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Phototropism

phototropism

Image above of my Chilli seedlings growing on my kitchen window ledge taken yesterday. At present I turn them full circle square every 24 hours. To the science bit…

Phototropism is most simply defined as:

the growth of plants towards a source of light

source Collins English Dictionary 2009

In more detail it is defined as:

The growth or movement of a fixed organism toward or away from light. In plants, phototropism is a response to blue wavelengths of light and is caused by a redistribution of auxin from the illuminated side to the darker side of the shoot, resulting in quicker growth on the darker side and bending of the shoot toward the source of light. Certain sessile invertebrates also exhibit phototropism.source: The American

Heritage® Science Dictionary 2002

Wikepedia explains it further, but unless you’re a total plant geek like me, you might not wish to read another not Peter definition. Moving swiftly onwards…

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Hand Made: Garden Planters

garden planters, dublin

Measuring 100 x 50 x 50 centimetres, I made these garden planters last week. Long story short I had someone in mind who, I guess I wanted them to have something just a slight bit different/ unique to them. In the context of quality first, not off the shelf and made to measure, these proved quite a smart choice.

I like the fact that the timber is a little raw [?] and soft looking in appearance. They’ll need to be repainted/ treated in time to come and with that and as the garden evolves so too the colour can change as they age.

They were dropped in situ ready for a garden party over the weekend and that being the case I felt a fine collection of summer bedding/ instant colour would be the correct choice. Investment now made, the intention is that they will be used as kitchen garden planters after the summer season.

There were some questions about putting castors, handles and the like on them. a bit like the colour choice, in this case, it was felt for now, the plants would do the job just nicely. I’m inclined to agree.

Instant gardening, as far as the client is concerned. 😉

More information:

10 Plants for Small Irish Gardens

garden colour plants

There’s a small space in your big garden, you’ve a big space in a small garden ? Or maybe you’d just like a little more interest formed from a little more of a varied range of plants that won’t take over and at the same time will keep maintenance slightly more to the lesser side of things.

If colour is the answer and you’d like a little of it throughout the year, take a look at the list below and see if something takes your fancy.

Whichever way you might see fit, the following are 10 plants that may just get the taste buds tingling and make your space outside a little more exciting.

1. Agapanthus Africanus

agapanthus africanus

The Agapanthus/ Liliaceae [african blue lily] are a genus of around 10 species originating in Southern Africa.  The clump forming lilly is a deciduous perennial with leaves around 12″ long and produces a 1.5″ long trumpet shaped flower in a cluster that can measure about 2′ by 1′ in size in late summer. Some note them as vigorous, but I say well worth it and a great one for the plant swapper.

2. Choisya Aztec Pearl

choisya aztec pearl

The Choisya [Rutaceae] are an evergreen genus of around 8 species more commonly known as the Mexican orange blossom. Funnily enough, the flowers are white and some say perfumed – although I personally find it a bit hard to get the scent more often. The Aztec Pearl bears 1″ in size pink-ish white flowers in spring/ summer that form in cymes of around 5 blooms. It can grow to around 8′ tall, but I’d never allow it go to that height and it will therefore need a good cut back every season once established.

3. Convolvus cneorum

convolvus cneorum

The Convolvus [convolvulaceae] are a very varied genus of about 250 species. In Ireland the most famed is the cousin you don’t really want to have call by at Christmas time, but does and more often over stays its welcome. This fellow however, the Convolvus cneorum, is a low growing rounded clump former and only grows to about 2′ high x 3′ wide producing an almost trumpet like white flower with a yellow dotted centre from its pink buds at the start of the summer.

4. Crocosmia lucifer

Crocosmia lucifer

The Crocosmia or Montbretia [Iridaceae] is a clump forming genus of about 7 species also originally from South Africa and another great one for the plant swappers of the world. This particular chap grows to about 4′ tall and produces burning red flowers mid summer that slightly jumps out of the grass like clump. Personally, don’t like the name, but it’s an absolute stunner and looks great on the kitchen table.

5. Dianthus ‘Shooting Star’

dianthus shooting star

The Dianthus or Carnation [caryophyllaceae] are a genus of over 300 species from Europe, Asia and Southern Africa. Personally, I hate carnations as bouquet of cut flowers, but I love them in this format. Pretty, low growing and relatively easy to maintain.

6. Matteuccia  streuthiopteris

matteuccia  streuthiopteris

The Matteuccia [dryopteridaceae/ woodsiaceae] are a genus of about 4 species originating from the woodlands of Europe, N. America and E. Asia. This particular beauty is more commonly known as the shuttlecock or ostrich fern. It can produce fronds of up to 4′ long and the plant itself can grow to around 5′ tall. Once again it grows by spreading and will need some attention, as all plants do.

7. Osteospernum Cannington Roy

osteospernum cannington roy

This evergreen clump former [astreaceae/ compositae] is from a genus of about 70 species mainly hailing from Southern Africa. It’s daisy-ish flowers are purple tipped white that change to mauve pink/ purple on the underside with purple florets and it can flower from the end of spring to autumn [depending]. A great ground cover plant and another one for the plant swapper.

8. Papaver orientale ‘Prinzessin Victoria Louise’

papaver orientale prinzessin victoria louise

The poppy family [Papaveraceae] are a genus of about 70 species. This, the oriental poppy is a clump forming perennial that grows about 3′ x 2′. Its short lived flowers are produced in late summer and are apricot in colour and are followed by a quite striking seed head. A little different from your usual, but definitely one to try out.

