Monthly Archives: May 2016

Malva MoschataGeneral Information and Description

Malva moschata or musk mallow as it is often more commonly referred to due to the basal leaves having a slightly musky scent, is probably one of Britain's prettiest native wild flowers.

A deciduous, hardy perennial in most parts of the United Kingdom and with rounded leaves, the foliage is delicate and almost fern like. Musk mallow flowers from mid-summer through to early autumn with a succession of the prettiest, fairly large, saucer shaped flowers in the most delicate of pale pinks, a delightful sight in any herbaceous border.

Easy to grow and requiring no maintenance, musk mallow has a bushy habit and will grow in most moist but well drained soils, although a rich soil can make it liable to flopping.

Plants are available from most good garden centres with the variety 'Rosea', probably the prettiest of them all with its deep pink flowers, whilst f. alba is a delightful albino variety. Seeds can also be purchased from garden centres for those who wish to have a go at raising some themselves.

Attractive to bees, musk mallow is ideal for flower beds and borders, wildlife and wild flower gardens or for low maintenance, informal and cottage gardens.

How to Grow & Plant Malva moschata

Suitable for planting in most, moist but well drained garden soil, avoid rich soils to prevent the plant from flopping. They like and do best in full sun in either a sheltered or exposed position.

How to Grow Malva moschata from Seed

Indoor sowing is best carried out in a cold frame between February to June or September to October. The seeds should be sown in pots or trays on the surface of a compost that has been pre-soaked and drained. Cover the seeds with a light dusting of compost and then place in a cold frame, ensuring the compost is kept moist but not waterlogged. Germination is quite quick and normally takes between seven to twenty-one days.

As soon as the seedling become large enough to handle transplant into three inch pots for growing on, ensuring you handle the seedlings by their leaves and not the stem. Plant out in early summer to their final growing positions with spacing's of about twenty inches between each plant.

Musk mallow can also be sown directly outdoors where they are to grow between April and May. Prepare the soil well first, raking to a fine tilth and then scatter the seeds. Rake lightly, firming down well and keep the area well-watered, but ensure you don't over water and drown the seeds. Remove any competing weeds as they appear and as soon as the seedlings are large enough to handle thin out to about eighteen inches apart, discarding any weak ones.

How to Care for Malva moschata

Requiring very little maintenance, dead head as required and tidy up the old foliage and stems by cutting back to the basal foliage in spring.

How to Propagate Malva moschata

Propagation can be by either basal cuttings or seed, which can be collected in the late summer.

Pests and Diseases

Musk mallow is generally pest and disease free although it can be subject to leaf spot and rust disease

Soil: Most moist and well-drained soil, although rich soil is best avoided

Position: Full sun in a sheltered or exposed position

Height & Spread: 36 inches x 24 inches

Flowering Period: June to September

Colour: Pink

 

 

Vegetables in Your GardenIt's not surprising that many people are opting to grow their own vegetables, especially since the food prices continue to rise. Many gardeners find themselves planting and tending to various plants and flowers, so why not add vegetable plants also. There are quite a few vegetables that you can grow in your own garden. Of course, you need to consider your climate when you choose particular vegetables.

Firstly, you need to designate a certain section of your garden as a vegetable patch. Create a pathway with cobblestones that leads you to the vegetable patch. You can build a low brick wall around the vegetable patch and add some cladding to the wall to give it a modern appearance. Within this section, check the soil and dig to loosen it. Then remove all the weeds before you plant anything. You may need to get a quality soil and fertilizer.

Once your vegetable patch is ready, you can go to your local garden centre to get a few vegetable seeds or young plants. Be sure to keep your climate, and the season, in mind when you choose the vegetables that you want to plant in your garden.

There are many types of vegetables that you can plant in your garden which include tomatoes, eggplants, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, beetroots, peppers, pumpkin, sweetcorn, and sweet potatoes, amongst others. Along with your vegetables, you could include herbs too. Allocate a small section along one of the sides to plant the herbs. You could plant the following herbs: basil, garlic, parsley, thyme, and coriander.

Most vegetable plants require a reasonable amount of maintenance which include watering, pruning, trimming and keeping pests away. You need to remember to check on your vegetable patch regularly to ensure that they are growing sufficiently. Also, remember to pluck any ripe vegetables. Give them a thorough wash before you cook or eat them.

Incorporating vegetables in your garden is rewarding because your family is able to enjoy fresh vegetables that have been grown by your own hands. Plus you're able to create a decorative area in your garden with cobblestone walkways and beautiful wall cladding paving stones. This is the modern age so gardening is no longer an old fashioned hobby and planting your own vegetables is the latest trend. Remember to plan your garden layout before you get started, so that you have a good idea of which areas to pave to create a contemporary garden.

The Paving Warehouse & Wonder Rock, masters in the art of simulated rock, are no ordinary stone masoners. The Paving Warehouse is South Africa's leading manufacturer of simulated rock, with applications both indoors and outdoors, each stone cast is a classic.

 

Lapageria Rosea Chilean Bell FlowerLapageria is a monotypic genus meaning there is only one unique species of this fantastic plant.

The National Flower of Chile it is known to festoon the trees, shrubs and natural areas in Chile making a spectacular sight.

