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Old July 14 2012, 11:01 AM   #1
 
 
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Default Make your garden flourish in monsoon

The monsoon season provides ideal growth inducing environment as low temperatures and humidity make the root system swing into action. The roots develop; the nutrients available in the soil get dissolved in water and are ready to be absorbed easily by the plants. This season, thus, is a good period for introducing new plants in your garden.

real11
Improper drainage can spell doom for your garden



However, it is important to remember that all these favourable conditions don't mean that one can leave the plants untended. Plants need special attention during the rainy season.

Proper drainage and avoiding water logging are the two major concerns of plant lovers during the monsoon season. When water is in excess of the absorption capacity of soil it leads to water logging and it can ruin your favourite plants. If you want to enjoy the luxuriant emerald hue of your garden then ensure that there is a proper provision for drainage of excess rainwater. Always remember the thickest of vegetation is found on the hill slopes and not in the wetlands, so proper drainage of water is very important.

Water logging may make the roots become loose and cause the stems to rot. Raising a mound around the main stem of some plants is an effective way of avoiding direct contact with water.

The depth of flower beds is also very important. If the flower beds are deep then rain water will collect there and this can damage the plants. As humidity reduces the rate of evaporation, water doesn't evaporate easily in the rainy season. Seasonal plants like cosmos, zinnia, gompherina etc which require watering twice a day during peak summer season can get damaged if the flower beds are deep and are flooded with rain water. So it is better to ensure that the flower beds are not more than 1-2 inch deep. However, some other flowering plants thrive in this season. Among the most prominent bulbs, tuberose (Rajnigandha) which yields sporadic flowering lasting till December prospers during monsoon.

Potted plants: In pots water logging is caused if the drain hole is not plugged with a stone while filling the pot. It also happens when the root system in the pot develops so extensively that no space is left for the water to seep in. With high humidity transpiration rate also slows down. Cement pots or painted pots add more to this problem. The pots which were kept indoors to protect them from summer heat must be taken out under shade to make them enjoy a "rain bath". Water requirement reduces during monsoon, therefore, irrigation should be done on need basis. As a thumb rule, observe a plant in the morning, if the leaves are drooping then that is a symptom of dehydration and time for watering the plant.

Grass: The most favoured 'Selection No 1' variety is more prone to damage due to water logging than the 'common dhoob'. As the growth is vigorous, mowing should be done frequently to avoid the grass growth to get dense. When overgrown grass is mowed it leaves behind brown patches that are like ugly blots in a lush green lawn. Weeds also grow extensively and these should be uprooted regularly. Fortnightly application of Urea 15 grams / sq meter is recommended.

Fruit trees: These are given manure in winters and in April-May. A dose of fertilisers (NPK) before the start of flowering and later at fruit-setting stage (when flowers are shed and fruit appears) is desirable. A dose of fertiliser administered in August/ September keeps the plants in good health. Deciduous fruit trees like plum, peach, grapes etc are given a dose towards the end of the rainy season.

Vegetables: In monsoon season these should be sown on raised beds 9-10 inches to avoid water lodging.

Pest control: The other important aspect to be managed is the pest and fungal attack which is quite common in this season as humidity boosts and supports the growth of all kinds of organisms, including pests and fungus. Be watchful and consult an expert. Spray of 'Bavistin' for fungal and 'Malathion' for pests provides the necessary protection to plants.

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Old July 28 2012, 07:46 AM   #2
 
 
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Default The splendour of miniatures

An artistic landscape can be created by using the living art-form of 'miniature' trees. Due to their prominence and grandeur, these trees assume a very significant role at the time of planning the landscape of any area, bg or small. For the miniatures to exude beauty, it is better to establish them on a slope so that they receive good amount of sunlight. The whole look of a big garden gets enhanced when 5-7 such trees are planted in close proximity, making them the centre of attraction. However, in a small garden even one miniature tree grown in a corner can add punch to the whole setting.

A miniature tree is grown in ground instead of in a pot. For easy maintenance and beautification, it is normally allowed to grow up to 6-7 ft in height. With the aid of horticultural practices it is artistically trained, styled and fashioned in such a way so as to give it a "bonsai-like" character. However, technically one can't call these bonsais, as the word bonsai in Japanese language means 'a tree in a container'. But the techniques used in training, styling and fashioning these miniature trees are basically just the scaled up versions of bonsai culture. The concept of miniature trees is very new, but styling technique is as old as bonsai.

