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.

How to Choose the Right Lawnmower

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.

17 Apr

Ornamental and Unusual Succulent Shrub: Alluaudia procera

If you are looking for a striking, unusual and low-maintenance ornamental plant, consider Alluaudia procera – a really striking succulent shrub that can be used as outdoor as well as indoor ornamental plant.

Alluaudia procera

Alluaudia procera/ Image by Natalie Tapson

Alluaudia procera or African Ocotillo, as it is commonly known among gardeners, belongs to a small genus of succulent shrubs that resemble Fouquieria and Crown of Thorns in their structure and growing habit. A typical Alluaudia produces a tall central stem covered with spines and small deciduous leaves. From the central stem appear stout vertical branches. Small white or yellow flowers grow along these branches in large clusters. Leaves usually fall in winter and come back during warm and humid summer. Alluaudia procera can grow up to 3 meters tall indoors and as tall as 18 meters in its native habitat.

Because of its unusual shape, Alluaudia procera makes a nice specimen plant especially when grown in small groups. The plant grows well when provided with bright sunlight, and well-drained porous soil. The plant does not need much watering and is able to survive long spells of drought.

Alluaudia procera is easily propagated from cuttings.

11 Apr

Compact, Evergreen Tropical Shrub: Breynia disticha, the Snow Bush

Breynia disticha or Snow Bush, as it is commonly known among gardeners, is a compact and evergreen shrub from tropical climates across the Americas, Africa, the Indian Sub-continent and Australia. However, it is easily cultivated in colder climates as well.

Breynia disticha

Breynia disticha/ Image by Forest & Kim Starr

Breynia disticha makes an excellent plant for borders where it grows as a small shrub (up to 4 feet) and produces beautiful foliage of green, white and pink colors. The colorful foliage, ease of cultivation and the ability to grow in a wide range of climates make Snow Bush a useful plant for landscapes as well as indoor and outdoor containers. It can also be used as colorful evergreen hedge or as a dwarf shrub for filling unused spaces.

Tropical Snow Bush

Snow Bush growing as hedge/ Image by Forest & Kim Starr

Breynia disticha prefers filtered sunlight, rich soil and slightly moist soil. The plant grows quickly and is cultivated from softwood cuttings or suckers. Flowers of Snow Bush are inconspicuous but the foliage is quite attractive and colorful throughout the year.

08 Apr

Spring Gardening with Carmen Johnston

As the weather starts to slowly warm up, it is time to get your gardens filled with the colorful blooms of spring. And this spring, Carmen Johnston, the Southern Living® Plant Collection’s Garden Lifestyle Expert, brings a lot of stuff to decorate your garden.

Southern Living® Designer Series Container Gardens

Southern Living® Designer Series
Container Gardens

Southern Living® Plant Collection provides gardeners with innovative new plants designed to solve specific landscape challenges and to excel in Southern gardens. Each plant in the collection is the result of years of plant evaluations, plant trials and research. You can choose from a variety of shrubs, bulbs, grasses and tropical trees for your garden or as a lovely gift to gardening enthusiasts.

Carmen will speak this Spring to audiences across the country teaching easy gardening tips for both everyday and experienced gardeners. Carmen is also doing a series of events at Home Depot demonstrating how to use the new Southern Living Plant Collection Designer Series Container Gardens.

For more information, decorating tips, and how-to-articles, visit, Southern Living Plants.

08 Apr

[May 11 – May 12, 2013] WNPS Native Plant Sale and Celebration

Largest collection of native plants for sale at Mercerdale Park, Washington.  Come buy or just look and learn.

Abundant FREE parking, ask the experts, books on gardening and more, propagation workshop, talk on Native Mason bees, other environmental groups, NEW!! planted decorative containers for patios, balconies, decks, the garden and Mother’s day.

Schedule: Sat, May 11, 10:00 PM – Sun, May 12, 4:00 AM

For more information follow:

Twitter @WNPS_PlantSale,

Facebook: wnps_native_plant_sale_­news

08 Apr

Bold and Beautiful, Echium Mr. Happy

Mr. Happy’ – perfect name for a plant that blooms so generously and joyfully. A hybrid of Echium wildprettii and E. pininan, Echium ‘Mr. Happy’ is a beautiful plant that produces a large mound of lovely pink flowers in summer. When in full blooms, the plant attracts bees, birds and butterflies.

