Hardy Hibiscus

Cherry Butler

grow

Hibiscus syriacus

  1. Large deciduous shrub with beautiful blue, pink, red or white flowers from July to September.
  2. Same family as mallows, Lavatera and hollyhocks with similar flowers.
  3. ‘Oiseau Bleu’ is a beautiful blue and always in flower on my birthday in August!
  4. ‘Woodbridge’ is deep rose with a dark centre.
  5. ‘Red Heart’ is white with a red feathered centre.
  6. ‘William R Smith’ is pure white and ‘Diana’ has single white petals with crinkled edges.
  7. The Chiffon Series has semi-double flowers and has become popular in recent years.
  8. It needs full sun and well-drained neutral soil but is not really that fussy.
  9. It can be grown alone but also paired with spring flowering shrubs such as Weigela or Philadelphus as it flowers after these or perhaps an evergreen.
  10. One point to note is that it is the last shrub to leaf up in May or June and I’m often asked if it’s died!
Cathie’s Gardening School Services now booking for September.
  1. Horticultural consultancy teaching you in your own garden.
  2. Cathie’s Garden Army to transform your garden following a consultancy.
  3. Professional pruning following a consultancy.
  4. RHS courses. Please ask for details.
[email protected] Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Lilacs in May

Cherry Butler

grow

Syringa vulgaris is is the most common lilac available in this country to grow in gardens. The common name ‘lilac’ refers to the colour but there are many available.

Ten lilac tips:

  1. One point worth noting is that if you are particular about the colour it’s a good idea to buy it in flower!
  2. Container-grown plants can be planted at any time of the year but ensure they are well watered before and after planting for several months.
  3. Lilacs can be grown in most well-drained soils and thrive in alkaline, chalky ones which is good to know.
  4. They prefer a sunny site but can be grown alone or in a mixed border.
  5. It’s a true English cottage garden plant that can be combined with other shrubs and under-planted with spring bulbs or cottage perennials.
  6. Prune immediately after flowering, removing the spent blooms and cutting to a strong pair of buds.
  7. Remove suckers when young.
  8. Syringa vulgaris can grow very large so give it room; there are smaller varieties such as Syringa microphylla which can form a compact shrub for smaller gardens.
  9. Feed with blood, fish and bone or a slow release fertilizer.
  10. Don’t forget to pick and enjoy some of the flowers inside!
Cathie’s Gardening School Services include a horticultural consultancy visiting your garden for bespoke advice, Cathie’s Garden Army to transform your garden after a consultancy or professional pruning as well as RHS courses. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Irises in February?

Cherry Butler

grow

Winter and spring

The iris in flower during the winter months is iris unguicularis. It’s low-growing, pale mauve and even scented! During February and March the delightful Iris reticulata and Iris danfordiae come into their own in an array of mauves, blues, creams and yellows. It’s a miniature bulb so perfect for the rock garden or containers. There are many new hybrids available on the market.

Summer into autumn

Iris germanica or the bearded iris is probably the most widely recognised but often in the wrong place. They grow from rhizomes which they enjoy being baked in the sun on poor sandy soil. The range of colours is infinite! Cultivars like Cruise to Autumn, Autumn Princess and Autumn Circus as their name suggests can flower much later in the year so look out for them to extend the season.

Irises in the wet?

The yellow flag iris I. pseudacorus is a familiar sight grown as a marginal in ponds. I. sibirica can be grown in the bog garden. Both make large clumps and can be divided readily.

Surely not shade too?

Yes a few irises will grow wild in woodlands and hedgerows, notably I. foetidissima with its pale flowers followed by bright orange berries. Often called the stinking iris as when you cut it back the leaves are somewhat pungent!

Consultancy & Cathie’s Garden Army

I can spend half a day in your garden identifying your plants and teaching you how to look after them. I can advise also on planting projects and design as well as helping you with tasks such as pruning. If you have lost control of your garden completely we are here to help! A qualified team of can transform your garden in a day following a consultancy.

RHS courses

New for February small and exclusive groups for dedicated students! Email , visit www.cathiesgardeningschool.co.uk and follow Cathie’s Gardening School on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Delightful Daphnes

Cherry Butler

grow

Daphnes vary greatly in size, colour and cultivation requirements. Every garden should have one, although they are not really happy in containers. Most prefer a sheltered situation in dappled shade and do not like hot sun. They do best on well-drained moisture retentive soil with plenty of organic matter incorporated. They do not tolerate drought or waterlogging but are well worth the effort!

Daphne mezereum

This is upright and deciduous growing up to a metre high and wide if it’s in the right place. It has fragrant pink flowers in the winter followed by red berries. It prefers a sheltered position in partial shade but can be grown in the sun if the roots are shaded.

Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’

An evergreen bushy specimen with creamy margins to the leaves. It tends to flower in late winter or early Spring with dark pink flowers that have a scent living up to it’s name. It’s not keen on drastic pruning and can get to about 1.5m in dappled shade.

Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postil’

I first saw this at Wisley and was completely knocked over by the scent. It really is the queen of Daphnes growing up to 2m in a sheltered shady situation.  As with all Daphnes established plants should not be moved. It flowers in the depths of winter and the scent is intoxicating.

