Heyford Gardening Club – May 2020

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Please note that Garden Club activities have had to be suspended until further notice.

Spring
This has been a strange spring as normally we would be busy going to garden centres and nurseries for plants and materials, and visiting various gardens for ideas or just pleasure, but this year, like everybody else we have been confined to our own patch. Some compensation has been derived from the fact that the display of flowers this spring has been particularly good and with little rough weather it has lasted for weeks. Our garden is also tidier than it has been for many years as we’ve had few other diversions.

Unsprouting broccoli
In the past I sometimes had a broccoli plant that failed to produce sprouts in the spring but went on to grow for a further year before performing as it should. This year however the whole row are looking stubbornly unproductive. I wonder if this is due to the mild winter not giving the clue to start bud formation?

A rose by many other names
After nearly sixty years of gardening I am still amazed at how much I still have to learn. A couple of years ago we visited the Chelsea Physic Garden, and saw a magnificent red flowered rose growing up one of the walls. we took note of the name which was Bengal Crimson. On return home I searched catalogues and reference books but could find no trace of this plant.

Last year during a visit to the nursery at Coton Manor we noticed some plants for sale with the name Bengal Beauty. These had the same large red flowers but the description on the label said it grew to three feet (one metre)whereas the specimen at Chelsea was at least five metres high. Was it the same variety? When we walked a little further we found the same rose growing against a wall where it was considerably taller than me.

Further research has revealed that this rose can be found labelled as Rosa sanguinea, Bengal Rose, and Rosa odorata as well as the names noted above. In each case the description is of a small bush. It is a china rose and these by nature can produce flowers in almost any month, our plant even though small had produced flowers right until November, and then started again in March. The flowers are possibly not to everyone’s taste though, as they are single and rather floppy looking.

The moral of this story is that you can’t always rely on the descriptions of plants in books or catalogues, a lot depends on where and how they are grown.

Honey Fungus
A part of our garden is infested with honey fungus, and from time to time another plant succumbs to the infection. Recently we noticed that a climbing rose has begun to look rather peaky and we are afraid we may lose it. All will not be lost however as this plant is one of those that roots when the tips of the shoots touch the ground and so we have some new plants in parts of the garden unaffected by the fungus. Some plants do seem to be immune to infection, hazels, damsons, holly and an osmanthus shrub all still appear quite healthy as are all the herbaceous plants and bulbs.

The advice for dealing with honey fungus is to remove all plants and soil from the affected area and bring in new topsoil. As this would be impractical we shall have to learn to live with the problem. Obviously it would not be a good area to plant anything expensive or precious.

Lemon verbena
We have a venerable plant of lemon verbena grown in a tub. This as well as looking good supplies us with lemon flavoured leaves for use in drinks and salads etc. These plants are not totally winter hardy but just need shelter from the worst of the weather. It is easy to take cuttings but I discovered that these would be killed by cold in the winter even though the main plant was unaffected. So if you buy a small plant of lemon verbena from a nursery in would be wise to keep it in a frost free place during the first winter.

Things to do in May
1. Divide clumps of spring bulbs
2. Check for bird’s nests before cutting hedges
3. take softwood cuttings of shrubs and herbaceous plants.

Mark Newstead

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www.heyfordgardenclub.com

For more information visit the Heyford Gardening Club & Allotments page

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