Food for thought
Crazy Silly Season
Colour your world this autumn
Get Creative with Containers
What to do next?
Autumn Planting Bulbs
ART Works for Business
10 gardening tasks for September
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Our Garden Club visit to Ball Colegrave at West Adderbury early in August did not let us down – the sun beamed over the seed trial grounds and glasshouses and a good time was had by all.
Many of you were impressed by the sheer expanse of colour, variety and quality of the bedding and summer colour plant material grown. This year’s wettest summer on record didn’t translate to poor displays, which you might have expected, and the only plants which certainly didn’t meet the mark were the nicotiana (tobacco plants), which were dead but still on show to illustrate the way this trial ground operates.
Elsewhere, the new aptly named ‘Storm’ petunias were amazing. Yes you could see some rain damage but overall they were impressive. Seed-raised pelargoniums (geraniums) which caught the eye were the BullsEye ® Series and the Black Velvet series; the latter had maroon veining to the leaves which showed off the flowers impeccably.
Foliage plants have become big business, and at Buckingham we have seen the demand for colourful leafy plants increase. Good ones to note for next year include Strobilanthus (Persian shield), more colours to go with the well-established Kong Coleus, including ‘Chocolate Mint’ and ‘Henna’ and improved frost-tender purple grass pennisetum ‘Burgundy Giant’ (F1 hybrid).
Old favourites are also receiving welcome attention from the plant breeders, including a wonderful compact yet floriferous antirrhinum called the Appeal Series with the Apricot colour really creating a show-stopping event.
The trials were undercover as well – great to see many of the cutting-raised pelargoniums, petunias, verbenas, the vibrant basket begonia ‘Million Kisses’, eye-popping ‘Shock Wave’ petunias and the exotic impatiens ‘Fusion’, all grown to perfection.
Food for thought
I’m sure many of you are enjoying ‘Jamie at Home’, the new cookery and gardening programme airing on Channel 4 (Tuesdays at 8pm) at the moment. Filmed over last summer in Jamie Oliver’s walled Essex garden, this 12-part series highlights why we all should grow some vegetables in our gardens, not just for the convenience but also for the wonderful varieties that are out there just waiting to be grown.
We’ve plenty of vegetables available at the moment, including cauliflower, Chinese salad leaves, spring cabbage, white and purple sprouting broccoli, leeks, protected lettuce (cold frame/greenhouse), salad and Japanese onions, radicchio and winter spinach.
On the fruit line, the soil conditions are perfect now for strawberry planting, perhaps a new bed or a matter of re-vamping an existing one. If you are planting pot grown strawberries you will see that these have been planted a little ‘high’ in the pots as this is necessary to keep them healthy in pots, but when they are planted out into the ground they should be planted at their natural level (about a quarter of an inch/half a centimetre deeper). To help keep your strawberry plants clean and healthy we would recommend laying a sheet of light weight ground cover material first, then planting through this.
New season container fruit is also arriving, including fan-trained fig ‘Brown Turkey’, the self-fertile and highly productive blueberry ‘Sunshine Blue’ and the 5-year old Coronet apple trees, perfect for pots on the patio. We have just popped to look at stock and see that on the double cordon apple variety Braeburn there are 36 apples on one tree! In fact many of the fruit trees in the selling area are laden with fruit this year and mouths are starting to water at the thought of tasting sessions soon.
Crazy Silly Season
Normally it is just the newspapers which tend to lose the plot at this time of the year, but this year’s weather has created some rather strange phenomena in the gardening department….
Here are a few observations, so far, from the Plant Information Office...
- Cherry ‘Vega’, newly planted last winter, no blossom in spring but in full blossom now!
- Hellebores still in flower.
- New foliage on many trees and shrubs suffused red.
- Elderberry and blackberry already ripe.
- Magnolia soulangeana in flower.
- Wisteria sinensis around arbor in full flower.
- David Austin roses into their third flush of bloom this season!
- Winter-flowering Viburnum fragrans in flower 3 months earlier than usual.
Please let us know if your plants are doing something peculiar now, I’m sure fellow gardeners would love to hear about them! Send details to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or pop them onto a postcard or sealed down envelope and send to: Gardening Silly Season, Buckingham Nurseries & G. C, Tingewick Road, Buckingham MK18 4AE. The observation considered the silliest by the plant team, will win a £10 Garden Gift Voucher. Closing date for entries is 30th September 2007.