Horticultural consultancy 

I can spend half a day in your garden identifying your plants and teaching you how to look after them. I can advise also on planting projects and design as well as helping you with tasks such as pruning.

Cathie’s garden army

If you have lost control of your garden completely we are here to help! A qualified team of horticulturists can transform your garden in a day following a consultancy. Email , visit www.cathiesgardeningschool.co.uk and follow Cathie’s Gardening School on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

The Christmas rose

Cherry Butler

grow

Christmas rose is not a rose but in fact a hellebore and is in the buttercup family.

The Christmas Rose legend

According to legend a little shepherd girl from Bethlehem followed the other shepherds to the manger where Christ was born, but unlike them she had no gift to offer the baby Jesus. She searched but became upset because she couldn’t find anything suitable. Suddenly she was dazzled by a shaft of light which fell on a clump of pure white flowers. She picked some and laid them carefully at the manger. These were the very first ‘Christmas Roses’ to bloom on earth.

Use in the garden

Hellebores are naturally winter flowering or spring flowering depending on the type and are extremely hardy. They grow well in shade and the white flowered ones appear to glow and brighten up a dull winter border. Helleborus niger is often sold as a Christmas rose but is in fact one of the most temperamental. Helleborus orientalis is far more reliable in our climate and can also seed freely, cross breeding with it’s neighbours. There are a wide range of colours and flower types with several specialist nurseries selling them.

Black Death

Another interesting point is that Hellebores were used as a defence against the Plague! They suffer from a leaf spot which horticulturists call Hellebore black death… It is good practise to cut off the old leaves to allow the flowers and new leaves to develop.

Horticultural consultancy

I can spend half a day in your garden identifying your plants and teaching you how to look after them.

Cathie’s garden army

If you have lost control of your garden completely we are here to help! A qualified team of horticulturists can transform your garden in a day following a consultancy. Email , visit www.cathiesgardeningschool.co.uk and follow Cathie’s Gardening School on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Hydrangea heaven

Cherry Butler

grow

There are many types and some interesting facts about them. They can look good all year round but need a moist, well-drained soil. Pruning varies depending on type.

Hydrangea macrophylla

These are often referred to as indicator plants because their colour can determine soil pH. This refers to the mop head hydrangea macrophylla only; the bluer the flower the more acid your soil. In alkaline soil the flower will be pink but you can water on sequestered iron regularly or grow in a pot with ericaceous compost for more blue. They can be pruned to new shoots in late spring allowing the old flower heads to protect from frost during the winter.

Hydrangea paniculata

These are a lot larger and usually white and pale pink and my all-time favourite. The flowers are more pointed in shape and literally glow in a shady border. These are pruned to a woody framework in spring and will flower on the current growth. ‘Limelight’ and ‘Little Lime’ are lovely cultivars and ‘Vanilla Fraise’ is illustrated.

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’

These huge white heads look amazing in a mixed border, under trees and anywhere you want a great summer show. Prune hard in spring support to tame heavy heads!

Hydrangea petiolaris

This climbing hydrangea will stick to a wall or fence, ideal for a northern aspect. Flowers are flatter and prolific. The only pruning needed is tidying and deadheading.

Horticultural consultancy

I can spend half a day in your garden identifying your plants and teaching you how to look after them. The four hydrangeas discussed all have very different pruning requirements and correct pruning of all plants is essential for healthy growth, fruit, flowers and foliage.

Cathie’s garden army

If you have lost control of your garden completely we are here to help! A qualified team of horticulturists can transform your garden in a day following a consultancy. Please ask for details. Find out more by emailing , visit www.cathiesgardeningschool.co.uk, call 07931 925 382 and follow Cathie’s Gardening School on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Pruning raspberries

Cherry Butler

grow

Raspberries fall into two main categories; those that fruit in the summer and those that fruit later on into autumn. They are treated very differently with regards to pruning.

Summer raspberries

These will have finished fruiting now and it should be easy to distinguish the old canes from the new ones. All the fruited canes will start to die and can be pruned right down to the ground. The new ones will have been getting in your way while picking the fruit and can now be tied in to their support. I usually cut the tops off to a sensible height but you can bend them over if space allows. Any that are weak, overcrowding or just coming up in a silly place should be removed.

Autumn raspberries

If you get it right, the autumn type should begin to fruit as the summer ones finish! They continue until the frosts set in which can be up to Christmas. They do not generally need tying in to a support as they are not as tall as the summer ones but it may be helpful for ease of picking. Pruning involves cutting all the fruited canes to the ground in February after which time new canes will emerge from the ground for fruiting later on that season and off we go again…

Potash

Raspberries need their potash in the same way as tomatoes to encourage fruiting. Ash from the wood burning stove is an excellent source and can be applied directly or put into the compost bin for later use.

Horticultural consultancy

I can spend half a day in your garden identifying your plants and teaching you how to look after them. Pruning is a skill that takes years to learn as each plant has a different requirement.

Cathie’s garden army

If you have lost control of your garden completely we are here to help! A qualified team of horticulturists can transform your garden in a day following a consultancy. Please ask for details. . Email , visit www.cathiesgardeningschool.co.uk and follow Cathie’s Gardening School on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.