Introducing Climbers for your garden.

Climbers take up little ground space and are an excellent choice for small gardens. They provide vertical structure to the garden and will elevate their flowers beautifully.

Climbers can be either evergreen or deciduous.

These plants either twine their stems or leaf tendrils around framework such as other plants or a trellis perhaps. In fact, anywhere that they can find spaces to twine around.

Here are some popular examples:

Clematis are hugely popular here in the UK – and rightly so, for it is possible to have clematis in flower for most months of the year.  Clematis are normally associated with sunny walls or dripping over the top of a fence. There are both evergreen and deciduous Clematis available. Evergreen Clematis are a great addition to any garden at this time of year adding substance which is so often lacking. The early flowering varieties are a great way to kick off early spring: E.g. “Willy”, with her delicate pale pink flowers going to deeper a pink at the base of each petal & “armandii”, a handsome evergreen with creamy-white flowers.  “Warwickshire Rose” has small but beautifully fragrant, shell pink flowers that cover the plant in abundance They are displayed against a back ground of dark foliage, this foliage intensifies during the summer.

Clematis need moisture-retentive, but well-drained soil and to be positioned in full sun or partial shade.  Keep the base of the plant and the roots cool and shaded by carefully positioning other plants around it, or put a layer of pebbles or flat stones at the base.  They can also be grown in containers on the patio. You will need to use a large container at least 45cm (18”) in diameter, with the same depth to enable good root growth.  Whether planted in the ground or in a container you will need to provide them with a suitable support for them to grow onto, an obelisk, small trellis, or use canes leading towards a wall.

Clematis

clematiss

Jasmines are well known for their delightful scent.  They are best planted in well drained soil that does not become waterlogged in the winter. A wide range of soil is acceptable, but heavy clay soils will need to be lightened in the immediate area of the plant. Full sun or the lightest of shade is ideal. A few favourites for us here at Cramden Nursery are: “Clotted Cream”, she has masses of pretty creamy scented flowers during the summer.  “Inverleith” a summer jasmine with flower buds which are dark red.  The open flowers still have this colour stripe on the back of the petals making a pretty red & white effect.

 

Lonicera (Honeysuckle) are popular garden plants with highly perfumed flowers, the climbing varieties look fabulous draped over pergolas & supports.  They prefer fertile, humus rich, moist well drained soil. They will flower best with their top growth in full sun. There are a few winter flowering Lonicera E.g.: ‘Winter Beauty’ & ‘standishii’, bringing much needed colour into the garden through the winter months. Our summer favourite has to be the new “Strawberries & Cream” with her pink and white fragrant flowers she is a beautiful plant.

Lonicera

 

Passiflora (Passion Flower) Passion flowers are vigorous tendril clad climbers with evergreen foliage and very unusual flowers. Not the hardiest of climbers, but they can survive cold winters in a dry border, with added root protection. They often get battered in the winter, but can shoot out again from down below.

 

Here at Cramden we are excited to be selling climbers for the first time this spring. We have teamed up with John Richards Nurseries from Malvern who grow these beautiful plants at the foot of the Malvern Hills. Each month we will have a new delivery of different types and varieties, alongside a selection of interesting shrubs and trees.

“Be happy grow Geraniums”

Be happy grow geraniums

Rozanne                   Max frei

Hardy geraniums (aka the cranes bill), are wonderful plants for the garden.

Hardy geraniums are one of the most popular perennials in Britain. And it’s easy to see why.

Coming in so many different shapes and sizes Geraniums range from tall growing varieties for the backs of borders to beautifully compact varieties to edge paths and take prime positions in pots and borders.

They are slug resistant and rabbit resistant (hurray!) and they just simply flower and flower.

After their first flush of flowers if you give them a good cut back most will flower again before the end of the summer for you.

They could not be easier!

