Showing posts with label Gardening. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gardening. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Do House Plants Make Good Gifts Reviewed

 


I love to give Houseplants as gifts. I find they are a personal and living gift that shows you have given some thought to the person you are giving them to. 

There are many occasions that are suitable for giving a houseplant. They are perfect for a housewarming gift, Birthdays, anniversaries and to mark special occasions and are very memorable.

They also last a lot longer than cut flowers, lovely as they are if you wish to give them as a Thankyou or get well gift. 

Houseplants do so much to clean and purify the air and beautify our homes. Whether it is a fern-like plant, a flowering plant, a cactus type, one with an interesting or unusual habit or form or a beautiful leaf shape, it will be a gorgeous gift for any style of home.

You do not need to know the person's decor and the houseplant will be suitable however they change the decor over the years. House plants are very popular, even trendy now, so for people of all ages, your thoughtful gift will be well received. 





What To Bear In Mind When Giving A Houseplant As A Gift.

There are just a few things to bear in mind when giving an indoor plant as a gift.

  • They are living plants and do need to be treated with care. 
  • If you know the person is good with indoor plants but it's a new plant to them please include a short note to let them know how to look after it along with its common and Latin name. That way if they want to learn more they can. 
  • If it's a person who knows little about houseplants then a brief sheet of care instructions will be helpful.
  • When giving a houseplant it is also always useful to provide a pot to put the houseplant in and if they are very new to indoor gardening a small watering can and a bottle of houseplant feed is always appreciated to get them started. 
  • You do need to be aware if the person you are giving the gift to has young children or pets as you need to be careful the houseplant you choose is not toxic to them. 
  • If you know the person has allergies it is best to avoid flowering plants or those with strongly scented flowers, to be on the safe side.  
  • Avoid very spiky plants where there are young children or pets to avoid any accidents. 



Things To Bear In Mind For the Plants 

  • If you know the house the person is living in try to buy a plant that will suit the conditions.
  • So if it is a shady basement flat choose a shade loving plant rather than one that needs sunlight. 
  • If their main room faces south and gets sunshine all day long avoid ferns and other shade loving plants.  
  • Purchase a plant for them that will not outgrow the available space. A big plant can look amazing in a small room but not if in a couple of years they will be struggling to get through the door because of it or the plant is squashed in a corner.
  • I do tend to avoid buying houseplants as gifts in the depths of winter just due to the transportation of them from shop to car or delivery to my home and then onto the person I am giving the gift to when it is freezing cold is not really great for the health of a plant that likes to be warm. 
  • My other caveat is that if you know the person is short on time and has a hectic life or that they will not be able to devote much energy to looking after a plant choose a very easy care one like a spider plant or mother in laws tongue or an easy care cactus type.   

 



 Examples of Easy Care House Plants

Always give a learner an easy-care houseplant, even one that can take some inconsistencies, neglect, or be easily revived. 

Likewise, if you are gifting to a busy family or someone with a hectic lifestyle or who travels away a lot easy care forgiving houseplants are best.  


The Asparagus Fern As A Houseplant Reviewed

Swiss Cheese Plant Or Monstera Reviewed As A House Plant And Fashion Trend

Reviewing Growing And Care Of Dracaena As A Houseplant

Caring For Mother In Laws Tongue As A Houseplant Reviewed

The Spider Plant As A Houseplant Reviewed 

  


 

 Examples Of More Advanced Care House Plants  

These beautiful and amazing plants look great but do need a little more knowledge and care.

They do however make beautiful gifts for anyone who would be willing to learn or who loves houseplants already. 

As a child, I remember being given a living stone plant that I knew nothing about and was completely fascinated by and I learned to care for it. 


 

Care Of The Intriguing Carnivorous Venus Fly Trap House Plant Reviewed

Reviewing Caring For The Stunning Polka Dot Begonia House Plant

Reviewing The Care Of Living Stone Flowers or Lithops As Houseplants

Reviewing the Care Of Beautiful Anthurium Or Flamingo Flower House Plants 

 


 
 

 Useful Care Of House Plant Reviews

Here are a few articles that are useful to anyone looking after houseplants.   

