The flower garden truly is a thing of beauty. Like many people I always wanted my very own. I didn't know where to start, what to grow, or even how. But once I got the basics down I realised that it doesn't have to be very hard. It can actually be very easy to grow your very first flower garden with the right knowledge.

We are going to take a quick tour of the basics of flower gardening. If you can master these things then you too can grow a stunning flower garden.


There are three different types of flowers. annuals, perennials, and biennials. The main two were going to look at is annuals and perennials.

Annuals: These flowers are grown from seed each year and then they bloom. Once their season is over then it is over. You have to replant these each year from seed again.

Perennials: This type usually has some root or a dormant period where they can continue to survive until there next season. So these types of flowers don't really die.

Both of these are suitable for the beginner gardener. Some do find perennials to be a little more work, but usually they are not that much more work. Actually, perennials do very well in environments where the weather is cold in the winter.

You should try to mix up your flower garden with both of these types. There are flowers of both types that are easy to grow for someone new to flower gardening.


Whether you like it or not you are going to need some fertiliser or compost. Even a garden with good soil should still have fertiliser added to it.

There are a lot of different types, but the best type of fertiliser is always manure. Yes it does smell, but it is the most natural form of soil enhancement there is. You just can't beat it.

Not any manure will do. Picking the right manure for the right plants can help the growth of your flowers a great deal. For example, cow manure doesn't heat the same way other types do. This makes cow manure good for flowers that don't like the hot manures. It helps to find out what your plants like better.

You are not just limited to manure. You can get more commercial types of fertiliser if you wish. These fertilisers can be used in conjunction with manure. Just realise that these fertilisers are not really a good substitute for manure.


All of your plants will require different amounts of water. You need to be aware of the plants that need to be watered regularly. For example, most types of roses will need to have plenty of water. At the same time some flowers will not require that much water. In fact you may even harm some flowers by over watering them.

Your location will matter too. If you have a well made flower bed out in the open your flowers may get enough water from the rain. If you live in a dry climate they wont get enough, and if they are in a sheltered area they wont get very much rain water either.

The soil can make a difference in how often you must water. Sandy soil will need to be water frequently because it dries out fast.

A final tip you should know watering your plants deeply is ideal. Simply sprinkling water over them will not always be good enough to get to the roots.


Each flower you choose to grow will have it's own ideal growing conditions. The idea is to put it into those ideal conditions the best you can. Some flowers will grow better in certain soil, under certain weather conditions, require different amounts of water, need more space apart, and so forth. Learn about the flowers that you would like to grow so that you can give them their best chance of survival.


Article by John E White


If you are a home or hobby gardener, you may want to grow your flowers from seeds. This is truly the best value for a gardener. With a very small cost of the seed packets you can fill your garden with colour! And, you will have a much greater variety of plants to choose from. If you want to give it a try, you can start with plant seeds that are commonly easy to grow in Australia. 


Generally, the size of the seed can help determine the necessary size of a pot. A half inch seed should have a six inch pot. Just about any pot that provides drainage will work. You can also use plastic containers. If necessary, punch holes for drainage if you use plastic containers. If the seeds are extremely small, using the bottom half of an egg carton will work. Punch holes below each depression.

When choosing from perennial plant seed varieties, look for ones adapted to your region and planting zone. Most seeds are best sown in a synthetic potting soil mix. Many larger seeds can be sown in low cost organic potting soil. Any potting soil should be sufficient, though.

Most fertilisers say 5-10-5 on them and that means 5% nitrogen (nitrogen good for grass and green foliage), 10% phosphorus (phosphorus good for roots and is good for flowers and fruits) and 5% potassium (potassium good for overall health and is good for flowers and fruits). A fertiliser that says 10-10-5 or 14-14-10 is higher in nitrogen is good for grass and foliage but will tend to make flowers have more foliage and less flowers so don't use a grass fertiliser on flowers or fruit bearing trees. Manure is 5-10-5 and is inexpensive but takes several months to completely break down and fertilise the plants. For fast results use chemical fertilisers that do not need to break down.

Sow your seeds in the potting soil. Allow a few seeds per container/pot as not each seed will germinate. Cover with a quarter inch of additional soil. Water your seeds until the soil is moist throughout. A little puddle of water may form below your plant, so it is best to put your pot in a saucer or pan.

Place your plants so that they are getting indirect sunlight. Lighting and heat sources are optional and vary with seed type. The right soil temperature controls dormancy, so bottom heat is best. Many seeds require low level light for germination. A fluorescent shop- or under-cabinet light works well at low cost. Most small seeds require a bright light source for a few days before carrying on outdoors. 

Increase humidity for germination with a thin, clear plastic bag or plastic wrap. Remove the plastic wrap for 15 minutes per day or punch holes for air circulation. Watch closely for germination because most seeds will germinate much quicker than the length of time given in most specifications. Remove the plastic wrap as soon as the seeds sprout.

Transplant your seeds outside after seedlings are strong and established (after growing about 1 to 2 inches tall). Most seeds are easy to transplant.

To determine the density of plants in your flower garden, measure the area of your garden and calculate its square footage (width x length = square feet). Then determine the spacing requirements of each variety. If the recommended spacing is six inches, use four plants per square foot; for eight-inch spacing, two plants; 12-inch spacing, one plant. It's also a good idea to plant a few in four- or six-inch pots to hold for later in the summer, in case you need replacement plants.

If you can't plant immediately, store your seedlings in a protected area out of wind and free of danger of a late frost. Water as needed to prevent them from drying out.

Try to transplant on an overcast day or late in the afternoon to minimize stress. Water each plant thoroughly before removing from the growing container or pot.

Prepare the planting bed by loosening the soil to a depth of six to eight inches. Dig each hole slightly larger than the seedling's root. Add two inches of compost or composted manure, and mix in well. Gently place the seedling in the hole, filling in with garden soil and tamping securely into place.

Drench the soil around the plants, watering slowly, deeply, and evenly. Provide daily attention to your new plants for the first few weeks, watering as the soil surface dries out. Fertilise once with an organic fertiliser such as 5-3-4 or a synthetic fertiliser like 10-10-10, according to the instructions on the product label.

Mulch to retain moisture and keep down weeds. Use a two-inch layer of bark chips, straw, or other organic matter. Avoid leaves, unless shredded, as they may pack down keeping water and air from the plant roots.


Article by Richard Ludwig


Richard has worked on many DIY projects around the home and garden for many years. Spending much of his spare time as a hobby gardener to not only grow grass for a luscious lawn in the dry Southwestern US, but also vegetables and flowers from seeds for beautiful landscapes.


Most of us love flowers - to some extent at least - even if only as a gift to a loved one. But there is more to flowers than just a pretty gift. Many flowers are edible by humans and/or animals, or infused as a health drink. Pollen rich flowers are magnets for birds and butterflies. The perfume or fragrance emitted by many flowers can be simply exquisite and a source of pleasure to those who are nearby.

Of course, a beautiful display of flowers in a garden bed or on trees and bushes adds perceivable attractiveness and value to a property. Some people like to have formal flower gardens, planted for neatness and for colour contrast. Others plant flowers in everywhere, even amongst the vegetables. Many flowers such as marigolds will keep away pests from the vegetable patch.


What we now call Cottage Gardens built for a display of lovely annuals and perennial flowers were originally found in the homes of the poor who little space for luxuries like flowers and needed what little space was available to grow necessities such as herbs and vegetables These gardens were the opposite of the large formal gardens found in palaces and grand country houses. Many of the plants used today are annuals - that is, they have to be renewed every year - unlike perennials which continue to produce year after year. When planning a cottage garden there is no need to confine yourself to 'old-fashioned' flowers. Grow your favourites and arrange them so that each sets off its neighbour: colours in contrast and harmony, rounded flowers set off by spiky ones or annuals mixed with perennials. Likewise, don't forget the texture, colours and shapes of the foliage.

There is no need either to just have a formally planned cottage garden - you can use cottage plants in any style garden - for example, simply to insert a little variation or for winter flowering when the perennials are dormant or not flowering For example, blue and pink larkspurs and blood-red Flanders poppies look great together - a contrast in shape as well as colour. Cottage annuals add a riot of colour, shape and variety to a garden. They can be planted in formal beds or simply snaked around and under perennials such as azaleas, roses, gardenias or even at the base of some trees.