The majority of Hardy Geraniums come in a relatively restricted range of colours; pinks, blues and whites.  But the range of shades within those colours is widely varied, for example the pinks range from near white with just a hint of pink, to the brightest deep reddish-magentas.  Geranium ‘Patricia’ has a wonderful hot magenta pink flower with a black eye.

Foliage is also an important factor with many Hardy Geraniums, there are varieties with beautifully cut leaves, while others have soft rounded leaves, many are deciduous but there are some that will hold their foliage all year round providing structure and shape to your borders in the midst of winter. Geranium ‘Mavis Simpson’ is an evergreen variety that produces wonderful dollops of grey-green foliage through the winter and pretty soft pink flowers throughout the summer.

Geranium leaf colour ranges from fresh green leaves to rich dark chocolate foliage such as ‘Orkney Cherry’ her leaves are topped off with dainty bright cherry coloured flowers.

Hardy Geraniums are one of the largest groups of flowering garden plants. There are Geraniums suitable for just about any position in the garden, from dark, dry shade through to hot, dry scree. Geranium ‘phaeum Album’ with her pure white flowers will happily, brighten up a shady area of the garden.

There are shorter growing geranium varieties that are great for ground cover.  With their well formed foliage & dainty flowers growing to no more than 30cm tall they are perfect for front of borders or even to be grown in pots. Geranium ‘sanguineum’ has fine, deeply lobed, small leaves topped with magenta pink flowers with a rambling habit.

There has been a recent explosion in interest in Hardy Geraniums from different breeders bringing lots of new varieties to the market.

Geranium ‘Rozanne’ is one of the best known new introductions, it was voted by the RHS as plant of the Centenary in 2013. With her beautiful, large, blue flowers that are produced non stop from late May to the first frosts.  Her marbled foliage adds to the attractiveness of this variety.  She will grow well in sun and partial shade and will happily ramble through other plants and across the border to provide great ground cover.  Grow her in a tall pot and she will tumble over the edge and trail beautifully for you.

Here at Cramden Nursery we grow a good selection of Hardy Geraniums, pop in to see the different varieties we grow and to ask any questions you might have on how to grow them and which variety to plant where. We are here to help.

 

Summer colour starts here.

Summer colour begins here for your borders, pots & hanging baskets.

One of the most popular groups of summer bedding and pot plants are Pelargoniums, you may know them as Geraniums. They take the form of either upright or trailing varieties. With their bright colourful blooms, that will be produced all summer long and well into the autumn, you can understand why they are one of gardener’s favorites for summer colour.

Here at Cramden Nursery we grow over 40,000 Pelargoniums each year, with over 50 different varieties to choose from. You’re bound to find the right colour combination for your garden.

A great economical way of filling your garden with colour is to start off with young plants or ‘plugs’ as we call them. You will need somewhere to grow them on with plenty of light away from the last few frosts of winter and if you can give them some heat too your little plants will sprint away. A greenhouse, a conservatory even a sheltered porch will do.

Our plugs are grown from rooted cuttings. These are cuttings that have been rooted for you in our propagation greenhouse, so the technical bit has already been done. When you are buying rooted cuttings you need to be looking out for nice healthy, fresh white roots.

IMAG1173

At this stage they are ready to be potted up but not ready for the outside world just yet. Pelargoniums are tender and will not stand up to the cold night time temps of April. So, whatever you are planning for your plugs, be it for baskets, pots or bedding for the borders it is best to get them planted into pots so they can form good strong healthy root balls before planting out in mid-May.

Choosing the right size of pot for your plugs will depend on how much space you have   A 1litre (13cm diameter) pot is a good starting size and this will have enough room for the compost to hold on to plenty of water for your young plant and there will be enough room to grow lots of healthy roots.

The quality of compost you use will reflect in the health of your plants, like they say “you get out what you put in”. The compost after all is where the plants will find all their food they need to get growing.

At this stage there is no need feed to your plants, the potting compost has all it needs already. Your newly potted plants will soon begin to grow new leaves and shoot up for you. Keep up with regular watering to keep them growing, new roots form much more easily in moist compost. As your plants grow they may need spacing to ensure they grow into well branched bushy plants. Keep them inside until the risk of frost is gone.