Such trees can be suitably shaped in the form of informal upright style, slanting style or cascaded style of bonsai. It is not necessary to follow strictly the bonsai guidelines in creating a miniature. The artist should reflect his imagination and show his skill in altering the natural form of the plant in expressing and creating the overall design of the miniature which should look different. This can be achieved by training and suitably placing branches at different heights and in different directions. The technique of wiring the trunk and branches and clipping of branches and some foliage helps in giving the desired shape.

The miniature will take about 4-5 years to reach the desired height and shape, giving the artist a great satisfaction in its creation. Not only this, being a live creation, the overall design of the miniature improves with each passing year to keep the creator motivated.

Way to go

Select the desired plant and also the location in your garden where the miniature, when ready will exhibit its full grandeur. Rainy season has set in and it is the right period for such an activity. As the tree is grown in ground, its growth is stimulated, resulting in more pruning to maintain and keep it in shape.

Create your own miniature

Select a plant having a healthy trunk-line and remove all basal shoots as these deprive the plant of nutrients. It is transplanted in the ground using nutritious compost where enough sunlight is available for the plant to remain healthy.

Decide on the overall shape of the miniature which the plant would ultimately acquire.

Remove shoots growing at odd angles and other shoots which come in the way of the design.

Start styling the miniature when it gets about three ft heigh, the lowest branch should normally be placed at a height of about two feet from ground, keeping in mind the height of miniature to be created will be about 6-7 feet. All other branches below it should be removed.

Wire the trunk-line and branches, giving it the initial desired shape

As the plant grows in height, rest of the branches above the lowest branch should also be aesthetically placed and trained accordingly by means of wires.

When the plant reaches about 6-7 feet in height, it's time to give it a final shape using wires. Pinching and pruning of the branches should also be carried out to aid in the final shape. Pruning of fresh sprouts is usually done from spring to the end of rainy season. Pruning can be as much or as little as you like, to keep the tree upto the desired height.

Deciduous succulents such as Sesamothamnus lugardi, Bursera fagaroides, guggul species, Adansonia grandidieri (Baobab) and ever green trees such as Ficus benjamina, Ficus nuda, Crassula ovata and Crassula arborescens in the shape of miniature trees look stunning; however other species should also
be tried.

Tending tips

Grow the plants under good sunlight.

Periodic pinching and pruning should be carried out during growing period to keep the miniature in shape.

Dead and brown foliage should be removed periodically.

Regular watering is required during initial stages, but when established, watering is considerably reduced.
 
Old August 11 2012, 11:07 AM   #3
 
 
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Default Some design tips for your balcony garden

For most of us urban dwellers, home is a box of an apartment in a concrete jungle. Access to a garden or a park is increasingly becoming a luxury in most cities and towns. We can curse city mandarins for the lack of planning, or we can create our own little green zones in our balconies.

But gardening is no mean task. Sriram Aravamuda, cofounder of Bangalore-based My Sunny Balcony, which designs gardens in small spaces, says you must be prepared to invest a lot of time and energy in the maintenance and upkeep of your garden, however tiny. Here are some design tips for your balcony garden:


The Startup Plan: If you have a large balcony or an attached terrace, go ahead and get yourself a miniforest.

But if space is limited, mark out a zone for the plants.

Leave enough space in the middle for a couple of chairs and ensure there are gaps between pots for cleaning.

If you dry clothes in your balcony, put up a flexible partition like a rollable ceiling-to-floor bamboo screen that divides the utility area and the garden.

15441770cms

The Plants you Choose: Do not buy too many plants altogether — add to your garden regularly. Decide whether you want just ornamental plants or you want to mix them up with herbs and veggies.

Anthuriums and spathiphyllum are two flowering varieties that do well in tropical balconies; dieffenbachia, palm, ficus and philodendrons also grow well in the shade. Herbs and greens need more sunlight, but the easiest to grow are spinach, coriander and mint.


The Basics & the Design: To start with, spend some time in your balcony or terrace to figure out how much sunlight it gets, and depending on that you can choose sun-loving or shade-loving plants.

Place pots and planters on the periphery, but don't line them. Make clusters and islands with pots of different colours, varying heights and girth. If you have pots on the wall, put smaller pots at the base and the larger ones on the other end.


The Pots: Get pots and planters of varying shapes, sizes and colours, or make your garden more fun by re-using materials as planters.

