Sunday inspiration

Water features can be a wonderful addition to any garden.

Sometimes a water feature looks amazing simply as a feature in itself, but to my eye a water feature needs plants: and plants that associate naturally around water are best, think leafy and lush:

Hosta, ligularia, gunnera, Iris pseudacorus and Zantedeschia aethiopica all look fabulous near a water feature of any style (that’s if you can keep marauding slugs and snails at bay).

Other grassy plants include: Cyperus papyrus, Acorus, Canna and Typha.

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Plant of the month- Wisteria

Sorry i have missing in action for a little while.

I took a 10 day holiday in France and enjoyed the last ski for the season. Unfortunately i had a little accident and almost broke my finger (luckily just a bad sprain) so its been a little difficult to type!

As the month draws to a close, here is my plant of the month…and i promise ill be around with more posts in April!

Wisteria needs regular pruning to keep under control but also improve the flower display.

Wisteria is pruned twice a year. Dec/Jan and July/August.

 Summer pruning – cut back the green shoots of the currents years growth to five or six leaves after flowering.

Winter pruning- Then cut back the same growth to two or three buds- when the plant is dormant and leafless to tidy it up before the season starts.

The ideal way to grow Wisteria against a wall is to train as an espalier ( with horizontal support wires (3mm galvanized steel) set 30cm apart. Over time and with pruning teice a year, plants will build a strong spur system. Use new growths that develop near the base of the plants as replacement shoots.

Wisterias with long flower racemes are best admired on structures where they can hang free, unimpeded by branches or foliage. For the best flowers, reduce the number of racemes by thinning out to give those that remain plenty of space to develop.

 The most common problem that gardeners have with wisteria is poor flowering. This can be caused by a number of reasons.

1.       Young plants grow from seedlings can take 20 years to flower, so avoid disappointment by either buying a plant while it is in flower.

2.       Check your pruning technique and timing

3.       Look for shredded flowers or teeth marks as tell tale signs of bird, mice or pigeon damage.

4.       Take care to water during dry spells between July and September, when flower buds are forming in the next year, as drought at this time can result in failure to bloom.

5.       Be aware that sharp spring frosts can damage developing flowers, causing them to drop before they open, or to develop in a distorted fashion.

 Sometimes a mature and healthy plant will suddenly die and be replaced by a new shoot growing from the ground. This is often caused by wisteria graft failure.

Less common is attack by root fungi like honey fungus or phytophthora root rot, but wisteria is susceptible to both of these.

Wisterias are also prone to scale insect infestation, including the more unusual wisteria scale.

 

I took this last Spring in my neighbourhood

I took this photo last Spring in my neighbourhood

 

Sunday inspiration

My boyfriend is participating in a bike race over Easter, so i’ll be there cheering him on!! The bike race is on the Cotswolds, UK. I love any excuse to visit the UK, so jumped at this chance.

I have been spending some time researching gardens in The Cotswalds as i love English Style cottage gardens. Here are some of the beautiful images i have found.

All these photos were from a website called Cow and Parsley.

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Planning a tropical garden

Before moving to Singapore (which is where i lived before Switzerland)  i wasnt a huge fan of tropical gardens. But after three years of living on the equator, i grew a love for the lush dark green leaves and vibrant flowers that is a tropical garden.

Ever wondered if you can create one yourself? First you need to ask yourself if you have a warm enough winter for one. Unfortunately an area that gets frosts through the winter wont work.

Your tropical garden should be mostly green with splashes of vibrant colour from tropical flowering plants and variegated or coloured foliage. Red, orange and yellow are the most prominent colours with white and green variegated foliage.

The plants should consist of palms, plants with strap like leaves and those with bold or coloured foliage dominate.

Some recommended species are:

Hawaiian hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)
Vireya rhododendron (Vireya cultivars)
Crab’s claw (Heliconia angusta cultivars)
Fijian fire plant (Acalypha wilkesiana)
Giant elephant’s ears/giant taro (Alocasia macrorrhiza)
Elephant’s ears (Alocasia x amazonica)
Prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura ‘Kerchoviana’)
Zebra plant (Calathea zebrina)
Crotons (Codiaeum variegatum)
Dancing ladies (Oncidium varicosum)
Canna lilies (Canna ‘Tropicanna’ and Canna ‘Tricolour’)
New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens)
Sago palm (Cycas revoluta)
Spiral ginger (Costus barbatus)
Crinum lily (Crinum pedunculatum)
Sacred Bali bamboo (Schizostachyum brachycladum)
Variegated shell ginger (Alpinia zerumbet ‘Variegata’)
Spindle palm (Hyophorbe verschaffeltii)
Majestic palm (Ravenea rivularis)
Medinilla (Medinilla magnifica)

Design ideas:  

Colour- Combining brightly coloured foliage is the key to achieving a tropical look. For maximum impact, position plants with red, yellow, orange, pink, purple and lime-green leaves next to each other. Colourful flowers, such as fragrant frangipani, hibiscus, ornamental ginger and dramatic canna lilies will warm up the garden and provide further contrast to the vibrant ground-dwelling foliage and green canopy.

