GardenMessenger

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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Name:
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.

Friday, June 30, 2006

The WishPlant and New Gardener Guides

The WishPlant

It is difficult to imagine the mind that could dream up the latest gimmick with plants, but the imagination of some folks has no bounds and the WishPlant has been conceived in Holland. This consists of a transparent capsule in key fob size that contains a growing mini-plant. There are tiny holes for air and water at the base of the capsule. Depending upon the plant it contains, the capsule has to be placed in water once a week or once a month so that the base can absorb sufficient water. The capsules contain a mini cactus or a mini succulent. There are ten different varieties in all and the tiny plants last between three and six months. After that they become too big for the capsule and have to be re-potted. Each plant comes with a wish, making it an ideal gift. WishPlant comes in three options: colour, square and pearl. More information about WishPlant can be found here.

I have created a completely new section on the GardenMessenger web-site for New Gardener Guides. These are primers for those who are completely new to gardening and cover subjects such as Digging, Hoeing and Raking, Pruning Roses, Planting Trees and Shrubs and many more essentials for the beginner to our wonderful hobby. At present there are 35 titles, all of which can be found here.

Happy Gardening

Philip

GardenMessenger

If you have enjoyed this publication, you may also like to visit the monthly 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
.



Directory of Gardening Blogs

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Planning and Designing your Garden

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

One of the potentially mystifying aspects of gardening for the newcomer to the hobby is garden planning and design. The beginner who seeks inspiration from the plethora of lavishly illustrated gardening books on the subject, or who visits one of the many gardening shows where there are show gardens, could well be led to believe that there is a great art to garden design, an art that is the prerogative of the talented few.

While it is true that there are a few great designers around - as there are great artists - the truth is that anyone can design a garden if they choose to. Although it is important to consider practical matters, like where is the washing going to be hung out, or the compost heap placed, this is no more difficult a concept to acquire than arranging furniture in a room for convenience and elegance of living. Regard the garden as an outdoor room and suddenly design and planning become less formidable.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Remember that if other folks do not like what you create, or consider it “bad design”, that they are not living in it or with it, and such an assessment is purely their opinion and not necessarily valid. So do not be afraid of designing and laying out your own garden. If the design is right for you, then it is a good design - and do not let anyone tell you differently.The only thing that is important is the conditions for plant growth and arrangement.

You may have a great design, but if the plants are not able to achieve your objective, whether it be the lawn grasses, shrubs or trees, then the design will fail. So it is important to be aware of the canvas that you have upon which to paint your picture, both its limitations and advantages, and then to conduct a simple survey. Once this has been done the practical layout can be addressed. You can then “get out your brush and paint the picture”.

The foregoing is an introduction to home garden design on the GardenMessenger web-site. Today I have added two further Gardening Guides Surveying the Garden and Garden Layout.
To visit click here.

Hampton Court Flower Show Garden Previews
I have added some further previews of the Show Gardens
To visit click here.

Happy Gardening

Philip

GardenMessenger

If you have enjoyed this publication, you may also like to visit the monthly 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
.



Directory of Gardening Blogs

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Creating a Balanced Garden Pond

Waterlilies are an essential component

The ideal garden pond is one that has a natural and harmonious balance. This can rarely be achieved where the reflective quality of the water is its paramount attraction, or where major moving water features play. However, in the traditional well-planted garden pond with its modest complement of fish, it is a realistic and long-lasting proposition. It is essential that every component involved achieves harmony from the beginning.

When looking at the principles of natural balance it is clear that there are two important aspects that require immediate consideration - the provision of abundant underwater growth and surface shade. Submerged plants perform an invaluable and often diverse role. Their main task is to mop up nutrients in the water and to release oxygen during the day to sustain fish and other aquatic life. They are also to some extent a food source for fish and often serve as a nursery for fish fry. So they clearly have a major impact upon a pond’s ecosystem. By removing excess nutrients from the water, submerged aquatics deprive green water-discolouring algae of the opportunity of becoming established.

Green water can also be controlled by the amount of light that is permitted to fall into the pond. Algae, like most other aquatic plants, must have full uninterrupted sunlight in order to prosper. However, planting trees and shrubs to shade the pond is ill-advised as this will prevent the desirable plants like waterlilies and marginal aquatics from growing properly and will have an adverse effect upon their floral display.

The solution is to provide shade on the surface of the water by means of floating plants and waterlily pads. These should not cover the entire pond, for cutting out the light completely beneath the water will cause the submerged plants to perish. No more than one third of the surface area of open water should be covered with foliage if green suspended algae is to be controlled successfully and the submerged aquatics permitted to continue in healthy growth.

Ornamental fish also make an important contribution to the balance of a pond. They are invaluable for keeping pests under control, not only those that attack the plants, but also mosquito larvae, which if left unchecked pose potential discomfort for the gardener. The waste matter that fish produce is also of benefit to the plants. Snails can also make a contribution, for if suitable species are selected, they will graze upon filamentous algae, which is largely unaffected by the competition created by the submerged aquatics.

When establishing a pond there is a formula that can be used to provide a general guide for planting. In assessing the area to be shaded by foliage and occupied by submerged plants, calculate the surface area of the pond excluding the marginal shelves. This is the area that should be covered for approximately one third with floating foliage.

When calculating the number of submerged aquatics required, allow one bunch of cuttings for every 0.093sq m (1sq ft) of surface area. That is not to say that the plants must be distributed over the pond floor evenly in such a ratio, it is the specific number required for the given surface area. With fish a maximum stocking of 6ins of length (including tail) to every 0.093sq m (1sq ft)of surface area, although initially 5cm (2in) to the same surface area is sensible. Water snails of suitable species can be introduced freely.


The foregoing is one of a new series of Gardening Guides about water gardening that has been added today to the GardenMessenger web-site. Although the Gardening Guides were only started a few days ago they are receiving a warm welcome. As new subjects are published I will mention them here and provide the link.

To visit the water gardening titles added today click here.

Happy Gardening

Philip

GardenMessenger

If you have enjoyed this publication, you may also like to visit the monthly 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
.



Directory of Gardening Blogs

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Festival of Roses - New Rose Launches

Rose of the Year 2006

This year, the Festival of Roses at the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show will be exhibiting the Rose of the Year 2006, ‘Champagne Moment’, unveiling the Rose of the Year 2007, as well as celebrating 25 years of Rose of the Year, alongside some of the UK’s top rose growers. There will also be several rose-related talks and demonstrations throughout the week. The Rose of the Year 2007, ‘Tickled Pink’, will also be launched. Introduced by Fryers Roses and Roses UK, this floribunda produces masses of large, scented pink blossoms. It is free flowering and exceptionally easy to grow.

