Plant of the month- Loropetalum

It is Sunday again, and i have realised that even though i usually post some inspiration photos on a Sunday, i still haven’t done Plant of the month.

Loropetalum chinense

I feel like this plant is not used enough, it really is beautiful and has so much to offer.

Loropetalum chinense also known as Fringe Flower. Loropetalums are popular ornamental plants grown for their clusters of flowers and horizontal branching which gives them a distinctive oriental feel. There are many forms, ranging from those with white to pale yellow flowers and green foliage through to pink flowering variety with deeper bronze and red foliage.

‘Plum Gorgeous’ performs well in full sun to part shade, is versatile in application from informal hedging through to containers and has a compact growing habit. In fact, ‘Plum Gorgeous’ is much more compact that most other Loropetalums on the market and also has a more rounded and even shape. With its branching structure, this is a perfect choice if you’ve got an oriental themed garden. They look great around the base of a garden sculpture to create that little bit of Asian inspiration.

Although ideal for a rock garden, loropetalum is essentially a plant for the mixed shrub border.

It mixes very well with camellias. They both enjoy the same kind of soil and, when the loropetalum has finished flowering, the camellias take over. Camellias also provide exactly the right shelter for these tenderish shubs.

Rhododendrons also make good companions,

A great garden double act is created by planting loropetalum with the winter-flowering shrubby honeysuckles such as Lonicera which produce ivory white, very fragrant flowers on leafless twigs at the same time that loropetalum, in full colourful foliage, is also flowering.

Under-planting also enriches this rather exceptional shrub. Try planting with evergreen ferns such as polypodiums. These are invisible during late spring and summer, produce their elegant fronds in late summer and early autumn, and remain fresh throughout the winter.

Best of all – and the characteristic from which it takes its great name – is the deep plum coloured foliage which it maintains all year round.

In autumn and spring, and even into the summer months, ‘Plum Gorgeous’ will reward you with bright displays of vibrant raspberry coloured tassel flowers.

Grab a few of this particular variety if you are after that real variation in foliage in your garden. ‘Plum Gorgeous’ works really well planted against lime green plants as the colours contrast so nicely.

Tips for growing Loropetalums

  • Plan your colours to begin with. ‘Plum Gorgeous’ looks great in a black pot for an oriental feel or try a bright contrasting colour for a real statement.
  • As it’s low growing, plant ‘Plum Gorgeous’ at the front of garden beds for maximum impact.
  • Loropetalums in general prefer moist but well drained soils but are quite adaptable to less than ideal conditions.
  • Pruning is generally not required however you can give a light trim after flowering to help keep them in your preferred shape.
  • A feed with a slow release fertilizer in early spring is beneficial.
  • Ideal for low maintenance areas, rockeries and garden edges.

Height- approximately 1m

Spread- approximately 2m

Growing conditions- part shade/ full sun

An example of planting with Loropetalum

An example of planting with Loropetalum

 

Travel diaries – Easter long weekend in England

The Easter weekend is already over, and i am back in Zurich. As much as i enjoy Zurich, i do feel sad every time i leave the UK.

We had such a great time visiting Bath and driving through The Cotswolds. The weather was typical UK weather. A little sun and a little rain, but overall i cant complain!

My boyfriend was born and grew up in Bath until he was 5 years old. He doesnt remember alot, but we spent some time driving around looking at the house he lived in and also several other houses that his parents lived in (before he was born).

There was alot going on in the town……rugby games, hot air balloon flights, markets etc. I tried to spend as much time exploring the beautiful gardens, and it was the perfect time with so many of the cherry blossoms in bloom!

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Spring salad

I love this salad, and often make it for a work day lunch.

I dont buy cooked beans and do it myself, but this can be time consuming. In Switzerland, you cant always get the things you want…i mean you cant even buy wholemeal flour here!!

This is a fresh and light salad by one of my favourite chefs Teresa Cutter.

250 g (2 cups) black beans, cooked and drained
180 g (1 cup) sweet corn kernels
160 g (1 cup) sun-ripened tomato, roughly chopped or cherry tomato, halved
1 bunch coriander, chopped
4 spring onions, sliced
1 avocado, chopped
juice from 2 limes
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 small red onion
Good grind of black pepper
hint of chopped chilli – optional

Combine black beans, sweet corn, tomato, coriander, spring onion, lime juice, garlic, red onion, black pepper and a hint of chilli if using into a large bowl.
Mix well and combine the flavours.
Spoon into a bowl and top with chopped avocado.
Serve and enjoy.
Serves 4

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Sunday inspiration

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This week my little balcony has been bursting with colour. I planted my tulip bulbs only 4 weeks ago, and already they are in flower, and they look gorgeous!!