You can convert wooden crates, large coffee mugs, wooden basins, water cans, wide-mouthed bottles and traditional earthen cooking ware into pots.

Make use of the railings and walls too. Get flower or window boxes than can be fitted onto the railing, or create a trellis screen to mount creepers. You can also hang a series of multi-coloured coffee mugs to hold your herbs.


The Accessories: Just because you have a small balcony garden does not mean you cannot accessorise.

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You can put up windchimes or brass bells, or hang a series of Chinese lanterns across the ceiling of the balcony. A budget option would be to weave a string of fairy lamps in between the pots and over the plants.

Add a water element, like a petite water fountain. Its magical sound will draw you out every evening. Also, spread out garden accessories like a gnome or a frog or even a small sculpture.

Finally, put up some outdoor furniture, depending on the space you have. It will be a perfect perch to watch the stars.












Some design tips for your balcony garden - The Economic Times
 
Old September 8 2012, 11:41 AM   #4
 
 
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Default Add flower power

The selection of right plants for landscaping and for driveways is the key to beautifying any area. Besides other plants, profusely flowering lagerstroemia indica, plumaria rubra and plumaria alba independently are capable of transforming any neglected area into an eco-friendly and a beautiful landscape.

The outstanding features of lagerstroemia indica or crepe myrtle are its colourful flowers which come in white, mauve and purple hues. The tree is laden with clusters of flowers all around, during the peak summer season and this flowering season lasts for abnout three months and in a season when most of the other plants are bereft of flowers. This unique feature has made it a popular choice for home and public garden landscaping and as a driveway plant. One can see this plant at most places in the urban landscape.

It is native to India and is grown all over the world. It is a tree-like multi-stemmed upright and deciduous ornamental bush. For its elegant look, it should be grown with 2-3 distinct stems; all other suckers emerging from the base should be removed periodically. Unlike other trees, its bark exfoliates thin flakes annually, which adds to its beauty to reveal a fresh light look. Leaves are small and dark green, changing to yellow and orange in autumn. After the flowering season, the branches should be pruned in the last week of February with a sharp cutter to encourage the plant for bushy growth in order to grow more clusters of blooms in the next season.

Growing tips

Remove old flower heads to promote second round of flowering.

Water bi-weekly during extreme summer to get good blooms.

To keep the leaves remain fresh and green, spray a solution of 3 ml of liquid soap to a litre of water each month during the growing season to get rid of aphids.

Grow in full sun to avoid powdery mildew.

Pruning should be carried out during early spring for the new growth to sprout, as flowering takes place on the fresh branches Pruning can be as much or as little as you like, to keep the tree up to the desired height.

Plumaria

Plumaria commonly known as champa is a genus of beautiful landscaping and driveway plants. The popularly known species, plumaria rubra and plumaria alba reach up to 8-10 metres in height. To further add beauty in the landscaping environment and along driveways, these can be maintained and groomed by pruning during winters to any desired height depending upon the location. The widely spaced branches bearing long shiny dark green and leathery leaves form clusters near the branch tips. The 8-10 centimetres flowers are aromatic and range from white to pink hues. Being a deciduous plant, the leaves are shed during early winter omnths.

These are easy to grow and rugged plants which accept neglect and need less attention. The beauty of these plants lies in the fact that they attract attention wherever they are grown. These grow well in full sun and need less water to ensure profuse flowering for about 4-5 months at a stretch during their growth period. These plants have also been successfully grown in shade, but with some sacrifice in the overall growth. For the balanced growth, NPK (nitrogen, phosphorous, potash) with more of nitrogen content should be given once in growing season. These plants are almost disease-free and remain healthy.

There are so many dwarf and profusely blooming cultivars of plumaria with different hues, which reach to a height of about 3 metres. These can be grown in pots having cactus compost and maintained to a height of a metre and above by means of pruning, which also renders the plant a bushy and a compact appearance. These plants lend a dramatic effect to the landscape when suitably planted in gardens and along the driveways with their foliage and long-lasting floral beauty.

Plumaria can easily be propagated by cuttings; these tend to flower fast if taken from a flowering stock.

Growing tips

Prune regularly to maintain the beautiful and bushy look.

Grow in full sun.

When in pot use cactus compost.

Fertilise once in growing season with NPK having more of nitrogen content.
 
