07 May

Lovely and Unusual, Clianthus puniceus: the Kaka Beak Flower

Clianthus is a beautiful tropical shrub with very lovely and unusual flowers. Originally native to the New Zealand, Clianthus belongs to the family of Golden Shower and the Orchid Tree, and grows easily in tropical climates – average watering, full to partial exposure to the sun and protection from long, frosty winters.

In its habit, Clianthus grows as a scrambling shrub that can reach up to 3 meters, produces evergreen foliage and clusters of claw-like flowers in summer. The unusual claw-like formation of its flowers gives the plant its common names – Kaka beak, lobster claw or parrot’s bill.

Clianthus puniceus, Kaka Beak

Clianthus puniceus/ Image by Tony Rodd

The most common and commercially grown species is Clianthus puniceus. It is an evergreen shrub which is perfect for growing in a warm and sunny spot where it can be grown in a well-drained soil. The claw-like flowers of red or pink color appear in summer. Typically, a mature plant bears flowers in small clusters that make the plant quite attractive and unusual.

Clianthus puniceus can be propagated from seeds or cuttings.

30 Apr

Teak Garden Furniture for Your Outdoor Living Space

Your outside space should be treated just like the inside. Your furniture, accessories, and of course, the plants that you choose can really make a difference to how your garden or outdoor space is perceived. Pay attention to the way your garden looks, feels and smells and it will be a beautiful place where you will want to spend time.

Outdoor Style

The world is your oyster when it comes to deciding which style you might like to go for. Britain’s climate means that a whole variety of different plants will grow and thrive here so you don’t have to go for an English country garden style every time.

English Country Garden

An English country garden doesn’t have to be strictly Victorian, instead, try a 1920s feel. Think traditional English flowers such as Forget-me-nots, Geraniums, Pansies and Snapdragons, but paired with art deco style wire furniture and an antique mirror or two. Arrange straight beds around a focal point such as a birdbath or a summerhouse.

Moroccan

Or alternatively a Moroccan style garden is a lovely relaxed place to be, with white walls and trellis style tiles, low tables and cushions for seats. Go for exotic plants in large terracotta plant pots and citrus plants. You can’t forget the essential for Moroccan style, a shimmering water feature. Think of an oasis, with a stone floor and leafy plants. Lanterns, stripy fabric on hand carved furniture and accessories like birdcages all work well to create a North African feel.

Japanese

Clean simple lines make Japanese gardens a place of sanctuary. The use of bamboo as separation and curved lines that mean you can’t see the whole thing at the same time, which adds interest and adds to the sense of mystery. Evergreens are a predominant feature of Japanese gardens as they rely on subtle differences in texture as well as color. A pavilion or tea house can be a feature in your garden where you can spend time entertaining or viewing your garden.

Teak Garden Furniture

Teak Garden Furniture

Cottage Style 

A cottage style garden is a garden that looks overgrown and untended. They are informal and free flowering, with traditional English flowers like roses, lavender and foxglove. Similar to the English country look, it differs in the fact that there is no structure. Homely furniture like teak garden furniture works really well and if it doesn’t match, all the better.  Cottage gardens also include wooden structures like arches for climbing plants to grow over.

So whatever your style might be, make sure it’s reflected in your garden too.

22 Apr

Lovely Tropical Climber: Ipomoea quamoclit

Ipomoea quamoclit, commonly known as Cypress Vine, is a delicate and fast-growing climber from the family of morning glory. Characterized by delicate, finely cut foliage and lovely scarlet flowers, Cypress Vine makes a good climber for growing against fences and trellises.

Ipomoea quamoclit,  Cypress Vine

Ipomoea quamoclit, Cypress Vine/ Image via flickr

Usually grown as an annual bloomer, this twining vine grows quite fast and grows up to 6 meters and produces smooth-textures foliage. Flowers of pink, red or scarlet colors appear in early summer. The fern-like foliage and small attractive flowers give a tremendous look to the plant. When in bloom, Ipomoea quamoclit attracts bees, birds and butterflies.

Ipomoea quamoclit has many common names including Cardinal Climber, Star Glory, Cypress Vine and Indian Pink.

Ipomoea quamoclit prefers partial to full sun and slightly moist soil all the time. The plant seeds itself freely and can become invasive in some climates.