My boyfriend bought them in Holland for me, and although the ones you buy in the nursery are also probably from Holland, its nicer to get them direct .-)

Here are some photos of my balcony garden that i love. The photos are not great, because if i wanted to take some decent photos then i would have to hang off the edge (its that small) So i have done my best.

On Thursday i am heading to the UK for Easter break so i won’t be blogging! I’ll be posting pictures from all the gardens i visit when i return.

Have a great weekend!

How to grow strawberries

Who doesnt love strawberries!?

Strawberries can be planted in May/June (for my Australian readers- so get prepared because May is quickly approaching) Both enjoy full sun, with fertile, well-drained soil and without too much competition from other plants.

The ideal position would be in a pot or a hanging basket, which will also help ward off slugs and snails.

strawberry pots

 

Strawberries are sold in small pots at nurseries. Of the new strawberries, ‘Alinta’ is a modern variety that produces small but tasty fruit with a long harvest period. How you grow strawberries depends on your garden. If you’ve got room, grow them in a special strawberry bed- a raised garden bed would be best here. If space is tight, put one or two plants into a large pot or a hanging basket.

Other good varieties are:

‘Malwina’ is a juicy, flavoursome late berry.

‘Mae’ Very early with large fruit.

‘Elsanta’ An established Dutch variety, reliable with big fruit even in first year, widely available

‘Cupid’ sweet, juicy fruits, good disease resistance.

To get them growing, remove grass and weeds then enrich the soil with generous shovelfuls of well-rotted manure or compost. Strawberries spread as they grow, so allow at least 30cm between plants. Surround them with a 5cm layer of straw or sugarcane mulch. This keeps their roots cool and moist, and also keeps future fruit away from direct soil contact.

With regular water and liquid feeding, your strawberry plants will grow vigorously and be flowering by late Winter. The main crop will be produced through Spring and early Summer. Make sure you keep a watchful eye out for snails, birds and slugs!

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Sunday inspiration

It is already Monday, and i missed doing a blog on Sunday, because i spent the entire day doing a 22km walk in the woods. I promised myself that i would get fit this Summer and spend more time hiking.

My boyfriend and i caught a train and then a bus to a small town called Unterageri and then walked all the way to Zug.

Its a long walk but i love getting out of the city and enjoying the peace and quiet and the beautiful outdoors that Switzerland has to offer.

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Things to do in the garden- April

Southern Hemisphere 

1. Now is the time to plant anything! Soil is warm and new plants have time to settle in before the winter chill.

2. Remove deadheads from plants. Example: pansies and petunias.

3. Fertilise all potted plants with a slow release fertiliser

4. Keep up with the lawn mowing even though the growth is slowing down. Just make sure to adjust the height.

5. Top up your mulch to prevent weed growth and maintain soil moisture.

6. Pinch passionfruit vines tips to encourage lateral growth.

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Northern Hemisphere 

1. Keep weeds under control

2. Feed hungry shrubs and roses

3. Tie in climbing and rambling roses

4. Prune fig trees

5. Sow hardy annuals and herb seeds

6. Sow new lawns or repair bare patches

7. Start to feed citrus plants

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Travel diaries – Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

During my Christmas break home to Australia (which seems like a lifetime ago) i had a brief stopover in Singapore on my way back to Zurich.

Singapore is a great stop, as its a good way for me to catch up with old friends, enjoy the amazing food and also break the 24 hour flight!!

When i left Singapore 18 months ago, the ‘Gardens by the Bay’ was practically brand new, and with the chaos of relocating to a new country i didnt get a chance to visit.

So during my two days, i made an effort to visit for the afternoon.

The main attraction is by far the ‘super trees’ which are as tall as sky scrapers. They are 50m high and stretch into the sky. Fitted with solar panels, hanging gardens and rainwater catches, the trees are used to display plants from across the globe.

There is a walkway which links each of the super trees. It is suspended 22m above the ground (about 7 storeys high)

You can check out my photos below!

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