AUGUST GARDENER

Examine soil loam texture and test your soil pH with electronic meters

SCIENCE FOR THE GARDENER BOOK TO BE PUBLISHED THIS YEAR

SEE CHAPTER 1 ON THE SCIENCE PAGE    HISTORY OF PLANTS ALGAE TO ANGIOSPERMS 

AUGUST GARDENER

There are many jobs to do but we should make the most of this special time of year to relax and enjoy all our hard work and efforts over the past few months.

Important jobs to do in  August

 Much warmer weather catches us on the hop when we get a very dry period and suddenly find the soil, containers and baskets drying out very quickly.

Skimmia japonica

A good idea is to add water crystals with compost and soil to containers and hanging baskets.  They produce water filled jelly which lasts a considerable time and makes a big difference in hot weather.  Compost and manure on its own dries out fast so some loamy soil will be required which will be a better water retaining combination.  Newly planted trees and shrubs MUST be kept well-watered for a year!

Mulching with compost and especially manure for nitrogen demanding plants – such as roses – and some vegetables Brassicas (but not Legumes: peas) is recommended, but do keep watered.  Mulching also has the effect of retaining moisture in all growing media.  You will see very rapidly the improvement in your plants’ well-being.  It’s very encouraging.

Raise mower blades in hot weather

Lawns will rapidly dry out, even with some rain, which barely penetrates roots, so one thorough watering is proven to be more effective than an occasional sprinkle with the watering can.  Add high nitrogen liquid feed according to manufacturer’s label.

Remove spring bulbs and leaves but keep stored bulbs dry and lightly dust with sulphur if any sign of disease.

Clear ponds and aquatic areas of surface congested oxygen plants/weeds now after a tough winter.  Remove excess silt and general detritus and check and trim water plants and their containers.

Dead heading flowers can be a bit laborious but well worth the effort as it directs the plant’s energy to continue flowering rather than going to seed too early.

Special Plants and their families recommended in July-August.  Pinks and Penstemons(Plantaginaceae or Foxglove family).  Lily (Amaryllis)  Iris (wet or bearded), Sisyrincha, Dierama (Angels fishing rod), Tigridia (all Iris family).  Euphorbia for fragrant foliage (Euphorbia family) and not forgetting those wonderful herbs (Mentha – Mint family) quick to grow from seed in a pot is best.

Annual Pelargoniums (Geranium family).

Harvest summer vegetables carrots, beans, onions and shallots, early potatoes.  Sow winder brassicas and winter salads.

 

Just enjoy your garden this last full month of Summer  well deserved after a long winter.

Best  wishes

 

Tony Arnold  MCIHort

SCIENCE FOR THE GARDENER BOOK TO BE PUBLISHED THIS YEAR 

 

JULY GARDENER

Young Horticulturist of the year Lachlan Rae with President CIHort Dr Owen Doyle

Summer officially commenced on June 21st UK

SCIENCE FOR THE GARDENER BOOK TO BE PUBLISHED THIS YEAR

SEE CHAPTER 1 ON THE SCIENCE PAGE    HISTORY OF PLANTS ALGAE TO ANGIOSPERMS 

There are many jobs to do but we should make the most of this special time of year to relax and enjoy all our hard work and efforts over the past few months.
Important jobs to do in July and August
Warmer weather catches us on the hop when we get a dry period and suddenly find the soil, containers and baskets drying out very quickly.

Keep containers well watered .Water crystals are worth adding they hold the moisture in a gel and release it .

