Top 5 Plants for Summer 2018

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.

Iris ‘Kent Pride

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.

Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’

Lupinus ‘Masterpiece’

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.

Lupinus ‘Masterpiece’

Aquilegia chrysantha

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.

Aquilegia chrysantha

Salvia ‘Caradonna’

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.

Salvia ‘Caradonna’

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!!

Hydrangea ‘Runaway Bride’

Plant Propagation: The 10 Essentials

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!

1) Secateurs.

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.

3) Labels.

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.

7) Bags.

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!

9) Knife.

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.

Happy Gardening!


Seven Winter Wonderful Plants

This blog is in connection to the YouTube tutorial Seven Winter Wonderful Plants’. Attached below are  the pictures and names of the plants that were discussed during the video.

Carex buchananii

Skimmia japonica 

Calluna vulgaris

Heuchera ‘Fire Chief’

Cornus alba 

Viburnum tinus

Ilex alquifolium ‘Golden King’
Thanks once again for reading my blog and watching the tutorial. I hope you enjoyed and perhaps learnt something new, maybe even inspired you to do some garden.

Please feel free to leave some feedback or indeed suggestions on future blogs and tutorials. If you have any questions regarding the blog or the tutorial please feel free in contact.

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Seven Winter Wonderful Plants

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5 Tips to Maintain Roses

This time of year sees the spectacular return of the rose in flower. Nothing compares to this outstanding show that the rose  puts on and mostly definitely be a centre piece in any garden..

Here are five tips to get that spectacular show and to make it last so you get the most out of it.

With the unfavorable weather conditions over the last number of week’s roses need that little bit more attention.

1) Pruning

Summer pruning is important aspect not only to encourage a good growth habit or to restrict from getting to big but also to encourage a second flush of flowers.

So not only dead heading the roses but also pruning back after they have finished flowering will encourage repeat flowering.

It is important to note that only a light pruning is required and that winter pruning of roses is done for a different reason.

2) Dead Heading

If you check my two YouTube videos ‘Dead Heading Rhododendrons’ and ‘How to Maintain Window Boxes and Hanging Baskets’ will give you some idea on how to carry out the dead heading of roses as it is similar.

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.

Finished flowers
Finished flowers

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.

First signs of black spot
First signs of black spot

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.

5) Feeding

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

Just about to flower
Just about to flower

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.

Please feel free to like and share it as well.

Standard roses in flower
Standard roses in flower

Seedbeds, Seeds & Seedlings

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.

Ready to be made into lazy beds
Ready to be made into 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.

Lazy beds with seed sown
Lazy beds with seed sown

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.

Fine grit that is used on the lazy beds
Fine grit that is used on the lazy beds

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.

Lazy beds ready for seed to be sown
Lazy beds ready for seed to be sown

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.

I have also set up a new Facebook page ‘A Horticulturist’s View’ which can be found here Give it a like and share.