Hello podcast friends!
I’m back, after an unforgivably long break while I was writing my book (and doing other things which are not as interesting as writing a book). In this first episode of Series TWO I’m chatting with house plant whisperer and she of the delicious Brooklyn apartment Summer Rayne Oakes, all about her new book: How To Make A Plant Love You. It’s a passionate, personal and practical piece of work which underlined just how important it is for us to slow down, shut up and stay open to what the natural world has to teach us. We touch on urban gardening, rewilding, failure, joy and climate change, as well as the all-important subject of keeping hens in an apartment. Do have a listen, (forgive my nerves as this is the first time I’ve been in charge of ALL the tech!) and let me know what you think!
Naomi Slade is a freelance journalist with a degree in science and a background in publishing, events and managing rock bands. In this podcast she shares her love of and fascination for the subject of her latest book, Dahlias: Beautiful Varieties for Home and Garden.
Things we talk about in this episode:
Her Snowdrop book: Plant lovers guide to snowdrops (Timber Press)
Joe Sharman of Monksilver Nursery
Naomi’s snowdrop Galanthus 'Naomi Slade'
Her Orchard book: An Orchard Odyssey (Green Books)
Definition of an orchard: 5 Trees with crown edges not more than 20 metres apart
Perennial fruit and food
Dahlia as fashion victim
Rich man’s plants
Are they worth the effort?
Humans are diploid - 2 sets of chromosomes
dahlias are octoploid - 8 sets of chromosomes
Loads of transposons which spontaneously change what they look like
quick mutations = thousands of cultivars
Yellow and orange dahlias often have irridescence
How to start them off
Slugs and frost
Slugs hide underneath the tuber and come out at night
Dahliaworld.co.uk has all 60k varieties - the perfect place to geek out
National collection in Penzance
Nobody likes a soggy bottom
Restrained dahlias: ponpons and small balls
Varieties and cultivars we talk about in this episode:
D. Hamari Gold
D. David Howard
D. Arabian Knight
D. Gentle star
D. Thomas Eddison
The gallery series - compact and pretty
Happy singles - simple daisy flowers
"Clipped shapes and chaos"
Butter Wakefield, Gold Medal winning designer, gives us aaallll the tips in this must-listen episode packed to the rafters with plant suggestions and sound advice for any gardeners or garden designers.
Things we talk about in this episode:
What's in a name
The process of creating a stand at Chelsea
Pitching, competing, submitting
Creating an outdoor living space
Choosing carefully so as not to overload the stand. Making a realistic outdoor space
How to choose a grower
How the process works
Trees and hedging
Having a master plan (or not)
Who is the client? Sponsor? Stand?
It’s all about the medal
Gold medals and good pr
The first job
Faking it till you make it
Not knowing the answer!
Asking for help where you need it
Knowledge and confidence
How to be a good service provider
Selling ideas to a client
Suggesting, steering, guiding
Using FACTS to get your way
A tape measure is your best tool.
Balancing motherhood and a buisiness
Baked beans again
Being there when it counts - sports day etc
Setting a strong example for the children
Garden design creates beautiful spaces for families - it’s one of the nicest things you can do for people
Planting a show garden vs planting a private garden
Shrubs and herbaceous
Clipped shapes and chaos
Scaling up: putting big in small
Getting vertical interest in - wires and trellis to take eyes up
Getting a mirror in! Should be antiqued - bounces light
Being a weekend gardener
Outsourcing the clearing up
Screening and blocking out
Turning the laptop on
Plants, People, links
Deepdale - hornbeams
Rosa 'Gertrude Jekyll'
Geum 'Totally tangerine'
Rosa 'Munstead Wood'
p9’s (0.5 litre pots)
Salvia nemerosa 'Caradonna'
Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight'
Tulipa 'Black parrot'
Allium 'Purple sensation'
A. 'Purple rain'
Rosa Mme Alfred Carriere - flowers on a north wall
Stauntonia hexaphylla - will cover everything but beware
"What makes a lemon smell like a lemon?”