Some of the best cottage flowers are:

  • Lobelias, Nemesia 
  • Foxgloves, Delphiniums, Hollyhocks 
  • Larkspurs 
  • Phlox, Sweet William 
  • Violas and pansies 
  • Stocks (great perfume!) 
  • Primulas (elegant) 
  • Carnations 
  • Marigolds (plant near vegetable plots if you have a rabbit problem) 
  • Salvia (blue, red, white) 
  • Cosmos, Impatiens, poppy 
  • Snapdragons, Zinnias, Dahlias, Cinerarias 
  • Bulbs - daffodils, jonquils, tulips, crocus (to herald in the Spring) gladiolas

Perennials that go well with annuals:

  • Gardenias 
  • Roses 
  • Azaleas 
  • Rhododendrons 
  • Hydrangeas 
  • Peonies 
  • Lavender

Annuals are available for both sunny positions, semi-shade and full shade. And, you add a flowering climber nearby such as wisteria, sweet pea and jasmine to get height, fragrance and a colourful background. While traditional cottage flowers are the perennials and annuals of temperate climates, there is no reason why the style cannot be adapted to subtropical climates, using some of the perennial flowers and bulbs such as heliconias, daylillies, hippeastrums, cannas, crinums, even orchids, together with the many warm-climate annuals. And, don't forget to squeeze in an arbor, bird bath and garden seat to complete your cottage gardens!


Article by Peter Damien Ryan
Better House & Garden


Peter Damien Ryan is a landscape and gardening expert and can be reached at


We are all aware of the wonderful taste and satisfaction gained from growing home grown fruit and vegetables, but people are often surprised at the variety of flowers in their gardens that are edible too. Some flowers have a strong peppery taste and so are good for adding flavour to dishes like salads, others have a sweet taste and can be used in cakes and other sweet dishes, and some merely look beautiful and can be used as a decorative edible garnish.


Many of the flowers you can eat or use in cooking can be grown alongside other plants in a flower bed or integrated with vegetables in your vegetable garden. In fact many edible flowers also make good companion plants for vegetables, such as marigolds which can be used in salads and are also effective at keeping pests at bay. As with most fresh produce, the best time to pick edible flowers is first thing in the morning when the dew has just dried. Some flowers can be eaten or used whole, but others, particularly those with daisy-like heads you should use the petals only which should be removed gently. Once you have picked your flower heads and removed any petals, you can store them in a plastic bag in the fridge where they will keep fresh for a few hours. Don’t be tempted to wash the flowers as this can easily damage them. If they look like they have wilted before you want to use them, pop them into a glass of water and this should revive them.


The best flowers to use on a vegetable plot are annuals because they are short-lived and so won’t interfere much with your planting or crop rotation plan. Annuals that self-seed easily are particularly desirable as you will find they will pop up year after year and you won’t have to keep buying seed. Any that appear in the wrong place can be easily transplanted. Good examples are marigolds and nasturtium.

Calendula or marigold is a hardy annual and good companion plant for the vegetable garden. Its bright orange petals can be used to decorate salads. Nasturtium is another hardy self-seeding annual. Its flowers range from yellow to deep red and add a delicious peppery flavour to salads as well as being highly decorative. Borage flowers are a particularly beautiful pale blue. I pop them in the middle of an ice cube to be added to summer cordials and other drinks. The scented geranium ‘Attar of Roses’ adds a lemony flavour when used as a base for cakes. Heartsease or viola is small enough to be eaten whole and is very decorative when used as a garnish, in salads or frozen in ice cubes. The purple and pink bracts of clary sage also make a pretty garnish.

The white petals of bellis perennis or daisy flower make a colourful garnish for soups, salads, or other savoury dishes. Most dianthus or pinks have a pleasant spicy clove-like taste and can be added to soups or cakes. The flowers of evening primrose taste very much like lettuce and so are great added to a green salad. Lavender flowers can be used in a variety of ways. They are great in bread, cakes or added to sorbets, jams and jellies. Courgette flowers are very tasty when stuffed with feta cheese, dipped in batter and quick-fried. If you have a rose that smells good, you can be pretty sure it will also taste good. Most roses have a delicate fruity flavour and so are great added to cool drinks or fruit dishes. Jasmine flowers are highly scented and are often used for scenting tea.

It is not only the petals of flowers that can readily be eaten; seeds can also be a tasty by product of growing flowers. Poppy seeds are lovely sprinkled over a fresh loaf of bread. Sunflower seeds are also tasty when added to bread and other pastries.

If you are interested in growing some of these flowers to eat, why not grow a few near your kitchen door in garden planters alongside herbs and other plants with culinary uses so they are readily accessible when you need them. But remember not all the flowers in your garden are edible, some are actually poisonous, so take care and make sure you have correctly identified an edible flower before you pick it.


Article by Jo Poultney
Garden Planters


Garden Planters source unusual outdoor and indoor planters, and other garden related gifts - whatever your taste, be it traditional, modern or just a bit quirky, we will have something for you. Run by two qualified and creative gardeners, Garden Planters will also plant up your chosen planter with an arrangement of your choice. We believe garden planters are an integral part of any garden - they enhance the overall design and say a little something about the person to whom the garden belongs.


Edible flowers can offer an easy and fun way to add colour and flavour to a variety of delightful meals. Any of the edible flowers will look and taste better if eaten raw and used as soon as the flowers start to open. But, a crucial point to remember with garden flowers is that not all are edible. In fact, there are certain plants and flowers that are unsafe and poisonous to ingest. Also, plants that have been sprayed with a chemical-based herbicide, fungicide, or insecticide should be avoided.

Here are several of the edible flowers that can be grown at home:

Allium - Garlic, leeks and chives are perfect in pasta salads, potato, green salads, and dips. Clip off the central stem to separate the cluster of flowering florets.

Nasturtiums - This edible flower has peppery flavored blossoms that taste much like watercress. The plant has a variety of tastes and colours. All taste great as a garnish or in a salad. Also, the leaves are edible.

Marigolds - Clip the flowers from the signet species of this plant, such as the tangerine gem and lemon gem. The tiny flowers give a citrus-like taste.

Johnny jump-ups and Pansies - Both of these plants offer a wintergreen taste and make a perfect accent piece for placing on cakes or similar items of food.

Calendula - A fast and easy plant to grow at home. Use the petals on a salad to help add extra flavour. A Calendula grows with flowers in a variety of colours, including red, orange and yellow. Also, the plant will continue to bloom during the summer until late in the autumn.

Anise hyssop - If you favour the taste of anise, the anise hyssop is certain to offer an attractive edible flower to grow at home. Remove the florets and sprinkle them over a savory or sweet dish. Also, the full flower can be used to help garnish a cheese dish.

Borage - The borage is an herb with a light cucumber taste and sky-blue flowers. This fuzzy-leaved herb is perfect to add to green salads, fruit salads, or frozen in ice cubes to sweeten up a cold drink.

Chamomile - A chamomile plant has an apple-like flavour and daisy-like flowers. But, if you are likely to experience an allergic reaction to ragweed, it is best to avoid this type of edible flower.

Daylily - A great addition to stir-fries, daylily flowers and buds give a taste that is quite similar to asparagus. Also, the daylily is great to use as garnish on a variety of dishes.


Article by Kyle Vail


Originally from the Americas, the sunflower is an annual with large round flower heads whose shape is often used to depict the sun. Indeed, indigenous American peoples used the sunflower as a depiction of their sun god. In Australia the sunflower has also become synonymous with all that is summer, either grown in borders or as a magnificent cut flower. It is so easy to grow that it has become a favourite plant for children to grow. Here is a short guide on growing these stunning flowers from seed.

Fill small 7.5cm pots with a good multi-purpose compost. Tap each pot to settle the compost and firm it down. You will only need to sow one seed per pot as sunflowers have quite big seeds and form large seedlings. Place each seed on top of the compost and gently push down into the soil. Now cover each seed with a further thin layer of compost, label and water well so that the compost is wet through. Either use cling film or a plastic bottle 'cloche' to cover each pot to aid germination and keep the seedlings warm. Once they reach a few centimetres in height and the risk of frost has gone, plant them outside either in a border or in large planters. At the end of the flowering season you can harvest the seeds for culinary use or alternatively leave them as valuable winter food for birds.


You really can't beat the traditional tall sunflower Helianthus annuus for its magnificent stature and colour, but there are many other varieties of sunflower from short to tall, red to creamy white. Sunny Smile is a lovely dwarf variety that only grows to around 12ins tall. This variety is perfect for children to grow as they do not need staking. Claret Hybrid is a stunning red variety that has 6in blooms that don't fade in direct sunlight. It grows up to 6ft tall. Russian Mammounth lives up to its name, with stunning pale yellow blooms up to 14ins wide. It can grow up to 10ft tall. Sunrich Orange is one of the best varieties for cut flowers. It has blooms of a deep orange colour and a long flowering period. Vanilla Ice has creamy lemon coloured flowers with a black centre and is ideal for a flower border. Sunflower Incredible is a tiny variety, only 37cm in height and is therefore ideal for growing in garden planters.


Article by Jo Poultney
Garden Planters


Garden Planters source unusual outdoor and indoor planters, and other garden related gifts - whatever your taste, be it traditional, modern or just a bit quirky, we will have something for you. Run by two qualified and creative gardeners, Garden Planters will also plant up your chosen planter with an arrangement of your choice. We believe garden planters are an integral part of any garden - they enhance the overall design and say a little something about the person to whom the garden belongs.


