Perennials For Your Garden

Posted by on Dec 28, 2017 in Garden | 0 comments

Perennials For Your Garden

Perennials, in its literal meaning, is something that’s long-lasting; something that shows a continuity. The sense holds true for ‘perennials’ in gardening too. Perennial plants those that last for several years. Plants are classified according to their life cycle. Annual plants are those which last only for one year, biennials for two, and perennials last for several years. Perennials return year after year, as they follow the process of self-seeding. Overgrown perennial clumps are divided and transplanted every few years. This has a two-fold advantage: growth of parent perennials and populating additional perennials. The perennials re-grow quickly and can be used to expand your garden further, to trade with other gardeners, or just to give them to your friends! Perennials last for years and years, but some of them may tend to lose their healthy growth after 3-4 years. They generally need an inch of water each week to survive. As roots of perennials are wired deeply in soil, the plants are tolerant to heat or extreme cold.


Latin words ‘per’ ( through ) and ‘annum’ ( year ) make up the roots of the word – Perennial.

Herbaceous & Woody Perennials

Perennial plants with no woody stems are herbaceous perennials, and the plants that develop woody roots and stems are woody perennials. But the term ‘perennials’, is better used for the former only, as woody plants such as trees and shrubs are always perennials i.e. long-lasting.

Monocarpic & Polycarpic Perennials

Perennials that blossom flowers and fruits only once in their life-time, are called ‘monocarpic perennials’ or ‘semelparous perennials’. However, most perennials blossom over the changing seasons and are called polycarpic perennials.

Deciduous & Evergreen Perennials

In moderate regions, perennials may grow during spring only. These perennials are called ‘deciduous perennials’. The perennials adhering to their foliage throughout the year are known as ‘evergreen perennials’. Examples of deciduous perennials are goldenrod, mint etc. Examples of evergreen perennials include begonia, banana etc.

Gardening Perennials

# Selecting Perennials

A wide variety of perennials are available in the market – choose your plant with care. The right combination of perennials can give your garden a soul of its own.

# Planting Perennials

June is the ideal month to plant perennials. However, the perennials planted in June and later months, need a little extra attention. Also, when perenials are to be planted, make sure that your plants will be at the same spot for several years. After this, soil-preparation should be done. Mulching should follow planting. It helps in retaining moisture and reducing weed growth.

# Maintaining Perennials

Shearing off the tops of spring plants in June often helps. It’s also a time to cut back tall perennials from the middle, to control their height.

Perennial of the Year 2007

The Perennial Plant Association has awarded the Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’, as a ‘Perennial Plant of the Year 2007’. The plants contains beautiful blue-violet flowers and attractive grey-green foliage. This variety of perennials is easy to breed, immune to diseases, and has low maintenance requirements.

Organic Gardening – The Healthy Alternative

Posted by on Nov 24, 2017 in Garden | 0 comments

Organic Gardening – The Healthy Alternative

Organic gardening is a gardening technique wherein no artificial fertilizers are used for plant-propagation. Only natural nutrients are used. Modern gardening today, often incorporates a rich amount of ‘other-than-natural’ fertilizers, nutriments, pesticides, synthetics, chemicals etc. While these products do serve their purpose fostering plant growth, if they are eaten, they can prove to be harmful and unhygienic to human health. This is where organic gardening comes into play as it does not employ any chemicals.


Prof. J. I. Rodale is known to have introduced the concept of organic gardening. With the publication of his magazine ‘Organic Farming and Gardening’ by Rodale Press in the 1950s, the subject got attention and acceptance, and the book still is the most widely-read gardening magazine worldwide. It is now titled ‘Organic Gardening’.

Organic Gardening – Emphasis

# Soil Fertility: Organic gardening follows the concept of ‘feeding the soil to feed the plants’. But this feeding in turn, is only from local natural sources, such as green manures, minerals, humus, companion plants etc. Minerals are obtained from different sources – calcium from fossils, potassium from wood-ash, nitrogen from animal-dung, phosphorus from bones etc. Humus contains cellulose that behaves like a sponge and holds moisture in the soil. Humus is produced by ‘composting’, which is a process of leaving grass clippings, food wastages and leaves etc. to be consumed by bacteria, fungi, earthworms and insects, such that only cellulose and minerals of the original vegetable remains.

# Pest-Control: Use of pesticides as a perst-control measure is avoided in organic gardening. Methods of crop rotation, physical removal of insects, introduction of prey species, inter-planting, companion planting etc. are encouraged. For example, fruits like pumpkin and squash can be placed on a bed of sand; snails and slugs dislike sand and usually wouldn’t mount it, hence the plants stay safe without using snail-poisons. Acquiring natural insect enemies such as ladybugs for aphids and preying mantis also helps. Natural insecticides and deterrents such as garlic or soap sprays can be used to keep insects away.