Heather Godard Key, director of Fibrex Nurseries and the pelargonium queen, gives us the complete lowdown on pelargonium care in this tip-tastic episode
Things we talk about in the episode:
Why we love pelargoniums
scent of leaves
musky stringent smell
the easiness of them
The National Collection of Pelargoniums
Heather’s growing history
Learning about pelargoniums, ferns and ivies
The difference between pelargoniums and geraniums
Same family, different genus:
Genus: Pelargonium (southern hemisphere, tender, succulent or woody shrubs)
Genus: Geranium (northern hemisphere, cranesbill. Hardy, herbaceous perennial)
You can’t hybridise between the two - most definitely two different things!
Geranium for pelargonium is WRONG because it’s misleading
If you can’t say pelargonium, just call them pellies
Pelargoniums are really tough in the right environment
Replicate SA in the UK
Loam based, open, free draining compost
Good light, even over winter
No darkness, no dinginess
In England that’s difficult, but not impossible
In a cool environment - Strip off a lot of the leaves which they don’t need because they’re not growing and you’re not watering.
Zonals, decoratives, uniques, scenteds can have majority of leaves lower down taken off, leaving just the growing tip
Gets rid of mildew, mould, botrytis etc at the same time - bonus!
Allows good airflow which is essential
Keeping pelargoniums indoors as houseplants
Avoid a kitchen or bathroom environment - too damp
Sitting room, living room, porch,
Close to window or on windowsill.
Natural daylight - doesn’t have to be direct sunlight
Tomato feed like Tomorite
First feed of season should be a balanced feed but otherwise Tomorite as soon as you see fresh young growth
Zonal pelargoniums are still used for bedding - can look stunning
Key is to mass-plant with just one colour. Colour match with neighbouring plants
Key group within zonals: Bold series - good chunky, strong growing with short stems and lots of flowers which are shatter-proof.
Use decorative, uniques and scented for gap-filling too!
Attar of roses, Grey Lady Plymouth in a mixed border -
Chocolate peppermint and Tomentosum at Wisley - looked amazing
Potting compost magic formula; John Innes no. 2 and multi-purpose compost half and half
Re-pot in spring and you don’t need to feed for a month because of JI
You cant over-feed a pellie!
Feed every time you water
If you want to get flowers like you see in the shows then you have to feed them! They’re on steroids
Young cuttings - single stem. Once rooted and growing, pinch out top leaf and newest bud. Leaving a couple of live axils below means it will start to branch out. It’s not about height, it’s about body.
Keep pinching out
Fibrex takes cuttings in August through to April. The pinching out happens throughout, until February. From buds, flowers will appear in six weeks. Pinching out is instinctive and takes practice, but not a lot of time if you’ve got a few pots outside the door.
Pelargoniums LOVE to flower. If you take off the untidy ones it will grow more as soon as possible. If you leave them, the plant slows down.
Heather deadheads every plant, every week - LOTS of work! Not so for a few pots.
Snap bottom of flower stem between fingers and it will come off naturally
Prepare your pot, 9 -12 cm Sterile seed compost and perlite or grit for drainage, Pat mixture down and saturate with water. Take cuttings, 2 inches at most depending on variety. Heather takes tip cuttings with one or two leaf nodes. Strip bottom leaves off, leaving growing tip and a couple of leaves at top. After 4-5 days give another drink. 5-10 cuttings in a 9cm pot. Cuttings really do like company. Heather pushes her cuttings straight in - no dibber and no rooting hormone.
Heather likes to keep the leaves touching in the nursery.
Leaving pelargoniums in pots over winter
Start in September to prepare them by feeding them with a general purpose feed
Stops them from flowering. Take a third off in Autumn and strip the leaves. Re-pot in spring with fresh compost, fluffing up the roots. Water in lightly. After a couple of weeks, general feed and then put outside. Night temps should be around five degrees - leave till mid may or end of may.
If you want them to continue flowering in a conservatory then just keep feeding tomato food.
Windowsill with radiator is fine as they like a dry environment
Best are dwarves and miniatures for permanent flowering as they won’t outgrow their space.
