A visit to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and Bloom usually gives a good indication of what will be in vogue for the coming gardening season.
Hot colours such as yellows, reds and orange seem to be the theme for this year.
Here’s my five that I recommend for your garden this season.
Iris ‘Kent Pride’
This was my plant of Chelsea Flower Show 2018. I love Irises, I think their flower shape is just amazing to admire. This one has an almost rustic copper appearance and has a way of drinking in the sun, to really catch your eye.
Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’
Geum’s are all the rage at the moment, they come in a spectacular range of colours and can complement many of your gardening situations. At this stage ‘Totally Tangerine’ is a Chelsea classic but still a real show stopper. It’s the most amazing shade of orange, subtle but eye-catching.
Lupins were the obvious plant of Chelsea Flower Show 2018. They were the crowning jewel in almost every show garden. They are available in various shades of colour too were just astonishing. An old reliable with a new lease of life. Definitely, one to add to your garden.
This was my plant of Bloom 2018. I just loved how it worked in this particular design. A real splash of colour. Similar to the Lupins, Aquilegas have gotten a new lease of life with stunning varieties out there.
I love this. I love the deep rich purple of the slender spike-like flowers. Salvias have really come back with a bang and are available in a range of colours and flower shapes.
Hydrangea ‘Runaway Bride’
I had to include this one even though it isn’t a hot colour. The RHS’s ‘Plant of the Year’ is just spectacular. It has the most unusual of growing habits (almost trailing) and is just bursting with a profusion of white flowers. I can guarantee this will be seen throughout the gardening world in the coming season. Love it!!
To begin with, you are all very welcome back, I know it’s been a while but I have been busy with so many exciting projects. Some of which I will be sharing with you on my social media pages over the next few weeks and some are already up there. Check them out.
To kick things off again, I’m going to post a series of blogs on plant propagation over the next couple of weeks. Delving into a few of the different methods that can be used and discuss the steps in achieving success.
Plant propagation is one of the most rewarding elements of gardening. You can take a little seed and see it germinate and grow. The wonders of nature are just astonishing. It’s definitely one of my favourite elements of horticulture.
Here are my top ten essentials to achieve success in propagation. Have a read before you delve into the world of plant propagation. Enjoy!
It’s worth your time and money to invest in a great pair of secateurs. As we will discuss further in the next blog post you want a clean-cut to reduce the likelihood of diseases occurring and a sharp smooth secateurs will provide that. The great thing is once you look after them they will last you a lifetime.
2) Propagation Unit.
A propagation unit that you can regulate the temperature and exposure to sunlight will see a vast improvement in the success rates and the time from sown to grown. Again a worthwhile investment and worth spending a little extra on.
I’m an advocate of ensuring that everything is labelled correctly with a date. It can take up to six months for some of these propagation methods to see any results. I can hardly remember what happened yesterday never mind six months ago!
4) Growing Media.
Perlite, as well as vermiculite, will become your new best friend in propagation. It’s a great additive to add to your compost and as a topdressing during seed sown. Remember at this stage you will not need fertiliser in your compost, it will burn the new roots! Allow for a growing media that is free draining and allows for root development. Remember the new roots will be very tender.
5) Record Book.
Keep a record of everything from the time of year to the number propagated This will allow you to compare and contrast your success rates and the number you have grown. It will also act as your gardening diary as you will know the time of year you completed tasks the previous year. Again ensure everything is recorded correctly. I would also encourage using Latin names as they provide more information on your plant
6) Seed Trays & Pots.
Have the correct size of growing container to put your seed, cuttings and other propagated material into. Seed trays are very useful for not only propagating seeds but much more. Again we will discuss this point in further detail in our next blog posts.
You will need both paper and plastic bags as certain material requires certain requirements when collected. I wouldn’t recommend reusing bags too often as they can be an environment for pest and diseases to thrive in.
8) Watering Can.
A fine nozzle watering can is an essential piece of equipment for propagating. The fine nozzle reduces the likelihood of compost been washed out of your trays and with it your seed!
You will need two knives, a sharp penknife and a bread knife. The pen knife is suitable for taking softwood cuttings while the bread knife for dividing.
10) Permanent marker.
A fine tip permanent marker is ideal for writing on labels although not full proof it greatly reduces the writing being washed off. Just make sure it’s clear and easy to read.
In next week’s blog, we will be discussing the do’s and don’t’s of plant propagation and how to choose the correct material.
If you have any questions or feedback, I’d love to hear from you. Thank you for reading my latest blog post.
