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Old School Gardener

Lonicera sempervirens

Lonicera sempervirens

Lonicera (synonym Caprifolium and common names Honeysuckle or Woodbine), is a genus of arching shrubs or twining vines native to the Northern Hemisphere. There are about 180 species of honeysuckle, 100 of which occur in China, Europe, India and North America, with about 20 native species in each area.

The name Lonicera stems from Adam Lonicer, a Renaissance German botanist (1528 – 1586). He was noted for his 1557 revised version of Eucharius Rosslin’s herbal. Lonicer was born in Marburg and studied here and at the University of Mainz, and obtained his Magister degree at sixteen years of age. He became professor of Mathematics and Doctor of Medicine, becoming the town physician in Frankfurt am Main. His true interest though was herbs and the study of botany. His first important work on herbs, the Kräuterbuch, was published in 1557, a large part dealing with distillation.

Adam Lonicer

Adam Lonicer

Some species names of Lonicera include:

L. aureo – reticulata = golden veined, a variety of L. japonica

L. caprifolium = a herbalist name for a plant that climbs like a goat

L. fragrantissima = most fragrant

L. nitida = shining- the glossy leaves

L. periclymenum = to twine around, the true ‘Woodbine’ or ‘Honeysuckle’

L. pileata = having a cap, the berry being topped by a curious outgrowth of the calyx

L. sempervirens = always green

l. syringantha = the flowers resembling Syringa (Lilac)

L. xylosteum = a disused generic name from the greek xylon (wood) – the woody stems

The common honeysuckle (L. periclymenum) is a vigorous twining plant with large cartwheel-shaped flower-heads made up of rings of curved, almost tubular shaped individual flowers, which open white, but often red-flushed, for most of the summer. The plants climb rapidly up trellis or over arches, where they associate well with climbing roses or other varieties of honeysuckle. They are also superb trained up into trees or covering old tree stumps.

Sources and further information:

Wikipedia

RHS- growing honeysuckles

BBC- Common honeysuckle

Quizzicals: answers to the two clues given in Plantax 14 …

  • Cold yearning = Chile Pine
  • How Jack Charlton refers to brother Bobby = Orchid

Old School Gardener

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The blckbirds nesting among the vine in the Courtyard Garden at Old School Garden- picture by Gabbie Joyce and Paul Hill

The blackbirds nesting among the vine in the Courtyard Garden at Old School Garden- picture by Gabbie Joyce and Paul Young

To Walter Degrasse

Dear Walter,

It’s coming to the end of one of the driest and hottest July’s we’ve had in nearly 10 years. Today looks like it will be the hottest of the year to date – somewhere in the upper 20s if not low 30s Celsius in our corner of England (and higher elsewhere)! Having spent a couple of hours this morning planting out the last of my summer annuals, thinning and transplanting wallflowers and planting some leeks, I’ve escaped the worst of the heat and come inside to drop you a line!

As you can imagine, the last few weeks have been very busy on several gardening fronts. I guess the most significant event was our first garden opening last week, which I’ve done a separate article about. This was great fun and I was very pleased with the way the garden looked and the many positive comments from the 70+ visitors. We raised over £300 too which will be going to three local ‘good causes’.

One of these is ‘Master Gardener’, where I continue to offer my voluntary advice and help to those starting  to grow their own food. Gabbie, the local co-ordinator, has come up with the idea of using the money we raised as a special fund to be tapped into by Norfolk Master Gardeners to purchase small items to help their households, groups and other new growers- I’ll tell you more about this in due course. I’ve attended a few events recently and had fun talking with a range of people about their food growing experiences and maybe even helped to recruit a few new households. The latest event was the ‘Destination Aylsham’ Fun Day yesterday, which I helped out at with fellow Master Composter Sally Wilson- Town and co-ordinator David Hawkyard. Well over 70 people came over to discuss composting and ‘growing your own’, though my period at the stall seemed to coincide with the quieter, ‘wind down’ phase towards the end. Still,  no matter, we seem to have promoted composting and food growing to a few more people – and I managed to sell some plants and produce too!

I’ve done my last session this academic year at Cawston Primary School, where we had great fun harvesting potatoes, broad beans and a few onions. In truth, with the exception of the Broad Beans, these were harvested a little too soon, because this was the last opportunity for the children to garden before their holidays which begin on Thursday. Still, the potatoes were of a good size and a reasonable quantity and will be used in the school kitchen this week along with the beans and some of my donated home grown produce (we’ve had some enormous Calabrese and Cauliflowers lately). The children also continued to dig out the old compost bins so that we can make a new start there in the Autumn. However, it’s disappointing that we’ve not been able to keep on top of the weeding in the bog garden around  the wildlife pond (which is also looking extremely dry), as many weeds have now set seed, so that will be an added problem for us in the Autumn, when  hopefully the soil will be damper and weeding easier. However, the Outdoor Learning Co-ordinator , Sharon, tells me that the pond has been a real winner with the children and has yielded examples of a wide range of insect and other wildlife.