A good idea is to add water crystals with compost and soil to containers and hanging baskets. They produce water filled jelly which lasts a considerable time and makes a big difference in hot weather. Compost and manure on its own dries out fast so some loamy soil will be required which will be a better water retaining combination. Newly planted trees and shrubs MUST be kept well-watered for a year!
Mulching with compost and especially manure for nitrogen demanding plants – such as roses – and some vegetables Brassicas (but not Legumes: peas) is recommended, but do keep watered. Mulching also has the effect of retaining moisture in all growing media. You will see very rapidly the improvement in your plants’ well-being. It’s very encouraging.
Lawns will rapidly dry out, even with some rain, which barely penetrates roots, so one thorough watering is proven to be more effective than an occasional sprinkle with the watering can. Add high nitrogen liquid feed according to manufacturer’s label.
Remove spring bulbs and leaves but keep stored bulbs dry and lightly dust with sulphur if any sign of disease.
Clear ponds and aquatic areas of surface congested oxygen plants/weeds now after a tough winter. Remove excess silt and general detritus and check and trim water plants and their containers.
Deed heading flowers can be a bit laborious but well worth the effort as it directs the plant’s energy to continue flowering rather than going to seed too early.
Plants and their families recommended in July-August. Pinks (Foxglove family). Lily (Amaryllis) Iris (wet or bearded), Sisyrincha, Dierama (Angels fishing rod), Tigridia (all Iris family). Euphorbia for fragrant foliage (Euphorbia family) and not forgetting those wonderful herbs (Mentha – Mint family) quick to grow from seed in a pot is best.
Annual Pelargoniums (Geranium family).
Harvest summer vegetables carrots, beans, onions and shallots, early potatoes. Sow winder brassicas and winter salads.
Just enjoy your garden, well deserved after a long winter.
Any inquiries or help required please contact me via email:
tony@scienceforthe gardener.com

SCIENCE FOR THE GARDENER BOOK TO BE PUBLISHED THIS YEAR EXCERPTS  PUBLISHED IN SCIENCE PAGE .CHAPTER  1  ALGAE TO ANGIOSPERMS 

New Young Horticulturist of the Year

The 2017 Young Horticulturist of the Year is Scotland’s Lachlan Rae!Displaying

This year’s Young Horticulturist of the Year competition came to an exciting end on May 6th at University Centre Shrewsbury where the final 8 competitors fought for the opportunity to travel anywhere in the world with a £2,500 bursary. The bursary is provided in honour of Percy Thrower, Britain’s first celebrity gardener, known for his work with the BBC on Gardeners world and Blue Peter. This year’s competition received over 2,500 entries from young horticulturists under the age of 30 from all over the UK and Ireland.

Download press release

The day began with a series of plant identification rounds which proved to have an enormous impact on the scoreboards later in the competition. An audience of over 70 people arrived to support the final 8 contestants, including headline sponsors Peter Hunt from MorePeople, Raoul Curtis-Machin from the Horticultural Trades Association, and more than 20 members of the Shropshire Horticultural Society including Percy Throwers three daughters. Also in attendance was Nick Smith, Show Director of the Harrogate Flower Shows – the next location for the 2018 competition.


2012 YHOY winner, Douglas Mackay said “They hid their nerves much better than I remember managing to and it was so closely-fought! The day had a great buzz and you feel so energised by all that horticultural knowledge.”



Peter Hunt, Raoul Curtis-Machin, Owen Doyle, James Hodgson

The competition itself began just after 11:00 and after the first few rounds Lachlan was already in the lead, closely followed by Fern with just one point between them. But after the points from the mornings identification rounds were added into the mix, we saw Josh rise to first place with Julia and Lachlan following in close behind. Going into the final round there were 20 quick fire questions with 40 points up for grabs. Fern started in the lead, but very quickly Lachlan showed his abilities taking away 17 points and allowing him to take first place. Competition organiser Susan Nicholas said she had never seen such a tight competition with only 5 points between first and second place.

Scores
Finalist
Region
Representing

59
Lachlan Rae
Scotland
Auchendolly Estate

54
Fern Champney
Eastern
Writtle College

51
Josh Egan-Wyer
West Midlands and South Wales
Pershore College

46
Julia Andersson
South East
Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

42
Matthew Brewer
Northern
RHS Gardens Harlow Carr

34
Nathan Foulds
North West & North Wales
Reaseheath College

32
Peter Adams
South West
RHS Rosemoor

31
Egle Zinkute
Ireland
National Botanical Gardens Dublin

Matthew Brewer, Peter Adams, Josh Egan-Wyer, Julia Andersson, Bryan Howard, Fern Champney, Lachlan Rae, Egle Zinkute, Nathan Foulds.

