Green Fingers I Wish

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Amazing facts right on Kew

Discover some other amazing facts about Kew.

  1. Kew's Herbarium has 7.5 million dried specimens of plants and fungi - the most comprehensive collection in the world.
  2. In 1876, Kew received 70,000 seeds collected from Amazonian rubber trees. From the seeds that were germinated, seedlings were sent to Malaysia and Sri Lanka, founding their rubber industry.
  3. The design of the Palm House was based on an upturned ship’s hull, as Richard Turner got his inspiration from boatbuilding.
  4. George lll was sent to Kew Palace to recuperate after he succumbed to porphyria.
  5. Kew Gardens was originally a nine-acre site laid out by George III's mother Princess Augusta in 1759. It's now 300 acres or 121 hectares.
  6. Kew's flagpole, at nearly 70m high, is the tallest in the UK. Made from a single piece of Douglas fir, it was a gift from Canadian Loggers' Association.
  7. Kew's Pagoda, completed in 1762, was a present for Princess Augusta, mother of George III and is almost 50m (167ft) high.
  8. The Temperate House - became the largest greenhouse in world in 1899. It 's now the largest surviving Victorian greenhouse.
  9. The oldest plant in the Palm House, a cycad, Encephalartos altensteinii, was introduced from South Africa in 1775.
  10. Kew Gardens has the largest living plant collection in the world of 30,000 species.
  11. The oldest surviving tree at Kew Gardens is a sweet chestnut, Castanea sativa, planted in the early 1700s.
  12. Some of the hollies at Kew Gardens are over 135 years old.
  13. There are 550 species in the Grass Gardens at Kew, everything from lawn to pampas.
  14. As of 4 July 2003, the Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) held in its cold store 6,655 identified species, amounting to 15,613 collections. This represents about 2.8 per cent of the world's flora.
  15. There are 22 miles of paths at Kew Gardens.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Still cutting the grass?

Is anyone in the UK still mowing their lawn I wonder? With the weather patterns changing it`s not unusual to get some mild temperatures even this late in the year.

I was tempted to cut my grass one last time a few days ago but now the cold has come on and the frost has started I`ll leave it until spring of next year I think.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Tomatoes - For Youngsters

Here`s an excellent site for younger ones to learn more about tomatoes- The Tomato Zone

Let Tommy Tomato and friend Buzz guide you through the world of this squishy fruit - from 'flower to fruit' to 'grow your own'

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Asparagus beetles

Look for

Bright red, cream and dark blue coloured beetles, oval shaped and about 1cm long. They will be feeding or laying eggs on asparagus spears and fronds. Larvae are grey coloured hump-backed grubs with black heads and three pairs of short legs. They will usually be found feeding on the fronds. The tiny dark coloured eggs are laid pointing away from the plant tissue.

About asparagus beetle

* Adult asparagus beetles are up to 8mm long.
* Adults appear in mid to late spring as asparagus spears are emerging through the soil.
* They will mate and lay their dark coloured eggs in small rows on the spears.
* When the eggs hatch the larvae will initially feed on the tips of spears, but later will migrate to the fronds.
* They will feed for a few weeks before pupating in cocoons in the soil around the base of the plant or in nearby mulch.
* There may be two or three generations per year depending on temperature and availability of food.
* Adults will overwinter in the soil, leaf litter, or in hollow stems of asparagus plants.
* Feeding by adults and larvae will cause yellow-brown discolouration of the leaves and stems.
* Large infestations can completely defoliate and eventually kill plants.


Products containing the following chemical ingredients are all effective on asparagus beetle:


Note: It is important to read manufacturers instructions for use and the associated safety data information before applying chemical treatments.

* Regularly inspect plants and hand pick adults and larvae from the spears and fronds.
* Remove old dead stems and dispose of them to prevent adults over-wintering.


* Inspect spears as soon as they emerge for adults mating and laying eggs.
* Wipe away any eggs from the spears.
* Remove any old plant debris around the base of plants to prevent larvae pupating.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Gardeners dig in for allotments

Gardeners dig in for allotments
Stoke allotment
Two acres of waste ground are being transformed
Nearly £500,000 of lottery funding has been awarded to an organic gardening project in Plymouth.

The idea of Digging It is to transform two acres of waste ground in the Stoke area at the same time as encouraging people to eat what they sow.

The hope is that amateur gardeners will create a market garden.

Digging It is run by the Routeways Centre, which aims to help people at risk of social exclusion overcome problems and develop community skills.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


Philodendrons grow better than most other houseplants under adverse conditions of most homes. They do well as long as they are kept warm, moderately moist and out of direct sunlight. Numerous species and hybrids are available.There is a wide variation in plant and leaf form.


Plant in regular potting soil and keep the soil minimally moist at all times. For best results, grow in bright, indirect sunlight, warm temperatures and low humidity.

Propagate any season using stem cuttings or air layering.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Growing tomatoes isn`t difficult

Growing tomatoes isn`t difficult

Home-grown tomatoes are easy to grow. All they need is an open, sunny spot in the garden, and in return you will get a good supply of tomatoes throughout the summer.

Growing from seed

Once you have chosen which varieties to grow, raising the plants is simple: sow the seeds in a pot and in about eight weeks the seedlings will be large enough to plant out. By mid-summer the first sun-ripened fruits arrive and they continue throughout the summer.