The gardens at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Museum are struggling in the sun and heat, but the planting and care taken earlier in the year by myself and other volunteer gardeners seem to be paying off. The rambling rose ‘Rambling Rector’ in the Wildife Garden looks particularly splendid as it covers the arbour and adjoining wall, where I and my friend Steve spent an hour or two pruning and tying in last autumn.

 

At home, Old School Garden is also struggling in the heat, and evening watering sessions of hand held spray and sprinkler have lasted a good few hours in recent weeks – and still many new plantings are wilting! Anyway, the long borders are looking great, though with a few gaps after shearing back the oriental poppies. I’m hoping that my strategically placed pots of tender perennials and plantings of annuals will soon plug these and the overall show will reach a crescendo in a few weeks time. The kitchen garden has proved to be very productive to date, though we  continue to get problems with pests such as pigeons and to a lesser extent blackbirds and aphids. I’ve noticed a few Cabbage White butterflies recently, but hopefully with my planting of Nasturtiums and netting of my Brassicas, we’ll not be too badly affected by their hungry green caterpillars! So far we’ve had crops of :

  • Potatoes – though I had to lift many of these a bit early as blight had started to affect them

  • Calabrese  -huge heads from the F1 variety ‘Beaumont’

  • Cauiliflowers- though a few heads were ‘blown’ as we couldn’t keep up with the supply!

  • Mange Tout – despite early pigeon attacks!

  • Celery – too much to cope with!

  • Carrots – a reasonable first crop though many were twisted and misshapen, possibly a combination of too rich and stony soil

  • Lettucs – a few varieties from the garden have tasted good along with some ‘cut and come again’ varieties in pots.

  • Tomatoes – just a few of the smaller, golden variety to date, but plenty on the plants in the greenhouse, ready for swelling and ripening.

  • Courgettes – the start of what promises to be a bumper year, especially as my friend Steve has given me four ‘Patty Pan’ plants to go with the two green varieties he’d already supplied!

  • Strawberries-  you remember I’d started the process of relocating the strawberry bed? Well the new plants seem to have taken well, though, as youd’ expect I didn’t let them flower or fruit this first year, but the old plants I left hoping for ‘one more year’ of fruit were a disaster. Very few fruits and what there were the blackbirds, slugs and mould seem to have taken. So for the first time in many years I actually bought two punnets of strawberries!

  • Raspberries – these are coming on well and we’ve enjoyed a few days supply so far, though the pigeons, despite my various ‘bird scarers’, seem to be enjoying themselves and breaking off the fruiting stems as they use them like ladder to go up and down the canes!

  • Garlic – most now harvested but some along with the onions are just drying  out before storing

  • Broad Beans – a good crop of a rosy pink variety, though when cooked their attractive colour seems to turn a rather dull grey, but they taste just fine!

  • Gooseberries- first bush harvested , two red varieties to come this weekend

  • Blackcurrants- two bushes harvested and a lot frozen, with one more to come shortly

Later today, I’ll be sowing some further crops of Lettuce, Mange Tout, Carrots and Cabbage as well as some Pansies I got from the Royal Norfolk Show and which  should provide us with some autumn and winter colour. That’s if it is not too hot of course.

Well, old friend, I see that it’s about time for lunch, so I’ll close for now and wish you and your good wifeFerdy’ well. By the way, would she mind terribly if I called her by her second name, which I find so much more attractive? Lise seems to capture her elegant beauty a lot more than that  nickname she got all those years ago at University! We’re looking forward to seeing you both here at Old School Garden in a week or two’s time – hopefully the garden will still look good and the weather will mean we can enjoy some warm summer evenings on the terrace with some good food, and even better wine!

all the best

Old School Gardener

Other posts in this series:

Dear Walter…. letter from Old School Garden 21st June 2013

Dear Walter….letter from Old School Garden, 20th May 2013

Dear Walter….letter from Old School Garden, 18th April May 2013

Dear Walter….letter from Old School Garden, 11th March 2013

Dear Walter… letter from Old School Garden: 15th February 2013

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PicPost: Vine View

jasmine-bush OK, I know that Jasmine is technically a shrub or climber and not strictly a ‘perennial’ but it is a perennial plant like all shrubs, so perhaps you’ll allow me some license on a letter of the alphabet that is decidely low on choice of ‘proper perennials’!

Jasmine (Jasminum) is a genus in the olive family (Oleaceae). It contains around 200 species native to tropical and warm temperate regions. Jasmines are widely cultivated for the characteristic fragrance of their flowers. They can be either deciduous or evergreen, and can be erect, spreading, or climbing in habit. The flowers are typically around 2.5 cm (0.98 in) in diameter, are white or yellow in colour, although in rare instances they can be slightly reddish. The flowers are borne in clusters with a minimum of three flowers, though they can also be solitary on the ends of branchlets. Each flower has about four to nine petals. They are usually very fragrant. The berry fruits of jasmines turn black when ripe.  Of the 200 species, only one is native to Europe, but a number of jasmine species have become naturalized in the Mediterranean area. For example, the so-called Spanish jasmine or Catalonian jasmine (Jasminum grandiflorum) was originally from Iran and south western Asia, and is now naturalized in Spain and Portugal.