After the final round, we heard an inspiring speech from James Hodgson, one of the founding trustees of the Percy Thrower Trust. The prizes were then due to be presented by SHS Chairman, Richard Whittingham, however Richard thought it would be more fitting to have Percy Throwers’ three daughters present the certificates, so Margaret Thrower, Ann Kirkham and Sue Jones took to the stage.

As well as their certificates, each finalist received a collage of one of Percy Throwers horticultural projects -the dingle,  a book and free membership to both the CIH and Plant network. Lachlan Rae now has his opportunity to plan how he will spend his £2,500 during his extended visit to Australia and possibly Tasmania. Fern goes home with £950 and Josh with £550 while the rest of the runners up all receive £200, all to be used in any way they wish.

The competition was covered by BBC Shropshire’s Paul Shutterworth. After the competition when asked where he would like to see himself in the future, Lachlan replied ‘Looking forward towards the future I could quite happily see myself in a television gardening role’ It would be fantastic to see Lachlan following in the footsteps of Percy Thrower, taking inspiration from Britain’s first celebrity gardener.


Sponsors

Photos

Lachlan & Owen

Sponsors

All finalists

You can find more photos here
 https://www.horticulture.org.uk/young-horticulturist-of-the-year/the-final/ 

Editor’s notes

The competition
This annual competition is organised by the Chartered Institute of Horticulture, the only professional body representing all aspects of horticulture. The Institute founded the Young Horticulturist of the Year competition in 1990 as a way of encouraging and rewarding excellence among those starting out in a career in horticulture and today around 2000 young people under the age of 30 participate each year.
The 2017 competition was free to enter and is open to any horticulturist who is below the age of 30 on31 July 2017.

The competition is run in three phases: heats which take place in January and February, followed by eight Regional Finals held in March and the Grand Final in May.

Heats are based on multi-choice questions covering a wide range of horticultural topics. The heats are organised by eight CIH Regional Organisers and take place at colleges, garden centres and anywhere else where competitors may gather.

For more information, and to have a trial run at some previous heat questions, visit https://www.horticulture.org.uk/young-horticulturist-of-the-year/regional-finals/
Heat winners go forward to one of eight Regional Finals held in March, when a Question Master asks a wide range of horticultural questions, some through a buzzer round, and some directed to individual contestants. In addition, there are two identification rounds to further test their depth and breadth of knowledge on a range of plants as well as pests, diseases, disorders and weeds.
The winner of each Regional Final progresses to the Grand Final where the format is the same as for the Regional Finals with questions covering all sectors of horticulture.

The winner of the Grand Final receives the £2,500 Percy Thrower Travel Bursary, provided by the Shropshire Horticultural Society, Percy Thrower Trust.  This funds a horticultural trip anywhere in the world.

The University College Dublin ‘Evolution of Land Plants’ garden

The UCD ‘Evolution of Land Plants’ garden is an outdoor classroom designed to teach land plant evolution at University College Dublin (UCD). It first showcased at Bloom in the Park 2016, the Irish version of Chelsea Flower Show, where it won a Gold medal and Best Concept Garden, before being installed at UCD.

The idea for the garden was conceived by Assoc. Prof. Paul McCabe, Head of Botany, UCD. It was designed and created by Dr. Caroline Elliott-Kingston, Lecturer in Horticulture and Crop Physiology, UCD and Ms. Nicola Haines, Tierney Haines Architects.

The garden is visually divided into five sections from left to right. Each section represents a different time period from circa 600 million years ago (mya), when no plants lived on land, to present day. Each section contain a land and fresh water area, divided by a timber frame, and Sections 2-5 showcase a major innovation in land plant evolution.


The first timber column on the left in Section 1 (600-500 mya) contains the words ‘Before land plants’. This area has no land plants but contains freshwater algae (Chara sp.) in the pond.


Section 2 ‘Cuticle’ (500-400 mya) illustrates the first major innovation, the beginnings of a waterproof coating that allowed plants to move out of fresh water onto land without desiccating. It contains mosses and liverworts (Bryophytes).