There will also be many other new introductions from the world’s top breeders. Details of all these and many of the other rose introductions of 2006 will be found in the newly created RoseMessenger pages on the GardenMessenger web-site. Visit New Plants and click to the New Roses links at the bottom of the page. click here.

Happy Gardening

Philip

GardenMessenger

If you have enjoyed this publication, you may also like to visit the monthly 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
.



Directory of Gardening Blogs

Monday, June 26, 2006

Endophytes and Plants, Pear Fireblight, Show Gardens Preview

Gary Samuels

There is an interesting new concept in prospect when it comes in future to identifying and naming the plants in our garden. The genus, species or cultivar may not be enough. According to a spokesperson from the Agricultural Research Service in the United States, "That’s because if you were to zoom in on, say, an oak leaf and view its clusters of tiny cells bunched up alongside one another, you’d see that those cells are not alone. Cozying up next to them, between them, and on top of them are cells belonging to a vast array of fungi. Called endophytes, they live inside leaves, roots, and even bark without harming the plant."

While plants and fungi have been part of the natural scheme of things for thousands of millennia, scientists are just beginning to understand the exact nature of their unusual relationship. Gary Samuels, a mycologist at the Agricultural Research Service Systematic Botany and Mycology Laboratory (SBML) in Beltsville, Maryland, is blazing a trail in this new fungal frontier, helping to identify endophytes that he and his colleagues collect on fungi-hunting missions around the globe. In some cases, he’s naming species for the first time. "What’s so exciting," he says, "is that researchers think endophytes are protecting their host plants against disease." Through various mechanisms, resident fungi appear to be fending off outsider fungal pathogens that might otherwise parasitise a plant and harm it. But Samuels explains that the relationship between a plant and its fungal invader can be tenuous. "It’s a fine balance. If something in the outside environment tips it, some endophytes will seize the opportunity and take over the plant."

Pear Resistance to Fireblight Results
Experiments for the evaluation of the susceptibility of pear cultivars to Fire Blight disease have been conducted under controlled greenhouse conditions in Hungary.

Alien Species Causing Huge Damage to Biodiversity
Invasive alien species, especially plants that are garden escapes, are causing billions of Rands of damage to South Africa’s economy every year, and are the single biggest threat to the country’s biodiversity, according to the Working for Water Progamme.

Water Gardening Month
July has been designated Water Gardening Month in the US.
For more click here.

Garden Design News

Tatton Park Show Gardens Preview
Out of Africa

Newcomers and Gold and Silver medallists from last year’s Tatton show, Louise Ward and Lucy Hunter, have joined forces this year to create an Art Deco-style show garden, inspired by the film Out of Africa.
For more click here.

Hampton Court Show Gardens Preview

The Sunshine Garden
Designed to resemble a typical London back garden, and featuring a range of drought-tolerant plants and other water-saving and eco-friendly ideas.

Love, Life & Regeneration
This garden is inspired by Oliver, Trevor Tooth’s one year-old baby boy, as well as Jake and Evie, new members of Rik Godfrey’s family who collaborated with Trevor on the design.
For more click here.

GardenMessenger Garden Guides
Many more Gardening Guides have been added over the past few days. To visit the index click here.

GardenMessenger Plant Guides
The first of the GardenMessenger Plant Guides have been added to the web-site. These will be developed as a series of primer plant profiles. To visit the index click here.

Happy Gardening

Philip

GardenMessenger

If you have enjoyed this publication, you may also like to visit the monthly 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
.



Directory of Gardening Blogs

Friday, June 23, 2006

New GardenMessenger Gardening Guides

Window Boxes - a GardenMessenger Gardening Guide

The GardenMessenger web-site was established to provide a home and a focus for the members of the GardenMessenger group and its sub-groups. Also as a resource for news and events as well as information concerning research and new plant products. It is not intended to be a fully comprehensive practical gardening resource. However, it has been recognised that many gardeners who visit the web-site and are not GardenMessenger members, as well as a number of newcomers to the GardenMessenger on-line community are beginners, and so it is good to be able to help them become established in their new hobby. The Gardening Guides are primers on topics that most gardeners encounter at some time in their gardening lives, and experienced gardeners often take for granted. They are intended as basic practical introductions to a range of gardening subjects.


As the whole concept of GardenMessenger and its sub-groups is of global gardening and a world-wide community of gardeners, the Gardening Guides are written in a practical, but general manner that it is hoped will be as meaningful to gardeners in the northern hemisphere as in the south, irrespective of whether their climate is temperate, sub-tropical or tropical. The text of these guides is also available for free use to gardening clubs and similar organisations for their newsletters and web-sites without charge, providing that a formal request is made, the text is unaltered, and a link is provided to the GardenMessenger web-site.
Contact admin@gardenmessenger.net


The GardenMessenger Gardening Guides that I have put on-line today are:-

Choosing Garden Tools
Constructing a Garden Path
Choosing a Greenhouse
Managing the Hobby Greenhouse
Garden Pond Construction
Constructing a Rock Garden
Making a New Lawn from Seed or Turf (Sod)
Window Boxes
Collecting your own Seeds
Pricking Out and Hardening Off Seedlings

To visit the GardenMessenger Gardening Guides click here.


Happy Gardening

Philip

GardenMessenger

If you have enjoyed this publication, you may also like to visit the monthly 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
.



Directory of Gardening Blogs

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Monet and Marliac, New Plants and Bulbs

Monet’s Giverney

Two great names in French history made their mark with waterlilies, Monet through painting and his garden at Giverny, and Marliac with his nursery and pioneering waterlily breeding program at Temple-Sur-lot. Waterlily enthusiasts who wish to visit these historic centers can join a special tour arranged by Lilypons Water Gardens to France with well known American expert Charles Thomas, waterlily expert and co-owner of Lilypons. For details click here.

New Plants and Bulbs

Ageratum ‘Esparanza’
The bright blue flowers of this Ageratum are about 1.5m (5/8in) in diameter and produced in closely packed clusters on stems that are held above soft downy foliage.

Australian Bedding Plants
Bedding Plants Australia (BPA), the body to whom gardeners in Australia look for recommendations for seasonal planting for the flower garden, have this year have an unfortunate admission to make.

Sansevieria cylindrica ‘Skyline’
A novelty house plant with grey-green leaves which are both grooved and striped.