So, if you’re looking for a colourful range of Pelargoniums then pop into Cramden Nursery to find your young plants this spring. If you have any questions or would like some advice on growing on your ‘plugs’ then just ask a member of staff who are on hand to help.

Happy Planting from Emily and the team at Cramden Nursery

 

 

 

 

Something “a little bit different”.

Alongside the new Zonal Pelargoniums(Geraniums) we introduced to you last month we have 3 new varieties this year that are “a little bit different”.

‘Chocolate Girl’ is new to our variegated leaf Pelargonium range.  She has rich dark almost chocolate coloured leaves with a green edge to them.  As the sun gets stronger and the daylight hours increase the leaves become darker and darker, contrasting beautifully with it’s cherry cola flowers. It is a strong growing variety and will make up into a big plant very quickly.

chocolate girl

Two-in-One Peach is a cross between an Ivy Pelargonium and a Zonal Pelargonium.   This cross makes excellent ground cover, as it has a bushy well branched growth habit. With it’s single flowers it is excellently weather resistance and low maintenance. It’s pretty peach flowers are really eye catching.

twoinone peach

Cassiopeia is another cross between an Ivy Leaf Pelargonium and a Zonal Pelargonium. This variety however produces a more compact and bushy plant.  With semi double deep red flowers it produces’ a striking display in pots and borders alike.

20160804_175954

Time to put your Pelargoniums to bed!

Time to put your Pelargoniums to bed.

I hope you have had a wonderful display from all your Pelargoniums this summer?

As the days begin to draw in it is time to begin to think about putting the garden to bed for the winter and that includes your Pelargoniums.  They are not frost hardy so will not survive our winters.  Ideally they would like you to pack them up and send them off to the Med for the winter months.

However if Mediterranean residency is not a possibility then I can give you some good advice on how to overwinter your Pelargoniums here in England.

So, the most important point is that wherever you choose to keep your plants for the winter is that it is frost free and dry.  So a cold greenhouse will not do, nor will a shed if we get a cold winter.  Neither will stay frost free for long.

If you have a heated greenhouse or a conservatory that will be heated through the winter, these are ideal places for your Pelargoniums to be overwintered as green plants. Many will continue to flower well into the winter for you if they get enough winter sunshine and food.

If neither of these are an option for you then a garage attached to the house (to benefit from some of your residual central heating warmth) or a spare room will do nicely.

For this option you must prepare your plants for the winter. They need to be allowed to dry out in their pots and then with clean sharp secateurs cut them back hard.

Now, this is where you will need to be mentally strong, you will feel awful, after all summer feeding and watering your plants, I am now asking you to cut them right back.

Cut them back to about 3inches and then take off any leaves that are left, you should be left with just stumps.

They will look dreadful but by removing the aerial part of the plant you are removing the need to water them and all that material that would offer perfect conditions for botrytis (grey mould) to grow during the winter months.

These ‘stumps’ now need to be kept frost free and dry for the winter, so no watering, not even a little bit!  You are putting them into hibernation for the winter. They do not need light so a garage will work or a spare room.  The most important point is to keep them dry and frost free from here on.

Do not cover them in plastic to give them extra frost protection they will just sweat in there and the dampness will encourage grey mould which will just kill them off.

Fleece can be used to offer a little extra protection but it would be good to make sure it is removed occasionally to allow fresh air round your plants to ward off any possibilities of grey mould.

Now here is the tricky part:

You have to leave them alone till the end of the winter, no well meaning watering after New Year when we all get that ‘January itch’ to start doing things in/for our gardens.  A well meaning watering at this point will just lead to a soggy mess of grey mould for you to find at the end of winter, leave well alone!

Now this is not a failsafe system, sometimes for reasons unknown plants do not survive but if you can get say 50% through the winter then it is well worth a go.