9. Polemonium caeruleum

polemonium caeruleum

I haven’t done this fellow any favours in the photography department, but the commonly called Jacobs ladder [polemoniaceae] is a clump forming genus of about 25 species. It can grow up to 3′ tall by approximate 1′ wide and produces blue flowers on axillary cymes. The image above may not make you want to rush out the door to pick one up, but I’d definitely rate it in the small garden department.

10. Polystichum setiferum

polystichum setiferum

The Holly or Shield fern  [dryopteridaceae] is a genus of about 200 species. This evergreen is better commonly know as the Soft shield fern and produces fronds of up to 4′ in length. The description is short and sweet, but ferns just that and the image tells it like it is. Personally, I love it.

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Dead Palm Trees

It seems Ireland took what can only be described as a great battering by the elements over the course of the last 18 months. The country aside, the after affects in the plant department are still extremely evident and in particular what we know as the seaside range of plants including palm trees and grass plants seems to have been hit worst.

Many people I have spoke to have held off in the hope that the plant may return… but as I have said before one cannot make a plant cell un-dead. That said, I was very surprised in one garden I was in recently to see this….

The two most common types of plants that I have seen hit in Irish gardens are that of the Cordyline [usually Cordyline australis] and also the Phormium. Others have included the Phoenix carienensis, the Dicksonia antartica and also, though not as bad en mass the Trachycarpis.

What has happened in a few cases is that the plant has started to give sprouts from the base. The Cordyline will usually do this anyway, but this normally happens part way up its main trunk when its growth pattern is going as it normally should, which is great if you want to take its height down a level and let the side shoot take over as leader.

The question I guess is do you want to wait to see if yours will send out some shoots and if like this one it has… do you want to wait for them to re-develop back into the tree it maybe once was and maybe might become again.

Use Water Sensibly

The weather quite recently in Ireland has been tipping the 20 celcius mark. For some, the purchase of some plants from that good looking gardener [ 😉 ] that you intend to plant may not actually take place as the vinyl player speakers are popped out the window and the bottle of wine comes out of the fridge. And rightly so….

It was over this bank holiday weekend, the second one in too short a spell for this gardener, only from a one who does it for a living full time perspective that I have moaned, to myself and very much under my breath. Because you see, the sun has been shining so brightly and of course this is a glorious thing in all of its formats. But that said like the law of diminishing returns, there is also the too much of a good thing with all of the down sides syndrome that may occur.

With the short weeks this has meant that there is of course more time for me to spend in my own garden; but again basing this now on others experiences and also the flurry of emails that pounded my inbox, I realised what had happened with two consecutive long weekends was that the trip to the garden supermarkets and plant purchases from good looking gardeners had been made and the living products still sat outside or very near the back door. Not for all, but for many. Or some. Well at the least the very many who had contacted me. All that time while, myself included, chose to relax in the great outdoors and then returned to work. The plants I’m told [for some bold enough to admit it] may still be there. I am of course excluded from this category entirely.

I did a quick video which I uploaded to youtube and posted to the blog. Nothing too scientific about it as such. Let me side track slightly. A show garden of sorts I had done some time ago involved some wheelie bins and a consaw and what I had been left with was the bottom [half] of one. Sidetracking over, I filled this half a wheelie bin with water obtained from my water butts [which as a by the way one buys with bin tags – which as a by the way you claim back of your tax at the year end…] and submerged the plants below the surface of the water covering the foliage in its entirety.

This has a two fold effect. It is the splash of water on your face after a long sunny days jog and also [analogising plants with humans now complete] it replaces every pocket of air with water. One could call this drowning, if the plant varieties were of a heart beating type. They are not. I then placed all of my plants into the shadiest part of my garden with the lowest amount of air movement.

Let me delve a little further. Water or watering on plant leaves placed in the sun will act like a magnifying glass of sorts and tend to scorch the plants leaves. They, the plants, of course rely upon the green pigment in their leaves for photosynthesis, the process by which all plants make their own food and energy and therefore grow.

If the factors required for the growth of any plant are reduced, not eliminated, but reduced… we therefore reduce plant growth. This conundrum requires water and carbon dioxide [air] for the first part of the photosynthetic equation. And whilst one can’t reduce the amount of air in the planet one can reduce a plants requirement for water. Thus allowing you to enjoy your weekend and logically neglect your plants…. am I good or am I good !

Assuming any plant is growing in soil, it has a suitable temperature, light, air and moisture it should do as it is supposed to, which is grow. But to the the big killer of plants and the reason I put such emphasis on this, is that it is usually done by lack of water. Of course those who had minus Celsius and a few inches of snow a few months ago are of course pardoned with a bonafide horticultural explanation.

But with the greatest logic in the world too much such sun light will use too much water and so on the logic goes. To the more practical. A potential mild trickle or even a day of rain most likely will not penetrate down three or four inches of Irish soil. Unless of course you live on a golden beach of pure sand. And if you have purchased plants this or last weekend and allowed both of them to rest in the garden… but yet you wish to get them grooving and planted as soon as, here is the logic to do them an added bonus favour.

Drown them, as explained above until all water has been expelled from the plants pot. You’ll know when this has happened as the water will stop sending bubbles to the surface. Having your hole dug and your soil ready to firm back in your plant in advance will also help.

I did mention this process last week to a friend of mine who said he followed all of these steps, but planted and then extra watered just after nine o’clock in the evening. He woke up to find the slugs had eaten his plants in their entirety….

Gardening. Don’t you just love it!