Papaver nudicaule ‘Poppy Bussana’
A lovely new Iceland Poppy that was originally bred for cut flowers, but also makes a lovely free-flowering border plant.

Hippeastrum 'Mocca'
This is a cultivar that has been bred for cutting, rather than as growing as a houseplant, although it can be used for both purposes.

Veronica ‘Christa’
An unusual cultivar that grows like any other hardy herbaceous Veronica, except that its spikes of dark blue blossoms end as a cockscomb.

Gerrondo Gerberas
The Gerrondo Gerbera is an entirely new type of flower which will be available during the next few months.

Bouvardia ‘Diamond Light Pink’
This is one of a new group of double-flowered Bouvardia called the Diamond series.

Vriesea ‘Astrid’
A new development in Vriesea. Unlike other species and cultivars of Vriesea , ‘Astrid’ forms a rosette of three to six shoots with the same number of flowers.

Lilium ‘Shocking’
The recent cross-breeding of Oriental and Aurelium lilies has resulted in a completely new type, referred to in the horticultural trade as OT lilies.

Ranunculus asiaticus ‘Elegance Hot Pink’
This is the latest addition to the Elegance series of double-flowered Ranunculus

For the above click here.

Happy Gardening

Philip

GardenMessenger

If you have enjoyed this publication, you may also like to visit the monthly 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
.



Directory of Gardening Blogs

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Kew Gardens Summer Festival, Blossom End Rot and Biological Control

Historic Kew

Any enthusiastic gardener who happens to be visiting London, should try to get to Kew Gardens' Summer Festival. This explores 'How Kew Grew' and brings to life the people, buildings, and past times which have shaped the Gardens. The origin of the Gardens dates back to 1631, when Kew Palace was built, so the Gardens showcase a treasure trove of history, all waiting to be discovered. Some of the highlights include the opening of the Pagoda and Kew Palace, for the first time in many years; wallabies and sheep in the Gardens, as they were in King George III's time, and some great paintings and digital reconstructions illustrating Kew's unique life story. The Festival continues until 24th September. Photo: RBG Kew.

Blossom End Rot of Tomatoes in Hot Climates
Research has been undertaken into the incidence of blossom end rot in tomatoes in hot arid climates by researchers in Kuwait. Blossom end rot is a common disorder of tomatoes, the rot appearing as round spots on the blossom end of fruits. Initial symptoms of the disease appear as water-soaked indented stains or brown spots which rapidly become black as the disorder progresses.

New Waterlily Book
For those who read German, a new book entitled Seerosen (Waterlilies) has been published in Germany.

Biological Pest and Disease Control
We are all looking towards biologically friendly ways of controlling pests and diseases in our gardens. The Dutch nursery industry is too. The combination of economics, pressure from legislation, and public demand, has led to some serious experimental work taking place at a research station in Horst in southern Holland.

Developing Whitefly Controls
Every gardener is interested in hearing about new methods of controlling whitefly, even if they are not yet fully developed. If they are more biologically friendly than what we have at present, then so much the better.

For the above click here.

Happy Gardening

Philip

GardenMessenger

If you have enjoyed this publication, you may also like to visit the monthly 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
.



Directory of Gardening Blogs

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Defeating Dutch Elm Disease, Developing Bio-based Pots and Pine Wood Growing Bags

The original 'Jefferson' elm on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Researchers in the US are getting on top of Dutch Elm Disease (DED), at least they are showing positive outcomes in outwitting the deadly disease, which was accidentally imported on logs shipped from France to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1931, and which by the 1980s had wiped out around 77 million American elms. To combat this exotic and deadly disease, caused by the fungus Ophiostoma ulmi, researchers have screened thousands of American elm trees for DED resistance. The research team have taken great care, and enough old specimens have been located and kept alive to provide the germplasm necessary to develop DED-tolerant trees. Much of this work has been done by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists with the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C.

The arboretum’s tree-breeding project was led, until his 2005 retirement, by geneticist Denny Townsend, who worked with horticulturist Susan Bentz, in the ARS Floral and Nursery Plants Research Unit (FNPRU) at Glenn Dale, Maryland. In 2005, the newest American elm - named ‘ Jefferson’ - was released jointly by ARS and the National Park Service (NPS), after collaborative screening tests by Townsend and NPS plant pathologist James L. Sherald showed it to have an outstanding level of DED tolerance. It was cloned in 1993 from the original tree, a survivor of about 600 elms planted on the National Mall in Southwest Washington in the 1930s. Jefferson was thought to be a hybrid elm until DNA tests performed at the arboretum proved it to be a true American Elm, Ulmus americana, much to the relief of purists. This sturdy elm grows in the typical vase shape up to 20m (68ft) tall. Its leaves turn dark green earlier in spring and stay dark later in autumn than most other elms. Jefferson has broad U-shaped branch unions, rather than narrow V-shaped ones, has attractive bark, and can be propagated by softwood cuttings.

FNPRU research leader John Hammond regards ‘Jefferson’ as a good street tree because it can withstand pollution from city traffic and has wide adaptability, growing in USDA plant hardiness zones 5 through 7. While this durable, DED-tolerant elm may once again fill US parks and grace street sides with true American elms, ‘Jefferson’ will not be available to home gardeners for about four years. But specimens can be seen on the National Mall, next to the old Smithsonian Building, and soon at the arboretum. Efforts are under way to propagate quantities for nursery co-operators. Two other DED-tolerant elms developed through ARS tree breeding, ‘Valley Forge’ and ‘New Harmony’, are already quite widely planted.
Photo: SE Bentz ARS

New Growing Bag Use 100% Pine Wood
EkoFibre in the UK are producing growing bags that contain 100% high quality lignin cellulose pine wood fibre's which are harvested especially for this purpose from FSC certified sustainable forests.

For the above click here.

Developing Bio-based Pots
Plant pots made from farm wastes could one day be a boon to both home gardeners and the horticultural industry, as well as the environment. The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the Horticultural Research Institute (HRI) of the American Nursery and Landscape Association are working together to create biodegradable pots for nursery production.

New Free Pond Guides from Mitre 10 New Zealand
Mitre 10 have produced two useful practical on-line guides for newcomers to water gardening.

For the above click here.

Design News - Hampton Court Preview Garden
Hadlow College,Kent - CaCO3
Chalk (CaCO3) - what does it mean to you? Industrial cement works or Kentish chalk downland?

For the above click here.

A New Apricot Rootstock from Bulgaria
Research in Bulgaria to find the ideal rootstock for apricots started in the 1970s. This work has just come to fruition with the release of the Prunus myrobalan rootstock ‘Aidemirska’.