Reviewing How To Take Care Of Your House Plants On Vacation

All House Plant Reviews On Review This Reviews

 


I have house plants that were given to me many years ago and they are so treasured and always remind me of the person who gave them to me. 

I think given the caveats above that houseplants can be a beautiful, thoughtful gift for many special occasions and there is a gorgeous houseplant for most people and situations. 




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Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Reviewing Winter Walks In Nature For Wellbeing

 


When we are in mid-winter it is all too tempting to stay indoors warm and cosy and away from the wintery weather. Often that is a really lovely thing to do. However, I find if I stay indoors for too long I start to feel a bit down and a bit sluggish especially in the winter. We suffer from the lack of daylight hours and the same scenery. Also, we may well miss out on some beautiful scenes in nature

So as long as the weather is not too bad or dangerous conditions, my husband and I agreed that every day we will go for a winter walk. We like to wrap up warmly take our camera and go out to find the beauty in this season.




We find it very uplifting to become absorbed in nature in this way even if only for half an hour. It lifts our spirits and clears the mind. I always feel better after a winter walk. A few hours is ideal and when we can do that and drive deep into the countryside it is so beneficial. However, when it is too cold to stay out that long we just take a short walk and even if it has only been for fifteen to thirty minutes I really notice a difference. 

Winter Trees

I love to see the beauty in the trees this time of year. All the leaves have fallen now and all we can see is the structure and majesty of their gorgeous limbs and trunks. My favourite tree this time of year is the Silver Birch which once it has lost all its leaves and stands proud with its silver trunk takes on a magical quality especially if covered in frost or snow.

 

Silver Birch Trees In Winter


Noticing Nature and Colour In Winter

I find at mid-winter when we are not distracted by gorgeous colourful flowers and trees in full leaf we notice other natural things that we overlooked before. Like an old fallen log that is covered in fungi and the shape of a tree. The spider webs are clearly visible now all covered in sparkling frost.

Winter is not devoid of colour though. we may need to look harder for it but it is there. Of course, there are the Holly berries shining out bright red against the dark green of their evergreen leaves. Cotoneaster is covered in red berries and looks especially lovely with a light dusting of frost. Equally one of the more beautiful things to look for are wild rose hips, so red and shiny and in abundance. The one below was a gorgeous wild rose covered in flowers in summer, now a thicket of red rose hips. 

Rose Hips



Cotoneaster berries


Christmas Lights On Winter Walks

Around Christmas time we find it lovely to take a walk at dusk so that we can wander around our neighbourhood to look at all the beautiful lights and decorations. 

It is a real joy to see all the sparking lights and different colours at the time of year when daylight is in short supply. 

Then when we get home is a large mug of hot chocolate and maybe a warm mince pie to warm up.  

Frosted Plants In Winter

In the winter I like that you do not need to travel far to view gorgeous plants. Often if the roads are icy or poor traveling conditions or just very cold and threatening rain or snow we prefer to walk locally.

By walking around your own neighbourhood you can see lovely beauty in people's gardens like this frosted Smoke bush. It normally has reddish frothy seedheads that look like smoke but as you can see the freezing temperatures have transformed it into an ice spectacle! 


Frozen Smoke Bush


Also, watch the bare branches of any shrub in your garden or the road you live on, you will start to see tiny buds. They are ready just waiting, resting steady for now but ready to burst forth into leaf once the weather warms and the days become longer. 

Winter Sky Can Be Stunning

My other recommendation in winter is to look up at the skies. They can be spectacular at this time of year in daylight hours on a clear day taking your breath away with their sheer beauty. At night if it is clear and dark there is something amazing about gazing up at the bright stars and feeling like you can reach out and touch them.




Feeding Ducks On A Winter Walk Brings Joy

I love to get out and feed the ducks, geese and coots at a local wildlife center. They are invariably hungry at this time of year and it is often quiet and calm with few people around. Unlike in summer we often have lots of space to ourselves and it is a joy to feed the birds and get close to them. 




Winter Solstice

The winter solstice on or around the 21st December is one of my favourite days. It is the day with the shortest hours of daylight but it also means that from now on each day is getting a little lighter, a little nearer Spring and that gives me such a feeling of hope and happiness in mid-winter. We always light a candle and feel thanks for the new life to come. 