For a video with step by step instructions showing you how hard to cut your plants back find the You Tube channel “GeraniumTv” and look for the video “How to cut back Pelargoniums (Geraniums)”.

 

Cutting back Lavender

Lavender Care

lavender

Lavenders are very easy going plants for maintenance and care but do need a good “haircut” once a year.

The end of August/beginning of September is the time to cut back your lavenders, whether they are in pots or planted out in the borders, they need an annual hair cut to keep their shape. Without cutting them back your plants will soon become woody, leggy and not so attractive.

The rule of thumb is to cut them back hard.

Angustifolia (English) Lavender should be cut back to a third of its height.

Stoechas (French) Lavender should be cut back to half its height.

So that’s not just taking off spent flowers but cutting back the foliage as well.

To make it easier to see what you are doing cut the flowers off first then cut the plant back to a third or half of its size. Try to ensure you remove all cutting material from the plant so it does not start to rot and cause fungal problems.

When you cut your plants back avoid cutting into the woody stems. Make sure there are growth points below your cut, as this is where the new growth will come from.

Cutting your lavenders back will give the plant time to re grow before the onset of winter. The plant is able then to produces a nice bushy mound of new leaves to help it cope with our wet, English winters. This new growth will use up the water from around the root system through the wettest months of the year,

For a more detailed & visual aid to cutting back your lavender visit our You Tube channel, geraniumtv, where you will find 2 videos showing how to cut your Lavenders back.

 

Getting to know Agapanthus

Agapanthus originate in South Africa, and out there they grow en masse like weeds on the road sides.

Over here in the Uk it is a different story, they have to survive our cold winters and make do with limited sunshine during our English summers. If treated correctly though they can thrive in our gardens and given a little winter care they can produce stunning displays for us throughout the summer.

The flowers are either white or all the different hues of blue you can imagine through into purples.

You have fresh tall white flowers of: Arctic Star and compact growing Snow Pixie with short flowering stems of white flowers at 40 cm tall, perfect for pots or the front of borders, she flowers well into the Autumn months keeping that summer vibe in the garden.

Then there is Northern Star a rich dark blue flower on 75cm tall flowering stems. This is by far the most popular variety we grow with staff and customers alike. Megan’ s Mauve as the name suggests is a mauve blue flower and has a darker stripe down the centre of each flower petal to add to its wow factor.

Agapanthus can be split into 2 categories; Deciduous and Evergreen.

The deciduous varieties lose their leaves at the end of the summer and are generally hardier than the Evergreen types. Remove the dead leaves and mulch with a little straw and they will sit out the winter quietly in borders or pots.

Evergreen Varieties keep their leaves all year round and tend to need a little more winter protection. They have larger flower heads than the deciduous types and have wider leaves.

They are best grown in pots so you can either move the pots into a cold green house for the winter or move them closer to the house or into a sheltered area of the garden to help them through the winter. When the winter temperatures really begin to plummet and if you have left your Evergreen Agapanthus outside you can give them a little extra protection by making them a windbreak with canes and a little plastic. This will help to keep the worst of the cold weather out and if they forecast very cold weather a handful of straw on top of the foliage will help to insulate the plants further. Just remember to make sure you remove this straw as soon as the weather has warmed up slightly or else it will sit and rot on to the leaves.

Growing Agapanthus in pots is a great way to bring those beautiful big flower heads up on to the patio. Agapanthus like to be “Pot Full” but not “Pot Bound” and there is a fine line between the two.

Once an Agapanthus becomes “Pot Bound” the number of flowers it can produce will dramatically reduce and will eventually come to none. This is because it will have got to the point where all that is in the pot is beautiful white roots, all the compost will have been pushed out, so there is no medium left to hold water or fertiliser for the plant to take up. It is at this point you will need to either re-pot into a bigger pot, or to split it up and pot up into 2 pots. Generally every 2-3 years you should be thinking about re-potting or splitting your Agapanthus.

