing them off when you first see them and by pinching out the infested tips when beans start to form. They can be sprayed with fatty acids but you need to start early before colonises start to develop. Also keep host weeds under control.
Solar System or Death Star?
I spotted this Allium trying to show how the solar system was formed or was it trying to do a
Death Star impression? Hard to know.Oriental Poppies.
An unreal sparkling glint like crinkled red foil.
Some of these poppy flowers are huge.
Photo or painting?
Derbyshire County Show
It looked remarkably flimsy inside.
This surprisingly aggressive looking animal skull belongs to an animal that while not native to the UK can be found in the wild in the eastern counties. Any ideas what it is ? Answer below. For extra points can you tell me whose hands it is?
Two little chicks in a nest of yellow anthers.
There are three snakes native to the UK and this is none of them. This is a slow worm ,Anguilis fragilis, and not a snake at all but a lizard that has evolved to lose its legs. It was hiding, along with some snails, under a roof tile at the foot of a wall and soaking up the heat radiated through the tile.
Its curious how evolution works. The slow worm has has obviously worked out that enough pairs of glasses have been lost by little old ladies in their gardens that the best way never to be noticed is to make spectacles of yourself.
Daylily Gall Midge
There is a serious pest of daylilies now well established in the UK and yellow varieties seem more at risk.
The problem is a small fly that lays its eggs in the flower buds of Hemerocallis.
The buds become stunted and distorted. The larvae are small and difficult to see and by the time they have entered the bud there is nothing to be done other than to pick off and destroy the bud and therefore reduce the number of adults for next year.
The larvae are small, only two or three millimetres long but there can be many of them in a single bud. I managed to find nineteen in one bud but there can be more. Using late flowering varieties can help avoid the breeding period and therefore avoid infestation. Trying to spray against the adults means timing your spray to hit them before they lay their eggs which is a virtually impossible task. Cultivating the soil around the plants will help birds find the adults over-wintering in the soil.
Woolly Aphid ( Though sometimes seen on cardigans.)
This is woolly aphid on apple but I have seen serious infestations on Pyracantha and Cotoneaster . It was introduced to Europe from North America and was first reported in London in 1787.
The aphids are present all year round on the plant. Young aphids overwinter in cracks and galls. Infested plants produce swellings which can crack open. as well as providing overwintering quarters for the aphids hey also allow in disease causing cankers and die-back. Control is difficult. Only use systemic chemicals on on ornamental plants and not on edible crop plants such as apple. . Try the usual suspects of fatty acids but be prepared for a long battle.
Walnut Leaf Gall Mite ( but then it might not.)
This always looks worse than it is and the damage causes little harm to the walnut tree.
The raised blister on the surface of the leaf is matched by a concave depression on the underside of the leaf. There are felt like hairs in these depressions and the mite lives amongst those hairs. Plant galls are an interesting group of 'ailments' and caused by a wide variety of insects on a wide variety of plants. The reactions to a tiny insect can be quite dramatic.I may have mentioned these books before but they will bear repeating. The nPocket Encyclopedia of Plant Galls. Darlington nand Hirons. Pub. Blandford. Out of Print but available second hand. Britain's Plant Galls . Michael Chinery. Pub.Wild Guides
Leaf Rolling Sawfly on roses.
Don't you just love the names given to plant pests and diseases. It is very much a case of it is what it does on the plant. This is Rose leaf rolling sawfly. It can affect all roses though some are more susceptible than others. It is caused by the sawfly probing the leaves with its saw like ovipositor prior to laying itd eggs. All the probed leaves will curl up but not all will have eggs laid in them which at first I thought was wasteful but I guess if you are a predator looking for larvae you might find the whole process so hit and miss that you would give up and go somewhere else. Can you control it? Not easily but the larvae overwinter in the soil so cultivation the soil will help expose larvae the the birds.
Its a whoppa!
I am not a big fan of blousey Rhododendrons but Anthony , who has big hands, showed me the size of this single bloom on a new hybrid which he was selling at the wholesale nursery.
It is the skull of a Chinese Water Dear. Escapees from country parks have started to establish themselves in parts of the UK The teeth are articulated and can be tucked away or thrust outwards. There is a similar but less dramatic set of teeth on the almost ubiquitous and pestilential Muntjac dear.
The hands holding the skull are those of Barry Gayton and there is no reason why anyone should know that. He runs Desert World Gardens in Thetford. He has a dry sense of humour.