So if winter is getting you down with its short hours of daylight and poor weather and it seems still a long time until spring do weather permitting, try to get out there for just a little while. The fresh clean air and exercise will do us good, lift our spirits and with the added benefit if it is sunny of the sunshine on our faces to brighten up the darkest days of year.

 

Wellbeing And Nature In Winter

We need to be safe and clearly not to go out in severe weather but if and when conditions allow we can wrap up warmly and take a little wander. There is no need to go too far but your body and mind will benefit from time out of the house absorbing yourself in nature for just a little while. 

If the weather is so bad that you cannot get out at all, as I know it is in some areas of the world right now,  then sit awhile by your window to watch nature from the safety of your home.

In these bleaker times we let the world of nature come to us. Hopefully, you can see some winter sky, shrubs or trees and maybe birds, squirrels and other wildlife will pass by. Frost, ice and snow make everything in the garden or sightline look and feel different.

We can take comfort in the fact that this winter will pass and Spring is invariably on its way as it always does. Winter can be the harshest of seasons yet it too has its beauty. 

I always take great comfort in the delicate, exquisitely beautiful and strong hardy snowdrop that is ready under the ground now just waiting to burst forth often into so cold weather and snow shows us that there is hope in the deep mid-winter for brighter, lighter days to come. 






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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

A Review Of Hardy Fuchsia In The Garden

 


I was wandering around the garden this morning taking stock of how the garden plants have come through this scorching summer with its drought and intense summer sun.

I noticed that most of the colour in the garden right now is coming from two mature hardy fuchsias, we have one white and one purple and white. 

In fact, they stand out as doing extremely well, with healthy green leaves, no pest damage and a bounty of flowers and I have not watered them once all summer.

I am not sure that I have ever looked at them so fondly. Many other flowers have gone over so quickly this year suffering from extreme summer weather conditions, but these beauties are looking healthy and gorgeous!

One is planted in our front garden and which is west facing and the other is in our east-facing back garden. Both are on heavy clay soil, though the one at the back is on a slope and the one at the front is very close to the gravel drive and path so they both get better drainage. 



In this article, the care of Fuchsia is related to the hardy Fuchsia planted in the ground. Tender Fuchsia and annual Fuchsia do require different care so do check what kind you own. 

In addition to growing Fuchsia, I do enjoy taking photographs of them and making them into products so I have included a couple for you.


Position Of Hardy Fuchsia In The Garden

Fuchsias like to grow in sunshine or a little partial or dappled shade. However, a full south-facing position where there is hot sun all day would be too much for them.

They do like to be in a sheltered spot. If they are not you may find that the delicate flowers will be blown away by strong winds which would be a shame. 

Personally, I have found east-west planting the best. 


Soil Conditions, Feeding And Watering Hardy Fuchsia

The care of this lovely plant is relatively straightforward. Fuchsia does like well-drained soil and I did wonder if they would survive on our very heavy clay.

However, with one being on a slope where drainage is better and the other being close to a gravel drive they have thrived. 

As long as drainage is good they can cope with most types of soil.

I don't feed my Fuchsias as our soil is very rich already but you can give a feed in Spring.

A mature plant in the ground should not need watering much and I never water ours. Even in this summer's drought and 40-degree Celcius heat conditions, I did not water them due to a hosepipe ban and they have not suffered.

This summer was an exception with the persistent heat and searing sun, so if there had not been a ban on using water, I would likely have watered them deeply about once a fortnight. 


Propagating Hardy Fuchsia

Hardy Fuchsia can have hardwood cuttings taken in the autumn. All we need to do is to take a cutting of woody stem a few inches long. Avoid any new green shots for these cuttings. 

Under a pair of leaves make a clean horizontal cut that is the base of the cutting. Across the top make a diagonal sloping cut at about 45 degrees, which is the top of the cutting. The sloping cut is so that any water will run off rather than sitting in the cutting and causing rot. 

Then simply gently insert the cuttings into a gritty compost around the edge of a pot.