19 Apr

Lovely Landscape Shrubs: Viburnum

Viburnum is a large genus of flowering shrubs and small trees that offer a wide range of plants for landscapes and gardens. In fact, you can find Viburnums for almost all types of climates and growing conditions. Some of the species grow well in warm and sunny conditions and some prefer colder and shady spots. Some species adore landscapes and some accommodated in small gardens and containers.

Viburnum opulus 'roseum'

Viburnum opulus ‘roseum’/ Image by Dietmut Teijgeman-Hansen

Gardeners grow Viburnums as exotic bloomers that produce beautiful and showy flowers. Flowering starts in early spring and lasts till mid-summer. Flowering is followed by formation of berry-like fruits that are eaten by birds. Most species of Viburnum are sun loving but they accommodate well in partially shaded spots easily.

Viburnum can be propagated from cuttings or layers. The best use of Viburnum is in hedges, borders or landscapes where these lovely bloomers can be grown in groups for abundant spring flowering.

Among many species and hybrids, popular varieties include:

Viburnum x burkwoodii: Large white or pink flowers with strong fragrance.

V. davidii: Shrubby plant often growing into a small tree; makes a good specimen plant.

V. carlesii: Beautiful reddish foliage and slightly fragrant flowers of pink color.

Viburnum opulus: Known for large snowball flowers.

18 Apr

Choosing the Right Lawnmower

Purchasing a lawnmower can be a bit daunting if you don’t know what you’re looking for with so much choice on the market, so below is a comprehensive overview of prices, types and things to look out for when choosing a lawnmower.

We’ll cover choosing the right lawnmower for your garden from cylinder lawnmowers to rotary lawnmowers and petrol to electric; along with tips to keep your lawn healthy and your neighbours envious. Things you need to consider when buying a lawnmower is what power source is best for your garden; electric, petrol or battery and the size, shape and surface of your lawn.

Electric lawnmowers are popular in cities and small towns for their discrete engine noise and lightweight design. An electric lawnmower is likely to set you back from about £40 – £50. These are ideal for medium size lawns or anything smaller, however the majority of electric lawnmowers are mains power operated, which may be restricting for people with larger gardens.

Petrol lawnmowers have the key advantage of being cordless which is a lifesaver for homeowners with large gardens and makes extension cables a thing of the past. Another advantage is that petrol lawnmowers are significantly more powerful than electric lawnmowers, ideal for tackling out of hand gardens; however, this comes at a price starting at £80 for a basic petrol lawnmower and you can expect to spend over £250 on a higher end product.

Rotary lawnmowers are the most common type of lawnmowers that buyers usually opt for and range from roughly £200 depending on size and brand. Rotary lawnmowers are wheel based and have a rotating blade, chopping the grass as you push it along. These are ideal for medium and large gardens; however they are typically mains powered so this can be restricting depending your access to a mains socket. For lawns larger than 1/2 acre it would be worth considering buying a riding lawn mower.

Hover mowers are popular in the UK and are similar to rotary lawn mowers but they glide across the grass on an air of cushion, as opposed to having wheels. Typically they don’t come with a grass collector, which makes them light and portable. Hover mowers start at £30 and can creep up to £200 for a top of the range mower, complete with a grass collector. Hover mowers rotary blades are ideal for small gardens and uneven surfaces. Flymo offer a large range of lightweight and powerful hover mowers, Flymos found here.

Cylinder lawnmowers if your lawn is 50 sq m then a hand cylinder lawnmower may be suitable for your lawn, which start from around £30 and increase in price for electric and petrol powered machines. Cylinder lawnmowers have sharp metal blades rotating and one stationary blade, cutting the grass like scissors as you push it across your lawn. If you’re considering a push lawn mower the quality of the blades is important so it’s worth looking for ones which are self-sharpening. Perfect for small gardens, however you may need something with more power if you have a longer or rougher grass.

Tips

When buying a lawn mower it is important to check that it is comfortable to use. Most lawnmowers on the market have adjustable handles so you can suit it to your needs. Many petrol and electric lawnmowers are heavy which can be an issue if you need to lift your lawnmower and move it up and down steps in the garden. Bosch lawn mowers from Argos include a range of foldable lightweight electric lawn mowers for compact storage.