Raspberry ‘Valentina’
‘Valentina’ is an exciting new raspberry cultivar....

New Celosias
There is a new series of Celosias available to home gardeners. This series comprises four cultivars, each of which as been recognised by either Fleuroselect or All America Selections for all round excellence.

For the above click here.

Happy Gardening

Philip

GardenMessenger

If you have enjoyed this publication, you may also like to visit the monthly 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
.



Directory of Gardening Blogs

Monday, June 19, 2006

Compost Trials, Water Primrose and the Wollemi Pine

Hardy perennial research

The raising of perennials from seed or cuttings using a modern compost, especially a soil-less compost, often leads to sappy soft growth. While the plants look great in their early stages, they tend to grow too quickly, become tall and relatively weak. This is a problem in the nursery trade as well as in the home garden, as we consumers have a preference for compact and sturdy plants. Now a major horticultural research centre in Holland is trying to determine the best way to cope with this problem. Researchers are conducting trials to study different phosphate levels to determine the optimum rates to produce a more compact plant. Lowering the rate of phosphates can slow down growth rates, ultimately resulting in more compact plants. The trials are being conducted using Delphinium and Salvia in two-gallon pots. Researchers will assess the impact of different rates and timing of applications of phosphates on growth, flowering times and colours, as well as overall plant vigour. Once the results of this research are known, perhaps an enterprising compost manufacturer will seize the opportunity and produce a low phosphate compost that will guarantee us steady, compact and stable growth when raising young perennials, shrubs and trees from seed or cuttings.

New Director for Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
It has been announced that Prof. Stephen D. Hopper is to be the next Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

AARS Designing with Roses Competition
All-America Rose Selections is making a final call for entries for its Designing with Roses Competition. This recognises and honours excellence in landscape architecture and garden design by both professionals and students.

Water Primrose Threatens Environment in US
With its beautiful, bright-yellow flowers, Water Primrose might seem like the perfect aquatic plant to enhance a backyard pond.

A New Feature at Kew - The Sackler Crossing
The Sackler Crossing, designed by eminent London-based architect John Pawson has been opened at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

For the above click here.

The Famous Wollemi Pine Arrives
In 1994, forester Davis Noble discovered a new species of "pine" tree growing in a deep gorge in the Blue Mountains area of the Wollemi National Park, some 200km (135 miles) north-west of Sydney, Australia. Exclusive sales and distribution rights of this rare fossil tree in Europe have now been granted and the first trees are available to European gardeners.

Bupleurum griffithii
While not a completely new plant to cultivation, selected strains of this interesting half-hardy annual cut flower are being heavily promoted by the florist trade in Europe and are now available to the home gardener as seed.

New Primula Range
German seed breeders Benary have added a welcome new range of Primula obconica cultivars to what is available to home gardeners.

For the above click here.

Happy Gardening

Philip

GardenMessenger

If you have enjoyed this publication, you may also like to visit the monthly 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
.



Directory of Gardening Blogs

Friday, June 16, 2006

GardenMessenger Web-site, Apricot White Fleck and Ripple Geraniums

The GardenMessenger web-site has been well received

The new GardenMessenger web-site has had a very warm welcome from everyone. Thank you folks. I hope that it will become a very useful and practical resource for gardeners everywhere. If you have not visited yet, please do so at www.gardenmessenger.net. I try to be globally inclusive and to report upon gardening and new plants from around the world, especially as our GardenMessenger members come from more than 55 countries and all corners of the globe. If you have an interesting gardening news story, especially from a far flung place, please let me know, I would be please to hear about it.

Happy Gardening

Philip

GardenMessenger

Apricot White Fleck - A New Problem
A new problem with apricot fruits that are dried after harvesting has been recognised by researchers in Turkey.

The Parky Rose Launched
Much loved UK TV personality, Michael Parkinson, needs little introduction, even to those in other parts of the English-speaking world, as his programmes are broadcast globally. He has entertained millions of us with his captivating interviews. Now a rose has been launched in his name.

Missouri Botanical Gardens Offers Multilingual Guide Maps
To better serve both the local community and international visitors, the Missouri Botanical Garden's free visitor guide maps have been translated into seven languages in addition to English.

New Head of Education for RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society has announced the appointment of a new Head of Education.

For the above click here.

Southport Flower Show Garden Design Competition
Mature students Helen Schaffer and Paul Richards both from Myerscough College, Lancashire, have won the Southport Flower Show Garden Design Competition.

For the above click here.

New Ripple Geraniums
An exciting new range of Ripple geraniums has been added to the Horizon series produced by UK plant breeders FloraNova.

Scabious Promotion
Although not completely new, the cultivar of the frost-hardy Scabiosa japonica, called ‘Ritz Blue’, is receiving heavy promotion to gardeners in Europe.

Snowsylva Creates a Trio
The new pure white 'Snowsylva' joins the beautiful 'Bluesylva' and Rosylva' to complete the 'Sylva' trio of Wood Forget-me-nots.
For the above click here.

If you have enjoyed this publication, you may also like to visit the monthly 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
.



Directory of Gardening Blogs

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Australian Garden Opened, Astilbes and New Plants

New Australian Garden Opened

As promised a week ago I have produced the beginnings of the GardenMessenger web-site click here. This is a place that will become a focus for GardenMessenger members and those of its regional and sub-groups. It will also become a place where I can develop a resource of gardening news and information that will be readily retrievable, unlike the blog, where it is very difficult to find past items. The blog, however, will continue and provide members and visitors with information and latest updates directed to the pages of the GardenMessenger web-site where they are posted. So if you are interested in being kept updated, visit the blog readily.

The Australian Garden Opened
A treasure garden of Australian plants has been opened at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne, an annex of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, Victoria, by the state Premier Steve Bracks.

RHS Bicentenary Glasshouse
The new Royal Horticultural Society’s Bicentenary Glasshouse, which is costing £7.7 million, is now reportedly complete.

Astilbe - Plant of the Month for June
Each month the Dutch nursery industry selects a plant to promote as Plant of the Month and makes recommendations as to some of the more recent and proven cultivars of that genus. This month it is the turn of that lovely group of frost-hardy moisture-loving perennials.

For the above click here.


Eryngium ‘Blue Hobbit’
This is a genetically compact Eryngium with a unique intense blue flower colour….

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Corona’
'Corona' is a cultivar of well-branched habit…..

