Tree Echiums in Cornwall

Ever seen these amazing plants in Cornwall and wondered what they were?  They are Tree Echiums or Echium Blue Steeple and they grow flower spikes up to 4m tall!

Tree Echiums come from the Canary Islands and have made themselves at home in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.  They are quite tender, but will survive a mild frost and can be seen around the coastal areas of the Roseland Peninsula and Tresco Island in particular.  They are stunning to see in real life and are worth a visit in early summer (May/June) to see in flower.  However, the cold winter of 2017/18 has frosted off many of these beautiful plants so now is a good time to start more from seed to ensure we have these lovely flowers next year.

Each plant grows from seed in spring and early summer into a low growing rosette of hairy leaves.  The rosette overwinters and sends up a 4m tall flower spike the following summer.  Each spike is made up of masses of small blue flowers that attract lots of pollinators.  After flowering the plants die and scatter their seed, creating impressive clusters of plants in the years that follow.

It is best to grow these plants outside in warmer parts of the UK or in Mediterranean gardens.  However, I have seen these plants thriving along a sheltered wall of the Chelsea Physic Garden in London and masses outside the cafe at the Ventnor Botanic Gardens in the Isle of Wight.  As Tree Echiums grow into a manageable rosette of leaves in winter, if you have somewhere to shelter them in large pots over winter, such as a greenhouse or polytunnel, you can grow them in just about any sheltered garden.

              Seeds..................................Rosette...........................Masses of small blue flowers

More on buying and growing Tree Echiums.

Created On  14 Apr 2018 12:20  -  Permalink

Grow Dill - Another tasty super-herb

Grow Dill - Another tasty super-herb Here is another tasty super-herb to try!  Dill is a less widely grown herb but well worth the effort.  The leaves are sweet tasting and are great in salads, and in savoury dishes containing fish.  The seeds are a really good addition to pickles. 

These plants are easy to grow.  Sow the seeds directly into the soil (or a larger container) from late March, and germination takes 2-3 weeks.  Plants grow to a height of about 50cm and are ready to harvest 60-80 days from sowing.  This is one of the better herbs to grow yourself as the leaves are best harvested FRESH and used within 1-2 days of cutting.  Once trimmed, leaves grow back to provide more, and they can be used until the plant starts to produce flower stalks.

Leave the flower stalks to grow into flowers, which are beautiful, and then mature into seeds.  The seeds can be harvested and added to your home-made pickles in the autumn.  Dill is packed with anti-oxidants and nutrients and is claimed to have chemo-protective qualities.  It is a great herb to boost your healthy plant intake.

               Seeds...................................Seedlings..............................Flowers (for seeds)

See here for more information on buying, sowing and growing Dill 'Superdukat', a variety with a good compact shape and a lovely flavour.

Created On  20 Mar 2018 16:16  -  Permalink

Grow Greek Oregano - A nutrient-dense tasty herb

Grow Greek Oregano - A nutrient-dense tasty herb Enhance the flavour of your cooking with Greek Oregano.  A tasty and nutrient-dense Mediterranean herb that works particularly well with Greek and Italian food.  Greek Oregano is a super-food high in Vitamin K and fibre, with excellent anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

The best way to cook with this herb is FRESH!  Instead of buying from the supermarket every week - and not knowing what chemicals have been used on your food - why not grow your own?

Greek Oregano is a perennial herb and will grow well in a pot for years.  You can grow indoors or out and trim regularly for a mostly year-round supply of herbs.  The plants slow down in winter but the rest of the year provide a plentiful supply of leaves for cooking.  

Sow seeds anytime of year, with spring to autumn the easiest.  Sow in a tray or small pots of compost and transplant the seedlings into bigger pots when the first true leaves have grown.  When the plant reaches about 5cm, pinch out the growing tip to encourage a bushy habit.  Let plants grow to about 15cm in height before you start to harvest the leaves.  Then use as needed.  Trim the top half to two thirds of each stalk for cooking and more leaves will grow.  Only cut up to a third of the plant at any one time to allow it to recover!

If you keep this plant indoors make sure it has good light, such as a south or west facing windowsill.  Keep the soil lightly moist and fertilise regularly (eg once a month) with a nitrogen based product that promotes leaf growth.  The plants prefer to be outdoors in spring and summer, but it is not essential.

                 Seeds..................................Seedlings...........................Greek Oregano

More information here on buying, sowing and growing Greek Oregano from seed.

Created On  16 Mar 2018 18:18  -  Permalink

Strelitzia in Flower!

Our new Strelitzia, or Bird of Paradise, flowering in August in Trewartha, Cornwall.  It grows in a large container and seems to like it outside in the summer.  I'll put it in the greenhouse over winter in case we get some hard frosts, which are uncommon but possible!

Strelitzia in flower, Trewartha, Cornwall

Created On  8 Aug 2017 18:11  -  Permalink

Agapanthus and Gaura

A great combination of Agapanthus (Nile Lily) and Gaura braving the salt air and sometimes windy conditions in St Mawes.  I like the way the different colours and shapes of the plants complement each other.

St Mawes, Cornwall

Created On  20 Jul 2017 18:04  -  Permalink

Veryan Pond in Late Spring

Our nearest village is Veryan, which has a lovely natural pond.  I thought it was looking particularly good in late spring.

Veryan Pond, Veryan, Cornwall, May 2017

Created On  13 May 2017 18:35  -  Permalink