After competing at the UCD’s Young Horticulturist of the Year heats in early February in which I came first in. I was delighted to get the chance to represent my university at this year’s Ireland Final.
The event which is organised by the Charted Insitute of Horticulture and sponsored by Bord Bia took place in Ardgillian Castle on the 25th of February. In total, there were eight horticulture students taking part in the final. These students represent colleges from across Ireland; Greenmount, UCD, Cork Insitute of Technology, Botanic Gardens Dublin, Waterford Insitute of Technology, Blanchardstown Insitute of Technology and Kildaton College.
Before we took part in the competition we were invited around for a lovely tour of the gardens by the head gardener. Although a lot of the plants were only beginning to wake from their winter slumber there was still plenty to see. What caught my eye was the Potentilla collection and the rose garden, quite spectacular and I have a great interest in roses too.
After completing the tour we had lunch and this was a great chance to get to know the horticulture students. Getting to know more about their course, what aspired them to a career in horticulture and what they wished to pursue once they completed their studies. For many it was their first year competing but I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to represent UCD last year in which I was runner up as well.
There were ten rounds testing your knowledge across the board in horticulture including identification, science to name a few. After some very difficult questions and even tougher opponents I was runner-up on the day, a fellow horticulturist from Greenmount won it.
I would highly recommend the event to any aspiring young horticulturist and the great thing is that you don’t even have to be associated with a college to compete. It’s great meeting like-minded and passionate horticulturist to be able to share your story and hear theirs. It’s fascinating to hear about the different areas in which everyone is studying, interested in and wish to pursue as a career.
If anyone is thinking about or consider pursuing a career in horticulture and would like some advice or even just to get in touch, I would love to hear from you. The contact details are located at the top of the page in the ‘Contact Tab’.
Thanks for reading my latest blog and hope you all enjoyed it. If you have any feedback as always I would love to hear.
My latest YouTube tutorial ‘Propagation: Divison’ is a demonstration on how to divide herbaceous perennials and grasses to gain further plants.
Propagation: This is a method of producing more plants either by seed, cuttings or division. These categories can be further split up to methods such as layering, semi ripe cuttings, etc.
Division is a simple and effective way to propagate plants especially as named above grasses and perennials as the more woody varieties of shrubs tend not to produce off shoots or form in clumps.
It is also recommend that after a number of years herbaceous perennials and grasses should be divided to prevent their clumps getting too large and becoming too competitive.
This can lead to a dense growth which can cause too much shading for flowers to be produced or putting all their energy into producing shoots.
By splitting up these clumps you are allowing the plant to receive more light and reducing the likelihood of competition therefore creating a more suitable environment for flowering.
By watching the tutorial you can develop an understanding of how the process of how division is carried out. It is simply by cutting your plant apart either by a sharp knife or a good spade.
Depending on the size and variety of the plant, quite a number of individual plants can be successfully propagated, providing that a good root run is kept.
The growing medium is of particular importance as you want something with plenty of pore space to allow the roots to develop and that is also free draining.
I recommend either using perlite or a fine grit but vermiculite is also another option although it won’t offer as much pore space but rather more heat.
After potting on your plants it is important also to provide them with enough heat over the winter months i.e don’t allow them to be exposed to frost.
A window sill or porch is ideally suited or indeed if you have the access to a polytunnel or glasshouse is also suitable. Just be careful with the amount of sun light they are exposed to as this can lead the young shoots being scorched.
Thanks once again for reading my latest blog and also hope you enjoyed my latest tutorial. As always feel free to get in contact if you have any questions or suggestions for a blog or tutorial in the future.
Feel free to like and share the blog, spread the word.
To ensure a longer lasting flowering time frame dead heading should be regularly carried out on the roses, if not the rose will put its time and energy into producing and developing seeds instead of flowers.
It is important to make sure that time and effort is put in and it is done right, that the seed capsules are removed and that you are not just pulling off the petals.
3) Disease Control
The two most common diseases associated with roses are black spot (Diplocarpon rosae) and powdery mildew (Podosphaera pannosa).
Rose black spot is a fungus disease and is easily recognised with black markings on the leaves. It can cause an unsightly appearance on the roses and become quite serious if not treated.
Powdery mildew is another fungus disease that occurs on roses. Like the black spot it needs favorably weather conditions (humid) for it to develop.
For the treatment of mildew and black spot there are many different treatments available both chemical and non-chemical and greatly depends on how seriously effected the roses are and your preferred method.
