Archive for 26/09/2013


Ouse Washes: The Heart of the Fens

Heritage Lottery FundIf you thought that there was only one River Ouse in the UK you are going to need to read this article as I think you may be surprised to learn of all the different ‘Ouses’ around. To understand the reason why there are so many rivers called Ouse, it is the name that gives it away: the name Ouse is thought to have Celtic origins, meaning ‘water’; therefore when saying the River Ouse or the Great River Ouse you are actually saying the ‘river water’ or ‘great water river’.

There are 5 ‘Ouses’ around the UK, from high up in Orkney to the Ouse River down in Sussex; from north to south, these are:

  • The Ouse Orkney
  • The Yorkshire Ouse
  • The Great Ouse
  • The Little Ouse
  • The Sussex Ouse

The Sussex Ouse itself is 42 miles long, but with all its tributaries runs over 140 miles long…

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Camassia quamash via Charles S. Peterson

Camassia quamash via Charles S. Peterson

Quamash, the common name for Camassia, is a genus of 5 or 6 species of bulbous perennials native to damp, fertile meadowland in north America. They have large, ovoid bulbs which give rise to narrow, erect, linear leaves at the base. The flowers form in racemes on the top of the otherwise bare stems. These are showy flowers, star or cup shaped in blues, purples and white, appearing in mid- late spring.

Camassia leichtlinii via Gentry George

Camassia leichtlinii via Gentry George

 The bulbs of the species Camassia quamash were once an important food source for native American indians.

Camassias are great in borders or wildflower meadows and make good cut flowers. They are fully hardy to frost hardy and should be planted in the autumn about 10cm deep in moist but well drained soil in sun or partial shade. The soil should not be allowed to become waterlogged. They should be mulched over winter in areas with persistent frosts.

New plants can be grown from seed, which should be sown in containers in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Offsets can be removed in summer when the plants are dormant. There are no major pests or diseases affecting Camassia.

 

To get the best from Camassia flowers plant them against a background that will allow the pale flowers to stand out:  e.g. Berberis thunbergii ‘Rose Glow’ – a good foil because the leaves are purple, splashed pink and white; Photinia x fraseri ‘Red Robin’ – blood-red young leaves; and Choisya ternata (Mexican orange blossom).

In borders, Camassias associate well, in light shade, with forget-me-nots, Dicentra spectabilis (bleeding hearts), Lunaria rediviva, Leucojum aestivum (spring snowflake) and Polygonatum x hybridum (Solomon’s seal), and in sun with early-flowering Geraniums and Aquilegia. If naturalised in a meadow, they look good with buttercups, cowslips and the late-flowering pheasant’s eye (Narcissus poeticus var. recurvus).

I have some purple flowered Camassias here in Old School Garden, planted in a mixed border and close by to an orange Tulip ‘Ballerina’ which flowers at about the same time – the colour combination works really well.

Camassias growing in the wild via Oregon State University

Camassias growing in the wild via Oregon State University

Sources and further information:

Wikipedia

How to grow Camassias

Camssia leichtlinii – RHS

Old School Gardener

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934746_10151676747891970_1023613447_n“A different point of view”- tools to help you assess and get more from your garden.

13 October 2013, 10.00 – 4.00

Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, Norfolk

Is your garden in need of a revamp or complete makeover, but you don’t know where or how to start? This workshop will help you assess your garden and what you want from it, grasp some of the basics of garden design and how to apply these to your own space.

I’ll be leading the workshop, which will be a mix of presentation, practical exercises and group discussion. Examples and case studies, together with the gardens at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, will be used to illustrate key points and inspire you to develop ideas for your garden.“A different point of view”- tools to help you assess and get more from your garden. 13 October 2013 10am - 4pm<br />

£32 per person / £28.50 for Museums Pass holders (including tea and coffee)

For more information and a booking form go to Gressenhall Adult Learning

Old School Gardener

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