They do need to be in a place where it is frost free over the winter and cool. They should not be allowed to dry out completely or become waterlogged. A cool greenhouse is perfect. If like me you do not have one then place in a cold frame or even on a potting table in a sheltered spot with some protection from heavy rain would be fine. If it is very cold some fleece protection may be wise. 

Once you see new shoots in the springtime we can then pot up each individual plant into its own pot. After that, in summer they can be planted in the garden or into a larger pot. 

Always plant out in early summer whether it is a cutting or a newly bought plant. This gives them the best start in life. Any later than that makes them more susceptible to cold and they may not thrive. Plant a few inches deeper than the base and keep well watered for the first season.


Pruning Hardy Fuchsia

Little pruning is required most of the year as most of the flowers will fall off naturally as they go over but you can deadhead flowers regularly if you wish. I tend not to bother with deadheading hardy Fuchsias. 

Once new growth starts to appear in spring we can start pruning. Use clean sharp tools like those Wolf secateurs. Old stems can be cut back to a pair of buds relatively low down on the plant.

 Do not worry if it appears much of the plant has been killed by frosts, this can happen in a cold winter or very cold areas. Most of the time it will grow back, simply cut away all the dead stems low down in Spring to allow for new growth and be patient. 

We should never ever prune in autumn or winter as this opens the plant up to disease and rot. Leave it be until the spring. 



Hardy Fuchsia Flowering Times

I love the abundance of exquisite flowers that hang down so gracefully and somewhat bashfully gently swaying in the breeze.

Our shrubs flower from May to October and are mainly pollinated here by bees. In their native central and south America, they are pollinated by the hummingbird. So we do gain a very long flowering time with a Hardy Fuchsia.

Many have purple flowers which attract the hummingbird but selective breeding has produced many variations of colours including red, violet, purple, pink and white ones and combinations of all those colours. 

Our purple and white one never flowers in winter, is often affected by frosts and needs cutting to the ground in spring. However, our white one near the house always remains and is now five feet high and does often in a milder winter flower most of the year, which is just lovely. 



Fuschia Winter Care

I do little with my hardy Fuchsias in the ground. They are both hardy and have always been planted into the soil.  

I do like to give them mulch to give some winter protection but they have always come through each year. 

I will only fleece the little cuttings I took this year that are in pots as they are rather more exposed to cold conditions. 

If I had hardy Fuchsias in pots then I would fleece over both pot and the plant to provide them with more protection. I would also move into the sunniest, most protected position I had in the garden for winter. 

Tender Fuchsia by contrast will certainly need protection over winter, at the very least a layer or two of fleece and mulch and may need bringing inside. 

Fuchsias can be troubled by a few pests and diseases but I have never found any to be a problem though I do garden organically and allow natural pest control. Slugs appear to ignore them as well which is a huge bonus in my garden.

To learn more about Fuchsia take a look at this informative and beautiful book.

 

 

So if you like a pretty, mainly trouble free plant, that is easy to care for and propagate and looks wonderful all summer and into Autumn you may love a hardy Fuchsia. She can be in the garden or a large pot and will give many months of joy with her gorgeous bountiful pretty flowers and visiting wildlife. I would never be without at least one Fuchsia in our garden. 


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Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Reviewing Ten Ways To Keep Garden Plants Alive During A Drought

 




 We have been going through a period of heatwaves with 35-40 degrees Celsius and now have drought conditions that are unusual for where I live in the UK. 

I love our garden and have found that I need to change the way I garden under these conditions. Many of the plants I love to grow are not drought tolerant and while this may need to change if we have frequent droughts in the years to come, for now I want to try to keep them all alive.

However, it is also very important in a rough situation not to drain necessary water from the system so as to preserve as much as possible both inside and outside our homes. 

So here are a few tips I have picked up from other gardeners and my own experience


1. Water Plants Deeply Once A Week.

Doing this is a much better approach than watering a little every day. We need the water to reach the roots not just wet the top few inches which will just evaporate in the heat anyway. 

Always water either very early morning or late in the day when the sun is fading and there will be less moisture loss. Put your finger into the soil to check how far down the soil is wet. 