Ask anyone which annual flower best sums up the hot sunny days of summer and they will say the sunflower. Sunflowers are easy to grow from seed and provide a cheerful testament to summer sunshine to anyone visiting your garden. They are also a great way to get children involved in growing and nurturing plants as they are so easy and fun to grow. This short creative garden project will show you how to create a walkway of sunflowers by planting them either side of a path in your garden.

To create an alley of sunflowers you will need twenty small plastic pots, some compost, seeds for a large variety of sunflower, a few small stone slabs, bamboo canes and garden twine or string.

To sow your sunflower seeds, fill each pot with general purpose compost and firm down. Make a small hole in the compost with a pencil, about 2cm deep, and place a single seed into the hole. Cover each seed with more compost before firming down and watering well. Place the pots on sunny window sill to germinate. While you are waiting for your seeds to germinate, choose a patch of ground in full sun around 3.5m x 1m. Place the stone slabs on the ground to form a path of stepping stones that will wind through the middle of your sunflower alley. If you don't want to create a path from scratch, you can always use an existing path that has beds on either side.
Once your sunflowers have germinated and reached around 20cm in height, and there is no longer any risk of frost, you are ready to plant them out. Make two rows of ten sunflower plants at least 1m apart. This will provide enough room to walk through the middle of them when they are fully grown. To plant each sunflower, dig a hole with a trowel at least twice the size of the pot. Remove each plant carefully and place in the hole, back filling with soil and then firming the soil down around it. Each sunflower needs to be planted about 30cm from the one next to it. Once all the sunflowers have been planted, water them in well. When the sunflowers have reached around 1m in height, they will need to be staked to prevent them blowing over in strong winds. Insert a bamboo cane at the side of each plant and secure the stem of the plant to the cane using garden twine or string, making sure not to tie it too tightly. You may need to loosen off the ties as the plants get bigger and the stems thicken. Although sunflowers need plenty of sunshine, they are also thirsty plants, so you will need to make sure they are regularly watered. In no time at all you will be amazed at how these plants that started off life in small garden planters can grow so tall and imposing! Once your sunflowers have died back, leave them in situ for the winter as their seeds will provide valuable food for garden birds.


Article by Jo Poultney
Garden Planters


Garden Planters source unusual outdoor and indoor planters, and other garden related gifts - whatever your taste, be it traditional, modern or just a bit quirky, we will have something for you. Run by two qualified and creative gardeners, Garden Planters will also plant up your chosen planter with an arrangement of your choice. We believe garden planters are an integral part of any garden - they enhance the overall design and say a little something about the person to whom the garden belongs.


Most of the time we plant gardens just to look at them. We go to the nursery and find little 6 packs of garden plants and organize them in the garden to grow and bloom in an artistic pattern. This works well, but it is so hard to bring those beauties inside and put them in a vase when they look so nice outside. With a cutting garden you are not trying to create a perfect landscape, rather you want a garden that will work for you and produce copious amounts of cut flowers. You can place your cutting garden in an unused corner of your yard, out of the way, so you do not feel like it needs to look perfect.


You will notice that most of those nursery 6 packs produce neat compact plants with stems too short to make large floral arrangements. What you don’t know is the nursery industry has spun a conspiracy against tall plants. It seems gardeners like nice neat gardens, not sprawling tall plants that require a constant effort to keep them from flopping over in the slightest rain or wind. But, the best cut flowers come from tall plants not ‘dwarf’ plants so commonly found these days. If you want to find the best cut flower varieties you will have to ask for them by name. They are still out there, but you will probably have to avoid the big box stores and shop at your local nursery or online.


Dianthus Amazon Series (neon purple, cherry and pink)
I can’t say enough about this plant, it is essentially a ‘super charged’ Sweet William! It is incredibly hardy, it blooms in very cold weather and blooms all summer even in temperatures above 100 degrees! Bright, showy, tall with handsome foliage. As a cut flower it will last for weeks in a vase. Unlike most Sweet Williams, this dianthus blooms the first year and is perennial rather than biennial.

Rudbeckia Indian Summer:
Big beautiful daisy like black-eyed susan flowers on straight sturdy stems. Blooms all summer, and has excellent vase life. Re-seeds freely but is not invasive. Not really a consistent perennial, but with its re-seeding characteristic it comes back every year.

Godetia Grace Series:
A spring bloomer only, but what a show! Tall stems that need support. Plant in early spring for late spring/early summer bloom.

Foxglove (digitalis) Camelot:
Unlike most foxgloves, this series blooms the first year. Tall stems with graceful tubular flowers. Much more tolerant to heat than most digitialis, blooms most of the summer for us.

Peony Coral Charm:
Expensive and hard to find, but worth every penny! Magnificent large coral pink blooms which fade to white in the vase. Pick in bud to enjoy the entire show. Peonies take about 3 years to become established enough to where you can start to cut flowers, so these take some patience.

Freesia Dukaat:
Bright yellow with a lovely fragrance of spicy apricot jam, this spring blooming bulb flower is amongst our favorite on the farm.

Sunflower Sunbeam:
An unusual green centered sunflower with sturdy tall stems. Blooms are medium sized for a sunflower and long lasting making them perfect for bouquets.

Zinnia Uproar Rose:
Tall zinnia with huge purple pink blooms. Ever blooming all summer and long vase life.

Snapdragon Rocket:
Snapdragons are an excellent example of the nursery industry’s desire to dwarf garden plants. Rocket is a superb cut flower growing 3 feet tall and providing excellent vase life. Remember to provide support.

A great spring bloomer with long stems. Plant by seed in cool soils. Best to plant in the fall or late winter before soil gets above 60 degrees. Re-seeds freely. Available in purples, pinks and white.


Okay now that you have found your excellent cut flower varieties and have lovingly planted your garden, don’t forget that they will grow tall and will need support. It is always easier to provide support for your plants before they get tall than to wrestle them after they are blown over. You can support plants with sturdy bamboo poles, tomato cages or a grid of poly netting. In the cut flower business we use a grid of netting called Hortonova Plastic Trellis ( supported by 4’ pieces of 3/8 inch rebar driven into the ground. You essentially create a horizontal plane of netting for which the flower stems can grow up through, a bit industrial but very effective. Remember this is not your show garden, it is your cutting garden, it is okay if it looks a little rough. The beautiful part will be in vases in your house!


Growing flowers organically is easy, in fact most flowers prefer a moderately fertile soil. All those chemical fertilisers are just going to make your plants too tall, weak and susceptible to pests anyway. Start with well loosened soil mixed with lots of well decomposed compost. Avoid those ‘pseudo’ composts with lots of bark. Bark is not compost and it will deplete your soil of nutrients. Good quality compost should be the consistency of coffee grounds. In most cases it is best to leave the pests in a cutting garden be. Many of them are beneficial and disrupting the bug/plant ecosystem with bug killers will just create more problems in the end. Be patient, let the critters balance themselves out and have some lemonade, your cut flowers will be better off without all that human intervention. However, you will need to do some weeding after you finish your lemonade. Be sure to pull all weeds, before they bloom and set seeds, to prevent a weed nightmare the next year!

Happy Gardening!


Article by Marc Kessler


Marc is the owner of California Organic Flowers which is the Internet’s first grower owned Certified Organic flower shipping website. He regularly gives talks and writes articles on organic farming and ecological living.  


Even if you haven't specially created a planting plan that focuses on those flowers best grown for cutting, there will still be plenty of flowers during spring and summer that you can pick from the garden and bring into the house. But whether you pick home grown flowers or buy from a shop, there is always the dilemma of how to keep them fresh for as long as possible. Here are a few good tips on how to cut flowers and keep them fresh.

If you want to cut flowers fresh from the garden there are a few handy tips to ensure you pick the healthiest blooms and ones that will last the longest. As a general rule it is best to cut flowers either first thing in the morning or later in the evening. This will ensure that the picked stems have gathered the maximum amount of water. If you are picking flowers with single blooms such as daffodils or tulips, make sure you go for a bud that is just about to open. For flowers with multiple blooms it is best to cut those with at least two thirds of the buds closed or about to open. This will ensure you have flowers that will last longer once in a vase. It is also a good idea to cut stems at a slant, the thinking being that you will increase the surface area available to take up water. Remove all foliage from the area of the stem that it is to be submerged in water. Failure to do this often results in fouling the water.
There are also some useful tips about water. Most cut flowers prefer luke warm water, except for bulbs such as daffodils that prefer cold water. Change the water in your vase every couple of days to keep it fresh and renew the oxygen supply. There are also a few quirky tips you can try to keep your flowers fresh for longer. Adding substances to the water has been proven to help and tips range from adding lemon juice, bicarbonate of soda and sugar to crushing and adding an aspirin. Other substances you can try include soda water and even bleach.