Colour your world this autumn
It may be back to school on the high street, but at Buckingham Garden Centre, its back to bedding big time! Let’s hope late August and early September delivers the much-desired Indian Summer, but if not, take comfort that there’s plenty of plant material to whet the appetite. There’s plenty to be inspired by at this time from the likes of wallflowers, Miracle cyclamen, asters, primroses, garden mums’, winter-flowering violas and pansies.
We’ve also introduced a new range of plants aimed at the basket and planters brigade, and will include over 50 different sorts to select from including colourful foliage from grasses, ivies to the new autumn-flowering snapdragons, sedums and thymes.
Kinglea plants are hugely popular with our customers, especially their creatively themed 10-plant packs, perfect to make-over a tired looking pot. This year the mixes are changing and set to be even more dynamic and desirable.
Borders will benefit from early plantings of Brompton stocks and the larger ‘Sunset’ wallflowers (both available in 3-litre pots), perfect if you have any gaps to fill.
Get Creative with Containers
Our next gardening talk at Buckingham Golf Club on Wednesday 12th September at 10.30am will be ‘Get Creative with Containers’. Chris Day will be your speaker and he will be looking at how to plant baskets and pots for autumn, winter and spring displays with a whole host of untraditional plant material as well as bulbs.
You can reserve a seat at the Customer Service desk, by calling 01280 822133, or on-line at. www.buckingham-nurseries.co.uk/talks
What to do next?
Given the amount of moisture in the ground this summer the 'problem' for us seems more likely to be how to stop the rot rather than having to worry about things drying out!
One of the concerns that global warming brings is the likelihood not just of periods of drought in the UK but that there will be periods of heavier rainfall, or individual deluges along with mild or warm weather resulting in high humidity.
The main problems associated with damp gardens in the summer often hinge on the foliage being too close, so you need to ensure that areas of denser leaf cover are well ventilated. As always you do need to catch disease as soon as you spot it, as it can take hold surprisingly rapidly in a relatively warm damp environment. Here are the ones to watch out for this autumn:-
- Rose blackspot Small dark spots appear on the leaves, then the leaves may turn yellow and fall off. This is caused by spores which are carried in water splashes. Treatment: Spray with Roseclear 3*.
- Fireblight is unusual and it attacks mainly pear trees, hawthorn, cotoneaster, apples and pyracantha and a few other plants. Branches wilt and the leaves turn a burnt chestnut colour then black, spreading down the main trunk until the whole tree appears burnt. It is mainly carried by pollinating insects and by raindrops between June and September. This is a serious notifiable disease so if you think you have an affected plant ask for advice first but do not cut a sample as you may spread the disease. If from your description or photographs we think you may have a case we will put you in touch with the local DEFRA officer.
Tomato and potato blight occur when there has been a warm period with the humidity above about 75% for a number of consecutive days. The first symptoms are dark brown patches on the stems and yellowing of the leaves, which turn black, and then a white bloom develops on the underside, as the foliage dies. Treatment: spray with Murphy Traditional Copper Fungicide*.
- Red thread occurs on lawns and causes irregular patches of bleached grass with a reddish hue to appear, with a small red spike protruding from the tip of the affected leaves. Infection usually occurs in the late summer, during periods of high humidity. Treatment: you would need to contact a turf specialist as the chemicals to treat this problem can only be applied by an approved contractor.
- Rust is a more common problem in plants during humid weather, affecting the leaves and stems of a great variety of plants. Look for small yellowish spots that appear on the upper surface of the leaf with orangey spores on the underside. Treatment: Bayer Systhane Fungus Fighter*.
- If the disease has got to an advanced state on an annual it is probably best to destroy the plant otherwise there is a danger that the disease will be carried on to the next season. Also for shrubs which become infected do make sure diseased leaves are collected and destroyed for the same reason.
* Always use chemicals safely in the garden and follow the instructions carefully before use.
Despite the bad weather which has enabled so many diseases to flourish this year, there does seem to be a reasonable crop of plums, apples, pears and other top fruit on the trees and we are getting into the season when these need picking and storing. If you do not already have a fruit picker to help you gather your harvest we have a fantastic offer available now on the Wolf Fruit Picker with the 3 metre long handle. These normally retail at £69.99 but are available at only £34.99, and they really do help you to get fruit picked without damage so that it will store so much better. Do remember when putting fruit to store to only keep perfect fruit and to place the fruit so they are not touching.