Old September 22 2012, 08:57 AM   #5
 
 
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Default Trees up the wall

real14

Bonsai in Japanese means a tree in a tray with emphasis on the word tree. A novel concept to present this art of miniaturising trees in a creative way is to train them to grow against and through a wall. Creation of such a wall ‘embroidered’ with miniature trees will add a dramatic touch to a home garden.

The size of the wall should complement the garden and should also accommodate at least 6-7 potential bonsais to give a majestic look. To avoid difficulties in cultivation and drying out of plants grown in the wall, there should be a provision for slabs behind the wall where pots can be placed. The roots and some portion of the stem of bonsai are passed through the front side of the wall to the rear to create a living sculpture of leaves and stems in the front according to the desired design.

This whole process will help in camouflaging the pot for the bonsai giving an impression of the bonsai growing on the wall. Small leaved ficus species such as ficus benjamina, retusa, microcarpa, longisland and compacta are evergreen are the ideal plants for this novel concept. These are easy to grow and can be well-trained with some skill to grow against a wall. Aesthetically, it is better to have the same species of plants as the water and nutrition needs of such plants would be similar. This also gives an integrated effect and attention is not divided in viewing different species. However, a wall decorated with mixed species of bonsai can also be experimented with.

Wall specifications


The wall should be at least 10-15 cm thick and can be made of any material. It can be given any texture and colour to compliment the foliage, stem and even flowers of the bonsai.

Some square or round openings should be made in the wall depending upon the size of the wall and also on the number and size of the plants to be grown.
Slabs at appropriate places should be made at the back of the wall for placing the pots for the bonsai to grow.

How to create


Select the potential bonsai having a long stem to facilitate its insertion through the openings in the wall. Remove it from the pot so that it can be repotted behind the wall later.

Insert the roots and some stem of the bonsai through the front of the wall.
Take a pot of suitable height and the bonsai having roots at the back of the wall is potted keeping in mind the overall design of the miniaturised trees to be reflected in the front.

Ensure that the pot is placed on the base made in the wall for the purpose in such a manner that the plant is in a balanced and comfortable position for its overall growth.

Right grooming tips


The selected area for the wall should get at least 1-2 hours of sunlight. This 'sunshine' will help these miniaturised trees stay healthy and grow better.
Evergreen plants should be selected to have a year round attractive element in the garden.

Pinching and pruning of these bonsai is carried out periodically during the growing season to encourage the pattern and allow them to grow artistically against the wall.

Fertilise the plants with NPK (nitrogen, phosphorous, potash) twice in growing season. However foliar fertiliser if sprayed on the plants will bring an instant healthy shine on the leaves.

The requirement of water depends upon the amount of sunlight available. In general the golden rule is to water only when the top soil gets dry.
 
Old October 6 2012, 03:36 PM   #6
 
 
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Default Green house

Perennial charm


With the increase in population, the prices of land have skyrocketed resulting in smaller houses where one hardly has enough land for gardening activities. Not only this, long working hours have made people busier and very little time is there to spend with plants. So, ever-green beauties are the perfect choice for people who don’t have enough space or time to devote to their garden.

Perennials are the plants that continue to grow year after year, unlike the annuals that need fresh potting every year. The unique combination of sun-loving colourful blooming ixoras and the shade-loving fleshy and decorated foliage of peperomias give a fresh look to the garden throughout the year without shedding their leaves. Besides pots ixoras can also be grown as a hedge and peperomias do well as ground cover, thus making them flexible landscaping plants.

Peperomia

real14

These are natives of America and are grown for their impressive and ornamental foliage which is compact and come in cascading, bushy and upright format. Further, the beauty of these plants is reflected by the fleshy leaves that are decorated with smooth, rippled or hairy and variegated or green surface. Peperomias are not succulents even though these have thick leaves. They do well in shallow containers with good draining soil. Compact growth of the leaves is seen when these are grown in bright filtered sunlight, more so with the variegated species. In a garden design, leaves with different pigments play a significant role in imparting instant warmth to the landscape all year round.

These plants have also gained the distinction of being excellent for dish gardens, terraniums and hanging baskets. Not only this, these appear to be the best container plants because:

They are slow growing and as such don’t overgrow their containers that quickly.

Remain presentable at all times of the year.

Though they can accept some neglect, but do not allow them to dry out completely.

Remain almost disease-proof and pest-free.

