Archive for the ‘Plant of the Month’ Category

ACHILLEA milliefolium or COMMON YARROW

My plant of the month for August is a rather unusual choice because I’ve picked a plant which many people regard as a bit of a weed but on closer examination it proves to be a very interesting and useful plant in many ways and will make a welcome addition to any garden. Named after the Greek hero Achilles who used the plant for its medicinal properties, not least its ability to stop bleeding quickly, Achillea millefolium or Common Yarrow is a hardy perennial herb, native to Europe and Asia but now naturalised in many other parts of the world. Known for its wide, flat flowerheads which consist of a multitude of tiny daisy-like flowers which sometimes bloom late, even into October.  Yarrow is now available in many  colours ranging from creamy white, various shades of yellow, through to soft and vivid pink, plenty of choice for any mixed border. Sometimes known as Bloodwort, Achillea is an excellent companion plant and will improve the health of many other plants growing near it by increasing their essential oil content and making them more resistant to insect attack. Easily cultivated, Achillea prefers a well drained site in full sun and will survive even in poor soils. It also has a reputation for improving soil fertility and is an excellent compost activator which helps speed up the composting process. Growing to around 60-75cm Yarrow makes a useful cut flower and can also be used in dry bouquets. The plants anti-inflamatory and antiseptic properties are widely used in herbal remedies and the leaves can also be used as a cosmetic cleanser which is good for greasy skin. Achillea millefolium is sometimes used to make a tea like brew and in small quantities can be added to salads. The fragrant leaves and flowers are known to attract butterflies and other beneficial insects. One of the easiest and cheapest ways to add colour to your garden.

Plant of the Month – July 2011

FUCHSIA

A genus of approximately 100 species and over 8,000 hybrids and cultivars most of which have been bred and developed for their attractive flowers although a few do have golden (i.e. Fuchsia Genii) or variegated leaves (i.e. Fuchsia Versicolor).

Originating in the mountainous regions of South America and New Zealand fuchsia can now be found all over the world and although not native to the British Isles fuchsia in one form or another can be seen growing in the majority of gardens in the U.K. and Ireland. It has become so well established that Fuchsia magellanica  and Fuchsia riccartonii two of the hardiest types are now growing wild in mild south and western areas of the region.

Very adaptable, there are varieties to grow in hanging baskets, others for pots and containers to be used as conservatory or patio plants and still others which are used in borders and beds, there are tender varieties, hardy varieties, (i.e. Fuchsia Mrs Popple),  there is even a hedging variety. I find it difficult to think of another plant which can be used in so many different sites and positions. In many gardens fuchsia are used in all of these situations and provide a riot of colour throughout the summer.

The choice of flower size and colour is almost as wide as the number of varieties, pink, white, red, purple, orange, blue, and an almost endless combination of these colours. From blooms as big as your fist right down to some which are not much wider than a match stick. Some have single type flowers others have double type flowers while others have huge blooms with many petals arranged like miniature petticoats.  It’s well near impossible not to find a fuchsia to suit any situation or colour scheme.

Easy to grow, fuchsia performs best in a moist, well drained, fertile soil in full sun or slight shade. They need a steady supply of water during the growing season and a liquid fertiliser should be applied every two or three weeks. In winter plants should be kept slightly moist and protected from frost.

If you need to increase your stock or to replace old plants fuchsia cuttings root easily by various methods during late spring and summer.