Plant advice articles

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A guide to choosing perennials

When considering what to put in a border perennial plants are a must. Easy to grow, many are long lived and there are hundreds of plant shapes and flower colours to choose from. This sheer choice can make selecting the right variety a daunting process especially for the less experienced gardener.

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Acanthus

Acanthus are also known as Bear’s breeches, a name that was adopted centuries ago, the origin of which has long been lost. Originating from the Mediterranean their beauty was appreciated during Greek and Roman times, where the leaf form can be seen carved around the top of tall colonnades.

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Peonies as Cut Flowers

Peonies make wonderful cut flowers. The blooms are large, soft, silky and romantic. They can be found in a range of soft colours, and a few brighter ones, making them ideal for weddings, as well as for placing in the house.

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How to grow Herbaceous Peonies

Forget the myths, peonies are easy to grow. In fact, once established they will live for more years than most people are likely to inhabit their houses. When you move house they can come too.

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Achillea

Achilleas are stately plants with broad, flat heads of colourful, small, round, papery flowers that range from pale yellow, through orange to rich magenta-red. Some varieties have flowers that start one colour and gradually change to another as the centre of the flowers get bigger, giving the whole plant an attractive two-tone appearance.

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Hybrid Peonies Explained

Hybrid peonies produce some of the most stunning late spring flowers. Large, often single and cupped, the flowers come in a glorious array of colours ranging from bright poppy red to stunning lipstick pink, and softest pink to purest white. They are hardy, don’t suffer from any diseases, easy to grow and long lived.

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Bearded Irises Explained

Bearded irises are the irises with large glamorous flowers that have a caterpillar of hairs on the falls (lower petals), and a large rhizome at the base of the leaves. All types of bearded irises have broad, sword-like, greyish green leaves

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Intersectional Peonies

Of the different types of peonies Intersectional Peonies are not only the most beautiful, they are the longest to bloom. The flowers and foliage are in perfect proportion to each other, taking on the best characteristics of its parents, the tree (woody) and herbaceous peony.

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Lifting, Dividing and Planting Irises

If you have an iris that is too big, stopped flowering, or needs moving, in my opinion September is the best month to do this in the UK. This does not mean they cannot be lifted at any other time of the year. I have lifted irises from 6 weeks after flowering, right through to early spring without harming the plant.

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Asters

Asters are a must for the autumn border. Shaped like a daisy, the flowers can be as small as a 5 pence piece or bigger than a 50 pence piece. The colours tend to be in the blue/lilac or purple bracket, with a good choice of pink tones and white, but no yellow or true reds.

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