It doesn't really matter what vessel you use to house your flowers just as long as it suits the flower. For example lilies are best kept with long stems and so will need a tall vase. Vases can be anything from glass to plastic and even alternative objects will work such as china jugs, tea cups and indoor planters as long as they are water tight.


Article by Jo Poultney
Garden Planters


Garden Planters source unusual outdoor and indoor planters, and other garden related gifts - whatever your taste, be it traditional, modern or just a bit quirky, we will have something for you. Run by two qualified and creative gardeners, Garden Planters will also plant up your chosen planter with an arrangement of your choice. We believe garden planters are an integral part of any garden - they enhance the overall design and say a little something about the person to whom the garden belongs.


Increasing the vase life of your cut flowers


  • Cut in the early morning 
  • Change the water everyday 
  • Use lukewarm water 
  • Remove all leaves and thorns from stems that are under the waterline 
  • Add sugar and bleach

The following guidelines apply to most cut flowers regardless of the species. It is worth noting though that some just last naturally longer than others.


1. Always cut your flowers early in the morning when the sugar (glucose) content of blossoms is the highest - dew still on the foliage will tell you if it is the right time. 

2. Have a bucket of lukewarm water with you and immediately place the flowers in it after cutting. 

3. Use sharp secaturs or cutters. Cut at an angle as this allows better uptake of the water.

4. If time permits remove all the leaves that will be submerged in the water - you will have to do this anyway, so straight off is better.

If you are buying cut flowers - try to choose the ones that are in bud form rather than open.


1. Use lukewarm water as flowers take up warm water more readily than cold.

2. Remove all leaves and thorns (if possible) from the stems that will be submerged

3. If practical it is ideal to do all this in a large sink (e.g. the laundry sink) and cut or remove from the stems while they are under the water... reducing exposure to the air.

4. Re-cut off another half inch or so when you are getting ready to place them in the vase.

5. Flowers with woody stems like hydrangeas (and possibly roses) benefit from crushing the stems to help them take up water. You can do this by splitting the stems about a half inch from the bottom with a knife or mash the last inch or so with a mallet or meat tenderiser.

6. Cut flowers take up water through the stem ends and not the sides. Foliage left below the waterline pollutes the water as they rot. It also increases bacterial presence and this decreases the vase life (see bleach below)

7. If you have the time (and patience) clean the stems with a soft brush as this will remove further impurities and keep the water cleaner

8. The time between cutting flowers in the garden and placing them in water should be kept to a minimum. Unless immersed in water, stems absorb oxygen and the air causes embolisms or air plugs inside the stems, and this disrupts the flow of nutrients inside cut flowers.

There are more things that you can do regarding the room temp and additives that will help your preserving fresh cut flowers.


Article by Peter Damien Ryan
Better House & Garden


Peter Damien Ryan is a landscape and gardening expert and can be reached at


Sweet flowers alone can say what passion fears revealing.

Thomas Hood poem, The Language of Flowers

Flowers and bouquets of flowers have a meaning of their own. Most of us know that a dozen red roses means, "Be mine." But did you know, for example, that a primrose means, "I can't live without you," or that a purple hyacinth means, "Please forgive me," or that a pink carnation means, "I'll never forget you," or that a gladiolus means, "Give me a break?"

Flower meanings have been used to convey ideas, feelings and messages for centuries. The word, floriography, has been coined for the assignment of meaning to flowers. There is a meaning to colours of flowers, to numbers of flowers, and to groups of flowers. It is a silent language that has been largely lost to us through lack of use.

In addition to the obvious choices of colour and variety, the language of flowers also includes the way flowers are worn or presented. Presenting flowers upright conveys a positive meaning, but if they are presented upside down the meaning is the opposite. If a ribbon is included with the flowers and is tied to the left then the meaning of the flowers refers to the giver, but if the ribbon is tied to the right then the meaning refers to the recipient. Also, flowers can be used to answer questions. When they are presented with the right hand the answer is "yes," but when presented with the left hand the answer is "no."


The Turks in the 17th century seemed to develop flower meanings. In 1718 the wife of the British ambassador to Constantinople, Lady Mary Wortley, wrote a letter expounding on the "Secret Language of Flowers" that she had discovered during her visits to Turkey. Europe quickly picked up on the concept.

In 1819 Louise Cortambert, under the pen name, Madame Charlotte de la Tour, wrote and published what seems to have been the first dictionary of the flower language entitled, Le Language des Fleurs. It was a small book, but it became a popular reference on the subject.

During the Victorian era, the reign of Queen Victoria from 1837 to 1901, the meaning and language of flowers became increasingly popular. Victorian women especially picked up the silent language that allowed them to communicate feelings and meanings that the strict propriety of the times would not allow. Tussie-mussies, a bouquet of flowers wrapped with a lace doily and tied with a satin ribbon became a popular and valued gift of the times.

In 1884 a whole book on the subject and entitled, The Language of Flowers, by Jean Marsh and illustrated by Kate Greenaway, was published in London. It became popular and respected and has been the standard source for Victorian flower meaning ever since.


Here are some selected flowers and their meanings, a short dictionary.

Almond flowers -- Hope

Anemone -- Forsaken

Aster -- Symbol of love

Balm -- Sympathy

Basil -- Best wishes

Bay leaf -- "I change but in death"

Bell flower, white -- Gratitude

Bergamot -- Irresistible

Bluebell -- Constancy

Borage -- Courage

Broom -- Humility

Campanula -- Gratitude

Carnation, pink -- I'll never forget you

Carnation, red -- My poor heart aches for you

Carnation, striped -- Refusal

China rose -- Beauty always new

Chrysanthemum -- Love

Clover, four leaved -- "Be mine"

Coreopsis -- Love at first sight

Cuckoo pint -- Ardor

Daffodil -- Regard

Daisy -- Innocence, new-born, "I share your sentiment"

Fennel -- Flattery

Fern -- Sincerity

Forget-Me-Not -- True love

Furze or Gorse -- Enduring affection

French Marigold -- Jealousy

Gardenia -- Ecstasy

Gentian -- Loveliness

Geranium -- "You are childish"

Hare bell -- Grief

Heartsease -- "I am always thinking of you"

Honeysuckle -- Bonds of love

Heather -- Admiration

Hyacinth -- I am sorry, Please forgive me

Ice Plant -- "Your appearance freezes me"

Ivy -- Fidelity, friendship, marriage

Jasmine -- Grace

Jonquil -- "I hope for return of affection"

Lavender -- Luck, devotion

Lemon Balm -- Sympathy

Lilac -- First love

Lily -- Purity, modesty

Lily of the Valley -- Purity, the return of happiness

Lily, Calla -- Beauty

Marigold -- Health, grief or despair

Marjoram -- Kindness, courtesy

Myrtle -- Fidelity

Oregano -- Joy

Orchid -- Love, beauty, refinement

Pansy -- Loving thoughts

Periwinkle -- Happy memory

Phlox -- Agreement

Poppy, red -- Consolation

Primrose -- I can't live without you

Rose, cabbage -- Ambassador of love

Rose, red -- Love

Rose, pink -- Grace, beauty

Rose, yellow -- Friendship

Rosemary -- Remembrance, constancy

Rue -- Contrition

Sage -- Gratitude, domestic virtue

Snowdrop -- Hope

Star of Bethlehem -- Purity

Sweet Pea -- Departure, tender memory

Sweet William -- Gallantry

Tuberose -- Voluptuousness

Tulip, red -- My perfect lover, Reclamation of love

Violet -- Loyalty, modesty, humility

Violet, blue -- Faithfulness

Wormwood -- Grief

Wheat -- Riches of the continuation of life

Willow, weeping -- Mourning

Wallflower -- Fidelity

Yew -- Sorrow


The Rose is the flower whose meaning we most understand, but here are some details of the meaning of the Rose that may be of further interest.

Rose, Black - You are my obsession

Rose, Champagne - You are tender and loving

Rose, Leonidas - Sweet love

Rose, Nicole - You are graceful and elegant, aristocratic

Rose, Orange - You are my secret love

Rose, Pink - Brilliant complexion; the glow of your smile; perfect happiness

Rose, Red - Passionate love; I love you

Rose, Single Stems - Simplicity

Rose, White - I am worthy of you; spiritual love; Innocence and Purity; Secrecy and Silence

Rose, White and Red - We are inseparable

Rose, White and Red Mixed - Unity; Flower emblem of England

Rose, White, Dried - Death is preferable to loss of virtue

Rose, Yellow - Friendship; Jealousy; I am not worthy

Rose, Bridal - Happy Love

Rose, Dark Crimson - Mourning

Rose, Hibiscus - Delicate beauty

Rose, Tea - I'll remember always

Rose, Thornless - Love at first sight

Roses, Bouquet of Mature Blooms - Gratitude


Single bloom red Rose - Love at first sight or I still love you

Single Rose, any colour - Gratitude or simplicity

2 Roses - Mutual feelings

3 Roses - I love you

7 Roses - I'm infatuated with you

9 Roses - We'll be together forever

10 Roses - You are perfect

11 Roses - You are my treasured one

12 Roses - Be mine

13 Roses - Friends forever

15 Roses - I'm truly sorry

20 Roses - I'm truly sincere towards you

21 Roses - I'm dedicated to you

24 Roses - Forever yours

25 Roses - Congratulations

50 Roses - Unconditional love

99 Roses - I will love you all the days of my life

108 Roses - Will you marry me?

999 Roses - I love you till the end of time


With the lists above you should be able to assemble a meaningful gift of flowers or a bouquet that conveys a complex thought. Wrap the flowers appropriately and present them in a significant manner. Then, just to be certain that your efforts are not misinterpreted, include a card that fully explains the meaning of your flowers.