2. Use Shade For Plants.

For plants in containers move them into the shade wherever possible. Place plants in pots under the shade of a tree or by a north-facing wall of a house or garden shed or garage. That way they will be shaded for more of the day. Group plants in pots together. Sharing space will help each other stay cooler. Also if you can place smaller pots above bigger pots any water that drips through will help to water plants below, thus saving more water. 





3. Make Shade For Plants

If the containers cannot be moved into the shade try to provide them with shade. I like to use the shade of other plants, especially those who don't mind the sun so much but even an open umbrella over them, a patio umbrella or a cardbox box strategically placed will help. 


4. Use Large Drip Tray Containers.

For plants that do not mind being in standing water and are in pots, put any container that holds water under the pot.

I find that these drip trays that we often use for houseplants are good to hold some water underneath our garden plants in pots, but not so much that the plants then get waterlogged. I tend to use larger sizes to hold more water.



5. Prioritise Plants For Water.

Concentrate on the plants that you know need more water such as roses and also plants that look dry, dropping leaves or droopy. Prioritise plants in pots and perennials over annuals. Plants that are more suited to Mediterranean or hotter environments and those like Bottlebrush, Lavender, Thyme and Rosemary will cope better than roses and new cuttings or young plants. I rarely water any existing shrubs or trees in the ground, the hope is that their deep roots will seek water low down.  




6. Leave The Lawn.

Do not water the lawn- most lawns are robust and will recover once we start getting rain. Also, our lawn is now mainly brown and not growing at all so there is no point trying to mow it. When autumn comes we will feed it and take care of it but for now the best thing is to leave it. 


7. Use Watering Spikes.

Use some of these water spikes devices. They release water slowly into the pot. If you make a hole first deep into the pot. Connect a water bottle to the spike, turn upside down and very gently insert the spike into the hole so that you do not break it or injure any roots. The water will seep to where the roots are rather than wasting water at the top of the pot. I use them for when we go on holiday and I prefer the terracotta ones, although you do need to take more care of them being more fragile, they do a better job in my opinion. Now they are valuable for simply giving a gentle water source. A litre bottle should last about a week to ten days.



8. Stop Feeding Plants.

Do not feed plants as this encourages growth. I am finding that many of my plants are going to seed much more quickly and some are already adopting their autumn colours. I think this may be a way of ensuring their survival. If they are under stress they want to make seed quickly in case they die and by losing their leaves they need less energy.




9. Use Rain Barrels Or Water Butts.

Install a Water Butt or Rain Barrel to prepare for any future drought. The water butt will fill up when we do have rain in winter and then can be used in a summer heatwave or drought when water is in short supply.


 

10. Use "Grey Water" To Water Some Plants. 

Watering plants If there is a ban on using hosepipes or using house water can be difficult. Instead, we can use water from handwashing clothes or washing up water on our plants. Always allow the water to cool down first though.

However, never use this kind of "grey water" on fruit, vegetable or herb plants. Do be careful though as some plants may be sensitive to chemicals in your grey water. This is another reason a water butt will be useful.




People say you can always replace plants but they are expensive and this is not always possible when a plant has a special memory or was gifted to you by a loved one.

It breaks my heart to see them suffering in the heat and drought so if I can do these small things to help them I certainly will. So far I have to say they are doing remarkably well and I do feel while I have had one or two losses that most will come through this and recover once we get some good rain.


It may be in the future that we will have to adapt our gardens even further and grow more drought-resistant plants but we will see. So for now I will do what I can to keep them alive while keeping the drain on the water systems to a minimum.

In addition, while caring for our plants never forget the wildlife and do leave out a shallow bowl with a few pebbles and water in it to help hedgehogs, bees and other insects get through the drought and a birdbath to help the birds care for their feathers, bathe and drink

As a final thought and this may be unpopular among people who love the sunshine and hot weather, I am hoping for lots of gentle steady rain very soon!! 


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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Review Of Wolf Garten Shears For The Garden


Good quality tools are necessary when working in the garden. I prefer to use manual tools whenever possible in our garden. I find it more peaceful to use manual tools, better for wildlife and much quieter for ourselves and our neighbours. I also feel more connected somehow to our garden plants. 

Sometimes power tools are necessary for the garden, but using manual tools rather than electric ones is an even greater consideration now for us that electricity prices are so high. 

