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.

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.