Grow Phalaenopsis hybrids & enjoy an easier life, surrounded by flowers!

I hold two National Collections of orchids – a National Collection of Miniature Aerangis and Angraecum Species and a National Collection of Miniature Phalaenopsis Species.  I set up these collections to raise awareness of the dangers that these miniature orchid species (and other plants) are facing in the wild and to help conserve these fascinating plants.

An Update on the Aerangis & Angraecum Orchids inside my Tall Orchidarium

I set up my Tall Orchidarium in November 2019.  I am absolutely thrilled with this custom built terrarium, which Matthew (from Custom Aquaria) built for me in autumn 2019.  I’m growing a large number of orchids inside my Tall Orchidarium, so I’ve divided up this update (which covers the period from November 2019 to March 2021) into three posts of slightly more manageable sizes. 

Finding the Best Composts to Grow Tomatoes

I’m a peat-free gardener; I am a passionate advocate for using peat-free composts.  Every year, I uncover the best quality peat-free composts on the market in my peat-free Compost Trials.  I ran this Compost Trial to help you find top quality composts that will enable your tomato plants to produce bumper harvests of tomatoes!

Aerangis citrata

I thought you might enjoy following one of my Aerangis citrata orchids through the course of the year; as a result, I’ve been regularly updating this diary to give you the chance to get to know this orchid better.  To make it easier for you, I’ve dated all of my photographs, so you can more clearly see the rate of this plant’s growth and development.

The Quadgrow Self Watering Planter

Earlier this year, Greenhouse Sensation sent me a Quadgrow Self Watering Planter to try.  If you’ve not seen a Quadgrow before, it’s a plastic container growing system (made from recycled plastic) that uses capillary action to provide plants with automatic watering.  This clever design alters the way we irrigate plants.  Instead of watering plants in the traditional sense (watering plants from above with a watering can), with the Quadgrow we deliver the water and nutrients right where they’re needed – at the plants’ roots. 

Phalaenopsis pulchra is still flowering today!

This Phalaenopsis pulchra flower opened on the 8th September 2020, which as I write to you today was fifty-two days ago.  Phalaenopsis orchids can produce incredibly long lasting flowers; although Phalaenopsis hybrids tend to flower for much longer than wild species plants.  A number of the Phalaenopsis hybrids I’ve grown are particularly floriferous, sending out masses of long lasting flowers and blooming continually for longer than a year at a time, without appearing to flag or tire at all.

Building a Tall Orchidarium

In November 2019, I set up this new terrarium, which I’ve christened my Tall Orchidarium.  I designate a name to each of my terrariums to help you more easily find every article relating to the particular terrarium you’re interested in.  If you want to know more about my Tall Orchidarium, you can find all of my articles that relate to this terrarium by clicking here.

Trying to control blanket weed and algae in my pond

Over the past year, I’ve watched in despair as algae has wrapped its ever extending arms around my pond; I feel like algae is threatening to suffocate my pond at any moment.   The other ponds I’ve created in the past have never really suffered with algae to the same extent that my current pond has. 

Growing tomatoes is so much fun!  Tomato plants will grow happily in a sunny border or in large containers of peat-free compost.

There are two types of tomatoes – cordon and bush tomatoes.  Cordon (also known as indeterminate) tomatoes can form tall plants, reaching 2m or more!  Don’t worry – you can ‘stop’ your plants from growing any taller by simply pinching out the tip of your plant’s stem, when your plants have reached your desired height.

Grow your own figs and grapes

Holidaymakers buying plants or collecting plant material as holiday souvenirs often bring home more than they bargained for and unwittingly transport pests, diseases, or invasive species into the UK; causing lasting, and sometimes irreversible, problems for themselves and UK horticulture as a whole.

Instead, make your holiday excitement last all summer, every year, with UK grown plants that will flourish inside your conservatory or glasshouse, at your garden or allotment. 

Peat free Compost Trial: Growing Broad Beans

Dalefoot Composts have produced the top performing peat free composts in all of the Compost Trials that I’ve run over the past seven years.  Rather than just continually highlighting every year that Dalefoot Composts are the best peat free composts to use, I designed this Compost Trial to demonstrate methods you could use to get the best results from one of their products, namely Dalefoot Double Strength Wool Compost.

Lovely gardening jobs to do from April to mid-May

Sowing seeds is a wonderfully cost-effective way to garden.  Many hardy annual plants can be grown from seed this month, providing us with a quick and easy way to fill our gardens with beautiful flowers, in a wide range of colours and forms.

Many annual plants provide a valuable source of nectar, pollen, and food for insects.  

Rainforest Terrarium Update

In this my first update, you can discover how the Aerangis, Amesiella, and Angraecum orchids that are housed inside my Rainforest Terrarium have grown and developed over the past eleven months – from April 2018 to March 2019.  Discover which plants have died and which orchids have thrived during this time frame, in my first plant update for this custom built terrarium. 

Tomato Trial

I love growing fruit, vegetables, and herbs.  We’ve all got our favourite heritage tomatoes, but have you tried any new tomato varieties?  Last year, I grew lots of new tomato varieties, as part of my quest to discover the most delicious and productive tomato cultivars available to gardeners!

The objectives of this Tomato Trial were to identify delicious, productive, disease resistant tomato varieties, and to discover whether any of the trialled tomato cultivars perform differently when planted in the ground or grown in a container. 

Welcome to the twelfth part of my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium Trial – growing epiphytic orchids, which are endemic to Madagascar, inside the BiOrbAir terrarium.  In this update, I am excited to share the delight of the snowy white, newly opened flowers of Aerangis citrata with you!  Since my last update, I’ve introduced a few new orchids to this Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium and I’ve recently replaced the moss, to add a verdant green carpet to enhance the plants inside this special terrarium.

I always look forward to seeing Jonathan Hogarth and his beautiful displays of miniature Hostas at the RHS Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower Shows, so it was especially nice to have a chance to have a proper catch up with Jonathan this week; Jonathan has given me special permission to share his very best, tried and tested, Hosta growing tips with you!

Teaming with Nutrients: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to Optimizing Plant Nutrition
Author: Jeff Lowenfels
Publisher: Timber Press
ISBN: 978-1-60469-314-0

Teaming with Nutrients is the second book in a series of three books written by Jeff Lowenfels, for the publisher Timber Press.  Each book is focused on a different area of plant science; the other books being, Teaming with Microbes (written by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis) and Teaming with Fungi

Scented Daffodil Trial 2018

I am sorry to say that 2018 was a terrible year for many of the daffodils grown in the UK.  The daffodils that were grown for my 2018 Scented Daffodil Trial experienced snow at the end of March, at a time when many of my trialled daffodil cultivars were grown, some of my daffodils stood poised and ready, just thinking about blossoming and coming into flower. 

Why Use Peat Free Compost?

Peatlands are extraordinary environments, which cover just 2-3% of the planet’s surface.  These scarce ecosystems are also very fragile, they are dependent on sufficient moisture levels being available, and they require a slightly cooler temperature range to allow the necessary sphagnum moss, which slowly forms peat, to grow, flourish, and reproduce.  Peat bogs can increase at a rate of one millimetre per year if the desired conditions are present. 

Kew Orchid Festival

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew are currently hosting their 23rd annual Orchid Festival.  You’ll find an array of colourful orchids, inside the Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew, until Sunday 11th March 2018, when the Orchid Festival closes for another year.  I hope that you can make it to Kew to see this impressive orchid spectacle during the next couple of weeks!