Peperomia magnolifolia, both with green and variegated leaves and obtusifolia and clusifolia with variegated leaves are the most sought after perennials. These are basically grown for their foliage; the flowers are not showy and are exceedingly simple and are mounted on a green or brown spike resembling rat’s tail. Propagation of these plants is done during spring, through leaf or stems cuttings. However, at the time of re-potting some plantlets with roots can be taken out and re-potted.

Ixora

real15

It is a low-growing ever-green perennial tropical shrub native to India and comes in a variety of colours and species.

It is a hardy and an easy-to-grow plant and an all-season profuse bloomer. The cultivated species ixora coccinea is ornamental in nature and is grown for its dazzling colourful blooms that are small in size but form big star-shaped clusters at the branch tips. It is an excellent landscaping plant and is a must in every garden due to its stunning showy flowers which bloom for most part of the year to keep the garden colourful. Though the plant likes good watering, yet in order to allow the plant to bloom profusely water only when the top soil gets dry. Compost used should be porous to allow excess water to drain off to avoid root rot.

Propagation is from seeds, stem cuttings or air layering. It does well as a container plant, but grows equally well as a hedge to make an excellent border. To revitalise the plant for the compact appearance, it should be pruned to get the desired shape after the flush of flowers.

Hybrid platter

Many hybrids have been developed to produce big and different coloured flowers. These shrubs vary from 25 cm to 3 metres in height to give a wide choice to the plant lovers and landscapers. Combining colours well is an easy art; blue, red and yellow are contrasting colours that can add excitement and vibrancy to the garden.

GROWING TIPS

Prune the plants after the flush of flowers and also sometime between spring and autumn to maintain the shape.

For compact growth and for more flowers grow where it receives two to three hours of sunlight. It does not do well as an indoor plant.

Fertilise once in two months with NPK having more of nitrogen contents.

Remove withered flowers and dried leaves, if any, periodically.
 
Old October 20 2012, 10:57 AM   #7
 
 
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Default Water wise

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Water and power shortage have become major issues in urban areas. Residents have to bear with cuts in water and power supply on a regular basis. Maintaining a garden becomes a tall order in such a scenario. Having a xeriscape is a wonderful option which drastically cuts the requirement of water without sacrificing much on the aesthetics of the garden. Xeriscaping is a technique of crafting a piece of land using plants that are slow-growing and drought resistant. It is an alternative to other types of traditional landscapes and gardens but, in no way inferior to them.

Such gardening becomes all the more relevant in today's context as in most of the townships potable water is used for gardening. This results not only in the shortage of drinking water but also tends to kill water guzzling plants for want of water.

Such effortless gardens are ideal for people who have hardly any time to spare but have a keen desire to have a garden.

To give a different dimension and colour to the xeriscape, a few water-loving plants should also be planted at suitable places. Care should be taken to ensure that these plants are grouped separately from drought-resistant plants for ease in watering.

How you can save water


There are certain plants that require less water for growth. Normally plants that are able to survive a dry spell of about one to two months may be classified as drought-resistant plants.

To aid xeriscaping, there is an option to meet even reduced water requirement by:

Installing drip irrigation system to directly deliver water to the base of the plants.

Having slow-growing species that need less water due to their slow growth.

Growing plants having long tap roots which go deep in the soil to meet their water requirement.

Growing cacti and other succulent plants that have the natural ability to store water to be utilised in time of need.

Growing plants that have waxy coating on the leaves to reduce transpiration.

What you can plant


The most important aspect of xeriscaping is to identify plants that need less water and can accept neglect while looking good. Some of the plants that meet these criteria and can be planted in pots or in ground are:

Palms: Phoenix dactylifera, Washingtonia filifera

Beautiful flowering shrubs: Lagerstroemia indica, Euonymus japonica, Myrtus communis.

Small flowering shrubs and plants: Buxus microphylla japonica, Nandina domestica, Murraya koenigii, Indian hawthorn, Lantana, Gaillardia.

Succulents: Adenium obesum, Portulacaria afra, Agave americana, Yucca aloifolia, Aloe barbadensis, Echeveria imbricata, kalanchoe thrysifolia, Sedum cyaneum and some Sempervivum and Dudleya species.

Cacti: Mammillaria beneckei, Cereus peruvianus, Ferrocactus herrerae, Echinocactus grusonii etc.

Other plants falling in this category may also be tried to add variety and colour to the garden.

— The writer is the President of National Cactus and Succulent Society of India.

Tips for a healthy garden


Drought resistant and water-loving plants should be grouped separately for ease in watering.