Feed and watering are important jobs for you to consider when growing Agapanthus in your garden. They require regular watering from early spring to the end of summer, they will use a lot to grow and to produce their flowers. A regular liquid feed of a high potash fertiliser from spring to the end of autumn is also important, this will help flower bud production, for this year and for next year. Even after your plants have finished flowering regular watering and feeding will set the plant and buds up for next summers display. What you do this year for your plants, will show in the next summer. Water as regular as needed and feed once or, even better, twice a week.

Agapanthus like full sun, so find them a sunny spot in the garden so they can make the most of all the sunshine. Even after they have finished flowering they will need as much sun as they can get as this will help them set up their blooms for next summer.

Have a look on our You Tube channel “Geranium tv” to find our short films we have made on how to over winter Agapanthus and on splitting them & re-potting Agapanthus.

Making sence of Scents.

Scented Pelargoniums are a wonderful addition to the Pelargonium family. All the aroma comes from the leaves not the flowers.

On the leaves there are small sacks of oil and it is this oil that carries the scent. As you rub the leaves or brush against them these sacks of oil are ruptured releasing their scents into the air.

How about adding some scented leaf Pelargoniums to your pots to add another dimension to your planting scheme. There are a wonderful selection of scents to choose from. How about a zesty “Orange Fizz” or a fresh citrus scent of “Citronella”. The minty fresh scent of “Fern Mint” is a head clearer! Then there is “Big Apple”, “Creamy Nutmeg” and “Ardwick Cinnamon” for those foodies amongst you, although you cannot eat them they will make your taste buds water from their scents alone.

Mix in your scented leaf Pelargoniums with your flowering Pelargoniums, planting the scented leaf around the edge of the pot, so when you brush past them they release their scents for you. Place these pots either side of your front door so as you come home after work each day & brush past them they will welcome you home with their delicious aroma.

Scented Pelargoniums are delightfully tactile, children love testing out thier scents here on the nursery. They are defantly plants that you will want to share with your friends and family so make sure you plant them somewhere in the garden where you can get at them. Try them in pots on the patio where you sit out in the evening or perhaps in the play area for the children to discover and enjoy.

Try them in your hanging baskets alongside your Ivy Leaf Pelargoniums. “Attar of Roses” with her traditional rose scent is always popular and has a prostrate(sideways) growth habit so it goes outwards rather than upwards. Plant her at the edge of your basket where her scent can float down to you. “Lavender Lady” has a fantastic lavender scent to her leaves and delicate, single pink flowers borne on long flowering stalks, that will trail daintily over the sides of you baskets.

 

Agapanthus Winter Care

With only a couple of cold spells here on the nursery so far this winter we have just got around to putting our deciduous Agapanthus (planted out in the border) to bed for the winter.

There are 2 types of Agapanthus, deciduous (lose their leaves and die down for the winter) and evergreen (keep their foliage all year round).

The evergreen types require more winter protection than the deciduous varieties. Ideally they want to be moved inside a green house/conservatory or summer house to keep the worst of the cold off them, or at least moved to a more sheltered area of the garden if they are in pots. Maybe against the house.

If they are planted in the ground, and so can not be moved to help them through the winter, you can create a wind break around them to create a little micro climate.  This should protect them from the worst of the elements, you can also add straw to the top of them when the temperatures really drop.  However, you have to remember to remove this once the warmer weather comes or else it may rot the foliage.

Watch our Youtube video to see how this is done: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPgfayLfBy4

Deciduous types are much more easy going.  Cut them back removing all the foliage, and then a mulch with straw will help to protect the crowns.  To keep the straw in place we have used a weed suppressant material ( this is a permeable & breathable membrane, it cuts out the light but this is not a problem as the straw is already doing that) to prevent the straw from blowing away and in our case here on the nursery to stop the foxes playing in it. Or you could use green garden netting to keep the straw in place.

This can all be removed in the spring as the weather and the ground begins to warm up again.

Brilliant Blue