My younger brother has ten acres of ancient woodland on his farm in Nottinghamshire. This wood is at least four hundred years old and may be much older. Like many such woodland it is carpeted by hundreds of thousands of bluebells during spring. As a boy in the 1950s I was besotted by a nearby bluebell wood.
There are two viola species flowering in the garden with the tulips this year. Both are more tolerant of hot weather than pansies and commercial viola strains. Both are perennials or at least they are in my garden.
Sixty years ago when I worked for my uncle he used to grow tens of thousands of wall flower plants every year. He would thinly sow seed in outside beds during late June and July and the following spring would lift them and bundle up a dozen at a time, wrap them in newspaper and take them to market where he had a permanent stall.
There has been a lively discussion on Michael McCoy’s Gardenist site about the relative merits of heirloom and F1 hybrid seed. So many issues were raised in the discussion that it’s impossible to deal with all of them in a short Garden Note. I’ll look at one issue that comes up time and time again, flavour and tomatoes.
I’ve taken advantage of a lull in the cold wet weather that we’ve been having in Victoria to get some seed sowing done. I’ve sown onion and pea seed this week as well as getting my garlic in. I usually plant garlic around the shortest day but this year it was too wet to plant until this week.
With all eyes on Chelsea for both Chelsea in Bloom and the Chelsea Flower Show this spring, the Cadogan Estate’s gardeners have to work extra hard to impress. Ric Glenn, head gardener at Cadogan, tells us about his passion for horticulture, Chelsea’s tropical surprises and some common ground with last year’s winner at the Chelsea Flower Show.
I’ve grown two varieties of Zucchini this year, an F1 Black Jack type called Nitro and a beautiful white striped pale green variety called ‘Bush Baby’. Both have high resistance to powdery mildew which more often than not cuts short the cropping season of older varieties of Zucchini at this time of year.
One stinking hot day in February I went to see Keith White’s sunflower breeding field. In a leased paddock on a farm only a few kilometres from Lambley the world’s best sunflower hybridiser plies his trade. Keith, a qualified geneticist, has spent much of his working life breeding new strains of agricultural crops such as canola.
It pays to read the description carefully when ordering and planting seeds. I wanted to plant a lot of Cosmos ‘Sensation’ white in a new flower border in the vegetable garden. ‘Sensation’ strain grows a metre or more tall with handsome fresh green fern-like leaves topped with 30cm long wands carrying large flowers well clear of the foliage.