Echium wildprettii and E. pininan, Mr. Happy

Echium ‘Mr. Happy’/ Image by anniesannuals.com

When grown in the ground, Echium ‘Mr. Happy’ can grow up to 15 feet and spread across 2 feet with a large bulbous base. A mature plant often forms a group of rosettes with silvery-green foliage. Though not commonly found on local nurseries, ‘Mr. Happy’ makes an excellent accent plant in a garden or landscape design. The plant is quite easy to grow and hardy enough to survive spells of drought. Therefore, it is often found growing in xericapes and rock gardens.

‘Mr. Happy’ can be grown under full to partial sun and in almost any soil that provides good drainage. The plant, however, is not suitable for growing in containers.

04 Apr

Flowering Plant for Garden Borders: Globularia cordifolia

The plant featured today is Globularia cordifolia. Commonly known as Globe Daisy, Globularia cordifolia is a low growing, evergreen and mat forming plant that grows widely across Europe, and parts of Africa and Asia. Globe Daisy is grown in gardens as ground cover or as border plant because of its evergreen and low growing habit. It is also grown in rock gardens for its ability to survive long spells of drought.

Globularia cordifolia, Globe Daisy

Globularia cordifolia, Globe Daisy/ Image by Roberto Verzo

Globularia cordifolia prefers sunny exposure and moderate watering in a well-drained soil. The plant grows up to 6 inches and tends to spread across 12 inches to form a thick mat of leathery leaves. From the mat of dense leaves, appear slightly taller stems that bear beautiful flowers in early summer or late spring. Flowers usually have mauve or pale lilac colors. These flowers last long and create a beautiful display in landscapes and gardens.

Other popular species in the genus include:

Globularia meridionalis – Another evergreen perennial with glossy green leaves and lavender blue flowers. The plant is quite easy to grow in Mediterranean climate.

Globularia punctata or Iberian Globe DaisyDrought tolerant plant; grows in full to partial sun and produces globe-shaped flower in spring.

28 Mar

Akebia quinata, the Chocolate Vine

Akebia quinata, popularly known as Chocolate Vine because of its brownish-purple flowers, is a beautiful climber for sunny or partially shaded spots in gardens. Native to the Far East, Akebia quinata grows as a quick climber and makes an excellent specimen for growing over pergolas or against walls where it produces abundance of fresh-green foliage. It can also be used as ground cover. The compound leaves of Akebia quinata are evergreen in tropical climates and semi-evergreen in colder areas.

Akebia quinata, the Chocolate Vine

Akebia quinata, the Chocolate Vine/ Image via flickr

Akebia quinata grows in a slightly moist soil under full or partial sun. The chocolaty flowers appear in spring or summer and emit exotic spicy fragrance with the hint of vanilla. Flowers last longer in warm and dry conditions. Flowering is followed by formation of long pulpy and edible fruits. However, it usually requires two plants of Akebia quinata to fertilize the flowers. The plant can be pruned back at the end of the flowering season. The fruit as well as the plant itself are used in traditional Chinese medicine for their diuretic properties.

Like most Akebias, Chocolate Vine can be grown from seeds sown in spring, or by layering long stems in winter.

27 Mar

Lovely spiral plant: Albuca spiralis ‘Frizzle Sizzle’

Today’s featured plant is Albuca spiralis – a really unusual, lovely and rare plant that is in my wish list for a long time. This small and unusual species is a bulbous plant from the family of Hyacinthaceae and is loved for its unusual spiral leaves that remind us of the Spiral Grass plant.

Albuca spiralis grows as a winter growing plant and produces wiry leaves that curl themselves into the shape of the corkscrew especially when grown in dry winters and provided with a sunny exposure – more sun, more curls. Flowers of Albuca spiralis are rather inconspicuous; the bell-shaped greenish-yellow flowers appear in late winter and continue to bloom till spring. As the summer sets in, the plant goes dormant. The spiral leaves disappear at this stage and the bulb shows no sign of life. At this time, the plant needs barely sufficient water.

Albuca spiralis

Albuca spiralis/ Image via plantfreak.wordpress.com

 

Watering can be started in early winter when the plant shows signs of life. Albuca spiralis can withstand light frost thus it can be grown in the ground in areas where winter is dry. In colder climates, Albuca spiralis can be grown in pots. The plant is fairly easy to grow as long as it is grown in a fast draining soil and protected from overwatering.