JOHN’S JOURNAL

The Cheery Faces of The Violas

At a time of year where many plants are beginning to wind down ready for a rest during the Winter months, the Violas are springing into life. We all love having flowers in the garden and you really can have flowers every week of the year as long as you choose the right plants. A misconception is often that when the frost comes along that’s it, plants are finished and everything will die, hardy plants won’t however and there’s also lots of hardy plants which come to life during the Winter months and Violas are one of many!

Pansies are often considered as the most showy of winter bedding plants but I’m not a great fan, yes their flowers are big and showy, however they are very blowsy and easily blown around in the wind and rain causing them to fold up and face downwards, the Violas on the other hand may have a smaller flower however whatever they lack in size they make up for in quantity. Their flowers are also resilient to the weather, looking forwards in their array of colours, like little smiling faces above their green leaves.

They really are the perfect counterpart to any winter pots and look great when combined with the silver foliage of cineraria, or the unique colours of the winter Brassicas. They will happily grow in a sunny or shady location and that also broadens the scopes of where they can add a little colour too. They naturally flower from Autumn until late Spring and it’s only the heat of the Summer that causes them to stop flowering. If you give them a trim back at the end of May and a repotting then grow them out of the sun they will then spring back to life and flower all Summer long. Such a cheap and cheerful addition to the garden you really can’t go wrong. At the nursery we offer them in either mixed colours or you can buy them in single colours, 6 plants in a pack all ready for planting out or potting up, even one on its own in a terracotta pot makes the perfect little gift.

It’s always a time of year where we seem to get back on top of the garden again, noticing the colours all around us and also the days become shorter with the temperatures also falling but it’s a lovely time to take in the seasonal changes and also during the drier spells get out there and make the most of it, the soil is perfect for planting in and the ground is still firm, anything done now always gives you the head start for next year and don’t miss the chance of planting your Spring bulbs…..there’s so many to choose from ready to give you that well deserved burst of colour in those early Spring months.

 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Here you can send in and find out the answers to those gardening problems

What compost do Violas like best?

Always treat them to some new compost and they really will thrive, multi purpose is ok but you need to then mix in some slow release fertiliser or liquid feed them on a regular basis to encourage lots of flowers, it’s best to always mix in some John Innes No.3 and use a 50/50 mix, this way it has the ability to hold moisture and nutrients meaning they will be alot happier and will reward you with lots of flowers. 

Are outdoor Cyclamen Hardy?

Now there is the bedding cyclamen which are in flower now and come in a wide array of colours, these will happily flower through into mid winter, then they will fade away and they won’t come back next year, but they are beautiful whilst they last, then there are hardy types of Cyclamen. Cyclamen hederifolium is the Ivy leaf Cyclamen flowering now with its beautifully detailed leaves, then Cyclamen coum bears more circular leaves and it then flowers in the Spring, both of these also come back every year so they are hardy and perfect for growing in soil under trees.

Will my Summer bedding plants come back next year?

Most of them aren’t frost hardy, but you can pot them up and if you keep them in a frost free environment but not too warm then they will come through the winter, normally it isn’t worth the effort as it is so cheap and cheerful to buy new ones, but it is possible. The frost always signals the end to the summer bedding and now is the perfect time to switch over, don’t forget to add in some small bulbs into your pots and containers to shoot up through your bedding plants

 

JOBS FOR THE WEEKEND

PLANT OF THE WEEK

BEDDING VIOLAS

Available at the nursery in 6 packs these plants provide the colour in your Autumn/Winter bedding displays and will flower until it’s time to change over for the Summer bedding plants. Perfect for sun or shade and so easy to grow, the perfect Winter plant.