Saturday, 31 August 2013

Daisy Fleabane. Love at first sight.

Years ago I saw a 80 cm high white Daisy in  a garden. It was love at first sight. I asked the gardenowner the name, but she never worked in the garden and had really no idea.

At another occasion I saw the plant again at a gardencentre. It was in a pot with a mother plant. They told me that you have to sow that plant. Unfortunately they had no seeds, and of course the mother plant was not for sale.

A year later I spotted the plant again in a French road verge. Alas no seeds on it. No name tag too! It was to lose all hope.

Until two years ago ...

In Switzerland, near Italy the plant could be found everywhere in the wild! On the railway tracks, in the allotments, but also in the roadverge next to our campsite. In the evening, after doing the dishes, I went to see if there were any seeds on it.

I put a paper bag of the croissants of earlier that day in my pocket, just in case there were indeed seeds to be found. They were! The seeds are miniscule. But I was deeply satisfied with a tip of the croissant bag full of seeds.

On arrival back home I sowed the seeds in the picking garden and the plant came on. It flourishes from June to November. On the internet I finally found the name, Erigeron annuus, Daisy Fleabane.
Today I discovered hundreds of seedlings in my picking garden. It looks as though this summer love is here to stay!


Daisy Fleabane close up

Daisy Fleabane, Erigeron anuuus

Seedlings of Daisy Fleabane

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Hibernating Dahlias. The method of Kees.

When I arrive at my parents in law, I always look to the dahlias of their neighbor Kees. Every year he grows white dahlias, at the same spot. That can't be a coincidence. Does he keep them in the ground during winter?

To learn more about this , my mother in law and I went to visit his garden and to investigate his secret.. Kees told us the dahlias indeed stayed in the ground during winter. Even in the harsh winter of 2012 the dahlias survived. My mother in law and I were speechless.

Kees revealed the secret of his success. In the autumn he cuts off the dahlias. Ain case frost was predicted, Kees threw some conifer branches, compost and optionally an old coat over his dahlias. That was all! We decided to try this too.

In the autumn I cut off the dahlias, kept half of them dahlias in the barn and the other half was left in the ground. However when frost came, I needed all my old coats to protect my Hyacinths. Furthermore I had no conifer branches like Kees either. Therefore, I improvised with plastic pots filled with old newspapers.

The long and harsh winter of 2012/2013 is remembered by every gardener. Until April I dragged with plastic pots! Frost? pots on, thaw? pots off.

Finally when spring had arrived I looked at the result of my efforts. None of the dahlias in the barn had survived, so I was pretty desperate about the chances of the dahlias in the ground .
However, to my astonishment, the dahlias that were left in the ground came up in June. Also my mother in law was successful with her dahlias. We were very proud of the results.

Meanwhile the dahlias are blooming. Not as overwhelming as with Kees. But of course every woman may meet her match!

Dahlia white, 'Maarten Zwaan'

Dahlis 'Fuchsiana'

Dahlia pompom


Saturday, 17 August 2013

Purple Morningstar.

In my garden “the Purple Morningstar” is a special appearance. Purple Morningstar is the name we use in Holland for “Jack-go-to-bed-by-noon” (Tragopogon porrifolius). How I got it? I don’t know! Probably this “star” was blown by the wind.

People ask me often for the name of this biennial plant. The Morningstar is a 1.20m. high, “skinny” plant. Every morning until noon the amethyst-colored flowers are in bloom. Once noon has arrived the flowers close and the plant looks green and inconspicuous. There is also a yellow variant (Tragopogon pratensis).

Most visitors have never seen the Morningstar for sale in a garden center. That makes sense, because the Morningstar has a taproot. Plants with taproots do not like to be transplanted. It is best to sow these on site. I always collect seeds of the Morningstar for plant lovers. So everyone, without having to steal the seeds, can try this plant in their own garden ,.

After flowering, seed heads with fluff balls appear. Something like dandelions, only bigger.

The Morningstar is definitely a plant for early risers. When the flowers are closed in the afternoon, nobody talks about this plant anymore!


Morningstar almost open


Morningstar closed

Fluff balls after flowering

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Garden Tour to England.

This summer my husband and I travelled to England. We visited Eden Project, a futuristic botanical garden in Cornwall.

The admission fee was not at all cheap, £23:50 pounds pp about € 28 -. But if you have travelled so far, you want to see it.

Eden Project has been built in a valley. The huge domes, which house the tropical botanical garden, dominates the landscape. I have read that the diameter of the largest dome is 125 m and 55m high!

From the parting area we walked down towards the domes. Along the way we passed beautiful plant groups. These had different themes. For example, plants of the Dinosaurs period.

We saw pergolas with roses, lavender fields and beautiful vegetable gardens; chard next to marigolds, leeks and radishes. The entrance of the large dome, which we already knew from the James Bond film 'Die Another Day', is also there.

We found a wide variety of palms inside the dome. Occasionally, I recognized an indoor plant that had become a real giant in its “natural” habitat. Butterflies flew around in beautiful colours. A waterfall was pouring down. Tropical birds were pottering on the ground. All those unknown species! I felt like a planthunter.

Luckily it was not too hot to climb to the ridge of the dome. Along wobbly but firm steps we climbed up. From above we had a spectacular overview to the jungle below us.

In the restaurant we took a break with tea and scones. After that, we proceeded to the next dome with Mediterranean plants. All plants were well taking care of in every detail.

There are a lot of thing to do for children. Explore, touch, that's the concept. It was a fresh, trendy and innovative plants adventure.

At home I had to start in my garden right away, my own jungle!

The domes

Plants of the Dinosaurs period.

Palm and flowers

Jungle plants

Tropical flower

From above the waterfall

The dome from the Film Die Another Day

Friday, 2 August 2013

Fertilizing roses. Give them enough to eat!

Successful flowering of roses includes a solid fertilization schedule. After all, you expect a lot of roses, so give them enough to eat. Although I have heavy clay in my garden, I still fertilize my roses three times a year.

There is much debate going on about fertilizing roses, typically should it be organic or not.  I do a little of both.

This is how I did it this year . In spring (March) I gave the roses artificial manure (12-10-18) This is the fertilizer that farmers use. In Holland it is for sale everywhere.

After the first flowering, usually late June, they get organic rose fertilizer. This year I read in the book "Met groene vingers en zwarte handen”(With green fingers and black hands) of Ineke Greve that she gave patent kali ( Patentkali ) to her roses after the first flowering. I had this fertilizer in storage. By way of experiment, I gave them patentkali last week. (The first bloom is just ended because of the cold spring).

In the autumn (September) I would like to give the roses well rotted manure. Because this is very hard to come by these days I give them Culterra. ( An organic fertilizer. In autumn preferably the roses should not grow so fast, because rapid growth is disadvantageous. The roses should be hardend off for winter.

Fertilize always before it starts to rain, otherwise you have to water them with the garden hose! And who likes that?

And then the question, how much should I give them? My father taught me: a hand by each plant!


Rose 'The Pilgrim'

Yellow roses in my garden.

Handful of Patentkali.

Handful Culterra.