THE UPS AND DOWNS OF SUMMER

By Jill | July 31st, 2009

Hello, what a topsy-turvy summer this is turning out to be! One minute it is pouring with rain at the nursery, the next it is blue sky and sweltering heat. Now that the Met Office have revised their prediction for the rest of the summer – perhaps we can simply take it as it comes!!

Here at the nursery, the air is heavy with the scent of LIME trees in flower – if you have not experienced this before – it is a rather musty scent – very sweet – produced from a very small yellow flower(SEE PHOTO ON LEFT). Bees adore it, and get quite hooked on it – definitely one of the high points of late summer.

On the down side – a lot of customers are reporting problems with pest and disease on their plants – particularly MILDEW on apples and roses. This is linked in with the weather – predominantly caused by dryness at the roots – so always worth giving your plant a good soak and a mulch – and removing as many of the worst affected leaves and destroying them. Another continual problem is that of the poor old conker trees or HORSE CHESTNUTS – they are now starting to suffer very badly again with that wretched leaf-miner. I have already seen trees that are almost completely defoliated – we were rather hoping that this year would not be so bad – but that does seem to be a false dawn now – although the problem has appeared later than normal. It does not seem to kill the trees – they re-leaf in the spring as normal – but it must weaken them with a reduction in their food source. This can often leave them open to the other more serious BLEEDING CANKER menace – when the trunk oozes black resin – this is often fatal for the tree. I was reading an interesting piece in a magazine that a compound based on a garlic compound is being trialled by the RHS and FORESTRY COMMISION as a prevention for the dreaded canker – and has the side-effect of making the leaves smell of garlic putting off the leaf-miner – can you imagine us all spraying our conker trees with garlic in the future!!??
Until the next time,
RICHARD

FLIGHT OF BUTTERFLIES!!

By Jill | July 24th, 2009

Hello – well, I am back from Scotland – after a glorious week – when the weather up in the Highlands was actually better than in Suffolk – and that must be unusual!!

One of the first things to strike me, upon my return to the nursery – apart from how good everything looked – was the amount of butterflies around. We seem to have everything from Red Admirals to Peacocks and Painted Ladies to Commas – and of course the dear old Cabbage White.

They seem to simply be everywhere – on the Catmint – and all over the Buddleias as you would expect. We are, of course lucky on the nursery to have large quantities of some of their favourite plants such as the Buddleias all concentrated in a small place – so that undoubtedly helps – but many of our customers also report large groups in their gardens. They do seem to favour one particular Buddleia above the others here at the nursery – and that is ‘LOCHINCH’. (Pictured Above) This must rank as one of the best – with silvery leaves and mauve-violet flowers with a lovely ‘eye’ to the flower.

To watch one of these delicate creatures sipping the nectar on a summer’s evening is surely one of the delights of the horticultural year – it seems an absolute world away from all the worries over swine flu and the recession.

Let’s just sit back and enjoy it while we still can!!

Until next time,

RICHARD

A SUMMER’S EVENING

By Jill | July 24th, 2009

Hello – on one of the few decent summer evenings in the last few weeks, we were very pleased to welcome the Great Glemham Ladies Gardening Club for an evening visit to the nursery.

The sky was Tuscan Blue – actually really nice and very warm, with the last rays of the sun still warming the sales areas. A great night was had by all – Graeme and myself took the group on a nursery tour – taking in many of the areas that are not normally open to the public. There was much interest in the new shrub cuttings – and also in our compost mix -one of the many ‘trade secrets’ that just give commercial nurseries ‘the edge’. The large range of shrubs and trees available also drew many comments – particularly the climbers – with the Honeysuckles and Potato Vine looking at their best.
As often, the size of Crown Nursery surprises people – as does the amount of the site that is actually behind the scenes. Following on from the tour, there was still time for the ladies to browse the sales areas – which they certainly did with relish!! The favourite plant of the night was most definitely the Russian Sage – PEROVSKIA ‘BLUE SPIRE’ – closely followed by the delightful honeysuckle – LONICERA ‘MINT CRISP’.

All in all a very enjoyable evening – here at Crown Nursery – we are proud of all that we have – and we enjoy sharing it with other people too!!
Until next time,
RICHARD

HIGH SUMMER

By Jill | July 11th, 2009

Well, we are almost into the middle of July – and it’s High Summer at Crown Nursery. What an incredible change in the weather as well – from last week when the temperature in one of the tunnels topped 42c – to this week when the mercury is stuck on about 22c – it’s a topsy-turvy summer.

One thing is for sure though – the plants appreciate the cooler weather (and so do the staff!!). The plants can slow down a bit (and so can the staff!!) and are not gasping for water every minute of the day. Nursery life moves on all the same – the girls are still ploughing on taking cuttings of shrubs for the autumn – the mist unit is really starting to fill up – and many of the earlier items have already been potted up. Tree care – pruning and feeding – occupies the rest of the time.

We have just completed a couple of our morning courses – ‘The Magnificent Garden All Year Round’ and ‘Summer Pruning of Trained Fruit Trees’. The first course was held on a scorching hot day – sun hats and cold drinks all round. This course had a detailed look at plants – and how to extend the season of interest in your plot. Graeme demonstrated various techniques from the ‘Chelsea Chop’ on perennials or plunging pots of Dahlias and Lilies into the gaps in your borders to foliage colour and winter flowering plants – very useful and informative were the comments from those who attended.

Wednesday July 8th saw myself taking the Summer Pruning course – a much cooler day. We looked at the techniques involved with training and pruning fruit trees to maximise cropping potential – and the effects of pruning at different times of the year – again very favourable comments from the attendees.

We have a bit of a break on courses for the summer – but restart in September with ‘The Best Tree For Your Garden’ – if you have never been on a course before – why not give it a go?? They are only for a couple of hours – hugely informative and great fun – check out the listing on the website.

This is holiday time – and I am off to Scotland next week- but it can also often be a difficult time to maintain colour in the garden – though there is plenty on offer here at the nursery. The Russian Sage – PERVOSKIA ‘BLUE SPIRE’ is senstional at the moment – spikes of dark blue flowers above serrated silvery foliage. It is a wonderful plant particularly in combination with one of the dwarf POTENTILLAS. Several are looking good at the moment – particularly PRIMROSE BEAUTY and ELIZABETH – they rank as one of the longest-flowering dwarf shrubs about – flowering almost constantly from July-September. And of course mid-July is the start of the BUDDLEIA or BUTTERFLY BUSH season – a gorgeous set of plants – often dismissed as ‘common’ – but what else flowers at this time – and attracts so many butterflies??
Modern breeding has produced plants that flower over a longer period- and in a range of colours from white to red to purple – there are even dwarf forms that will not get too high – so no excuses – get one in the ground!!

Until next time,
RICHARD

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