This blog reviews the latest products, plants and innovations in gardening. It also provides a link for my many gardening friends who are members of the GardenMessenger and Seedmessenger Yahoo groups and their sub-groups that I moderate.

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Location: Australia

I am a semi-retired UK botanical garden curator and former international horticultural consultant, who has worked extensively in Europe, the Middle East, North America and Australia. I spend part of the year in Australia and part in Europe, mainly due to family and work commitments. I earn my living from writing and editing Internet copy, articles and books. I have written over fifty books on gardening and have been translated into twenty-four different languages. I am a former UK Garden Writer of the Year and a previous Quill & Trowel Award Winner from the Garden Writer’s Association of America. I am interested in developing gardening communities on the Internet and I manage the popular GardenMessenger Yahoo group, along with its various sub-groups like PondMessenger and SeedMessenger. I also edit International Water Gardener and its associated regional web-sites.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Bedding Plants, Savills Chelsea Garden, New Plants

Zinnia 'Carousel'

For most of the temperate parts of the gardening world the next few weeks will be summer bedding plant time. Bedding plants are those plants that are raised from seed and planted in the garden as seedlings, and which create a season-long spectacle of colour before being discarded. There are both summer and spring bedding plants. The summer kinds, which will be demanding our attention during the coming weeks comprise plants like Zinnias, Petunias, Salvias and Lobelia, while the spring ones include Wallflowers, Canterbury Bells and Forget-me-nots. The plants that are coming to the end of their flowering period and we will shortly be discarding.

Petunia 'Shiralee'

Although with even modest facilities it is possible to raise good quality summer flowering bedding plants at home in the frame or greenhouse, the majority of gardeners now buy them as seedlings or "plugs" from the garden centre or supermarket. Selecting good quality plants is essential for a fine display. Plants should be well-branched and bushy with green healthy leaves down to the surface of the compost. If the lower leaves are dying off the plants have either suffered a check in an earlier stage of their development; or else become starved in their present seed tray or container.

Catharanthus 'Dynasty'

Summer bedding plants should be properly hardened off, especially in temperate districts. This means gradually acclimatised from warm indoor conditions to the rigours of outdoor life. In the garden at home this is done by weaning them in a cold frame. If bedding plants are not properly hardened off, they may suffer a check in growth and either take a long time to fulfil their potential, or else never do so. A plant that has received a check in growth usually has foliage with a pinched appearance and is of a bluish-green colour.With all bedding plant cultivars, discover the optimum spacing for each when planting, and stick to them. Close spacing can result in the plants being unable to develop properly and forming unnatural clumps; too distant spacing and bare soil is exposed.

Chelsea Show Gardens Preview
During each of the days running up to the Chelsea Flower Show I am previewing a show garden. Although these are often regarded as garden theatre and not as sustainable under normal gardening conditions, they are often full of interesting and innovative ideas which can be taken, at least in part, and used in our gardens at home.

The Savills Garden

The inspiration for The Savills Garden is taken from the modernist architecture of Mies van der Rohe and in particular Farnsworth House, which was completed in 1951 in Plano, Illinois, USA. The show garden is private and enclosed, the entrance being framed by white-stemmed birch trees that lead onto a polished concrete pathway. The geometry of the path then meanders through trees and perennial planting comprising grasses and other foliage plants. Vertical accents are provided by foxgloves. Drifts of white flowered irises are another key feature of the planting. Elements of the planting are more structural, specifically the cubes of box which run in a line from the loggia out into the garden. There are said to echo the horizontals of the loggia and provide a visual and metaphorical link between soft and hard landscaping. Finally the path leads across water creating a sense of journey, arriving at the ‘Modernist’ building at the rear of the garden. The building is designed as a place of refuge or for entertaining.


New Plants from Notcutts Nurseries at Chelsea
Notcutts Nurseries are one of the largest hardy plant nurseries in the UK. The following are a selection of their new introductions for the Chelsea Flower Show.

Rose 'Abbeyfield Gold'
A beautiful medium-growing, hybrid tea rose with very full, fragrant yellow blossoms. flowers. It was named in celebration of the Abbeyfield Society's Golden Anniversary of providing shelter and care to the older people.

Rose 'Champagne Moment'
This is a floribunda cultivar with elegant clusters of large, delicate apricot blossoms with pale pink outer petals. It was selected as Rose of the Year for 2006.

Acer pseudoplatanus 'Sunshine'
This cultivar is similar to the well known 'Brilliantissimum' but holds it's colour for longer. It is slow-growing, making it an ideal plant for a container.

Coprosma repens 'Pacific Night'
This is an attractive shrub, up to 1.5m (5ft) high, with glossy, deep purple foliage and well suited to container cultivation, although it is quite happy in the mixed border.


The Gardening Show
29th-30th July
Royal International Pavilion,
Web-site click here.

National Fruit Show
18th-19th October
Kent County Showground,

The Marden Fruit Show Society
Bradbourne House,
East Malling,
ME19 6DZ,
Tel /Fax: +44 (0)1732 874564
Web-site click here.

Happy Gardening



Today’s Sponsor

Bedding Plants: Bedding Plants Australia
Chelsea Garden and New Plants: Royal Horticultural Society

If you have enjoyed this publication, you may also like to visit the monthy SeedMessenger gardeners’ seed saving and seed exchange blog click here.
and the weekly water gardening blog PondMessenger click here.

To join the GardenMessenger gardening community
click here

To visit the SeedMessenger seed exchange web-site
click here

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