Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Argh! You snooze, you lose... but at least the rose is looking happy (for the moment)

Well, I've been a bit lax with updating my blog over the last 3 weeks. I'm just finishing a year long course in Horticulture and what with finishing up my coursework, studying for the end of year exam, and applying for a job in a near by (plant) nursery, things have been a tad busy! argh! (Oh, I was successful getting the job so i'm well chuffed!)

Luckily, my plants seem to have faired pretty well considering they've been quite neglected. The rose has put on huge amounts of healthy looking growth (I hadn't realised quite how much until I looked back at the earlier photos I'd posted).

However, unfortunately, the green fly that I noticed on the lavender plants a couple of weeks ago, seem to be continuing their bid for world domination... and have spread to the my rose - argh!!! It's early days yet, I've only spotted a very few, but it just goes to show that you can't afford to be complacent in this game and that whilst there are hardly any aphids left on the lavenders anymore... I fear that the problem has simply moved home to a newer, tastier venue. So, I really must do something - i'm thinking of discarding the infested pot of tulips this afternoon, and then ordering some ladybirds and/or larvae this evening. My new rose bush, as the little green critters must learn to understand, is not on their menu! 

If you look carefully, you can see a couple of aphids on the new leaves.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Return of the aphids

Well, amazingly, a month on the magnolia is STILL flowering! What a plant!

Unfortunately, not everything in my 'garden' is looking so happy... over the last few weeks this seasons aphids have arrived and are going strong. It seems that they attacked the lavender's first, which I guess may not have been too happy after the winter since Scotland isn't exactly the mediterranean type climate that they prefer. Bizarrely, one lavender has faired much better than the other, despite both being heavily infested. I'm not quite sure why this might be, but unless the really sick looking one puts out some new growth and improves soon I'm thinking I might send it to the great compost bin in the sky! The lavenders were both plants I bought last year, a variety of Lavandula stoechas (French lavender) called 'Jamboree' and I suspect that they simply were not really hardy enough to live happily here (although one pot is ok - so maybe one side of my door way is more sheltered?). I'm thinking that I might replace the really unhappy looking plant with a more resilient and tougher Lavandula angustifolia (English lavender). Oh, I should mention that the 'happy' lavender is actually growing in a much smaller pot than the 'unhappy' lavender - so it isn't as huge as it looks in the photos!

In the meantime however, the aphids have spread to the pot of tulip leaves next to them (the flowers are mostly over), and onto my heuchera which is looking decidedly unhappy - although thankfully it is showing signs of survival as it's starting to put out new leaves. I'm thinking i'm going to bin the tulips rather than wait for the last few bulbs to flower... it's not looking good in that pot!

I need to find a solution and am considering ordering some ladybirds through the post. Either that, or making up some sort of organic spray to wash over the leaves as I'm not keen on using an insecticide. The only problem is that as the plants are in containers, I'm concerned that the spray will then become really concentrated in the compost that they're in - whereas if used on plants growing directly in the ground the spray would be more able to dissipate through the soil. I think the ladybirds would be fun to try though so I'm favouring them at the moment - unless any of you have any ideas?! Or I might try growing a pot or two of something oniony, like chives, and see if that deters them. Pesky critters... mutter mutter...

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Rose Watch 2009

This is it! The start of Rose Watch 2009 - just how successfully will an old english rose grow in a container?

After spending what must have been half of the winter months pouring over a David Austin rose catalogue I finally ordered a rose variety called 'Harlow Carr'. I planted it up carefully in what I hope will be a large enough pot - that was on the 27th March. It was a bareroot bush so didn't look like much at all at first. However, just over a month on, there are leaves! Which is all very exciting :o) Only time will tell though as to whether it'll flower - and how well. I chose this variety as it is meant to be a strong pink colour, vigorous (so should grow happily in Scotland), can put up with some shade, and will hopefully have a strong scent. Fingers Xed this turns out to be true! I have dreams of walking up the steps breathing in sweet wafts of rose perfume... hopefully they'll become reality.

Here's what the rose looked like not long after it was first planted in March, and then now looking much better with some leaves:

Friday, 1 May 2009

Happy days - not only is it Friday, but I have new POTS! :o)

I finally succumbed and spent the last of my garden vouchers (not bad since they were from Christmas) on a few more pots. How could I resist? I went to Homebase to buy some Leucojums which a friend (who works there) said they had in, only to discover that they had a 3 for 2 sale on their containers/pots. Ooh! Jackpot! So, a couple of hours deliberation later (it takes a while to choose pots AND then decide what plants to put in them!), I returned home with these (the photo shows 2 clematis, but I took 1 back as I realised i'd not enough space):

That was on Monday... and last night I actually got around to potting them up. So my doorstep is now looking far more luscious and green. I've even managed to spread the pots so that they now extend down onto the first step - that's progress for you :o)

So, my new pots contain, (left hand pot) a Heuchera 'Melting Fire' - which I couldn't resist for its gorgeous coloured leaves.
And (right hand pot) a Festuca glauca 'Festina' (the grass), Leucojum aestivum (summer snowflake, which unfortunately have gone a bit floppy), and at the back a Clematis macropetala 'Markham's Pink' (which had a slight accident when I was planting it so that the main stem with lots of growth kind of broke off - i'm hoping that'll help the plant establish itself by forcing it to put its energy more into roots rather than shoots and it'll turn out to be a happy mistake...). I also moved a few Primula in there too, which i've temporarily forgotten the names of, though I can tell you that they're very bright pink when in flower.

I put a bit of grit at the bottom of the pot first. Then for compost used a mixture of John Innes No 3, Westland Multi-Purpose Compost with added John Innes, and a few handfuls of horticultural sand to further increase the drainage (as clematis like well drained soil). I'm hoping that these conditions should keep the new plants happy - they all are meant to like well drained soil, so hopefully they should live well together.
The steps are starting to look so much more garden (and less step) like that i'm wondering if I might put a chair in the hallway/entrance and enjoy the evening sunlight there.