Tag Archive: pelargoniums


There's such a choice of  containers to grow in!

There’s such a choice of containers to grow in!

It’s getting to that time when we plant up containers – with annuals, or perhaps longer lasting plants. Which type of compost should you use?

There are two main types of compost: soil-based (John Innes) and soil-less, which may be based on peat or a peat substitute such as coir or perhaps recycled household waste. In addition, depending on the drainage requirements of the plants you’re placing in containers, you’ll need to add some horticultural grit, Pearlite or similar. And some plants- bulbs for example- like a mix which is less nutrient rich, light and leafy- so add in plenty of leaf mould.

All containers need some means of letting excessive water escape- in most pots there’s a hole in the bottom and permeable liners (or a few holes punched in a piece of plastic) in hanging baskets will achieve the same result. But don’t forget to rest some pieces of broken pot or tile over the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot to avoid the compost washing out.

Plants like this Box ball requires a soil-based compost to thrive long term

Plants like this Box ball requires a soil-based compost to thrive long term

Soil-based composts

These are heavy, retain water well and provide a long-lasting supply of nutrients. They are the best choice for permanent plants in containers and for plants that grow tall and are top heavy. For permanent displays, use john Innes Number 3 because of its high level of nutrients.

Soil- less composts

These are lightweight, clean and easy to handle, but dry out quickly and contain few nutrients. Soil-less composts are best for temporary displays, such as bedding plants and hanging baskets. Peat-based composts are the most consistent in quality, though alternatives are improving all the time (especially some of the recycled organic matter types) and do not deplete the landscape like peat-based types.

Plants like Pelargoniums (these are in the courtyard at Old School Garden), require a very gritty soil-less compost.

Plants like Pelargoniums (these are in the courtyard at Old School Garden), require a very gritty soil-less compost.

Source: ‘Short cuts to Great Gardens’- Reader’s Digest, 1999

Old School Gardener

 

Sociedad Argentina de Horticultura

Somewhere in Argentina?

via Sociedad Argentina de Horticultura

Old School Gardener

You may recall I mentioned trying to convert an old wooden bicycle rack into a plant theatre. These are traditionally structures where small specimen plants are put on display- usually in old terracotta pots. Auriculas and Pelargoniums are some of the plants often used. Here’s an example of an Auricula Theatre recently shown at an RHS show.

Auricula Ttheatre at an RHS show
Auricula Theatre at an RHS show

To avoid losing the interesting foliage effects (or ‘bloom’) on some varieties of Auricula, its advisable for the plants to have some overhead protection from the rain. Having recently completed an Alpine planter for the Courtyard here at the Old School Garden (which is now looking splendid- I’ll put some pictures in my next ‘Dear Walter’ letter), I thought this would add another interesting feature. Here’s what the bicycle rack looked like before I got to work on it.

The old Bike Rack before it's makeover
The old Bike Rack before it’s makeover

It is a relic of the local School at Cawston and must be a good 50- 60 years old. Having reorganised our sheds and so no longer in need of a rack for our bikes, it seemed a good opportunity to recycle something with local historical links. Having measured up and done a rough design, I bought a few planks of pressure-treated gravel boards from a local timber merchant and set to work; measuring out the spacing of the ‘shelves’ that would sit on the angled frame, cutting the notches in this to receive the shelves and screwing them home. Having some black wood stain left over from the alpine planter I used this to give the whole thing a unifying finish that would tie it into the courtyard. Here’s the final result, before and after painting, with the six shelves awaiting the addition of plants.

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As I have some pelargoniums in pots I think this is what I’ll use the planter for this year, though I’ll need to purchase a few more interesting varieties and source some old 3″ or 4″ pots. Next year I might do a spring display of Primulas (including Auriculas) as well as something for the summer months. I might have to think about an overhead canopy of some sort to protect the Auriculas from rain (maybe some sort of movable ‘pram hood’ that can be pulled over from back to front?)

Once the new planter is planted up I’ll show you how it turns out!

Old School Gardener

 

PicPost: Theatre of Dreams

Pelargoniums display at Calke Abbey via Colin Garratt

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