If you would like to share your remedies post a comment or send a message on my Facebook page (A Horticulturist’s View) and I could put together a list of all the different tricks and tips.
To maximise your roses it is important to minimise the amount of diseases impacting on it.
4) Pest Control
The most common of all pests to attack the roses are the aphids (greenfly). It is quite easily recognised as a bright green insect like and tend to gather in large colonies on the rose
The aphid can have devastating effect on the roses causing a number of afflictions. From viruses, appearance, sap damage, heavy infestations can lead to shoot damage and damage to the flower.
Again there is a number of treatments available to treating aphid attacks on roses both chemical and non-chemical.
Natural predators such as ladybirds should be encouraged into your garden as both at the larvae adult stage attack the aphid therefore reducing their impact.
Another remedy I recently found out about is the use of garlic spray to prevent and control aphids as well as many other garden pests such as slugs having an impact on your plants and roses.
As you can imagine it takes a lot of energy to put on that show of flowers so it is important to give them a feed.
Not only whenever they are in flower but also when the roses are preparing to produce flowers.
A simply liquid feed will provide a quick boost to the roses but it is also important to provide a longer lasting fertiliser at least once a year if not twice.
Mulching will provide another source of feed and this should be carried out after flowering in autumn.
Keep an out for my YouTube tutorial on ‘Maintaining Roses’ in the next few days as well
As I mentioned above, I would love to hear about your different tips and tricks when it comes to controlling diseases and pests on the roses and all things roses.
I would appreciate some feedback and any ideas of blogs you would like to see me write in the future. Thanks once again for reading and I hope you enjoyed my latest piece.
To get the most out of your summer bedding plants and long lasting flowering its important to look after your hanging baskets and window boxes.
With the ever changing weather conditions it is important to regularly check your summer bedding on a daily basis. Here’s what you should be keeping an eye out for:
Simple lift your hanging basket and weigh it in your hand, too light water, too hesvy don’t water.
Little and often is the key here. Watering first thing in the morning is important. There no point going out one day and giving them loads of water i.e. were they are basically swimming in it and then none for a couple of days. This can lead to two problems
A) It will cause all the nutrients to be washed down to the very bottom of the hanging thebasket or window box and more than likely out of reach of the shallow roots summer bedding.
B) Causes stress, where the plant either becomes waterlogged or suffering from the lack of water. This will cause the onset of stress and see the plant begin to suffer. A tell tale sign is seeing is the flowers shriveling up or the yellowing of the leaves. At this stage it could be too late though to revive the plant so don’t let them get this far!!
All that energy that the summer bedding plants put into producing a magnificent show of colour, they are bound to get hungry. It is important to regularly feed the summer bedding. A clear indication that they require feeding is that the either stop producing flowers or a discolourng in the leaves.
There is many options whenever it comes to suitable feeds and a lot of them are diluted with water. The reason for this is that it is quick acting and short lasting fertiliser, remember summer bedding=summer so they are not there for the year..
Tomato feed- one common problem with tomato feed I have heard is that it tends to be very high in nitrogen. This can cause the summer bedding to produce more shoots rather than flowers. Perhaps it would be better at the start to encourage the plants to establish in the hanging basket or window boxes.
Specalised hanging basket/window box feeds – From my own experiences I find these the most effective to encourage a good flowering habit.
Home grown feed – Comfrey is another one that has been suggested, were you steep it in a lot of water over a number of days and then pour on the solution.
It is important to regularly go along and pinch off growth along the tips of the plant. This will encourage a bushier habit and to fill out the hanging basket or window box more.
You don’t take all that much just the very tip of it unless it has gotten out of control and in this case cutting it back a little bit can be done to bring back under control once again.
It prevents the flowers getting out of control and becoming straggly. It will also encourage a better growing formation and leading to a less problems with the base of the plant becoming bare.
This is one of the most important jobs you can do to ensure you have continuous long lasting window box or hanging basket.
When you are carrying out this it is important not to just pull of the flowers but to pinch behind the flowers and removing the seed as well. The flower will continue putting its energy into producing non viable seeds so don’t be thinking great seeds for next year. Not going to work!!!
Dead heading does a few things. It encourages the summer bedding to reflower again and therefore longer lasting a flowering period. Removes the ugly appearance of the hanging basket or window boxes. It also helps to prevent the occurrence of disease or pests being attracted to you summer bedding.