Apart from the picker we have on offer a range of Wolf tools which are needed in the autumn to help you get all those pruning jobs done with first class sharp tools. Using old, blunt tools can easily damage plants as the cuts instead of being clean can be ragged or crushed If this happens the cut will take longer to heal and disease may enter the wound.
A quick list of offers:
- Wolf Pruning set, gloves and secateurs, normal retail price £19.99 – special offer only £9.99.
- Four different types of loppers some by-pass and some anvil action with normal retail prices of £87.99, £54.99, £49.99 and £34.99 selling at only £67.99, £44.99, £34.99 and £24.99 respectively, the last three with a pair of secateurs valued at £19.99 included as a bonus. Look out for further offers on Wolf tools later in the autumn.
- Other seasonal offers include a slate roofed Bird Table, ready to keep the birds well fed in the leaner days in winter, at £39.99 instead of £59.99. Furniture oil to treat your furniture at the end of the summer season (!!!) at £9.99 instead of £12.99. Treating furniture could be more important than usual as furniture has been subjected to so much rain this year after the baking it got in April.
- These offers will continue whilst stocks last so it will be a limited period, but as they are so good it would be worth considering not only treating yourself but getting some birthday or Christmas presents in advance.
As you, our readers, must have guessed by now, we are very keen to promote growing your own food, but even if you have a good sized garden, it is not easy to become self-sufficient. However, the next best thing is to make sure that as much of the food you have to buy is produced as near to home as possible. Residents in one local village, Great Horwood, have really taken this to heart and have organised their own Farmers’ Market which is held on the second Saturday of every month between 10.00 and 1.00. There is a great array of local produce and most months there will be Aberdeen Angus Beef from Gawcot; lamb and pork and herbs from Great Brickhill; meat pies and quiches from Astwood; eggs, vegetables and home baked cakes from their own village; honey from Chackmore; poultry from Yardley Hastings; fish fresh from Grimsby, and even a local jewellery maker and potter! Their only indulgence which strictly should not be there are the most delicious olives - not produced locally, but as the olive trees at the Garden Centre have a good crop of olives even in this awful summer things may change! We would suggest you pop along if you live near Great Horwood (next market is on the 8th September) and take a look at the quality of local produce: it may be a little more expensive than the likes of Tesco or other supermarkets, but you will be amazed at the superior flavours.
Autumn Planting Bulbs
One final seasonal message – autumn planting bulbs are arriving as this is being written, so the main shop is being racked out with layer upon layer of bulbs. It does look very colourful with all the illustrations of the varieties available and so many do look stunning. It may be advisable to have a good browse soon after the stock has arrived, then go home and plan what will be really suitable for your garden, then return to make your planned purchases. Impulse buys sometimes work really well, but occasionally you end up with wrong heights, colours or numbers!
ART Works for Business
Great news – the garden centre will be going potty on the Saturday 29th September! Make a date in your diary to come and join us at 3.30pm when we will have the grand opening of ART Works for Business.
ART Works for Business is a new Bucks Arts Partnership initiative, exploring working relationships between the business and visual arts communities of Buckinghamshire. Funded by Arts Council South East, the scheme will establish sixteen partnerships by March 2008 in a pilot programme providing opportunities for Bucks based businesses to make links with local artists. The scheme is also linked into a regional initiative of exploring ways of celebrating our wider cultural achievements as part of the Olympic and Paralympic Festivities.
This has developed from the Adopt an Artist initiative which we have participated in. Some of you may remember the beautiful large stoneware pots that Suzanne Hall exhibited here, or the exquisite clay planters and bird baths from Lucinda Brown, two local artists whose work we were unaware of until introduced to them through the Adopt an Artist scheme.
On the 29th September we will be presenting to our customers the works of two local potters, whose work is very different. Mark Fraser from North Marsden will bring his exhibition wheel to demonstrate his hand thrown domestic stoneware pottery. The range includes bowls, jugs, mugs, olive pots, flan, pasta and lasagne dishes mostly in attractive blue and green glazes. Richard Ballentyne from Steeple Claydon also produces pots, bowls, plates and some statuary, but with the most amazing colours and glazes – as he puts it ‘with pyrotechnic power’. He will also be demonstrating (but we have made a diary note to check our fire extinguishers before the day!) so we are all looking forward to this and hope many of you will join us.
Incidentally Mark and Richard will be with us over Apple Day celebrations which will be the week-end 27th/28th October. Lots of dates for the diary.