Salvia splendens ‘Mojave’
This is a compact early flowering cultivar with good heat tolerance…

Gourd ‘Jack B-Little’
A fine new gourd cultivar that is being introduced to European gardeners.

For the above click here.


Happy Gardening

Philip

GardenMessenger

If you have enjoyed this publication, you may also like to visit the monthly 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
.



Directory of Gardening Blogs

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Beating Bean Diseases, UK Avocado and Winter Flowering Wallflower

I am busy working on developing the GardenMessenger web-site and so I will not be posting on the blog for one week - until 14th June. I have to accept that there are only twenty-four hours in the day and I need to get things organised so that the news delivered by the blog is more professionally presented and that the rapidly increasing GardenMessenger online community has a home to call its own. During this short period I will continue to gather news items so that nothing will be missed. I hope to see you back here then.

Happy Gardening

Philip

GardenMessenger

Beating Bean Diseases
Beans can suffer from many devastating diseases. So says plant pathologist Marcial Pastor-Corrales of the Agricultural Research Service Vegetable Laboratory of the Plant Sciences Institute in Beltsville, Maryland, United States, "All over the world, wherever you find beans, you find pathogens. Anthracnose, Common Bean Rust, Bean Common Mosaic, and Common Blight are among the world’s most economically significant bean diseases. The brown cankers, rust-coloured spores, mottled leaves, and lemon-yellow lesions that plague afflicted plants can foreshadow obliteration of an entire crop. However, in the Agricultural Research Service Vegetable Laboratory in Beltsville, Marcial Pastor-Corrales and his colleagues are breeding beans to improve genetic resistance to these diseases, with great success.

Avocado Fruiting in the UK
London resident Philip Williams was astonished when he saw what he believed was an avocado fruiting in a garden in west London.

Country Value Seeds to be Re-launched in 2007
Country Value, the no-frills, value for money UK seed brand, has given its packets a makeover for the 2007 season

Winter Flowering Wallflower
In a major breakthrough, UK plant breeders FloraNova, have announced that they have produced the first strain of winter flowering wallflowers.
For the above click here.

Plant Talk
The fifth in a series of mini plant reviews: Cotoneaster
Of all the frost-hardy berried shrubs the Cotoneasters are amongst the most popular. …Details click here.

If you have enjoyed this publication, you may also like to visit the monthly 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
.



Directory of Gardening Blogs

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Conifer Survey, New Horticultural Lab, Iris Week and New Plants

Thank you all for your very kind comments and suggestions over the radical changes made to the blog and delivery of information during the past few days. We are unexpectedly at the beginning of a journey, but I think it is an exciting one. As time goes on I think the blog and the attendant news and information pages will become an invaluable complementary resource to the steadily growing GardenMessenger membership with its vast wealth of expertise. I hope that the present temporary home for information will soon transfer to its own web-site so that it can be presented more professionally. However, there are only so many hours in the day - but what an interesting time! Thank you all for making it so.

Happy Gardening

Philip

GardenMessenger

UK Conifer Die-back Survey - Help Needed
The Royal Horticultural Society, in collaboration with East Malling Research Station, recently received funding from the Horticultural Development Council to investigate the causes of die-back and browning in Leyland (Cupressocyparis x leylandii) and Lawson (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana) cypress hedges.

Patio Vegetables and Exclusive Flowers for 2007
Johnsons Seeds in the UK have announced that in 2007 they are launching a collection of ten modern vegetable cultivars, that have all been selected for their ability to crop well in containers or growing bags.

New Horticultural Laboratory Opened
The Thad Cochran Southern Horticultural Laboratory, a new research laboratory to be operated by the Agricultural Research Service,the United States Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific research agency, has been opened in Poplarville, Mississippi.

Obituary
Paul Stetson - US Water Gardening Pioneer
It is with great sadness that the death is reported on 3rd June of one of North Americas’ pioneering water gardening exponents and nurserymen, Paul W. Stetson of Paradise Water Gardens Ltd, Whitman, Massachusetts.
For the above click here.

Iris Week
Iris Week is being celebrated from 21st - 25th June at historic Audley End in the east of England. In the wonderful walled kitchen garden, where Garden Organic - the national organic gardening organisation - works in association with English Heritage, its Iris collection will be lifted and divided its for the first time.
For the above click here.

Festival of Roses
This year, the Festival of Roses marquee at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in the UK will be exhibiting the Rose of the Year 2006, ‘Champagne Moment’, unveiling the Rose of the Year 2007, ‘Tickled Pink’, and celebrating 25 years of Rose of the Year with some of the UK’s top rose growers.

New Cut Flower Chrysanthemums
These new Chrysanthemum cultivars have recently entered cut flower production, and after assessment, are now being produced commercially. Some will remain purely as florists’ flowers, but a number are likely to quickly enter the home gardener market.
For the above click here.

Hampton Court Show Gardens Preview
During the period running up to the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in the UK in July, regular show garden previews will appear here.
For the above click here.

Plant Talk
The fourth in a series of mini plant reviews: Crataegus
The thorns are an enormous group of trees and occasionally shrubs, most of which are of garden merit. The common European Hawthorn, Crataegus monogyna, is amongst the best-loved and most useful…Details click here.

If you have enjoyed this publication, you may also like to visit the monthly 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
.



Directory of Gardening Blogs

Monday, June 05, 2006

Raspberry Disease, Ugly Veg, China Expo and New Plants

Welcome to today’s blog, which has a blend of the scientific, practical and problematic within it. I have taken a conscious decision to move away from personalising the blog as much as previously as the feedback suggests that most readers visit GardenMessenger for hard factual information to assist them with managing their gardens, at the same time welcoming information about new techniques and plants that may in the near future be relevant to them. I am particularly delighted that we are receiving interest from all over the world, a visitor from the Seychelles today bringing our list of visitors by country to eighty in the eight short weeks that this blog has been published. The whole concept of GardenMessenger is to bring together the gardening world - and it is working.

Happy Gardening

Philip

GardenMessenger

Black Raspberry Decline Disease Strikes
Although the Black Raspberry, Rubus occidentalis is little known and grown in most other parts of the world, it is an important fruit in its native North America, both commercially and for home gardeners. In Oregon, the nation’s main black raspberry producer, symptoms of a devastating disease known as Black Raspberry Decline have surfaced in every region of the state where the berries are grown.

Photoselective Additive Improves Plant Growth
It is a good idea to keep an eye on what is going in the commercial horticultural industry, for developments there often lead eventually to the production of products of great benefit to us home gardeners.