In days of particular bad weather (heavy rainfall) try to protect your summer bedding plants. Be it either taken down your hanging baskets or removing the window boxes from the wall and putting them in doors for the day.
This will help to prevent them from getting damaged from the weather. It also prevent too many of the flowers dying back due to rain or wind and having to start from almost scratch again.
If the care is put in the summer bedding is a true delight in any garden. It offer that essential bit of colour throughout the summer in places where they are no flowers are between different flowering periods.
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in contact and hope you enjoyed my latest blog.
With the bareroot season coming to an end for another year, the focus now turns to the stock of the future (three years’ time). Taken advantage of the good weather we had a couple of weeks ago preparation was in full swing, from ploughing the ground to forming the lazy beds.
The ground that has been selected tends to be rested for at least year. This gives the chance to carry out soil test to examine the nutrient levels and pH.
Following up on these requirements ground limestone and fertilisers can be applied. For this year we decided magnesium lime was best suited.
The reason behind this was that magnesium is an important macro nutrient for growing and this was an easier way to get it into the ground and therefore to the plant. It is a basic component of chlorophyll.
Farm yard manure is also applied to the site and ploughed in to added nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. In previous years green manure crops of kale have been sown on the ground left to rest. This ensures that soil erosion does not occur i.e. leaching and is also a great way to add back nutrients to the soil.
This process is three years long from the time they are sown next week until they are lifted out of the beds and sold to the customer.
They are main different stages in this three-year process. Immediately after sowing all the seedbeds are covered over in a net, this is to prevent pests such as birds eating and destroying the seed.
This is particular important when it comes to the conifer seedlings which keep their seed shells when they sprout. So what happens is that the birds tend to go along if they get the chance and pull out these seed shells and in turn pull out the seedling leaving it exposed.
Conifers which include Pines and Spruce require the most work in the three years, as another important stage is lining-out. I will cover this in a later blog again but basically what happens is that after two years the plants are lifted out of the bed and lined out in rows.
The reason behind this is that a high density of seed is covered in the bed in year one and a high germination rate causing overcrowding. If they are not lined out a bad growth habit will entail and a higher likelihood of diseases and pest problem will set in.
Think about this one where will you be in three years’ time or in fact would you know what trees you would like in three years in time?
These are things we need to think about at the nursery when selecting the quantity and varieties to sow.
A difficult task to say the least, with the current unsettling times with agriculture schemes and little prospect of trees or hedging being included in them this has a knock effect on the business.
Although one area that may see a growth in the coming years is forestry with new schemes being made available and the vast amount of mature forests that will be needed to be replanted could offer some potential.
It’s hard to predict the future but harder to predict the quantities required for the market in three years’ time.
Although there is newer and more modern ways in spreading the seed onto the lazy beds, spreading by hand is still the preferred method on the nursery.
This is purely down to scale and cost of purchasing this kind of equipment and has hindered any kind of progression to advance into these more modern techniques.
Basically what happens is that is that you walk along the edge of the bed (the wheel tracks) and throw or shake the seed on top of the lazy beds (see photo for lazy beds). The beds are then rolled to improve seed-soil contact and then covered over in a fine grit.
The fine grit locks in heat and moisture and also prevents the seed being exposed to the elements such as pests and weather.
As always people are more than welcome to call up to the nursery and have a look around. It is a fascinating place seeing the set up and how it all works. After all we are the only private tree nursery in the northwest so get in contact with us. Gallinagh’s Finn Valley Nursery Ltd on Facebook or find our web page where all our details can be found.
Thanks once again for reading my latest blog and as always any feedback is greatly appreciated.
After much talk over the last week with the recent CAO application figures being published which saw a drop in agriculture (horticulture) course as a first preference.
What I want you to do when reading through this blog is to make a mental note, when you think about a degree in particular an honors degree in Horticulture, Landscape and Sportsturf Management and what it could lead to.
What I am going do now for the rest of the blog is go through a few but not all possible career paths that could be possible for a recent graduate of the above course:
This is a possible area if you want to pass on your knowledge to the next generation of horticulturists or keen gardeners wanting to expand their knowledge.
With many paths to choose from teaching at university level to just running your own short courses. An educator is very much a rewarding and exciting pathway to follow.
I believe this is an area that is going to grow and develop over the next couple of years as there is a continuous push to get gardening to the forefront of media production. Although this wouldn’t be everyone’s calling, for those who enjoy the lime light a bit more it is indeed a possible avenue to pursue.
