Spring Flowers

Tempted out of the office by the weather, some nice coffee (thanks Tatams) and a great view.

Portscatho, 26h April 2017
Created On  26 Apr 2017 19:41  -  Permalink

St Mawes in Deep Winter

Thursday 19th January 2017 and St Mawes is glorious.  We went for a visit to the Bank (yes, there is a still a branch of Barclays Bank there) and stayed a while to enjoy the sunshine.

Had to linger for a coffee and bun at the St Mawes Bakery in the harbour.  Definately worth a visit.  The food is super-fresh and authentic Cornish (with real Saffron in the Saffron Buns).  I forgot to take a photo so this one comes from Trip Advisor.

Image result for bakery in st mawes

Our Dog Sandy has a great run on Carne Beach.

More of the lovely Carne Beach with Nare Head.

Created On  21 Jan 2017 13:14  -  Permalink

Wildflowers of Cornwall - Red Valerian

At this time of year, when the skies are cold and dull, I  look out my window and desperately want the weather to fast forward.  So I have put together some photos of Red Valerian, a plant that defines the Cornish landscape in summer.   As I look through the photos taken by local photographer Sally Bauckham, it is hard to imagine these plants are garden escapees and not a native British wildflower.  They arrived in Britain from the Mediterranean over 500 years ago and are happily settled on cliffs and roadside hedges with flowers in shades of red, pink and white.  

Red Valerian growing in the cliffs over Newquay Harbour.

Red Valerian flowers in white as well as pink and red.

Bees and butterflies love them as they are rich in nectar.

Valerian is naturalised into the landscape in Cornwall.


Created On  4 Jan 2017 12:49  -  Permalink

Grow Strelitzia / Bird of Paradise

January is a good time to start Strelitzia or Bird of Paradise seeds.  Strelitzia are great indoor and summer outdoor plants. They have big banana-like leaves that look exotic in a summer border, and the evergreen leaves make these a striking indoor plant during winter.  Growing these plants to flowering size from seed takes several years, but is rewarding and well worth the effort.

Strelitzia seeds have tough seed coats.  An early start to sowing in January allows two months for the seeds to germinate.  The seedlings emerge in spring in time for a full summer of growth.  The large black seeds have orange tufts.  Remove the fluff and soak the seeds in hand-hot water for 24 hours.  Then sow the seeds in small pots of compost, covering the seed with compost 1.5 over the size of the seeds.  Keep the pots gently moist and a warm 22-25 degrees Celcius - a propagator is good.  Seeds germinate in 4-8 weeks, longer in cooler conditions.

                  Seeds................................Young Plants............................Flowering!

The plants grow evergreen leaves and take a while to mature.  Flowering generally starts in Year 3, but can take longer in some plants.  They grow up to 1.5m in height.  In the UK, it is best to grow these plants in pots, as they do not tolerate frost.  Keep them outside in the summer and bring them indoors during the winter.  Give them plenty of water and food while they are growing and good light when indoors.  They need little maintenance.  Just remove spent flowerstalks and older leaves as they become untidy.  Repot plants once they are straining out of their pots!

Strelitzias are great cut flowers.  I like this arrangement above by Perfect Moment Florists.

Good house plants.


Created On  30 Dec 2016 12:30  -  Permalink

What can I sow in January?

There are some plants that really benefit from an early start.  If you have a propagator, warm windowsill or greenhouse, you can sow seeds in January for earlier and more reliable fruits and flowers.  If you have a heated propagator try sowing some of these:

Rose-Scented Pelargonium          Cup & Saucer Vine                      Snapdragons

             Pansies                                 Chilli Peppers                               Dianthus

In a greenhouse you can sow Sweetpeas and Iceland poppies.

      Hanging Sweetpeas                Climbing Sweetpeas                  Iceland Poppies

Not all seeds benefit from an early start, especially those sown directly into the ground, so check sowing instructions before getting started.

Sowing and growing in January does require a bit of extra attention.  Remember to use clean trays and fresh compost as damping off (a disease which kills young seedlings below and above ground) is more likely in winter and cleanliness helps to prevent it.  Remember to sow seeds sparingly (not too many seeds in one pot or seed tray) and provide enough heat and then light once the seedlings emerge.  Good growing!

Created On  28 Dec 2016 14:33  -  Permalink

Grow Cut Flowers: Lisianthus or Texas Bluebell

Have you tried growing your own cut flowers?  If you have spare garden or pots on a balcony you can grow Lisianthus (or Texas Bluebells).  A favourite of flower arrangers, these are prairie plants that like hot and drier conditions and are surprisingly easy to grow in the UK.  Sow the seeds in winter to spring and you will have flowers in June/July.  There are dwarf varieties that flower in the first year and look good in pots and as decorative garden plants.

Lisianthus seeds are very small, so they are often sold as pelleted seeds, which makes them easier to handle.  Sow the seeds December to March in a tray or cells of seed compost. Press the pelleted seeds gently into the compost.  Do not cover the seeds with compost as light is needed for germination.  Keep at a warm 22-25 degrees Celcius and the seeds germinate in 1-3 weeks.  Find somewhere warm and light to grow on the seedlings, and then harden then off before planting out after the last frost.

Pelleted seeds.......................................Seedlings..................................In flower!

These are tender plants that do not survive frost, so they are mostly grown as annuals in the UK.  But you can keep Lisianthus plants for several years in you protect the plants over winter.  You can do this by growing them in pots and keeping them in a frost-free greenhouse or bringing them indoors over winter.  

We have a new selection of dwarf single-flowered Lisianthus from the 'Sapphire' range for you to try this year.

           'Sapphire Blue'                      'Sapphire Pink Rim'                   'Sapphire White'

Created On  19 Dec 2016 16:00  -  Permalink