The Ugliest Veg In England Competition
If you live in England and enjoy growing vegetables, you should be aware of the Ugliest Veg in England competition being sponsored by the National Trust. The competition is designed to encourage more people of all ages to grow their own vegetables and to challenge the image of the cosmetically perfect, well-formed vegetable that we often find in our shops.

China Shenyang International Horticultural Exposition
The China Shenyang International Horticultural Exposition is now under way in the north-eastern province of Liaoning. The exposition, with the theme of "man live in harmony with nature", is scheduled to last six months and expected to attract 10 million visitors from home and abroad.

Organic Strawberry Fairs
Organic Strawberry Fairs will be held at both Garden Organic, Ryton, Coventry, and Garden Organic Yalding, Maidstone in the UK, on Sunday 25th June from 10am to 5pm. Visitors will be able to treat themselves to strawberry teas or strawberries and champagne, while enjoying live music in these glorious gardens, run by Europe’s largest organic gardening charity.

For the above click here.

New Catharanthus
A new series of Carathanthus, or tropical Vinca, have just been released.

New Roses for New Zealand
South Otago-based Camphill Roses have announced three new releases for this autumn.

New Infiniti Geraniums
A new range of early flowering seed raised geraniums have just been launched.

For the above click here.

Plant Talk
The third in a series of mini plant reviews: Taxus
The Taxus or yews are amongst the most important trees for the garden, for not only are they used as specimens, but for hedging and topiary as well click here.

If you have enjoyed this publication, you may also like to visit the monthly 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
.



Directory of Gardening Blogs

Sunday, June 04, 2006

New Plants, Glowing Flowers and Designing with Conifers

The changeover of the system of delivering information on the blog did not seem to cause anyone any difficulty yesterday, the only feedback that I have had has been positive. Today I am continuing to develop the changes and while retaining all the usual features, I have separated out garden design as an entity as there is always so much going on in that field that it really needs its own space. I hope that you continue to enjoy the blog.

Happy Gardening

Philip

GardenMessenger

Polygala myrtifolia ‘Chapman Field’
In 1997 US plant geneticist Alan Meerow identified the Cape Milkwort or Sweet Pea Bush, Polygala myrtifolia, found in the Bokkeveld Mountains, South Africa, as a potentially interesting new plant to develop for its ornamental characteristics. Details click here.

Micro-Gerbera ‘Kameleon’
An interesting new plant, which grows no taller than 10cm (4in) with flowers around 5 cm (2in) in diameter. Details click here.

New Argyranthemums
Two new cultivars of Argyranthemum have been recently released. Details click here.

Glowing Flowers
G de Koning BV, Westland,The Netherlands, has obtained the exclusive right to use a new patented dye on ornamental flowers and plants. Details click here.

New Msc in Global Horticulture
Those who are interested in learning about horticulture in an international context may be interested in the new Msc in Global Horticulture. Details click here.

UK Village Flower Show TV Series Under Way
The village flower show is a national institution, where members of the British public take huge pride in growing the biggest vegetables… Details click here.

Designing with Conifers
To mark the second UK National Conifer Week, and to demonstrate to gardeners how conifers can be used in the twenty-first century garden… Details click here.

Plant Talk
The second in a series of mini plant reviews: Ruscus
For a difficult dry shade area in need of ground cover there are few other hardy plant options than Butchers' Broom, Ruscus aculeatus, …………. Details click here.

If you have enjoyed this publication, you may also like to visit the monthly 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
.



Directory of Gardening Blogs

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Improvements, Gardening News and New Plants

This blog has been online now for over fifty days and has been generally well received. However, the longer it continues in its present form the more difficult it becomes for readers to find archived material, thus in the longer term its usefulness will be diminished. So I have reviewed the blog, and I am going to change the way in which information is delivered so that it is easier to use, and for those visitors who are new to the blog, information that was published earlier will become more readily accessible and retrievable.

At present I am putting together a small web-site for the GardenMessenger group and its sub-groups. A focus where information can be dispersed readily amongst members, and for those outside, a one-stop venue where they can learn about the GardenMessenger online gardening communities and hopefully be encouraged to become a part of them. On this web-site I will create pages that are specific to items that I mention in the blog e.g. a new plants section, diary section etc. Thus the blog will be published each day in the same manner, except that the content will be hosted elsewhere, but easily accessed with a click, as will orderly arranged archives under subject headings. Until the GardenMessenger web-site goes live in the next week or two these pages will be hosted under the GardenMessenger banner, but within the existing web-site of the associated group SeedMessenger. So content-wise nothing will change, it is just the method of delivery. I hope that all visitors will approve of these changes and find the publication even more useful.

Happy Gardening

Philip

GardenMessenger

Fair Flowers Fair Plants Initiative Launched
Fair Flowers Fair Plants (FFP) is a new initiative to stimulate the production and sales of flowers and plants cultivated in a sustainable manner. Sustainably cultivated flowers and plants are grown in a way that respects people and the environment. Details click here.

Fothergill’s Canadian Website Launched
Mr Fothergill's Seeds have launched their seed range for Canada with a new web-site. Details click here.

National Conifer Week Announced for UK
The second UK National Conifer Week has been announced this week. Details click here.

Plant Select Choices for 2006
The Plant Select choices for 2006 have been recently announced by Colorado State University and Denver Botanic Gardens in the United States This collaborative program between these two great institutions discovers and distributes the best plants for gardeners to grow in the high plains and intermountain regions. All the plants are described and brought together, including those from yesterday’s blog. Details click here.

Plant Talk
The first in a series of mini plant reviews: Sorbus
The Sorbus embrace both the Mountain Ash or Rowan and the Whitebeam. Excellent garden trees of …………… Details click here.

If you have enjoyed this publication, you may also like to visit the monthly 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
.



Directory of Gardening Blogs

Friday, June 02, 2006

Colorado Plants, Globe Artichokes and Biological Pest Control

Lonicera reticulata ‘Kintzley's Ghost’

The Plant Select choices for 2006 have been recently announced by Colorado State University and Denver Botanic Gardens in the United States This collaborative program between these two great institutions discovers and distributes the best plants for gardeners to grow in the high plains and intermountain regions. Several plants are chosen each year that thrive in the sunny variable conditions of Rocky Mountain gardens. These can be plants that have grown there for years and have not yet attained the popularity they deserve, or superior forms or hybrids carefully tested over time. While regionally focused, the program also provides very useful information and guidance for other gardeners with similar growing conditions in different parts of the world, and offers glimpses of plants that many of us would not otherwise know.