Widely cultivated for its flowers, jasmine is enjoyed in the garden, as a house plant, and as cut flowers. The flowers are worn by women in their hair in southern and southeast Asia. The delicate jasmine flower opens only at night and may be plucked in the morning when the tiny petals are tightly closed, then stored in a cool place until night. The petals begin to open between six and eight in the evening, as the temperature lowers.

Symbolically, Jasmine was used to mark the Tunisian revolution of 2011 and the pro democracy protests in China of the same year. Damascus in Syria is called the ‘City of Jasmine’ and in Thailand, jasmine flowers are used as a symbol of motherhood.  Several countries have Jasmine as their national flower. ‘Jasmine’ is also a girls name in some countries.

There are many cultivars of Jasmine – for summer and winter. Jasminum officinale (summer jasmine) is perfect for a sunny, sheltered spot in mild regions of the UK. Trachelospermum jasminoides, also known as ‘Confederate’ or ‘Star Jasmine’ is a sweet-smelling vine with small white flowers. It grows quickly up walls, trellises, fences, and even thrives as ground cover, but It is especially well-suited to be grown indoors.

Trachelospermum jasminoides

Trachelospermum jasminoides

The cheery yellow flowers of Jasminum nudiflorum (winter jasmine) will brighten up even partially shaded and cold sites at a time when little else is in flower. A popular and reliable shrub, introduced from China in 1844, and widely grown as a wall shrub, it can be allowed to scramble freely over a low wall or up a bank, or trained up a vertical framework. Unlike many other jasmines, winter jasmine does not twine, so will need tying-in if grown vertically. The stems are bright green and give an evergreen impression, even in winter when the tiny bright yellow blooms appear, weatherproof in all but the coldest snaps. Regular pruning keeps bushes under control and prevents bare patches from appearing. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it the Award of Garden Merit (AGM).

 

All jasmines need a fertile, well-drained soil in full or partial sun. Summer jasmine needs a sheltered spot, full sun and a south- or south west-facing aspect. Winter jasmine is more tolerant of partial shade and a south east or north west aspect. North and north east aspects are best avoided. Frost hardy species are fine in an unheated conservatory or a cold greenhouse kept frost-free with a small heater. Tender species may require a minimum night temperature of 13-15ºC (55-59ºF). Jasmines make lovely container specimens. Ensure you use a container with good drainage holes, cover the holes with crocks or grit, and fill with John Innes No 2 compost. Leave space at the top for watering, and place the pot in bright but filtered light.

Jasmine plant care is not difficult but does require vigilance.Well worth it to have that wonderful evening fragrance in the summer or some brightness in the dark winter months!

 

Sources and further information:

Wikipedia

Beginners guide to Jasmine

Royal Horticultural Society – growing Jasmine

How to grow Jasmine

Pruning Star Jasmine

Growing Jasmine indoors

Trachelospermum – RHS

Old School Gardener

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So you know how it goes… a good friend says something post-Christmas about a gift they’ve given you, how they hope you liked it etc. and you think-

‘don’t remember getting that…’

It happened to me at the weekend. Friends who had kindly given me a couple of nice garden-related presents referred to some carrot seeds called ‘Nigel’ (my name for those who don’t know me). Somehow I must have missed them (let’s face it a packet of seeds can easily go missing when you’re eagerly ripping off the wrapping paper…).

So, as we missed this week’s bin collection (which happened to be the recycling one with the Christmas wrapping paper in it), I tipped out the (nearly full) contents to see if I could ‘find Nigel’. Well, suffice it to say that I was unsuccessful and came close to serious injury on can edges and other stuff in the process.

So that’s why ‘Nigel’ is plotless on at least two counts for 2013…

More successfully,  I spent a couple of hours yesterday using another cherished Christmas pressy-a pair of Felco No. 2 secateurs (a joy to use) on the grapevine and a rather overgrown Jasminum beesianum in the Old School courtyard. Here are some  images of that to accompany some of other plants looking good in the garden at present. Also the answers to the last Quizzicals and a couple of new ones…

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The grapevine grows round the top of three walls in the Old School Garden courtyard. A black variety, it gives a reasonable yield , but lack of sun/ warmth in 2012 led to a dissapointing crop. Let’s hope for better this year…

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Grapevine before pruning- new secateurs poised for action…

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After pruning- stems cut back to one or two buds above the node.

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Quizzical answers

The last two were:

Someone who stalks a 1970s Wimbledon champion-  Virginia Creeper

Four times faster than Roger Bannister- ‘Mile a Minute’

Two more to entertain you (thanks Les):

  • Private part of an old crooner
  • The organ that enables you to say ‘2 plus 2 = 4’
Alphabet Ravine

Lydia Rae Bush Poetry

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