After a few flower presentations you should be able to drop the explanatory notes and begin enjoying and sharing the silent language of flowers.


Article by Gary Gamber
The Dating Advisor


Garry Gamber is a public school teacher and entrepreneur. He writes articles about real estate, health and nutrition, and internet dating services. He is the owner of


Late summer and colour in the garden is beginning fade. However, with some clever planting and carefully chosen plants it is possible to extend summer in the garden a good while longer. There are also plenty of techniques you can try that will also help to prolong the season.

Many of us think of mint as a summer herb, flavouring the first crop of new potatoes and releasing its pungent fragrance into the warm summer air. However, this time of year its easy to take cuttings of your favourite variety grown in outdoor planters to prolong its presence into the cooler months ahead. This time of year the foliage is beginning to fade so cuttings need to be taken from the white roots that circle the edge of the pot. Tip out a potted plant and cut a piece of white root a few inches long with a sharp knife. Place on top of a pot of compost and cover slightly with a little more compost and water. Place on a kitchen window sill and you will soon have fresh mint all winter long.

At a time of year when colour is fading look to next year by planning ahead. Now is the time to buy and plant out wallflowers. Heel them in to garden borders and come spring they will erupt into a riot of early colour. Now is also the time to plant narcissus bulbs in outdoor planters and into the ground. Lift and divide herbaceous perennials placing new-made plants in any gaps in borders.

There are a number of techniques you can try to extend the growing season in your garden. Try cutting back some clumps summer flowering perennials in late May. This will encourage buds to form on side shoots which take longer to form and so will spread the flowering period. You can also do this to the front half of a plant, leaving the back half to flower at the normal time. Plants like Phlox and Rudbeckia respond well to this type of treatment. You can also try cutting back repeat flowering perennials such as hardy geraniums and Geum after the main flush of flowers. They will need a feed and plenty of water once this is done but should reward you will a second flush of flowers later in the season. It is also a good idea to keep your plants healthy to prolong their flowering season. Make sure you mulch well in spring which will help borders retain moisture during dry summers and feed your plants throughout the season.
There are many plants you can include in your borders that will ensure a splash of colour when all else is turning shades of brown. Asters, echinaceas and sedums all come into their own at this time of year. They are also a good late source of nectar for bees and other pollinators. Plant in borders or in decorative outdoor planters.


Article by Jo Poultney
Garden Planters


Garden Planters source unusual outdoor and indoor planters, and other garden related gifts - whatever your taste, be it traditional, modern or just a bit quirky, we will have something for you. Run by two qualified and creative gardeners, Garden Planters will also plant up your chosen planter with an arrangement of your choice. We believe garden planters are an integral part of any garden - they enhance the overall design and say a little something about the person to whom the garden belongs.


Hanging baskets are a great way to brighten up a wall or fence and showcase a colourful front door. They are even increasingly brightening up the centres of our towns and cities, making us feel good with a splash of bright colour in a concrete environment. Hanging baskets are just perfect for growing exotic annuals, particularly trailing varieties and can even provide the medium for a decorative display of vegetables and fruits such as tumbling tomatoes and strawberries. Here is a guide on how to plant a hanging basket and some suitable and decorative plants.

There are a number of different styles and sizes of hanging basket from cone-shaped to round, wicker to metal. Some come already lined, others will need a liner of either moss, cardboard or natural fibre.
Once you have chosen your basket and lined it, place an old saucer in the bottom to help retain water. Then fill half the basket with good general purpose compost. It is also a good idea to mix a few slow release fertiliser granules into the compost to help feed the plants over the course of the summer. Place trailing plants through holes made in the sides of the liner and cover their roots with more compost. This will produce a fuller look to the basket once the plants become established. Plant the top of the basket with more upright, bushy plants and also include a couple more trailing plants around the edge too. It is best to fill the basket with as many plants as will comfortably fit as this will produce a more colourful, dramatic display.


If you have included a slow release fertiliser in your compost, this should feed the plants in the basket for up to six months, but an additional weekly feed with tomato food should ensure your basket flourishes throughout the summer. Regular watering is essential. Hanging baskets are often exposed to wind being high up and will quickly dry out in hot weather. During extremely dry weather you will probably need to water hanging baskets twice a day. Early morning and late evening is best.


Colour schemes and planting designs for hanging baskets are a personal choice. Hanging baskets planted with a single variety can look just as stunning as those planted with a variety of different plants and colours. For flowers plant petunia, geranium, verbena, lobelia and bidens. For unusual foliage, use cineraria, nepeta, Felicia and coleus. For vegetables plant tomatoes (tumbler) and strawberry. Hanging baskets also make good garden planters for herbs too. Placed at the side of a kitchen door they ensure an accessible supply of favourite culinary herbs like sage, marjoram, thyme and chives.


Article by Jo Poultney
Garden Planters


Garden Planters source unusual outdoor and indoor planters, and other garden related gifts - whatever your taste, be it traditional, modern or just a bit quirky, we will have something for you. Run by two qualified and creative gardeners, Garden Planters will also plant up your chosen planter with an arrangement of your choice. We believe garden planters are an integral part of any garden - they enhance the overall design and say a little something about the person to whom the garden belongs.


Butterflies feed on the nectar of flowers, so if you want to see an increase in the number of butterflies visiting your garden, you will want to ensure you plant the right kind of flowers and shrubs in your garden. It is also worth remembering that some butterflies will only lay their eggs on specific plants, so you can help to ensure the future survival of these species too.

Taking into account flowers and shrubs for the different seasons is important too, as you will want to provide them with a steady supply of food and ensure your garden is a haven for these beautiful insects, no matter what the time of year. Here is a list of ten plants to get your butterfly garden off to a flying start.

  1. Primrose -The Primrose is a hardy bloomer that comes in a variety of colours, including yellow and purple. It is also a very fragrant flower. Primroses flower in the spring and can bloom all through summer, especially if planted in the shade.
  2. Common Nettle - If planted in a sunny spot, the common stinging nettle is a perfect place for Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral butterflies to lay their eggs on in December. The caterpillars will then be seen munching on the leaves from January, sometimes right through to May.
  3. Wallflower - The Wallflower is a short lived perennial, available in a variety of colours that will bloom from spring and throughout summer. Established plants will easily self seed too.
  4. Buddleia (otherwise known as the butterfly bush) - Depending on the variety, this will flower throughout spring and summer, sometimes through to autumn. It is available as a shrub or tree, with evergreen and deciduous species available. The flowers are strongly scented and vary in colour including white, purple and pink.
  5. Lavender or Lavandula - This flowers in summer through to autumn and has a lovely scent. It is best to plant a few together and they prefer dry, well drained soil in full sun.
  6. Ice Plant - Flowering in the summer through to late autumn. It usually has lots of tiny pink flowers. Prefers being planted in full sun.
  7. Common Ivy - is a common and evergreen climber. Its light yellow flowers appear from March to April, providing an essential source of late nectar for butterflies.
  8. Common Dog Violet - Is a variety of wildflower that flowers in September through to November. It isn't really scented but attracts the various types of Fritillary butterfly, who will lay eggs on it.
  9. Lilac or Syringa - This is a deciduous shrub that is hardy and flowers from October to December. It usually has scented white or pink flowers.
  10. Hebes - The 'Great Orme' variety is one of the best types to plant to attract butterflies, although the others will still attract some. All Hebes are evergreen and can flower for several months.


Article by Sarah PJ White


Sarah PJ White is a freelance writer and life coach who specialises in self help and general interest articles. To find out more about the author, please check out her website at


When most people think of bulbs they often think of daffodils or other similar flowers. However, the bulbous variety of flowers goes well beyond that. 

While tulips, hyacinths and snowdrops also belong with the 'true' bulb family, there are many flowers that have corms, rhizomes or tubers. These include agapanthus and hippeastrums, dahlias, cannas and other lilies, irises, begonias, anemones and amaryllis, to name just a few. 

Not only do bulbs do the work of reproducing the plant, they store food for those months when the leaves die and the plant is dormant. Thus, when the conditions are right the new plant has all it needs to thrust new shoots up into the sunlight. 