Section 3 ‘Vascular tissue’ (400-300 mya) depicts the origination of ‘internal plumbing’ (xylem tissue) to transport water up through plants from roots to tips, allowing them to grow tall for the first time. This area contains ferns and horsetails (Pteridophytes).


Section 4 ‘Seed’ (300-200 mya) illustrates the origination of seeds. Before this, plants reproduced only by spores. This section contains conifers and cycads (Gymnosperms).

Section 5 ‘Flower’ (200 mya – present) showcases the variety of flowering plants (Angios
perms) that dominate Earth. Each section contains plants from the previous sections to explain that these plant types still exist.

Plants did not provide colour on land, other than varying shades of green, until flowers evolved. The final section bursts with colour to show how plants use flower colour and scent to co-opt animals, insects and birds into dispersing their pollen and seeds. Almost all food on Earth for both humans and animals is provided by flowering plants so this section includes horticultural fruit and vegetable crops and cereals.

Each section has a pond that diminishes in size as visitorswalk along the evolutionary path to depict plants’ diminishing reliance on water for successful reproduction over evolutionary time. They still require water for growth of course.In contrast, the land area in each sectionexpands from left to right, to illustrate the increasing diversity and expanding number of species on Earth over the past circa half billion years.

Corten steel panels are attached to the timber frame in sections 2 to 5. Each panel includes an animal that existed on Earth at that time. There is no panel behind the first section to show that there were no animals on land before plants as plants are the basis of all food webs on Earth. The panel position on the frame gets higher as one moves along the path to show that plants have generally got taller over evolutionary time.

When ‘walking through evolutionary time’ in this garden, it is hoped that students and visitors will better understand the major innovations in land plant evolution that allowed plants to colonise Earth and led to the wonderful greening of our planet. The garden is open to all to visit.


 

Article by:

Caroline Elliott-Kingston Dip. Hort., BSc.Botany, PhD, MCIHort

Nicola Haines BSc.Arch, Dip.Arch, RHS Level 3 Hort

Plant Evolution 1

img_20160216_142635

‘Prehistoric’ Mud Geysers Rotarua New Zealand taken by Editor

img_20160216_143740

Plants, grasses and tough shrubs surviving volcanic conditions in Rotarua New Zealand taken by the Editor

Plant Evolution – Algae to Angiosperms

Excerpt 1 from the book Science for the gardener to be published 2017

It all started with a bang – a very big bang – nearly 14 billion years ago, or so we are told.

9 billion years later, a mere 4.6 billion years ago, planet earth an immensely hot magma blob was created, steamy and foul smelling, a mixture of dust and gasses.

Evolution had begun – a time line of such gigantic proportions the figures are almost impossible for us to comprehend.  To think that we, the human race, and everything we see and know around us on our planet earth evolved from a smelly mixture of dust and gasses.

First things first, the earth needed to cool down.  It took another billion or so years for this to happen and a crust to form around the earth (rather like the skin on custard).

The figures are mind boggling I know, but bear with me things do get more interesting.

As the outer layer began to cool a little, volcanoes began to appear from the depths of the still very hot planet.  Volcanoes produce water vapour, lots of it, from hydrogen and oxygen.  And, surprise, surprise, that made water.  Good old H2O the one scientific formula we all know.  Water; we cannot have living matter without water.

The atmosphere at that time was full of very ‘pongy’ and noxious volcanic gases made from the elements of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen.  I am sure you are all familiar with some of these gasses such as methane CH4, (smelly) and ammonia NH3 (even more smelly).

These gasses combined with the water vapour produced by the volcanoes and became what we call a primordial soup (don’t suppose it tasted very good!).  Just as well we humans were not around at the time; we wouldn’t have been able to breathe because there was no available oxygen.  It was all stuck in the soup.

img_20160309_224632

Remaining Prehistoric rock in Darwin National Forest .Photo taken by Editor on site

 

 

NEXT EDITORIAL CONTINUES WITH PLANT EVOLUTION 

Plant Evolution 2

Exerpt 2   Algae to Organisms  from Science for the Gardener Book to be published 2017

First plant organisms

 

Cyanobacteria, a single bacteria cell, is believed to be the very first organism to emerge from the soup, using light to make the sugars needed for growth from carbon dioxide and water, and releasing oxygen into the air.  The oxygen needed to sustain human and animal life in the future.   It was several thousand million years before plants as we know them evolved to be able to make the sugars necessary for growth in this way, which is known as photosynthesis.