It has been called the "aristocrat of climbers", one of the "greater glories' of climbers and one of the most beautiful of all flowering climbers. Certainly plant collectors and horticulturists want to obtain and grow this plant, not just one but as many as possible.

As an aristocrat it is fitting it was named after Empress Josephine de la Pagerie of France and was pursued by Napoleon and married him. She was a keen gardener particularly with roses.

Interestingly Lapageria belongs to the family Philesiaceae which includes only two genera Lapageria and Philesia making it a member of one of the smallest flowering plant families. It was introduced into cultivation in Europe at Kew Gardens in 1874.

To grow this plant well one needs to understand what conditions it likes best and how it grows in its native habitat.

Strong, wiry, slender, twinning stems grow from underground rootstock and these stems may reach 5 metres long and of course need some support because in the wild they climb over nearby plants and trees. These stems are supported by a strong root system which needs unrestricted soil conditions. It grows best in a cool place with deep, moist acid soil, well drained and with lots or organic matter and mulch.

It like humidity, moderate summer temperatures, needs sun but dislikes long exposure to very hot bright sun. Best if it has some partial shade in the sunniest part of the day. It will not tolerate heavy frosts either. So choice of position is critical.

Along these long wiry stems alternate, leathery semi glossy, deep green, heart shaped, 10cm, evergreen leaves with 5 prominent veins appear.

Spectacular rosy crimson flowers with white spots may appear in late spring, summer and autumn. These distinctive, beautiful, bell shaped flowers air about 8cm long with six long, heavy, waxy petals hang singly or in clusters from leaf axils on the upper part of the plant. Flowers usually appear on old wood rather than new and last for several weeks.

Traditionally there have been two colours, rosy crimson the actual species, and pure white Lapageria rose 'albiflora'. Today there are many shades and named cultivars grown in the world. Many have been raised in the USA. Some plantsmen recommend growing these two varieties together.

The flowers are followed by yellow green, oblong, fleshy fruit (technically called berries) and inside amongst the sticky pulp are ovoid shaped seeds.

As a single species which has its main flower colour as red the cross pollination of flowers which have slight or significant colour variations can lead to new forms being grown. Even the long known white variety will not produce white off spring from seed. However in recent years there has been a range of colours produced which are interesting and in future we may see some more.

The flowers have to be cross pollinated from another flower or plant in order to set seed.

When harvesting seeds they should not be allowed to dry out and when sown will germinate in about 13C after about 5 weeks.

Like many plants once grown from seed we may still have to wait 3 -5 years for the new plants to flower. Layering of special coloured forms using strong stems is another way to increase the number of plants, but it is slower.

Japanese GardenThe Key Elements of a Japanese Garden

Japanese gardens are growing in popularity nowadays. This can be attributed to its graceful combination of plants, water and rocks all meticulously arranged to invite a sense of calm and tranquility. If you're looking to build your own Japanese garden at home, here are important principles you should keep in mind:

1. Your stone layout sets the foundation

As Ancient Japanese mythology puts great importance to mountains and stones as the foundation of the earth, the Japanese consider this as one of their most important principles in designing their own zen gardens. They believe that stones form the frame of the garden and if they are properly arranged, the other parts of the garden should automatically arrange itself. If you're just in the process of designing your Japanese garden, some ideas include incorporating raked gravel around islands or laying out uniform-sized gray river rocks to create a stream bed.

2. The water serves as the basis of the whole garden composition

Water is considered an essential part of every Japanese garden, as it symbolizes the steady and continuous flow of time. Elements of water in the Japanese garden are evident in their pond installations and thin water strings flowing through rocks, as well as in rocks, gravel and sand where water seems to have run dry to symbolize the passing of time. It might be a good idea to introduce falling water or bamboo fountains in your garden design to complete the Japanese garden flavor.

3. The architecture must help design a path

As the Japanese culture put a lot of significance on life being a path, its gardens are designed to take guests through a carefully designed path. On top of keeping with tradition, the main function of the path in Japanese garden design is the unification of all garden elements. They also put significant importance in designing architecture that complements the path. These are usually made of natural materials such as wood, stone and metal.

Traditional Japanese garden architecture includes pavilions, stone lanterns and wells. You can make your own tea house in the middle of your garden by using bamboo. You can even add your own personal touch to your garden by adding stone water jars or bamboo garden fences to give the impression of lightness and grace.

4. Use plants to create the background

Every Japanese garden is designed in a way that plants always obey the stone layout. So, instead of letting the plants dictate how you want your garden to look, always keep in mind your stone layout in selecting the plants that will soften the lines and create the background. You can select different kinds of garden plants to complement your stone layout from evergreens and conifers to blooming trees and shrubs, all the way to local hardwoods and perennial forest flowers. Don't be afraid to prune the trees in order to echo your garden's architectural design and create subtle reflections in water.

Apart from the minimalism of Japanese gardens, what most people do not realize with the design is that it attempts to illustrate the unique relationship between man and nature. Man should always improve nature, by showing its essence, and not by pressuring it to its needs. If you only keep this in mind, you'll be able to design a Japanese-style garden that not only complies with its aesthetics but also its founding philosophy.