Initial care of drought-resistant plants should be taken, once established their survival is easy.

Pinching and pruning of shrubs should be carried out during growing season to ensure proper shape and size of the plants.

ADVANTAGES


It saves water.

It saves time due to reduced watering.

It makes gardening simpler and interesting as it takes less effort to maintain such landscapes.

For the overall good health of the plants, these plants may be watered once in a week but water- loving plants should be watered as usual.



-TNS
 
Old October 27 2012, 10:12 AM   #8
 
 
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Default How to get right flowers this winter

Seasonal flowers add life and colour to a garden. These are spaced between trees, shrubs and lawn and create a balance and proportion in the landscape. A majority of the winter annuals’ seedlings are transplanted in the flower beds between September and November and these start blooming from December onwards. A huge variety of flowering plants are available these days and it is very easy to get lost in the huge array of colours and shapes available in nurseries.

real9

Choosing the right seasonal plants is not an easy task. Some of the main factors that should decide the selection of flowering plants are site, space and availability of sunlight. The height of the plants and form of flowers are also important criteria for selecting a variety.

The manner in which the flowers are going to be displayed is another important factor. Always decide in advance whether the plants will be used for screening, background, border, edging or in pots and window boxes.

Seasonal flowers give an impressive display when planted against a green herbaceous border. A single variety of flowers is generally grown in small or medium-sized flowerbeds. One can play on contrast by planting different kinds of flowers in different colours in a large flowerbed. However, you will need to ensure that the blooming period and duration of the selected varieties is the same else the short blooming flowers will form dry patches and be an eye sore.

Size selection

Flowering plants are planted in descending order of their height to give depth to a flowerbed. Plant the tall flower viz Larkspur, Antirrhinum, Coreopsis, Holly Hock in the background and place medium-sized flowers varieties like, Marigold, Calendula, Antirrhinum, Lupin, Sweet Sultan in the middle. Front edging is commonly planted with Alyssum (white/blue/pink) Candytuft (white) and Ice Plant (mix or single colour). Ice plant gives a sparkling effect to the garden when it is grown along the pavements.

real11

In public gardens where there are trees under which grass does not grow wellshade-loving plants like Salvia, Cineraria or Begoia will make the dull area lively. Make circular flowerbeds around the tree trunks to give a floral base.

Where the garden area is big, a large impressive flowerbed is desirable. There could be multiple flower beds with single variety in different colours viz Petunia, Antirrhinum, Phlox, Verbina. Different kinds of flowers when planted together also form a good combination like you can try the Petunia/ Salvia/Petunia combination.

The Perfect match

Screening— Hollyhock, Lady's lace

Background— Sweet Pea, Corn Flower, Larkspur

Border— Antirrhinum, Corn Flower, Helichryson

Flowerbed— Acroclinum, Antirrhinum, Kale, Branchycome, Calendula, China Aster, Sweet Sultan, Wall flower, Cosmos, Dahlia, Sweet William, Dimor, California Poppy, Gerbera, Gypsophila, Lupin, Stock, Nemesia, Petunia, Salvia, Cineraria, African Marigold, French Marigold, Nasturtium.

Edging— Antirrhinum dwarf varieties, Branchycome, Pink, Candytuff, Sweet Alyssum, Ice Plant, Verbena, Pansy.

Pots— Bellis perennis, Branchycome, Pansy, Kale, Dahlia, Sweet William, Carnation, Pink, Matricaria, Gazania, Lupin, Ice Plant, Nemesia, Petunia, Salvia, Cineraria, Nasturtium, Pansy.

Window-boxes— Calendula, Geranium, Petunia, Phlox, Nasturtium, Verbena, Pansy.

Colour effect

An aesthetically planned flower bed with right colour choice always gives a vibrant effect. Winter flowers are generally of warm colours and as the weather starts becoming hot pleasant colours like pink, mauve give a soothing effect. A gardener must know about the basic colours (red, green, yellow) cool colours (blue, green) warm colours (yellow, orange, red) neutral colours (black, white). White flowers are commonly grown to accentuate the colours of the accompanying flowers. Muncell Colourwheel can help in choosing the right colour scheme.

real8
 
Old November 3 2012, 11:18 AM   #9
 
 
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Default Let the leafy glory bloom in your garden

Echeveria laui and Graptopetallum bellum are the two most beautiful leaf succulents. These are foliage plants that can store extra water in their leaves and hold on to it to release only when needed. This feature makes these look unique and beautiful with their leaves having thick, fleshy and juicy appearance as compared to other plants. These plants with their striking forms and easy maintenance aare much sought after by the collectors.