# Weed-Management: Use of herbicides is avoided in organic gardening. The weeds are removed manually or by using barriers. Say for an example, barriers can be put at proper places so as to to prevent weeds from reaching sun-light, which is vital for their growth. These barriers could be stones, leaf litters, straws, woods, papers etc., and are called ‘mulches’. Another method is the use of special tilling devices and cultivators to suppress weeds by mechanically disturbing their roots and preventing them from absorbing water or nutrients.

# Conserve & Recycle: Natural materials like manure, animal excrements, composted weeds, kitchen scraps etc. can be conserved and recycled to provide natural fertilizers.

Why Organic Gardening?

# An obvious benefit of organic gardening is to grow fruits and vegetables with nearly no traces of chemicals. Organic food proves to be healthier to eat.

# In organic gardening, artificial fertilizers are superseded by natural nourishing elements only. These natural elements are available just naturally, and are ‘free resources’. This leads to notable savings in gardening, while your purchased chemicals would have been very expensive .

# Not from the perspective of individual health, but organic gardening also fulfills one’s social environmental responsibility. The use of natural substances reduces the risk of environmental problems.


Posted by on Oct 26, 2017 in Garden | 0 comments


It is a familiar sensation. Having moved into your new house and rushed around frantically unpacking and settling in, you become increasingly aware that there is something out there waiting for you. It is, of course, the mud patch from hell ready to be transformed into a horticultural paradise. As this muddy sight will not go away, the only solution is to take a deep breath, grab a pencil and paper and march out to confront it boldly.

You need to work out two things.
What your site is like and what sort of garden you want.

Start with the site. Make a rough plan of the garden, either by pacing it out (one long step equals about one metre) or using a measuring tape. Include the house, noting windows, doors and other features like existing paths and trees.

On this plan make notes about the garden:-

  • * Where is the sunny part in the middle of the day?
  • * Where is the windiest corner?
  • * Are there any ugly views that you want to hide?

Then decide what you want

Remember that your needs will probably change as time goes by. Those toddlers may be happy with a sandpit now but soon they will want a space to kick a football or keep a pet. Start with basic needs like a washing line and rubbish bins. Think green and include a compost heap. Then let your imagination soar. Look at books for inspiration but be realistic.

Remember that most garden features will have to be looked after

Decide how much time you would like to spend in your garden. Roses, rock gardens and vegetables will require more maintenance than small areas of lawn, trees and mixed shrub borders.

Finally, on your plan locate the different features where they are most suitable

Put the patio in the area that gets the afternoon sun, the ornamental plants where they will be seen to best advantage and keep bins hidden out of sight. Place mass planting or trellises to screen off unsightly views.

Remember one great thing about gardening

In contrast to anything else you buy for your house, like curtains or carpets which will never look as good as they do on the first day, your garden plants will just keep on getting bigger and better all the time – adding pounds to the value of your house.

Bringing a garden back to life

Posted by on Sep 24, 2017 in Garden | 0 comments

Bringing a garden back to life

DON’T BE PUT OFF BY the dank, matted undergrowth, the crumbling wall, the bole of a once proud tree now lying on its side, the scurrying of some resident creature into the ever-thickening shrubbery, a toppled garden icon – had enough?
Well, if not, make your offer to the auctioneer and sit and wait. He has accepted your offer? Good! Now you can start thinking about how to restore that wreck of a garden you battled through on that fateful day!!

REMEMBER .. the garden which existed in some other era was the proud work of someone who lived and worked in it. There was a motive for everything in it. So, don’t rush in and clear all before you in a wild orgy of righteousness. Learn from what you observe. Many of the features of the garden could have arisen as a result of careful study of an existing problem – a tree planted because of its value as a windbreak, or a certain shrub because of a boggy patch of ground. Look and discover what sort of garden was there before the neglect obliterated its finest features.

Clear the ground and get an idea of the original plan. Look for rocks, logs, or any signs of an obsolete garden pool. When you decide what shrubs are worth saving, clip around them and clear away brambles or other invasive weeds growing amongst them

 Cut away all weeds and high grass with a clippers and follow this with a rotary mower cutting of the old lawn area. Set the blades high, as you only want to reduce the growth during that first cut. At least it will allow a closer scrutiny of the whole area.

 Rake off all this grass and other debris. From observing this ‘stubbled’ area, it may be possible to glean some insight into what existed before. It is from this point that more solid decisions as to future development can take place. Trim the grass again and the new refreshing green colour emerging from the lawn will probably convince you not to make any rash decisions about digging it up and re-laying it!

 Define the edges of the lawn and concentrate on pruning the existing trees and shrubs. Some will obviously have to go as their growth has become so rank that any strong cutting back will probably finish them off. If you are removing any trees and shrubs, get out as much of the old root stump as possible to facilitate you re-planting programme.

 During that first year, continue cleaning and trimming the plants so that you have a reasonable base from which to make any major constructional decisions in the coming year. Remove any dominating weeds from the lawn, either by hand or by the use of a ‘selective herbicide’, which comes, with full instructions, from your garden centre.

