Sunday, 21 August 2016

Indian Balsam and a walk along the canal path at Leighton Buzzard.

Walking along the canal path at Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, England, recently, I came upon this interesting looking plant, which was new to me. It was growing abundantly along the side of the canal, separated from the path and reminded me of a small orchid.

When I got home, I looked it up and this is what I found:

'Indian Balsam

Impatiens glandulifera

Introduced as a garden plant from the Himalayas in 1839, and naturalised along waterways and in waste places, this tall, stout-stemmed species grows 100-200 cm high.  It is hairless and the stems reddish. There is no mistaking the rather orchid-like, mave, dangling flowers.

Flower: purplish pink, 2-5.4 cm, petals 5, forming a broad, lower lip and hood; sepals 3, lower forming a mauve, spurred bag.

Flower arrangement: long-stalked racemes arising from leaf-axils.

Flowering time: July - October.

Leaf: opposite or in threes, 5-18 cm long, elliptic, toothed; reddish glands along basal margins.

Fruit: capsule, club-shaped, opening by 5 valves, which spring into coils, shooting out seeds.'

Information from 'Illustrated Guide to Wild Flowers' by Stephen Blackmore

The Indian Balsam flowers were just behind me as I stood admiring the lock keeper's cottage below.

Join me as I walked along the towpath. If you look carefully at the next picture, you will see the Indian Balsam flowers just behind the signpost.

The red and black boat is preparing to use the lock to descend to the lower level (see next picture).

The lock gates must be opened to allow the boat to pass through and down.

We caught up with the red and black boat further down the canal just after we had lunch.

This was the pub where we had lunch. It was called the Globe Inn. We had a lovely lunch of fish and chips, scampi and chips and hunters' chicken with chips.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

A Bumper Harvest of Runner Beans

We are currently enjoying the results of Jim's labours on the runner bean patch.
Every year he plants the seeds on May 26th, a special birthday, which he always remembers and carefully tends the seedlings until they are able to grow up the poles. It can be like running the gambit because slugs and snails are often abundant in a wet Spring and they will gobble up any fresh shoot that pokes its head above the soil. Jim uses slug pellets. It's the only way, we find. I think the birds have realised the pellets are not for them because they leave well alone.


Happy gardening!

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Taking Geranium Cuttings

These beautiful plants are really pelargoniums, but they have come to be known as geraniums and grace many gardens and municipal walkways in summer.

Now is the time to take cuttings to ensure continuity for next year. They are easy to propagate and it's fun to do. Just cut off a suitable piece from a healthy plant and remove all flower heads and excess leaves. This allows the cutting to establish roots quickly. This is what I started with:

and this is what I ended up with:

If you want to, you can dob the end of the cutting in some hormone rooting powder, but I don't bother. I find that they root perfectly well without it. Next push the cutting into a small pot with some compost in it and water. If you use a large pot, you can put several cuttings around the edge. I do both. During the wintertime, I get most sun at the front of the house in the evenings and that winter also has the largest window ledge so I can fit almost twelve little pots along there and keep an eye on them during the colder months.  There cuttings will be big enough by next April to put out in the border.

You will need to water when the pot is dry, but don't over-water and keep an eye on the leaves. Sometimes you bring them in with a small caterpillar on the leaf and if you don't remove it, then it will munch away until all the leaves are gone and the caterpillar is fat! Put the caterpillar back in the garden to dessimate something which doesn't matter so much. It's a good idea to label the pots with the colour the flowers will eventually turn out to be. I usually take three slips of each colour.

Here is a mixed pot of cuttings:

This year I am taking cuttings of white, pink, peach and red geraniums. We'll see later how they do.

Happy gardening!

Monday, 1 August 2016


This is such a useful little plant for summer. It's a bit late now over here in England, but if you buy just one packet of seeds at the start of summer, you will have a dazzling display in a tub on your patio or in the border. They flower all through the summer, when the sun comes out! So pretty, just like little stars!
They are annuals, so will only last for one season, but, as you can see, they are well worth it.

Mesembryanthemum, originally from southern Africa.

Happy Gardening!