Start your tomatoes off by sowing seeds in a pot or seed tray towards the end of April. Leaving them to germinate on a windowsill or somewhere that is warm and frost-free.

1. Thinly scatter the seedsHow to sow: Fill a 7.5cm (3in) pot with seed compost, lightly firm the surface and water. Thinly scatter the seeds, cover with a small amount of compost and clearly label the pot. Keep the compost moist but not waterlogged.
2. Carefully prick out a single seedling using a dibberHandling seeds Once they are large enough to handle, carefully prick out a single seedling using a dibber, bringing as many roots as possible with it. Lift the seedling gently by holding a leaf. Avoid the stem as this is easily damaged.
3. Pricking out: Take the seedling and plant it in its own 7.5cm (3in) pot of seed compost. Gently firm it into position and water in. Place in a warm, frost-free, well-lit location, remembering to turn the pot daily if it's on a windowsill.
4. Transfer the plant into a larger potGrowing on: When the roots start to come through the drainage holes, transfer the plant into a 12.5cm (5in) pot, taking care not to damage the roots, and water in well. If the plant is very tall, tie it to a cane for support.

Tips for success

* Seeds should be sown six to eight weeks before the last frosts are expected.
* Clearly label the seed pots with the variety name and the date of sowing.
* Tomato seeds germinate best at 15°C to 20°C (59°F to 68°F). A windowsill is ideal.
* Before planting out, harden off the plants by placing them outside during the day for a few weeks.
* Prepare the site by incorporating organic matter into the soil.
* The tomato is ready to plant out once the first flower-bearing truss has formed.
* Watering the plants regularly will help to prevent the fruits' skin from splitting.
* When four trusses have set fruit, remove the growing tip to hasten ripening.
* Remove weed competition from around the tomato plants during the summer.
* Pick the fruits when they are fully ripe, to capture all the flavour.

Caring for your plants
Planting a tomato plant

Planting out: When risk of frost has passed, drive a strong stake around 2cm (0.75in) in diameter into soil that has had organic matter dug into it. Then, next to the stake, dig a hole a little deeper than the height of the plant's pot. Place the plant in the hole and firm in.

Use twine to tie the plant's stem loosely to the stake.

Staking: Use soft twine to tie the plant's stem loosely to the stake. As the plant grows, check the ties regularly and loosen them occasionally to prevent stem damage. The next tomato should be planted 45cm (18in) away to allow the sun to reach the ripening fruits.

Remove sideshoots

Remove sideshoots: Using your thumb and finger, nip out any sideshoots that develop between the leaf and the stem to help channel the plant's energy into its fruits. Watering and regular feeding with a high-potash fertiliser will ensure a plentiful, healthy crop.

Fruit can be eaten straight off the plant

Harvesting: When the fruits have ripened, pick them by bending back the fruit at the notch on the stem. They can be eaten straight from the plant, or can be stored for up to a week in the fridge. Continue to water and feed the plant to help the remaining fruits mature.
Variety guide

* 'Gardener's Delight' is a heavy cropper with deliciously sweet, small, deep red fruits.
* 'Tigerella' Each medium-sized red fruit of 'Tigerella' is easily recognised by its paler tiger stripes. It fruits early and has a wonderful flavour.
* 'Outdoor Girl' is an early-maturing tomato with a good flavour, this sturdy variety produces a generous yield of medium-sized fruit.
* 'Alicante' is reliable and heavy-cropping with an excellent flavour. It is ideal for beginners.
* 'Ailsa Craig' is a high-yielding variety that produces richly flavoured, red fruits.
* 'Marmande' is a large red beefsteak variety, distinguished by its irregular shape. Fruits have a sweet, juicy flavour and very few seeds.
* 'Sungold' The sweetness of the cherry-sized fruits makes them ideal for use in salads.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Black Roses : Magic and Mysticism

The magic of black flowers has attracted our attention for centuries. Black tulips and black roses appear to originate from a fairytale world. A pure black flower is the Holy Grail of plant breeders worldwide. Their improbable and "unnatural" colour inspires a powerful feeling of mystical expectation.

Black flowers were also beloved of Art Nouveau designers at the previous turn of the century. Victorians and Edwardians at the cutting edge of fashion used to collect them, going to great lengths to track down exotic species. Will they once more - at the dawn of a new century and a new millennium - become a source of artistic and philosophical inspiration?

In reality no pure black flowers exist. The so-called black tulip is actually very dark purple and the black rose is, in fact, very dark red. There are other less common cut flowers which occasionally occur in "black" forms - they all ooze decadence, mystery, fascination.

With their very unusual petals, black roses make you think of velvet - deep soft cushions in a luxurious winter room. All this topped with the wonderful scent of flowers! With the black rose you float away to exotic places which are filled with the scent of roses. Boudoirs of plump maidens relaxing in perfumed harems.

Combining black roses in a bouquet is not easy, but not impossible. To maintain the mystical feeling of the black, one of the best combinations is black roses with black ivy berries. They are available at the florists throughout the winter. The red-black of the rose with the blue-green black of the berry creates a perfect harmony.
The darkest roses to ask for include "Black Magic", Barkarole", Black Beauty" and "Baccara".

A totally black bouquet looks dark and impressive - but perhaps a little sombre. Brown-red tints can enrich the black. Mix in hypericum for example, or chilli pods. Or better still, sparkle it up with grey and silver leaves - some of which have a sensuous furry feel... Very decadent!