 

Fossilised remains of these first single cell bacterial organisms have been found around the world in Australia, Belize and the Bahamas.  Scientists have named these remains Stramatolites.

 

Over the next 50 million years these organisms started to multiply to produce what we now know as Green Algae.  Green Algae lived mostly in water – ponds, lakes and rivers or in the seas, attaching itself to the first rock formations.  Not terribly pleasant, rather slimy and not very welcome on our ponds today, but they were the ancestors of the first land plants.

 

Fast forward to 570 million years ago!  Plant evolution begins.  From Algae, very simple green and slimy, to Angiosperms, the myriad of beautiful flowering plants grown today.  Five different plant groups, all evolving with differing methods of reproduction – just as well we humans didn’t evolve in quite the same way.

 

The first land plants, with very simple branched stems, no leaves or roots evolved to live in drier conditions.  They were upright and developed a vascular system for drawing up water and nutrients and dispersed spores (a cell with a protective coating) from a sac at the tip of the stem in order to reproduce.  These first simple land plants have been given the name Cooksonia.  All these very early land plants are now extinct.

Plant Evolution 3

Excerpt 3 Plant Evolution Plant Algae to Angiosperms  from the book Scienceforthe Gardener to be published 2017

Before I continue, let me take you on a short journey back to the future.

Many of the very earliest plants have become extinct, along with the dinosaurs, and can only be recognised from fossil remains.  A fossil, as I am sure you know is the impression, of an actual plant or animal that was alive in prehistoric times.  It takes the form of stone, just like the Stramatolites, which were originally bacteria.

But let me tell you about some living fossils.   Three trees that were thought to be long dead have been found alive and well. Three trees that we know from fossils lived alongside dinosaurs and have only recently been rediscovered

The three trees illustrated, the Gingko, the Wollemi Pine and the Metasequoia, all recognisable from fossil records, were all thought to be extinct.

The Gingko Biloba was discovered last century in China.  Interestingly it is the only species of this genus growing to over 100 feet tall.  A welcome find as Gingko leaves are now being used in herbal remedies for complaints such as vertigo and dementia and generally into Alzheimer’s Disease.

Sequoia semperverans (Coast redwood )

Sequoia semperverens coast redwood

The next tree, the large Dawn Redwood, a member of the Taxodiaceae family, and thought to have been extinct for 5 million years, was discovered in 1946 in Szechuan China.

It is a vigorous growing deciduous tree with very attractive soft and feathery pinnate leaves and similarly to the Gingko can reach a height of over 100 feet.  It is also known as the Swamp Cypress.  It is tolerant of water-logged soils where many existed in prehistoric times.

Wollemi Pine Male Female

wallemi pine and cones

 Most exciting, and discovered very recently, is the new living fossil called the Wollemi Pine.  It was found in Eastern Australia in 1994 and has been classified in the Araucariaceae family along with another very ancient prehistoric tree the Araucaria – the Monkey Puzzle tree.  Strictly these are known as the Puzzle trees.  The name Monkey is rather incorrect!

Wallemi Pine CONE

Wallemi Pine cone and leaves

Monkey puzzle Araucaria

Monkey puzzle tree Aruacaria araucana

The Wollemi Pine is one of the oldest and rarest plants believed to date from the time of the dinosaurs.

At the time of writing this book there were less than 100 adult trees known to exist in the wild and extensive research is being undertaken to safeguard the survival of this very important genus.  Fittingly this very special living fossil tree is named Wollemi Noblis after the wild life officer David Noble who came across the tree in a canyon in an inaccessible part of Wollemi Park not far from the Blue Mountains in Eastern Australia.

I have been lucky enough to see two Wollemi saplings, one in a small public garden in Akaroa, New Zealand and one in Bristol Botanic Gardens uk so hopefully these one-time fossils will live on for generations to come.   If you would like to try to grow one yourself they are available to purchase online from specialist distributors.