Other overwintering ideas:
Hanging the upside-down. Used to be done. It’s a bit extreme and not entirely necessary. You can leave in the compost just ease off on the watering.
Pests and diseases.
The whitefly clap.
Use invigorators rather than insecticides. SB invigorator gives the plant extra and has ammonia which whitefly hate.
Good for spider mite too. Spidermite like dry environments
Greenfly like the soft young growth. Squish.
Pelargonium starter-kit for newbies
- Scented: Attar of Roses. The gorgeousness of it!
- Decorative: Ashby. Strong, easy, free-flowering, big and beautiful, and EARLY.
- Specie: Austral. From Tasmania. Borderline hardy. Dark green, with delicate white flowers
What makes a lemon smell like a lemon?
Pelargoniums have over 120 volatile chemicals in the leaves. Hence the huge variety of scents and flavours
Best houseplant pelargonium: Fragrans because of fresh fragrance and height. Delicate, pretty, delightful.
May 1st national collection is open free of charge, but you can visit whenever you like.
Pellie party! Smelly pellie jelly! Turn up!
Links, Plants and important stuff we mention:
Tomorite tomato food
Heather’s top three for beginners:
Houseplant favourite: Fragrans
Andrew and Laetitia
"I woke up with a vine weevil on my pillow"
Andrew and Laetitia chat about what they've been up to in the garden, greenhouse AND BEDROOM recently. Pelargoniums are pampered, bushes are clipped and houseplants are, of course, bumped off.
Things we talk about in this episode:
Andrew in the greenhouse
why a greenhouse?
potting on and space considerations
overwintered pelargoniums: feeding
houseplant care at this time of year
feeding houseplants with seaweed extract
upping the watering regime
vine weevil on pillow
repotting containerised plants
vine weevil vigilance
dealing with pot-bound plants
daffodils and yellow snobbery
forsythia, the untidy plant
Laetitia’s amelanchiers and how much she loves them
amelanchier - a hard-working plant
Garden visiting in winter and early spring
Box topiary at West Dean gardens
Clipping your sarcococca into mounds
horrifying results post-slippage
Plants we talk about and links
amelanchier canadensis and lamarkii
THINGS WE TALK ABOUT IN THIS EPISODE:
Incredible Edible Bristol
Five minute gardening
Using both sides of your brain
Ivy and pelargoniums as houseplants
Windowsill seed sowing
Am I a nurseryman?
Essential seed-sowing equipment
Plants to grow from seed
Dividing plants with two forks
LINKS, PLANTS, IMPORTANT STUFF WE MENTION
Sweet peas (cupani)
"Plants can be absolute bastards sometimes"
James Alexander-Sinclair is a gardener, garden designer, writer, broadcaster and show garden judge at all the RHS flower shows. In this podcast he shares his wisdom, outlook and tips for success in his own joyful, hilarious style.
Things we talk about in this episode:
Judging at Chelsea
Objectivity and how the judging system works
James’s gardening journey
Sex, death and deliciousness
The gardener as referee
The recipe for a good garden
Making sure that the practical essentials are in the right place
James’s own garden
The corner of shame
Calling in help when life gets in the way
Show gardens and unattainability
Gardening as larceny
Removing sentimentality (and diseased trees)
Watching and waiting
Dealing with the boring stuff first
Barefoot compost heaps
Gardens, garden designers, succulents, cacti, azaleas and rhododendrons
Roses and revolutionary verve
Stopping gardening when it becomes a chore
Designers and Chelsea show gardens
The cult of the designer
James’s 7 minute Chelsea garden
Fortnum and Mason manure
Plants for dry shade
Right plant right place
Growing rhododendrons in the cotswolds
And watching them die
Weeding with a hula hoop
Apres freeze watering
Slugs and how to deal with them
Slugs vs snails
Evil drunken slugs
Podcasting as gardening
Links, plants, important stuff we mention
Persicaria amplexicaulis (looks like a dock leaf)
Rosa x odorata Bengal crimson
chillies: Varieties: Basket of fire and Hungarian Hot Wax