In reviewing the Plant Select choices, the one that caught my attention first was Kintzley's Ghost Honeysuckle. This is a selection from the Grape Honeysuckle, Lonicera reticulata, and was originally brought to Colorado by the family of an early horticulturist, William Kintzley. The honeysuckle was found on his grave in the 1960s. It is easy to grow, covering from 2.4-3.6m (8-12 ft) in height and having a spread of 90cm-1.5m ( 3-5 ft) in width. It apparently is quite content growing in an average garden loam soil and benefits from moderate irrigation. The plant produces yellow flowers surrounded by a silvery-white bract during early to mid summer. It is suitable for USDA zones 4 - 8.

Penstemon rostriflorus

Bridges' Penstemon, Penstemon rostriflorus, presumably named for that indefatigable Victorian botanist Thomas Bridges, is noted for flowering later in the season and for living longer than other commonly grown penstemons. The orange-red flowers appear during late summer and into autumn and in their homeland are attractive to hummingbirds. The plant, which can vary in height and spread from 60-90cm (24-36in), succeeds in a sunny spot in any dry well-drained soil, and only requires occasional irrigation. It is suitable for USDA zones 4b - 8.

Sporobolus wrightii

The final plant from these selections to mention today, is one with which I am unfamiliar, although it looks great and would appear to have tremendous future when word gets out amongst trendy garden designers. This is the Giant Sacaton, Sporobolus wrightii, a tough drought-tolerant ornamental grass. The ochre seed heads can reach 1.8m (6 ft) in height and continue to provide interest through the winter. It grows well in any average soil, only requiring occasional watering during really dry periods. It is suitable for USDA zones 5 - 8.

Globe artichoke

When considering gardening under dryish conditions, amongst the first plants to come to mind are the Cynara species - cardoons and globe artichokes. Although I personally think that the globe artichoke is a bit over-rated as a vegetable, it is undeniably a fine plant for the ornamental garden and can be comfortably accommodated in the mixed or herbaceous border. It is a tall plant, when producing its flower buds, growing up to 2m (78ins) depending upon cultivar. It has deeply cut bluish-green leaves, up to 90cm (36in) long that are produced from a crown that gives the plant the appearance of a giant decorative thistle. Globe artichokes are usually purchased as off-sets and planted during mid to late spring. These are the outer divisions from an established clump. Sometimes they are from plants known as "globe artichokes" which have resulted from constant cultivation and selection, other times from named cultivars like ‘Vert de Laon’. Whenever possible choosing a cultivar is to be preferred. Seed raising is a possibility, the young plants being of similar size to off-sets in their second year. The disadvantage with seed raised plants is that they show wide diversity in stature and quality, mostly not for the best.

A bright sunny position and a free-draining but richly organic soil is essential for globe artichokes. After planting they must be kept well watered until established. Where more than a single plant is grown, allow a minimum of 90cm (36in) between plants in any direction. In the vegetable garden globe artichokes should be regarded as a long term crop, plants being allowed to remain where they are for five or more years without disturbance. Cultivation is confined to keeping the ground clean around the plants and tidying up faded foliage and flower stems at the end of the season. Do not cut healthy foliage back in the autumn, as might be prudent with other herbaceous plants, but allow the leafy growth to remain to protect the crown. In very cold areas it is usual to protect over-wintering globe artichokes with straw. The 'globes' are ready to harvest mid to late summer and are really the immature flower heads of the plants.

Whitefly control

Globe artichokes are inextricably a part of southern European life, as indeed are roses. In the Campania region of southern Italy there is a great move to producing roses 100% biologically without the intervention of any chemicals. Some 200 hectares (495 acres) of cut flower roses are produced in the region and tremendous strides are being made towards achieving this objective. One particular element in this biological control programme, which has potential future benefits for the home gardener, is the use of a clone of tobacco that has a very low nicotine content. Flying insects, such as aphids and whiteflies like to feed on these tobacco plants. The pests are controlled in a simple focused way by the tobacco plants being inoculated with the predators (Macrolophus caliginosus for white flies and Lysiphlebus testaceipes for aphids). The tobacco plants are spread around the greenhouse amongst the crop.

News

Eryngium 'Blue Glitter'
This is a great new border or cut flower perennial with steely blue stems and flowers. It grows 90-100cm (35-39in) tall and enjoys an open sunny, well drained position.








Begonia Non-Stop - ‘Mocca’ series
This is the only dark bonze-leafed series of Begonia that is uniform and early flowering. These cultivars produce large 10cm (4in) diameter, fully double blossoms in five colours (yellow, orange, deep orange, scarlet and white). These all contrast well with the dark leaf colour. They are ideal for pots, baskets and bedding use.



Cat Series Pansies
The latest in the series of pansies known as Cats, is the startling ‘Cats Orange’. It is a compact, well-branched plant with a long flowering period, and is ideal for container gardening.









Diary

East of England Garden Show
The Wood Green Animal Shelter,
Godmanchester,
Huntingdon,
Cambridgeshire,
UK.
Website click here.





Happy Gardening

Philip

GardenMessenger

Today’s Sponsor


Photos:
Colorado Plants: Plant Select
Globe artichoke: Wikipedia
Whitefly: USDA
New Plants: Benary

If you have enjoyed this publication, you may also like to visit the monthly 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
.



Directory of Gardening Blogs

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Garden Path, Bedding Calceolarias and Monkey Flowers

The most important garden feature

After my diversion into the futuristic field of magnetic therapy to control diseases yesterday, my wife Hazel says I must come back to earth and down to basics. She is not really a gardener, but she enjoys a nice garden and having lived with me and been my typist and secretarial help for some thirty five years is quite knowledgeable, and no longer phased by Latin names. She also knows what she likes in a garden, and the two priorities for her are a good place to hang the washing, and a sound dry path to take her to the washing line. I have to say that I concur with her view. So often a garden is ruined by a badly positioned or constructed path. Thus my opening theme today - the garden path.

A well-laid path is essential for the successful management of every garden. The direction that it takes must be very clearly thought through to ensure its efficiency. It must be arranged so that there are no temptations to cut corners across the lawn or flower beds and yet as far as possible it should be unobtrusive. Like the garden itself, a path should be properly drained, especially if it is to be constructed from gravel or a similar porous material. Surrounding ground must also be drained in such a way that the path does not become a watercourse during periods of heavy rain or after snow-melt in colder districts. The scouring out of neatly raked gravel by fast-flowing ground water can be a great source of irritation.