And now back again to prehistoric times in the next excerpt Algae!!

Plant Evolution 4

It is an important and surprising fact that modern day vascular plants have retained the same system of operation as the prehistoric plants from which they have evolved!

excerpt 4 from Science for the Gardener  Book 

Mosses and Liverworts

These came a little bit later after the algae and look like dense green mats.

You get mosses everywhere where it is damp.  They grow on the surfaces of soil, rocks, plant containers and paths and are associated with damp, shady and compacted conditions.  Moss can be an attractive plant to cover bricks, stones and other hard surfaces that you might want to cover up, but it is an unwelcome sign of bad drainage in lawns and on soils in flower beds.

Liverworts, also non-vascular, growing on the soil of a plant you are about to buy, is a sign that the plant was potted quite some time ago.

In the Carboniferous period around 360-290 million years ago Britain was covered in vast swamps out of which rose dense forests of the first true leaf bearing plants.  Club mosses, ferns and equisetites the first vascular plants, sucking up the nutrients required to allow them to grow to huge proportions in a relatively short space of time.  When these enormous plants died they fell back into the swamp eventually becoming the coal we know and use today.

Climate change is nothing new.  Can you image back then our climate was that of a tropical rain forest, hot, wet and very humid and, not for the squeamish, there were some extremely large bugs and flying insects beginning to emerge.

Club Mosses

Giant club mosses tall upright plants with a forked trunk out of the top of which sprouted long grass-like leaves grew in the swamps reaching up to 150 feet high.

Ferns

Ferns are some of the oldest surviving plants.  They reproduce by spreading spores which are found on the backs of the leaves but some modern day ferns (such as bracken) can be very  invasive as the plants have adapted to reproduce not only by spores blowing in the wind but also by growing rhizomes, a mass of creeping invasive underground roots.  And boy are they successful, but also rather wonderful with their fronds (leaves) emerging from a large underground clump and gradually uncurling.  Their roots are good for holding soil together in some of the more tricky planting positions such as stream banks.  Ferns live in many different habitats and come in varying shapes and sizes.  I have several different species in my garden and they are very welcome.

Horsetails

There is another very important prehistoric plant group, the equisetites, commonly known as horsetails, which also produce spores as well as underground rhizomes similarly to some species of ferns.

Equisetites were originally in prehistoric times over 100 feet tall, but have evolved to become the much smaller modern day plant, the equisetum.  They can be very attractive – they look great in a tall glass vase – but unfortunately again can be very invasive so be careful if and where you plant them.  They have an uncanny habit of not waiting to be planted but just turning up uninvited as unwelcome weeds all around the world.

Cycads

 Cycads are an interesting group of sub-tropical plants which lived over 200 million years ago, even before the dinosaurs, so we are led to understand.  Cycads have very wide woody trunks with an impressive crown of evergreen pinnate leaves and can be several metres tall, or just a few centimetres.   They are very attractive plants which are related to palm trees and tree ferns but are not suitable for growing outside in cooler temperate climates.

Unlike ferns, they bear both male, pollen producing, and female, seed bearing, cones, the size and shape of which are very impressive, particularly the male cones!  They have a pollinator which is a special species of beetle.  These plants grow very slowly and live a very long time – as much as 1,000 years.

So cycads evolved to produce seed and have adapted to live in many and varied conditions.  They can be found in swamp and boggy conditions, in a harsh dry desert or a wet rainforest climate, in full shade or full sun, although they are an endangered species and  today there are just 250 species compared to over 300,000 in prehistoric times.   I find them fascinating survivors that have adapted very well to their surroundings, having had plenty of time to do so!

Swamp cyprus-Bald cyprus Taxodium distichum Cyprus – Taxodiaceae family Pic by Editor from N Trust Stourhead uk

Conifers

Starting their life in the same time period as Cycads are the Conifers.  They are the largest group of living gymnosperms (which means they bear open, unprotected seeds).  They are non flowering plants and mostly evergreen.

Some conifers have broadleaves, a good example being the Gingko, but most have simple needle-like leaves like pines or scale leaves as with the cypress – cupressus family – and then there aresome with very soft scale leaves as with the swamp cypress family.