They do well in pots and when placed in suitable designer trays, these can take a place of pride on the window sill or any other suitable location. Dish garden created with these plants adds to the ambience of your home during special occasions and also make an excellent gift for special friends.

Echeveria laui

Echeveria laui, the most stunning of all echeverias is a slow-growing Mexican succulent which normally remains solitary and forms a beautiful stemless rosette having bluish leaves. The bluish tinge on the leaves which is due to the powdery coating on them always gives the plant a fresh look. The temptation to touch the leaves of this unique plant should be resisted as excessive touching can deface the plant.

This species does not normally offset but plants grown from leaf cuttings may have more than one head. It is easy to propagate from seeds, but such plants remain single-headed.

Compost used should be porous and freely draining; fertilise with NPK (nitrogen, phosphorous, potash) twice in growing season. The plant is sensitive to over watering. So during summer months water only when the top one centimetre of the soil becomes dry, and there is no need to water these during winters.

The short cut to generate a mature plant is to behead the stem of the old plant; remove the old leaves that have lost their sheen and root it in sand.

Graptopetallum bellum

It is a Mexican perennial succulent plant and the most ornamental Graptopetallum species. It forms compact rosettes up to 10 cm in diameter. The low-growing rosette almost touches the ground and falls flat on it. The thick greyish green triangular leaves have fine reddish margins. The beauty of the plant lies in its stunning bright pink flowers that last for about two weeks. Use porous compost for its healthy growth and apply NPK fertiliser once in summer during its growth season. The plant accepts shady locations happily, but some filtered sunlight will give bright shine and reddish margin to the rosette. It is a perfect container plant and does well throughout the year if the soil is allowed to dry between two waterings. Propagation is by division of offshoots, rooting of individual leaves and seed.


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Old November 24 2012, 08:50 AM   #10
 
 
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Chrysanthemums brighten the gardens in early winters when other seasonals are yet to bloom. These come in a wide range of varieties and the sizes also range from smallest with less than one inch diameter (popularly known as 'button chrysanthemum') to those more than six inch depending on the way plants are trained.

While the colour pallete includes various shades of purple, pink and bronze, white and yellow are the most striking colours in chrysanthemums. The varieties like “incurring” are favourite of many, while others like, “reflexed” and “spiders” are also liked. Small flowered varieties like “pompon” give a fabulous display with their large number of flowers when grown in pots or in ground.

Large varieties include Snow Ball, Sonar Bangla, Kiku biori. Recently self-pinching chrysanthemum varieties in different colours have also been introduced and can be grown in small-sized pots.

The shelf life of a cut flower is 10-20 days and different varieties can be used in different styles in flower arrangement. ‘Regan White’ and ‘Regan Emperor’, ‘Purnima’ and ‘Starlite’ are most popular long stem cut flower varieties. Loose flower used for garland making varieties are ‘Baggi’ and ‘Ratlam Selection’.

If you have missed the bus of propagating the plants on your own then plants-in-bloom can be purchased from a nursery. Depending on the variety, chrysanthemum flowers remain in bloom for 3-4 weeks. Therefore, the plants should be purchased when the flowers buds just start showing colours. Pick a pot that has a healthy plant with dark green leaves. Chrysanthemum needs to be placed in full sun and watered frequently. A blooming plant requires no fertiliser or manure.

The plant can sustain the cold weather conditions in the region. In the spray or small flower varieties faded flowers may be removed regularly.

A BOUQUET OF CHOICE

Depending on form, chrysanthemums are classified as:

Button, Pompon, Anemone, Single Korean, Double Korean, Spider, Reflexed, Incurving and Incurred.

PROPAGATION

Earmark the best plants for mother stock.

After the flowering period during late winters the plant produces a number of suckers from its base.

These suckers can be removed along with some roots and further reared for the production of soft three-inch-long terminal cuttings commonly used for propagation.

The process of taking terminal cutting could continue till August.

Well establish suckers after taking first cutting produce side shoots which further become source of terminal cuttings.

Carefully maintained single sucker taken during late winter can produce about 20 to 30 terminal cuttings or even more.

For the production of pot plants, rooted cuttings are planted from July to Sept for flower production in winter.




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