 Continue pruning your plants gradually and try to get a balance into the garden. In the next spring it will be possible to be more creative in your views on the garden’s future. Your first year will have given you a very good education on the important aspects of your soil, drainage, exposure, etc.. From now on, put your own personality into it!!


Posted by on Aug 20, 2017 in Lawns | 0 comments


DON’T BE HASTY when it comes to making a decision about that derilect lawn! There will be the temptation to scrap it and start again, but unless you are going to put the area to a totally different use, hold on. You can do a great deal with a poor lawn by following these suggestions before launching into the lawn reconstruction business!!

OLD LAWNS…. a lawn gets into bad shape for some very obvious reasons – infrequent cutting, no attention to spreading weeds, severe compaction and starvation being the most common reasons. There may be other causes too like lawn diseases, wet patches or drought in parts. Whatever the cause, an enormous number of our lawns are fall into the category of ‘poor’. Let’s try to put it right.

Examine the area closely to see if it is still redeemable – high grass/weeds can be solved
 Set the mower to a couple of inches and cut high vegetation. You may need a clippers!
 Rake off and give the lawn a brisk brushing to remove dead vegetation and debris
 Repeat the mowing some days later and then feed the lawn with a special lawn fertiliser
 The lawn will begin to green up now and regular, accurate cutting will show results
 Cut twice weekly in summer and once weekly in spring, autumn and during drought
 Deal with any weeds, moss by applying the appropriate spray during growing season
 As soon as the autumn arrives, spike the lawn with a garden fork (3” deep, 6” intervals)
 This treatment aerates the lawn. Top dress with bonemeal + once/month iron sulphate
 Repeat all of this in the following season and you will be delighted with the results!

NEW LAWNS …. if the prospects of reviving your old lawn are slim and should you have moved into a new house and want to prepare a new lawn from scratch, then the following comments will help you out.

 Decide on the shape of the lawn and layout of the garden in general
 Prepare the ground well in advance of seeding – best time for new lawn is Aug/Sept
 Preparation sequence –

  • a. Do not dig too deeply (4” will do). Check for wet patches and drain if necessary
  • b. Remove rocks, stones and debris. Level with pegs and a straightedge
  • c. ‘Walk’ the surface to ensure uniform firmness, then re-rake and re-level
  • d. Before sowing, spray off weeds with a weedkiller. NEVER ROLL WHEN WET
  • e. SOWING – for a quality lawn, use two thirds red fescue and one third creeping bent. This mixture should be sown at one third ounce /sq yard. Scatter seed evenly over surface and lightly rake in. (Tip: divide seed into three lots and distribute from three directions).

For a hard-wearing lawn, use perennial ryegrass (dwarf type), chewings red fescue and browntop bent in the proportions 6:3:1

  • f. MOWING – let the grass grow to one and half inches high and cut with a shears (if area is small), or with a rotary mower on larger areas. Only ‘top’ the grass in order to encourage good branching from the base. Never let the grass get more than two inches long. In spring, cut to one and half inches and reduce to one inch from mid-May.

When the grass is growing strongly, top dress with a proprietary lawn feed.

Be selective about planting your hedge

Posted by on Jul 12, 2017 in Planting | 0 comments

Be selective about planting your hedge

DESPITE THE OPEN SOCIETY we live in and no matter how builders try to set an

‘open garden’ agenda, we all have the need to ‘privatise’ our property by planting a hedge around it. This is very understandable, for we have all wondered from time to time how to block the view from our neighbours’ windows or keep youngsters from hopping over the low fence in the front to make their journey shorter!

BUT, what the majority of householders want is what nature cannot provide, i.e. the hedge that grows rapidly to six feet and then, abruptly, stops growing !! The first part of the demand can be accommodated by plants such as poplars, willows or if its an evergreen that’s required, the fast-growing ‘leylandii’. Where these subjects are used in suburbia, they turn out to be totally unsuitable, because they do not ‘stop dead’ as required!!

DON’T BLAME THE TREE … closely planted forest trees will only grow as nature intended, that is fast and furious! If you do allow them to grow unchecked, without so much as an annual trim, they become totally invasive and are certain to cause severe friction between neighbours who feel denied their rights of daylight and direct sunlight!!

SO .. take a reasonable view about your hedging. If you want a handsome evergreen that has a moderate rate of growth and which can be trimmed in later years without the signs of butchering, try a plant like griselinia (Griselinia littoralis). We are used to seeing this one as a well-trimmed hedge, kept at around six feet in height. But if allowed to grow for some years without trimming, it can also act as a screen and won’t grow so quickly as to get beyond your reach, like some of the aforementioned!

HERE .. is a list of comely candidates which you can use as hedge material for your garden. They are not demanding of time, will do with a light, shape-creating trim each year and, in some cases, have the extra attraction of showy flowers.

Remember, the effect of a light trim is to make the stems branch freely and this results in a compact and fairly dense hedge – just what is needed to keep dogs and others at bay!