Conifers prefer a colder climate and they can often grow to huge sizes.  One well known example, a Californian Redwood (sequoia), is not only over 70 meters high, but is nearly 10 metres in circumference.  Wow!

NEXT CHAPTER   ANGIOSPERMS FLOWERING PLANTS 

Welcome to Teachers Instructors and Students from RHS Schools Campaign

Welcome to Science for the Gardener to all those following the link from the RHS Campaign for School Gardening website.

Have you taken up the offer of the teacher’s PowerPoint Download on the RHS Secondary Science Resources News page?   A valuable easy teaching tool with accompanying detailed notes, developed especially for students of any age interested in studying the science behind gardening and horticulture.

To help you prepare gardening science support lessons for your students – just use the special teacher’s discount code DISC5 to obtain a full copy of the 55 PowerPoint Slide Presentation along with the accompanying notes.   Go to SHOP now.

There are  more Science topics to look at on Science for the Gardener.  

Read the three excerpts from the first chapter Algae to Angiosperms from the soon to be published Book – Science for the Gardener.

News has thoughtful editorials on Happy and Healthy Gardening , Young Horticulturist, Community Gardening and Gardening for the Blind.  

Coming soon the long awaited Garden Science page with a very special message from a leader figure in the horticultural world.

Following Tim Peake’s experiments in space, what effect did zero gravity have on those seeds?

Regular updates will aim to provide interesting aspects in the advancement of basic gardening science for students keen to know how the world benefits from the growing of plants.

 

June Gardener

With climate change be prepared for very varying and warmer weather conditions in summertime in the UK.  Do not be surprised by some torrential downpours and possibly extra hot sunny days during June July where some temporary shelter for flowering plants may be required.

Garden maintenance in Summer is unrelenting but easier if you do a quick tour round at the beginning of the week  and make a list of all the jobs that need urgent attention.

Moisture retention  Watering is needed every day at present after 8 weeks of mostly dry weather as soil soon starts to dry out whether its clay or especially sandy soil.  The best way to overcome dry soil is to add organic mulch (manure preferably or  compost or leaf mould) to flower beds and containers  and water crystals especially to containers and  if you plan to be away. They can save the container plant in a hot dry spell.

Powdery mildew is on the march right now  ,this fungus loves dry plants and is attacking Camellia leaves

Forde Abbey Lawn Dorset UK

Lawns require a high nitrogen liquid feed for greening up  after a long winter and must be watered regularly during hot spells to avoid stress. Use a proprietry lawn feed with selective weed treatment it really will make a big difference .

Plants  require a light all round liquid feed especially to prolong flowering. I recommend  tomato food which is high in potash (potassium)to boost flowering  and phosphorus  feed  to strengthen roots and stems helpful for  vegetables. We forget that  recent heavy winter and spring rains leach away much of these  main nutrients

Pruning especially of larger shrubs is vital to promote fresh growth and provide air and light particularly  for neighbouring  plants. Deadheading also has a big effect on prolonging flowering or the plant will start going to seed early!

Plant out summer bedding and bulbs, hanging baskets and containers. Pelargoniums are a wise choice for containers for busy people as they are not bothered about being watered.Strangely they actually dont like much water.  Some rain will be sufficient.

 Sow annual seeds into the ground, it’s really worth buying a packet ready prepared if time is short, and lightly cover over with soil. Add some string protection from birds but to help eliminate snails and slugs, collecting  at night with a torch  is very worth while if you can bear doing it with a jam jar and gloves! They love to decimate seedlings and plants especially Hostas, bedding plants and certain water loving plants such as Ligularia etc can be destroyed in days.Ours was !

Special Summer seeds for climbers  It may help growing superb annual seeds Black eyed Susie ,Chilean Glory Flower ,Spanish Flag and not forgetting contrasting blue  Morning Glory grown indoors and then to  containers.

Don’t  forget your choice of  herbs grown from seeds so easy.  Keep  well away from soil level if you have severe slug and snail  problems ,use organic slug pellets reasonably priced now on the market ,they hate them as the pellets absorb the slime and are gritty  but do no damage to wildlife .