Most bulbs need moist, rich, free draining soil and a sunny position to grow happily. Many flower in the spring, but such is their diversity, it is possible to have bulbs flowering in every month of the year. 

To grow bulbs such as tulips in a temperate region, keep them in the refrigerator for four to eight weeks before planting out at the coldest time of year. In cold ares, plant in late autumn. Tulips like warm, dry summers alkaline soil. They may be affected by aphids, or a fungal condition called 'tulip fire' if there is too much moisture about. Their vibrant colours make them well worth a place in the garden. 

Bulbs will usually do well if their natural habitat is approximated in the garden. For instance, daffodils are meadow flowers, so like plenty of sun. They will naturalize successfully in the lawn and flower early before the grass becomes too competitive. It's best not to mow for at least six weeks after the flowers die, because the leaves provide food to the bulb for next years' growth. 

Woodland bulbs like bluebells and snowdrops will do better in a semi-shaded or a dappled sun position. They do well under deciduous trees. Spring-flowering bulbs may be planted near a well-used path or where they can be seen from a window to save trekking over soggy lawns to admire them. 

Most bulbs can be grown successfully in containers, but need at least four inches (10 cm) of soil below them and 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) above. It's a good idea to plant bulbs in a pot and bury it in the garden to prevent them from being accidentally hoed during a weeding session. If you have trouble with rodents eating your bulbs, plant them inside a wire cage buried in the garden. 

Many bulbous varieties grow easily and are quite tolerant. Do your research, however. Some of the more unusual ones can be found via mail order or on the internet, so take the time to look for them. You'll be pleased with the result. 


Article by Yvonne Volante


I have a friend who is lucky enough to have a small field attached to her property. Once her old pony sadly died last year, she no longer wanted to use the field for grazing but decided she would like to turn it into a wildflower meadow. Many of our truly wild meadows are fast disappearing, so it is great when someone decides to allow grassland to revert back to nature and help preserve some of the truly beautiful native species of wildflower we have. Creating a wildflower meadow or area is not as difficult as you may think. Here are a few tips and some species you might like to grow.


Good ground preparation is essential to success when planting a wildflower meadow. Contrary to most other forms of gardening, wildflower meadows actually thrive on impoverished soil, so the aim is to strip the ground of more fertile topsoil. As my friend already had a grassy area she wanted to convert, there wasn't as much preparation to do. However, as the field had been organic for years, it was a good idea to wait and see what plants appeared in spring before decided on what else to plant. This done, in autumn we decided to add more wild flower plants in two ways - the first was to remove sections of the turf in order to sow some seeds. Seeds scattered in amongst the grass will not have much success. Secondly, we bought some mature pants already potted up from a specialist garden centre and dotted them around to create a more natural look.
With a bare piece of ground the preparation is a bit more involved. The more fertile topsoil needs to be removed to a depth of around 10cm. Once you have removed the topsoil, rake and roll the ground to make a seed bed. You can then buy your wild flower seed. The best time to sow seed is in early autumn. You will need roughly about 1 to 1.5g of seed per meter. Once the seed has been sown, rake the surface and roll lightly to firm.


Once you have planted your meadow it will need some aftercare. In the first year you will need to cut your meadow every 4-6weeks. This will help keep down unwanted weeds like thistles, brambles and groundsel and help to strengthen the wild grasses. In subsequent years cutting can be reduced to twice a year - once in autumn and once in early spring.


Cowslip is a lovely native plant with tall stems of delicate yellow flowers in spring. Ox-eye daisy is a particular favourite of mine. These white daisy flowers look stunning once they have colonised a patch of ground such a bank. Ragged robin is another favourite, with its delicate ragged-looking pink flowers. Campion is a hardy wild plant with tall stems of either pink or white flowers.

Betony flowers from December to March and has reddish purple flowers. Meadow buttercup has bright yellow flowers on tall stems and flowers from November to March. Wild columbine or 'Grannies bonnet' is a lovely little flower with mainly purple flowers which bloom from November to January. Cornflowers are a beautiful ornamental wildflower with vivid blue flowers from December to February. There are many species of Cranesbill, a wild species of geranium which flower from December to January and vary in colour from blues to pinks.
Try planting wild spring bulbs in your meadow such as bluebell, snowdrop and some of our wild species of daffodil. Wild cyclamen and garlic and the lovely Solomon's seal are also a must.

If you don't have the space to create your own wildflower meadow or garden, most species of wildflower will grow happily in garden planters. Grow them in general compost like most other plants. You can even try planting a few species in amongst other plants in your flower borders.


Article by Jo Poultney
Garden Planters


Garden Planters source unusual outdoor and indoor planters, and other garden related gifts - whatever your taste, be it traditional, modern or just a bit quirky, we will have something for you. Run by two qualified and creative gardeners, Garden Planters will also plant up your chosen planter with an arrangement of your choice. We believe garden planters are an integral part of any garden - they enhance the overall design and say a little something about the person to whom the garden belongs.


The definition of a wild flower is one that is native to the country and hasn't been cultivated or modified by breeding. Wild flowers have long been important to us for their healing properties but are more important to maintaining a healthy eco-system. They attract beneficial insects into the garden which in turn then help to fertilise our crops and provide food themselves for other wildlife. If this is not reason enough to grow wild flowers in your garden, then consider how useful they are for parts of the garden that are difficult to cultivate conventionally such as steep slopes, overly dry ground, or areas where the soil is poor. Here are a few varieties of wild flower that are especially useful in attracting wildlife into your garden.
The primrose or Primula vulgaris, is a low growing herbaceous perennial plant which has pale yellow flowers in early spring. Because it flowers early in the spring, it provides an important first source of nectar for emerging bees and butterflies, as does the snowdrop or Galanthus nivalis. The common foxglove or Digitalis purpurea is a biennial plant with pink tubular flowers produced on a tall stem in early summer. Bees and other insects love them.

Corn marigold or Chrysanthemum segetum was once considered to be one of the worst weeds to inhabit cornfields. However, it is a favourite of hover flies for its pollen. So too is the cornflower or Centaurea cyanus, a small annual flowering plant with flowers of an intense blue colour. It too was once considered a weed in crop fields but is now endangered in its natural habitat. Field scabious or Knautia arvensis, is highly attractive to adult butterflies. It has lilac coloured honeycomb-like flowers on slender stems from January to March.

Lady's smock or cuckoo flower (Cardamine pratensis) gets its name because it first appears in October, as does the cuckoo. It is an elegant plant that produces pink or white flowers on long narrow stems during late spring/early summer. It is the food plant of the orange tip butterfly. Honeysuckle or Lonicera, is a climbing shrub with highly scented flowers during summer. The plant is particularly important to moths as their larvae feed on it. The cowslip or Primula veris, is a low growing herbaceous perennial with deep yellow flowers in October and November produced on a single upright stem. The name cowslip is derived from the Old English word meaning 'cow dung' most likely because the plant was often found growing amongst the manure in cow pastures. Its flowers attract long-tongued insects such as bees and moths that feed on its nectar.
If you don't have any suitable space in your garden for growing a few wildflower species, then try growing a few in garden planters. They will provide a beautiful annual display as well as attracting beneficial wildlife into your garden.


Article by Jo Poultney
Garden Planters


Garden Planters source unusual outdoor and indoor planters, and other garden related gifts - whatever your taste, be it traditional, modern or just a bit quirky, we will have something for you. Run by two qualified and creative gardeners, Garden Planters will also plant up your chosen planter with an arrangement of your choice. We believe garden planters are an integral part of any garden - they enhance the overall design and say a little something about the person to whom the garden belongs.


In recent years, there has been a lot of renewed interest in old varieties of roses in English gardens. The varieties available to gardeners today are usually a cross between modern hybrid teas and old rose varieties, but the attraction of wonderful fragrance, hardiness and old-fashioned flower forms remains. Here is a short guide to the classification of old roses and some of my favourite of the truly old varieties and as well as some of the newer ones.

The Damask rose dates back to ancient times and probably originated from the Eastern Mediterranean. It was grown for its amazing perfume-like fragrance. Most Damask varieties only bloom once a year, but they are usually quite hardy. Alba roses are a natural hybrid between the damask rose and rosa canina and are thought to date back to classical times. Although the word alba means white, they also come in various shades of pink. Although they too only flower once a year, they are disease resistant and vigorous growers. Gallica roses are amongst the oldest cultivated species of rose still available today. The Gallica rose originated in Persia in the 12th century and were grown for their amazingly heavy blooms and strong scent. They come in many colours from deep red and purple to white.

Portland roses are a cross between a China rose and the Autumn Damask Rose. This family of roses were the first to be bred as repeat flowering varieties and are characterised by their short stemmed fragrant blooms. Rugosa is an ancient rose that was native to the Orient. They are repeat flowering and easy to grow, although they only have a slight fragrance. Tea roses are a cross between a China rose and various Bourbons and Noisettes. They produce delicate blooms throughout the summer and have a distinctive tea scent.