Don’t limit colour to plantings – add colour by painting your fence or furniture and adding coloured pots and cushions.

Foliage- For the most part, tropical gardens rely on foliage rather than flowers to create interest year round. Foliage should be flamboyant, lively and colourful, and plants must be chosen on the basis of the size, shape and texture of their leaves. Planting in groups of odd numbers (three, five, seven and nine) is a common trickand something that I follow– it gives a broad brushstroke of colour and texture, and makes a huge difference to the feel of the garden. Placing plants with contrasting foliage next to each other will create drama and interest.

Trees- A selection of perfectly placed palms and bamboo is essential for achieving a tropical look. Although they’re often criticised for growing too big, palms and bamboo will benefit the style and mood of the garden: they provide the rustle of foliage in the wind, furnish your garden with a fern-like ceiling and dense green walls, and do a great job of privacy screening. There are a million varieties to choose from, remember that not all varieties are suited to every climate, and smaller-growing or dwarf specimens are the best choice for courtyards and pocket-sized gardens.

Herbs and spices- If you love to cook, try growing Asian herbs and spices in your tropical garden. Not only do they contribute wonderful flavours and aromas to a wide variety of dishes, they smell fantastic in the garden and help deter pests.

Cardamom, kaffir lime, lemongrass, coriander and mint will grow well among tropical shrubs in cool, moist spots. If you plant edible ginger (Zingiber officinale) now, it will be ready to harvest in March or April – simply plant a healthy-looking ginger rhizome from the supermarket. To harvest, dig up clumps with a spade.

Palms surrounded by Birds Nest Fern and Cordylines

Palms surrounded by Birds Nest Fern, Cordylines and Mondo Grass

Lush tropical planting

Lush tropical planting

pool design surrounded by a tropical garden

pool design surrounded by a tropical garden

Alpinias and birds nest ferns

Alpinias and birds nest ferns

Bougainvillea in a feature pot

Bougainvillea in a feature pot by Secret Gardens of Sydney

Bromeliads

Bromeliads, Liriope and Frangipanis from Secret Gardens of Sydney

Things to do in the garden- March

Photo taken at my office last week

Photo taken at my office last week

Southern Hemisphere

Flowering now- There are some fantastic colourful annuals that are coming into their own this month. Coleus with its stunning brown, acid green and yellow and rusty red markings looks great in shade as do New Guinea impatiens, which have vibrant coloured flowers. For a hot spot Celosia and cockscomb are about the brightest plants you can grow with shades of red, orange and pink tones.

Ixora, hydranges and hibiscus are all still flowering, as are Orange Jessamine (Murraya paniculata) and gardenias.

What to plant- March is a great time to be planting. The hot humid days are gone but plants and people can still enjoy warm days and slightly cooler evenings. Plants relish the relief from the heat and they still have the warmer soil to grow in, so can flourish.

Bulbs- Autumn which officially begins today, is bulb planting time. Bulbs are surprise packages, you plant them forget them and then come spring, up pop their flowers. Whether its daffodils, freesias, bluebells, or dutch iris.

What to do- Pull out past summer annuals (for example, tired petucinas) and then replant winter spring colour.

– Watch out for fungal outbreaks- high humidity can wreak havoc and rain splash can spread fungal spores easily. Raise the mower a notch or two and let your grass grow a little longer in between cuts. Trim off any heat damaged leaves on your shrubs, feed and keep your garden well watered.

Planting bulbs-

Step 1- Prepare the planting area with compost, manure or packaged decomposed organic matter, often sold as soil conditioner. If planting in pots, just use a specially formulated bulb mix. Some bulbs, such as hyacinths and tulips, benefit from a cold chill, so pop them in an egg carton and leave them in the fridge for a month before planting.

Step 2- Bulbs have dried roots on the bottom and pointy top to indicate where the shoot will come from. Plant each bulb pointy side up, and into the soil 2.5 times the bulbs height. You can use bulb markers to help you remember where you have planted them.

Step 3- Water your bulbs in well, then be careful not to over water until they have started to show signs of growth. Keep weeds clear.

Northern Hemisphere 

Spring usually arrives by mid-March and the frequent sunny days provide the opportunity for an increasing range of gardening tasks. It’s time to get busy preparing seed beds, sowing seed, cutting back winter shrubs and generally tidying up around the garden

– Plant shallots, onion sets and early potatoes

– Protect new spring shoots from slugs

– Plant summer flowering bulbs now

– Life and divide overgrown clumps of perennials

– Cut back Dogwood and Willow trees

– Take control of weeds early, deal with them before they get out of hand

Taken in Zurich last Autumn

Taken in Zurich last Autumn