Before construction, consider the possibility of the path also being the line that takes services. Water and electricity can very conveniently be directed along the line of the path so that there is never any danger of interference from cultivation. It is ill-advised to place such services beneath a solid path, such as concrete, but ready access can be gained through gravel, or beneath a paved path. A sound foundation is vital, even for a simple gravel path. If a generous layer of stone foundation is not laid down first of all it is almost certain that mud will squeeze through and within a season the path will become an unpleasant mud and gravel mixture which will then play host to weeds. Prevent this by using fabric landscape matting laid over the soil in the path area before spreading the gravel. Such material permits water to seep through, but prevents the mud from squeezing upwards.

There are all kinds of gravel and gravel-like materials that can be used for path construction, but all require a proper edging to retain the material. Many gardeners choose 15mm (1/2in) gravel as this is substantial and looks good. It is not the best utility choice though for it is quite difficult to push a wheelbarrow or pushchair over and it creates havoc with high-heeled shoes. Fine shingle makes a far better surface providing that it is not scattered too liberally. However the best of all is self-binding gravel. This is of gravel-like appearance but of such a texture that it binds together in a neat hard surface. Once laid it merely needs rolling with a garden roller. Crushed limestone can also serve the purpose, but it tends to become dusty during dry weather and stick to shoes on wet days. It can also increase the alkalinity of nearby soil. Concrete is a serviceable but harsh option, which if laid properly with expansion joints, will last indefinitely. It is not a comfortable path to walk along or work from in hot weather, as there is considerable reflection and glare. The same applies to some of the modern paving slabs made from reconstituted stone. Select these with great care choosing softer more subtle colours to reduce discomfort. Also carefully select the surface. There are a number of more or less non-slip surfaces available; the most natural looking of which is referred to as riven paving.

Calceolaria integrifolia

A few days ago I wrote about the Slipper Flower or Calceolaria, and described them as being pot plants. However, I have been reminded that there are a number that are much smaller flowered than the florist's Calceolaria and which are excellent plants for bedding purposes. These have been mostly derived from the half-hardy perennial yellow-flowered Calceolaria integrifolia. In Victorian times the species itself was widely grown and over-wintered in a cool greenhouse during the winter as stock plants and the new shoots used for spring cuttings, or as cuttings were taken during late summer and over-wintered in pots. With modern hybrids seed raising is much more usual. 'Bright Bikini' is amongst the best of the new strains, being brightly coloured flowers on plants no more than 10cm (4in) tall.

Calceolarias are tender and have to be raised indoors in the greenhouse or on the window ledge. They will not stand any frost. Sow the seeds thinly in good seed compost during spring and cover the seeds lightly. It is important to use a properly prepared and sterilised seed compost rather than garden soil. Rarely is garden soil in as good a physical conditions as seed compost and it is certainly likely to be host to a range of pests and diseases which could cause early problems for seedlings under warm indoor conditions. Once the seeds have germinated and the first true leaf, as opposed to seedling leaves, is emerging the seedlings should be pricked out into a good potting compost. Use potting compost rather than seed compost as potting composts contain significantly more nutrients and these are essential for healthy plant development. During the growing period it is important for light and warmth to be consistent. Average room temperature is fine for seedlings if they are being raised on the window ledge, but it should be consistent. When any danger of frost has passed, the young plants should be hardened off before planting out. Ensure that they are well watered until established.

Mimulus ‘Maximus Ivory’

I am always surprised by the things that are mentioned in this blog which create discussion and bring me emails. Yesterday it was the new Mimulus ‘Maximus’ strain developed by FloraNova, the specialist seed breeders in eastern England, which are now making such a splash around the world. Some GardenMessenger members cannot get enough of them apparently and have asked for more, so I am taking the opportunity of showing you a few more, at the same time doing a short review for those gardeners who have not grown them before.

Mimulus ‘Maximus Red Shades’

There are innumerable wonderful Mimulus or Monkey Flower which are perennial and well suited to life in the mixed or herbaceous border. They all enjoy moist soil conditions and on occasions are also seen living happily in a bog garden at a streamside, and with certain species like the yellow flowered Mimulus luteus and lavender-blue M.ringens, in the margins of the garden pool as well. Mimulus are all summer flowering species and cultivars, mostly in very vivid hues, their strongly lipped and funnelled blossoms being carried in great profusion on stout flower stems which are liberally clothed with bright green foliage.

Mimulus ‘Maximus Yellow’

Mimulus luteus is the easiest, most commonly grown and versatile species. It is also an important component of many of the colourful hybrids which are currently so popular. In good moist conditions it will grow 60-75cm (24-30in) tall, but is often seen in the traditional herbaceous borders where conditions are drier than to its liking, at scarcely more than 30cm (12in), but nevertheless content. The copper-red M.cupreus and yellow and red spotted M.guttatus are other important species, neither growing more than 45cm (18in) tall. These, together with M.luteus have produced hybrids with a rich palette of colours. Some have blossoms which look almost like orchids and so exotic that the plants would appear as if they will not be hardy enough to survive the winter, especially the widely grown 'Queen's Prize' and 'Monarch' strains.

Mimulus ‘Maximus Orange’

These widely grown seed raised plants are often replaced annually in order to secure high quality flowers, but they are perennials and pass through the winter unscathed. However, they behave rather like Sweet Williams, which are perennials but rarely retained after the first season’s flowering. All Mimulus benefit from life in the sun providing that the soil can be kept moist. In winter they produce ground-hugging rosettes of foliage and these can be lifted and divided. Alternatively seed can be sown in a good seed compost in spring with the protection of a cold frame.

News

Physalis ‘Little Lanterns’
An outstanding new patio plant of compact umbrella-shaped habit, with creamy-yellow and maroon blossoms followed by delicious fruits.








Melampodium 'Golden Globe'
This is amongst the latest bedding plants coming from German flower seed breeder Benary. A tender annual, it attains a height of 15-20cm (6-8in), and has a very uniform, compact and neatly globe-shaped habit. 'Golden Globe's myriad golden-yellow star-shaped flowers are produced all summer long. It is idea for hot sunny situations.



Diary

Rocky Mountain District Rose Show & Convention
16th-18th June
McKee Hospital Conference/Wellness Center
Loveland,
Colorado,
USA.
Website click here.


Happy Gardening

Philip

GardenMessenger

Today’s Sponsor


Photos:
Calceolaria: Wikipedia
Mimulus and Physalis : FloraNova
Melampodium: Benary

If you have enjoyed this publication, you may also like to visit the monthly 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
.



Directory of Gardening Blogs

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