10 gardening tasks for September
- LIFT onions, shallots and garlic when ready. Plants should be harvested when the necks start to turn brown and papery, and bend over naturally. Regularly pick fast-maturing vegetables such as French beans, runner beans, courgettes, cucumbers and tomatoes to prevent stringiness or toughness, and to encourage further cropping. Take cuttings of rosemary, bay and hyssop.
- TAKE cuttings of tender perennials such as pelargonium and osteospermum as soon as possible. A greenhouse, cool conservatory or a light windowsill is ideal to bring them on until they are established.
- DON’T neglect hanging baskets - deadheading, watering and feeding will help them last through until autumn. Deadhead plants such as dahlia, rose, penstemon and bedding to prolong the display colour well into early autumn. Don't cut off the flower heads of ornamental grasses. These will provide winter interest. Also leave on seed heads of marjoram, thyme and sunflowers as these will provide valuable food for finches in the autumn and winter.
- FILL gaps in your borders with a late show of colour from the likes of coreopsis grandiflora, Japanese anemones such as ‘Bressingham Glow’, echinacea purpurea and penstemons. Now is also a great time to make sowings of hardy annuals such as calendula, cerinthe major purpurescens, eschscholtzia, clarkia, godetia and nigella to grow slowly through the winter before flowering many weeks earlier than traditionally raised annuals in the spring.
- LAWNS have suffered greatly this year – heavy rainfall has made cutting and treatment difficult and, worse still, the leaching out of valuable nutrients have lead to poor looking swards. If you have a weed problem a feed, weed and mosskiller such as Evergreen complete can be applied until the end of September, but the sooner the better. Alternatively apply Evergreen Autumn from September until mid-November. This will harden the grass and encourage root growth for a stronger lawn next spring. It will also help to control moss.
- KEEP your greenhouse productive by growing nerine sarniensis, sometimes called the Guernsey lily, in pots. Plant in a 5in (13cm) terracotta pot filled with a gritty John Innes No3 and plant the bulb so it is half buried in the compost and keep just moist. Flowers can appear any time from planting. Directly after flowering leaves are produced and the plant will need feeding with Tomorite to secure next winter’s flowers. Good varieties to grow include ‘Mother of Pearl’ (white), ‘Salmon Surprise’ and ‘Rose Princess’, all available in our bulb department. Also if your greenhouse has accumulated a lot of grime on the glass, it may be advisable to give it a good clean in order to get the light levels up to help any fruit and vegetables to ripen.
- CLIMBING roses can be pruned once they have finished flowering; side-shoots from the main framework of branches are cut back to a couple of buds. Any dead, diseased or spindly growth is cut out and the new young shoots are tied in to the supports, from the base. If there is an old, thick and woody, unproductive stem, it can be removed from the base to stimulate more vigorous growth.
- LOOK OUT for powdery mildews as they are common when weather conditions are warm and dry during the day and cold at night, and on dry soils. They are often most severe at the end of the growing season. Powdery mildews are caused by various species of fungi. They can affect trees, shrubs, roses, perennials, annuals, bulbous plants, vegetables, fruits and many indoor plants. Each species of powdery mildew affects only specific types of plant. A few plants are susceptible to more than one type of powdery mildew. Use Vitax Organic 2in1* Pest & Disease Control if you are having problems on your edibles and ornamentals. Always read the label before use. For further disease advice, see ‘What to do next?’
- SUMMER PRUNE wisteria this month by shortening their long wispy side-shoots back to about five or six leaves from the main framework. If the plant flowered poorly last spring, drench the soil with a high-potash fertiliser to encourage improvement in 2008.
- THINK CHRISTMAS Goodness, its only late summer, but those prepared hyacinth bulbs need to be potted shortly if you want a colourful and fragrant Christmas display. There are plenty of varieties to choose from, but ‘Atlantic’ (Blue), ‘Anna Marie’ (pink) and ‘White Pearl’ are pretty hard to beat. Other colours are available but can be more difficult to get to flower for Christmas. Grow individually in 9cm (3½ inch) pots by planting the bulb to half its depth in a pot filled with bulb fibre. Once potted, place in a dark garage or shed for about 10 weeks. Keep the pots moist (but avoid over watering). When the shoots are approx 5cm (2in) high, bring into lighter yet cool conditions for flowering. Individual pots can be used to create bowl displays as you can select plants at similar stages of growth. Avoid planting mixed colours in one bowl as the varieties mature at different rates.