This is one particular area I can’t wait to delve into and see what’s really involved. As the trends for gardening grow, a need for continuous updates on advice and horticulture trends will follow pursuit. This is another area were horticulturists can show off the know-how and pass on valuable knowledge to gardeners and horticulturists a like.
Although I understand this may apply more to the degree course I am undergoing as I am doing a bachelor of science, it’s one that can be achieved. We will always need research into the latest disease, plants and how to improve or protect our valuable horticulture crops. So there’s always going be openings and potentials in areas like this.
We are always going to have some kind of garden, urban schemes or landscapes to be created. No better person to design an area than using the expertise of a horticulturist due to their extensive knowledge of plants and having previous modules based on garden design from the degree programme they under took. This would an area of particular interest for those who have a bit more of a creative flair about them and enjoy drawing plans and sketches.
There are endless possibilities for horticulturists to jump right in and own their own company be it a garden centre, nursery or supplier of horticulture products. It is linked somewhat to the designers as they will need a reputable source to supply products to their ventures.
There will always be need for advisers or consultants in an industry as diverse as horticulture. People will need the know how from the top end sportsturf managers, to the green fingered gardeners wanting to know how to get the very best of their summer allotment.
For large horticulture companies to be run successfully an employment chain will need to operate in an effective manner. The options for management in these companies can range from buying managers to PR managers and are possible avenues for us horticulturists to explore.
The horticulture industry is very much closely linked with the forestry and agriculture industries, which have a similar skill set and knowledge.
This leads to further avenues opening and more options to explore in these industries. Especially someone like me who comes from a background in both of these other industries, have further options to venture into as well.
The above are only a few examples which give you an understanding that how diverse it is. An industry such as horticulture has more potential than you might have thought and it also includes areas that you might not have associated with it.
There is a vast and endless amount of careers to pursue with horticulture and doors keep on opening whenever you gain experience with new avenues being found. A love for a particular area within horticulture leads to an exciting and endless possibilities to explore.
So if you want a career that opens more doors than can be imaginable then why not explore horticulture as an option.
I hope you have enjoyed my latest blog and I would like to thank you for taking the time to read it.
I’m off college now for a couple of weeks and this means pulling on the boots and wrapping up. Our latest projects at the tree nursery are the planting of forestry plantations.
Currently we are undertaking three, one in Newtown and two in Mountcharles. The one in Newtown is a much smaller one in comparison to the two in Mountcharles and includes a combination of Beech and Sitka Spruce.
The forestry plantations in Mountcharles include a mixture of broadleaves such as Oak, Sycamore and Alder and also includes Sitka Spruce (majority). The inclusion of broadleaves is a key development in the recent forestry plans and the aim is to increases biodiversity levels throughout the overall forestry plantation.
Sitka Spruce are the most commonly used due to their high timber value, their ability to grow in various soil conditions and the possibility of getting returns after 18 years through thinning and overall return in 30 years through clear felling of the forestry plantation.
The broadleaves take a considerable longer time to achieve a return on them (70 years) although a greater market value for the product is achievable.
The process starts three years beforehand when the seed are sown in lazy beds at the tree nursery.
This will be discussed in greater detail in a blog later on in the year when the seed preparation takes place normally around May (Keep an eye out).
Just a quick overview of the process and what’s involved; lazy beds are prepared, seed is sown on top of these beds, and then covered in a fine grit and a mesh is used for protection.
In year two the conifers are then transplanted and lined out in new beds, this is to prevent overcrowding; reducing likelihood of pests and diseases and encourage a better form and shape. The broadleaves are usually maintained in the same bed for the three years.
Year three involves lifting the trees out of the bed during the bare root season (winter months). They are graded to ensure an equal height of trees are planted. They are then bundling into 100’s normally and bagged.
They are placed into bags helping to keep them fresh as planting can take a number of days. It also makes the planting process easier as it allows the plants to be kept together in one bundle.
The process involved in preparing the forestry plantation for planting involves a number of steps.
Firstly the site is assessed by my granddad (a qualified forester).
The following are included, site conditions, site location (consideration for water runoff), soil fertility.
If the site is approved the next step is drainage of the plantation and mounding. So basically drains are pulled in parallel along the drainage flow of the field, the soil that is dug up from the drain is then mounded to allow the trees to be planted into.
The mounds are used to allow the trees to establish as this offers better soil, a free draining platform and a height advantage against weeds.
Thanks for taking the time to read over my second blog. I would be very grateful if anyone has any tips and pointers on what I could change or indeed include in my blogs in the future. Cheers