Liquidfeed ericaceous flowering plants especially, ericaceous flowering now , for Rhododendrons/Azaleas, Heathers, Enkianthus etc-  it will make a big difference.

Semi ripe cuttings can be taken now, best in mornings into a plastic bag, and important to plant quickly with hormone rooting powder.

 Greenhouses should be checked for over-wintering pests, red spider mite in particular.  A thorough soapy sponge-down works well as pests and many diseases hate detergents.  Allow plenty of air circulation in hot days and dampening down the floor is very important.   Burn any diseased material, do NOT compost.

Enjoy flaming June and those quieter special  garden moments!

Tony Arnold MCIHort

Chartered Institute of Horticulture

Statement from Dr. Owen Doyle, President of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture

“I am very much looking forward to the next two years in the CIH where I see the profession of horticulture receiving ever increasing recognition and being valued more among the general public and government policy decision makers.

I am fully supportive of the RHS and SciencefortheGardener in advocating the sciences which support horticulture. We need to encourage students to appreciate the diversity that a career in horticulture can bring.

Horticulture is a global industry founded on science. Starting with the science of geology and soil formation, of plant growth and development, of insects, pests and diseases, of pollinators (insects and bees), of biology, chemistry, physics and much much more.

There are horticultural qualifications for all levels of study right up to research for a doctoral degree and beyond. So I encourage students to jump in and study horticulture and take your studies as far as you desire.

My old horticulture professor used so say “Have a career in Horticulture and see the world”. Thanks to NASA and astronauts like Tim Peake we can now say “With a career in horticulture you can reach for the stars”. How exciting is that!”

LATEST (Spring) STATEMENT FROM DR OWEN DOYLE, PRESIDENT OF CIHort ON SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING AND MATHS (STEM)

Developed economies around the world are looking to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as the key drivers of innovation for future economic growth and development. Government policy decision-makers have focused on industries that they can easily identify as being grounded in these STEM subjects, such as information and communications technology, biotechnology, biopharmaceuticals and other such sectors.

However, right under their noses are the indigenous industries of agriculture and horticulture that are the products of the direct application of STEM subjects.  Horticulture, in particular, provides plenty of opportunities to teach these subjects and to communicate effectively with the general public the importance of STEM in their lives, be it food (advanced mushroom production, glasshouse technologies and precision field cropping) or non-food horticultural products  or services (tissue cultured plants, landscape architecture design and construction of private and public spaces).

Over the last number of decades funding for research, training and education in horticulture, particularly at degree and post-graduate education levels, has reduced dramatically.  At the apprenticeship or practitioner level funding has also been significantly cut.  STEM subjects are absolutely vital for future innovation, development and sustainability of our horticulture industry, to ensure food security and guarantee the supply of safe, healthy and nutritious food.

Communicating to the general public and policy decision-makers that horticulture is an applied science, and that STEM subjects are the essential foundations of this very important sector, could result in an increase in applications for horticulture training and education courses.  It is essential that individuals with the ability to research, interpret and apply these key subjects are available to our industry and they will be vital for the future success and sustainability of horticulture.

Horticulture has the capacity to engage and educate the public by showcasing the application of science, technology, engineering and maths through the vast array of examples offered by our industry.  As horticulture is also defined as the art, science, technology and business of plant cultivation, it will fit nicely into the new acronym currently used, in some countries, to engage the general public in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics).  While recent research has shown that 50% of the public feels poorly informed about STEM, this research also confirmed that a majority (58%) are interested but lack confidence as they feel that developments in science and technology are too specialised for them to understand, thus they miss the vital connection to the role that science plays in their lives.

Horticulture can easily demonstrate that STEM is part of normal, everyday life, from the food and drinks we consume, to the landscapes in which we live and the plants surrounding us.  Horticulture can stimulate the awareness and excitement of what STEM really means to our lives and explain and showcase the importance of studying and appreciating these subjects.

Editors note ,this vital statement is mapping out the strategic parameters of the Horticulture World being communicated to the public at large and educational world in particular and most important policymakers please take note !!