'Comte de Chambord' is a Portland rose and one of my favourites. Compact and ideal for a small garden, it has full-petalled, warm pink flowers and a good fragrance. 'Felicia' is a hybrid musk shrub rose, similar to a hybrid tea in its characteristics. It has lovely silvery pink flowers and a strong aromatic fragrance. 'Munstead Wood' is from the David Austin English Rose collection. It has large velvety deep crimson flowers with a strong old rose fragrance. 'Rosa Mundi' is a Gallica rose. It is a showy rose with crimson flowers striped with white and an old rose scent.

Most roses can be grown successfully in garden planters. It is important that you choose a container large enough to accommodate the roots and provide good drainage. Roses grown in pots will outgrow their home quite quickly, so re-pot every two or three years. They also deplete nutrients more quickly and will need a feed at least twice a year to keep them healthy and producing flowers.


Article by Jo Poultney
Garden Planters


Garden Planters source unusual outdoor and indoor planters, and other garden related gifts - whatever your taste, be it traditional, modern or just a bit quirky, we will have something for you. Run by two qualified and creative gardeners, Garden Planters will also plant up your chosen planter with an arrangement of your choice. We believe garden planters are an integral part of any garden - they enhance the overall design and say a little something about the person to whom the garden belongs.


Roses are one of most popular flowering shrubs in the world. If you have ever wondered if growing roses for beginners was complicated then you should read just how easy it can be to get started growing roses.


Growing roses for beginners doesn’t have to be overly complex or difficult. By following these tips below you can soon have a wonderful rose garden of your own. 


The key to a successful rose garden is in the stock. Buy the best rose bushes or shrubs that you can afford. Miniature roses and old garden varieties are grown on their roots but other hybrid teas are grafted onto root stock so be careful when choosing them. Look for plants with at least three good canes from the bud union (the large bulb at the base of rose) and should be 8 to 12 inches long and are at least a 1/4 inch in diameter. 


Roses need a minimum of six hours of sunlight a day, preferably morning light. Prepare your rose beds with lots of organic material to keep the soil well drained and loose. Roses require deep holes, at least 6-9 deeper than bottom of the roots. When planting blend a little rose fertiliser in with the soil and water well. 


Roses are heavy feeders. Feed your roses with a minimum of fertiliser as least 3 times a year; once in the spring before buds appear, in summer after the first bloom burst and again in the late fall to help your bushes survive the colder months. Many rose gardeners simply feed them every 4-6 weeks. Roses also require lots of water if rainfall is insufficient. Deep soak from 30 to 60 minutes as needed. 


Prune your roses by either thinning them out to increase airflow and sunlight or by selectively heading back the tips until you reach good buds. 


Deadhead blooms as they wither. Apply several inches of mulch to prevent weeds and to control moisture in your beds. 


Spray for insects and plant diseases as needed. Check weekly for signs of black spot, mildew or blight. Take measures to control aphids, cane borers and other pests. Clean up and remove any damaged or diseased blooms, leaves or canes. 


It’s not the cold temperatures as much as the heaving of the soil which destroys rose bushes. To prevent this and save your plants, in the late autumn after your bushes before the first frost, push back the mulch and clean away any dead leaves, or fallen rose blooms. Remove any diseased stalks or branches and add any fertiliser as required. Now you can mound up soil with a top layer of mulch around the rose canes for protection. 
Growing roses for beginners need not become a chore; if you take care to follow the steps outlined above then you can soon become an accomplished rose grower. 


Article by Adam Carter


Rose bushes come in a variety of species, colours and sizes, which makes it difficult to choose the right one to match the local habitat and environment. Cool colours like pink, lavender and white are great for creating a calming and soothing impression, while warm colours, such as yellow, orange and red, are more energetic. Here are several points to consider when choosing the roses for the garden:


The size and look of the rose bushes can vary significantly. Floribundas and hybrid teas can grow to a maximum height of about 3 or 4 feet. These rose bushes can produce a lot of flowers during the season, but can look coarse and unappealing. Ramblers and climbers can grow to a height of 30 feet and give a tree-like form. They do need some support to maintain the shape. Miniature roses are the smallest option and grow to a height of about 24 inches, while the dwarf roses grow to about 2 feet. In addition, the shrub roses are large and leafy and great to offer wide-scale groundcover.


Plant the local species of roses to increase the chance of being able to provide the right growth environment. Certain rose bushes perform quite poorly in humid or hot weather. Read the labels to make sure the rose can perform well in a particular area.


Many varieties of roses are designed to bloom for a certain point over the course of the year. A popular variant is certain to continue to bloom with colourful petals all summer long, while others might only provide flowers for three weeks in July. Make sure the blooming time is acceptable for you specific requirements.


Selecting the local and disease-resistant roses is a highly effective step to reduce the need to apply chemical sprays and dusts in the garden. Many of the older varieties of roses have a greater degree of disease resistance. Also, the latest rose bushes being bred come with better natural resistance to disease. A high maintenance species includes the hybrid teas, which seem to attract any pests in the local area.


If planning to grow the roses for cutting, the stem length is certain to be a further consideration. A typical rose used by florists is the hybrid tea because of the long and stiff stem. Any other rose-bush has quite weak and short stems, which might not make them such a practical choice for placing in a vase.


Article by Kyle Vail
Jim's Gardening Narre Warren South


Contact a reliable landscaping and gardening Narre Warren South specialist to take on responsibility of all lawn and garden work.


Roses are perhaps one of our favourite garden flowers. Their colourful scented blooms epitomise the English garden. Making sure you choose the right planting position and create the correct conditions for healthy growth will ensure that you have plenty of flowers throughout the summer. Here is a short guide on how to plant and care for roses in your garden.


Roses are probably best planted bare rooted in early spring but can also be successfully planted in the green. You just need to follow a few general guidelines. Roses require a position in good light, preferably in full sun, but away from strong winds, as they are susceptible to what is known as wind-rock where strong winter winds can loosen their roots and make them more susceptible to damage. Avoid planting a rose in the same position as a previous rose. This is because roses are heavy feeders and soil planted with roses for long periods of time can be said to have become rose-sick and need rejuvenating. Roses put down deep roots, so make sure the soil you are planting in has a good depth. They also prefer soils that are neutral or very slightly acid. Make sure you dig in plenty of organic matter before planting. This will not only provide essential nutrients, but also ensure good drainage and moisture retention.

Bare-rooted roses should be planted between late autumn and early spring when the plant is dormant. Container roses and container grown roses can be planted any time. If you are planting bare-rooted roses, soak the roots in a bucket of water overnight as the roots may have begun to dry out. Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the roots at the right depth and infill with a mixture of compost and rose fertiliser.


Roses should be fed twice a year with a rose and shrub plant food sprinkled around the base of the plant and lightly dug in. As they have deep roots, roses do not require much watering once they are established. However, those grown in containers will need regular watering especially during long dry spells. Mulching is also important and should be done at least once a year. This will help maintain good soil conditions for the rose, retain moisture and keep down weeds. Roses also need to be pruned once a year to keep them flowering well. Pruning can take place in late autumn/early winter or in early spring. Remove any dead wood and then generally cut back each stem just above a bud by about half its length. Pruning is especially important for roses grown in garden planters as this will keep them looking tidy and within bounds. Dead-heading during the summer months will also prolong the flowering season and encourage repeat flowering on many varieties.


Article by Jo Poultney
Garden Planters


Garden Planters source unusual outdoor and indoor planters, and other garden related gifts - whatever your taste, be it traditional, modern or just a bit quirky, we will have something for you. Run by two qualified and creative gardeners, Garden Planters will also plant up your chosen planter with an arrangement of your choice. We believe garden planters are an integral part of any garden - they enhance the overall design and say a little something about the person to whom the garden belongs.


Rose gardening is an extremely rewarding part of the home landscape that has somehow gotten a reputation for being difficult to maintain and grow. Don’t let this rumour discourage you, because while rose gardening can be challenging, once you get started, it is an extremely enjoyable experience.

Rose gardening is not that much different than any other type of plant gardening. Good, healthy soil and a prime planting area is the most important thing. The planting methods are the same as any other shrub whether your roses are bare-root or container-grown. Make sure the spot you choose has good drainage, gets plenty of sunlight, and will not overcrowd your roses. Before planting, any dead leaves and thin or decayed shoots need to be cut off. Any damaged or very long roots also need to be trimmed. Soak bare-root roses in water about 10-12 hours to restore moisture in the roots before planting and water the soil before planting as well. Make sure the hole you dig is large enough for the root growth of the rose and it’s also a good idea to use compost or mulch.
Roses need the same things as other plants; they just need more of it. One of the most important things to remember in rose gardening is that roses are heavy feeders and will need several fertiliser applications. Fertilising should be started in early spring and discontinued in early fall. Don’t over-fertilise (follow fertiliser instructions) and water after each feeding. The main thing to remember in rose gardening is to water, water, and water some more. Roses require large amounts of water; a thorough watering twice a week should be enough.