We find these Wolf Garten Shears easy to use with no energy costs at all, apart from your own physical power. 

We do like tools that are easy to use and do not require too much effort. I would also rather buy quality tools that suit our needs and aim to buy tools that are longer lasting.  



Wolf Garten Shears

Wolf is one of the brands I trust for gardening tools and are one of the brand of tools I use on a regular basis to keep our garden looking at its best. We also have secateurs of the Wolf brand and you can read my Review Of Wolf Garden By Pass Secateurs here. They have also proved a really great purchase. 

The shears are used in our garden for cutting back shrubs, perennials and herbs such as lavender and geraniums where we need to cut a larger area of foliage. We use them to cut back annual flowers and any straggly growth as well. 

Important aspects of garden shears are that they are sharp and cut cleanly. That it is easy to use with an ergonomic grip, a buffer to reduce jarring and pressure on our hands and wrists and it has a smooth action. In my experience, the Wolf Garten shears excel in all these areas. 




I do think for the price and the quality that Wolf Garten Shears are excellent shears.


Cutting Back And Pruning Plants With Shears

 Perennials require cutting back in late autumn after flowering has finished and when they are dying back. Equally, we can leave them until the following Spring. A Spring cutting back means that we leave the hollow stems and cover for our wildlife.

 


 Lavender is best cut back after flowering but it is important to not cut back into old wood as it may not regrow. We need to cut so you can still see green shoots. This cutting back ensures a more compact shrub that will have the best chance of flowering well the following year and we can also use the cut flower stems as decoration in the home. 

Hebes can be cut back lightly or some can be shaped into topiary-like balls as you prefer. 

Our Laurel hedge gets cut back a few times a year to keep it looking neat and manageable. 

Geraniums need cutting back after flowering. If we do this it tidies it up and also there is an opportunity that it may flower again. It will look bare for a week or two but the new regrowth is fresh green and lovely. 

 


 For any perennial you are cutting back it is important to cut close to the crown of the plant but above any new growth. We need a tool that will cut cleanly and not tear the plant.  

I love the way that these shears cleanly and easily slice through our thick lavender borders and cut our small conifers cleanly. In my experience, they do not pull or injure the plants. We do not want to be tearing or pulling on plants that need cutting back and these shears just make this job so much easier and quicker to complete. 




For a long time, I used my Grandads shears for these cutting jobs. While I love them because they were my Grandad's and are a link to a wonderful man I never knew as he died shortly after I was born, they are not easy shears to use for a long time. 

I will always love and treasure my Grandad's shears, when I hold them I feel a part of history and closeness to my Grandad. In addition, all these decades on they are still in great working order. However, I do believe these Wolf Garten shears offer an added level of comfort and features that I do appreciate these days! 

 


Good Qualities Of Wolf Garten Shears

  • When I use my Wolf Garten Shears I find they are so much easier on my hands and arms and are of good solid quality. I find they are the nearest shears to the robust, quality and feel of my Grandad's shears but with the added level of modern comfort!

  • Nonstick coated blades mean they rust a lot less and are much better when using them to cut plants with sticky sap. I clean them with a damp cloth and sometimes WD40 and a cloth. 

  • In my experience, they cut stems cleanly and sharply which is much better for the plants. 

  • Comfortable handles make the task of cutting back so much easier. They are simple to use and not hard on the hands or arms. 

  • They have a solid quality comfortable feel to the product which is important to me.  

  •  Good bright points of orange-red colour mean they are not easily lost in the garden. This is essential for me as I am always putting down tools in the garden, getting distracted and forgetting where I left them! 




There is a range of Wolf Garten shears, some normal sized for general cutting jobs, others about half the size developed for topiary hedging and smaller work, it all depends on your garden and what you need your shears for. 


Here Is A Selection Of Wolf Garten Shears




I personally would not attempt to cut a very large hedge with these shears but for tasks such as cutting back herbs and perennials, smaller hedges, smaller conifers, some topiary, annual flowers and general everyday pruning these manual Wolf Garten Shears are a great tool to purchase and wonderful quality addition to a useful garden tool collection.  

 

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