An essential part of any flower gardening project is pruning because it increases blooms and encourages healthy plant growth. Different varieties of roses have different instructions for pruning, so you might want to read up on your rose types and see what is suggested.

Following is a list of pests and diseases to look out for, along with solutions to keep your roses healthy.

1. Black Spot

This disease appears as circular black spots with fringed edges on leaves. They cause the leaves to yellow. Remove the infected foliage and pick up any fallen leaves around the rose. Artificial sprays may be used to prevent or treat this kind of rose disease.

2. Malformed young canes

This is caused by powdery mildew, a fungal disease that covers leaves, stems and buds with wind spread white powder. It makes the leaves curl and turn purple. Spray with Funginex or Benomyl to treat this fungal disease.

3. Rust

This disease is characterised by orange-red blisters that turn black in fall. It can survive the winter and will then attack new sprouts in the spring. Collect and discard leaves that are infected in fall. Treating with a Benomyl or Funginex spray every 7-10 days may help.

4. Stunted leaves and flowers

This is caused by spider mites and they are a common rose gardening pest. They are tiny yellow, red or green spiders found on the underside of leaves where they suck juices. The application of Orthene or Isotox may help in treating this infestation.

5. Weak and mottled leaves with tiny white webs under them

This is caused by aphids. They are small soft-bodied insects that usually brown, green or red. Often clustered under leaves and flower buds, they suck plant juices from tender buds. Malathion or diazinon spray may help roses to survive these bugs.

6. Unopened or deformed flowers.

Thrips could be the reason behind this rose gardening problem. They are slender, brown-yellow bugs with fringed wings that also suck juices from flower buds. Cut and discard the infested flowers. Orthene and malathion may also treat this problem.


Article by Adam Faston


Adam Faston is an organic gardening enthusiast and a lover of the great outdoors.


Many people are daunted by the thought of growing roses. Why? Because the blooms appear so beautiful and delicate they then think that the bush is also delicate.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Roses are a very hardy addition to any garden, and any gardener, even beginners can cultivate roses successfully with little effort and great benefit.

Roses can stand a lot of neglect and are quite hard to kill. They are tolerant of drought, they withstand pruning neglect; they produce blooms even when inadequately fed. And, nowadays, many on the market or in the nursery are being bred for disease resistance.

Of course, neglected roses will not perform optimally, but with some periodic TLC they will give you delight and great blooms for the vase or just simply to adorn your front yard.

So don't hesitate - think of what you would like and go for it!

These are the basic tips for successful growing:

1. Prepare the soil well - make it friable with good compost and keep the plant well mulched.

2. Lupins are a good mulch - as the chemical composition militates against blackspot development.

3. Never plant a rose where another has been growing - if you must use that spot - then dig out the soil and replace with soil from another part of the garden.

4. Don't water in the evening if possible - as the water drops on leaves are a site for fungi to thrive in - especially blackspot.

5. Treat blackspot with Neem Oil - it's natural and therefore organic. Pick up any diseased leaves from under the bush - don't just pick them off the bush and drop them.

6. Locate your roses where they will receive a minimum of 5-6 hours of sun.

7. Prune during the dormant period (late winter - early spring if you have snow and frozen ground). Heavy prune to leave canes about 8-12 inches long. Sounds brutal, but it will encourage vigorous new growth and watershoots from the graft.

8. Prune during the growing season - remove dead and sickly stems or canes. Prune after flowering to encourage another crop of blooms.

9. Remove suckers - most hybrid teas and floribunda roses are cultivated on the root stock of other species that are more disease resistant. If you accidentally cut below the graft or it gets damaged for some reason, suckers from the root stock often then grow from below the graft.

These need to be removed. Don't just cut them off - dig right down to where they first appear and slice off - and if coming from a root - cut that out too.

10. Protect the graft - don't cut it with a spade or whatever. Keep it above the soil level - and in winter mound up leaves around it to protect it from freezing conditions. Remove again after dormancy.

Following these 10 Top Tips will make your gardening with roses more happy and give the plants the TLC they need to keep working at giving you much joy for your rose gardening efforts.


Article by Peter Damien Ryan
Better House & Garden


Peter Damien Ryan is a landscape and gardening expert who likes to share knowledge.


Mature rose plants can be quite expensive to buy, so its good to know that you can grow young rose plants successfully by taking cuttings. Roses are relatively easy to grow from cuttings and will grow on to make healthy flowering plants. September is a good time to take cuttings. Roots will be produced over the winter months and the rose cuttings will be ready to pot on in the spring. Choose health stems from the current seasons growth and follow these few easy steps to produce more of your favourite rose varieties.

Almost all rose varieties make successful plants from cuttings. Make sure you select long, strong and healthy stems from this year's growth and not older woody stems. Cuttings should be about 25cm in length. Cut the stem above a bud at the top to remove the shoot tip and below a bud at the base of the stem. Make slits in the bottom inch of the stem to encourage rooting. This is known as wounding. Remove all the lower leaves but leave one at the top of the stem. Next, dip the base of the cutting into hormone rooting powder. This will help speed up the process by stimulating the growth of a new root system. Fill a 10cm pot with gritty compost and insert several cuttings around the edge of the pot. You should be able to get around four or five cuttings per pot. I find it best to make several pots of cuttings so as to allow for a percentage that don't root. Placing them around the edge of the pot is better than just inserting one into the middle of a pot as it encourages root growth and lessens the risk of rotting off. Water the pots well and place them in a shady spot. A cold frame or sheltered part of the garden should be fine.

Remember to label your cuttings. Keep the pots well watered and in position until the cuttings have rooted. If you don't want to use pots for the cuttings, roses do propagate very well if planted directly into the soil. Again, choose a sheltered spot and give them plenty of room so they are not crowded out by other plants in the border. After a few weeks you should see more leaves start to appear which is a good sign that the cutting has taken root. Once the cuttings have rooted, probably by the next summer, tease them apart and plant them up into individual garden planters.


Article by Jo Poultney
Garden Planters


Garden Planters source unusual outdoor and indoor planters, and other garden related gifts - whatever your taste, be it traditional, modern or just a bit quirky, we will have something for you. Run by two qualified and creative gardeners, Garden Planters will also plant up your chosen planter with an arrangement of your choice. We believe garden planters are an integral part of any garden - they enhance the overall design and say a little something about the person to whom the garden belongs.


The rose is probably the icon of the English garden. There is nothing quite like the bloom of bush, patio and climbing roses in June. They add elegance, colour and scent to the summer garden. On the whole I find roses quite easy to grow. Many of my old English specimens are grown in containers as well as the ramblers and bush roses I have growing in borders throughout the garden. However, the one problem even the most experienced gardener can't avoid is that of a black spot.

Although common to roses, a black spot can also be found on other plants. But it is the most serious disease for roses. Popular varieties such as hybrid teas, floribundas, climbers and patio types are usually the most susceptible. Caused by the fungus Diplocarpon rosae, a black spot appears as purple or black spots on the leaves which eventually drop off thus greatly reducing the vigour of the plant. Badly affected plants can shed almost all their leaves in a very short time. First signs of a black spot are usually seen in early spring when new leaves begin the sprout. Because the fungus is very diverse and new strains form all the time, it is difficult to create lasting resistance in new rose varieties.


There is not really very much you can do if you don't want to use chemicals. Old varieties of rose tend to be less susceptible to a black spot, so as a form of prevention is might be a good idea to do your home work and select old varieties of rose when buying new plants or replacing lost ones. For new varieties, go for those that have shown some evidence of resistance to the disease - that's not to say the plant will be free of a black spot for its entire life, but you will have a head start. If your rose does show signs of a black spot, remove and destroy the affected leaves immediately. Don't put them on the compost heap as the fungus will survive and affect other plants when spread with the compost. To reduce the chance of re-infection the following year, prune affected plants back hard in autumn.
If you have to resort to chemical control, then start spraying with a suitable fungicide as new leaves open and repeat at fortnightly intervals. Continue to spray the plant every two weeks throughout the season. It is also a good idea to alternate several different products in order to maximise their effectiveness. This is especially relevant for roses grown in garden planters which will always be slightly compromised when grown in a container rather than in open ground.


Article by Jo Poultney
Garden Planters


Garden Planters source unusual outdoor and indoor planters, and other garden related gifts - whatever your taste, be it traditional, modern or just a bit quirky, we will have something for you. Run by two qualified and creative gardeners, Garden Planters will also plant up your chosen planter with an arrangement of your choice. We believe garden planters are an integral part of any garden - they enhance the overall design and say a little something about the person to whom the garden belongs.