Thursday, 15 January 2015

January flowers - GBBD

It’s mid-January, the Christmas decoration is back in its boxes, the crocuses and snowdrops are flowering and it is 6 weeks and 3 days till we officially have spring here in London. Yay! As usual, in my garden we start a bit earlier with things, the first hellebores and snowdrops have been flowering since before Christmas and the first crocus started flowering last week. I have daffodils in bud and Iris reticularis well above ground. And my two camellias are continuing to give me the occasional flower. Yes, everything is normal in my January garden. The temperature has been more ‘normal’ so far this winter compared to last year, but last winter was unusually mild. Despite that, so far I have only had two nights just about below freezing and this week’s ‘very cold’ weather here in UK is probably not going to bring my garden below freezing – although it will be close.

Let me start in the front garden today, the plants in the boxes are plumping up and starting to flower. I bought all these plants as plugs to save a bit of money so some are still going to need a bit time to look great.

I just love these Primula vulgaris rosebuds, such a sight on a bleak January day!

I bought them as a mix of colour so I am not sure yet what I will end up with.

I also have a mix of Bellis perennis 'Belle' which now are starting to flower.

The Garrya elliptica 'James Roof' growing in the container has unusually many catkins this winter, perhaps because we had such a good summer last year.

They are not flowering properly yet but it’s not long till these tassels will look like chain of pearls.

My back garden looks green, but with many opens spaces. It looks so much bigger than in the summer and autumn! The ‘empty’ spaces are not exactly empty, there are spring bulbs and herbaceous plants on their way up every available little space, and soon you won’t be able to see the bark mulch at all.

My nursery shelves are bursting, and I haven’t even sown any seeds yet!

The sunny side of the garden has got furthest with the spring bulbs, here the hyacinths are well out of ground, some daffodils are in bud and some of the snowdrops have been flowering for a while.

And here the first crocus is in flower. There will be many, many more to come, depending on how many the squirrels will have for lunch before then. They don’t just eat the bulbs, they also eat the crocus shoots, right before the crocuses are about to open. So annoying!

And here is a snowdrop for you, a newcomer in my garden, not fully open for today though. It is Galanthus elwesii 'Maidwell L'.

When I re-designed my garden in 2011 and got rid of the lawn and made the flowerbeds much bigger, my plan was to not have plants in containers and pots anymore, only have them in the ground ‘as I had got so much more space’. Clearly that hasn’t really worked....

The lovely Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata is in flower again, I need to find a permanent space for this daphne, poor thing is still living in a pot.

And I have roses even though it is January. But this is probably the last time you will see this rose on my blog, Rosa ‘Freedom’ has been a trooper to flower for the 10 years I have had it, but I am fed up with the blackspot so it is time to say goodbye to it. I have 4 roses currently living in containers and they are getting big and would rather like to live in the ground instead so for 2015 I have big plans for the rose area. After all, it is 4 years since last time I did major things to my garden, I am getting restless and need to make some changes. All in good time :-)

My two camellias are continuing to give me flowers, a few at the time. At the moment ‘Takanini’ has none fully open, but the Grand Dame in the garden, the old, huge camellia has one flower – really early for this one.

And I just had to post a photo of this cyclamen, the colour is really lovely, I will let it set seed at the end of the season so it can hopefully make some babies like this :-)

The Chaenomeles 'Crimson and Gold' is not yet in flower, but it’s not long till, a few more days and the first ones will be open.

It’s down at the bottom of my garden there is most to see at this time of year, although at first glance you don’t really see much interesting at all.

But walk a bit closer and a wall of sweetly scented perfume is hitting you, the sarcococcas are flowering! In the corner is Sarcococca confusa, growing to 2m tall it can grow in many situations, even in dense shade. Next to it is Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna, growing to about 1.5m.

Both Sarcococcas are evergreen and forms a backdrop for other plants the rest of the year, but at this time of year they are the stars in the garden. I can smell the scent as I start walking down the path! Here are the flowers of Sarcococca confusa.

And this is Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna close up.

Lower down, the hellebores make up in amazing looks for what they don’t have in scent. This is Helleborus ericsmithii 'Winter Sunshine'

This is my double white spotted Helleborus hybridus, soon to open its flowers.

And this is always the early bird of the hellebores, a single white spotted Helleborus hybridus.

Maybe some of you have spotted that I haven’t showed you any fuchsias this time? That’s not because I didn’t have any, up until last week I had lots of fuchsia flowers still but I have cut them down, the last ones today, all of them. ALL OF THEM. Why? Well, there’s some sad news in my garden, it turns out some of my fuchsias have got the dreaded Fuchsia Gall Mite (Aculops Fuchsiae), I have had a visit from an inspector from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA, former FERA) and sadly it was confirmed last week that I indeed have FGM in my front garden. I have 59 fuchsias in total in my garden, some growing in the ground but most in pots and containers and that’s not included all the cuttings I had, which I now have thrown away. The infestation was only showing in my front garden so I have high hopes that I can manage to contain it, treat it and get rid of it, but I won’t really know if it’s been successful until about this time next year I guess. Very little is known about FGM in Britain so advice is sparse and conflicting. My only consolation at the moment is that those pesky mites only like fuchsias, so none of my other plants are in any danger – that’s something at least! 

I still don’t know where I got the infestation from, it is either from fuchsias I have bought from nurseries or it was brought here by birds, insects or squirrels. I will write more about this topic later on when I know more and have got further with treatment – which is going to be long and hard work. Getting clued up about this topic has proved a steep learning curve too, but I have got good help from the inspector, we sat in my kitchen and had a chat for several hours – it’s so good it is possible to get help like this. All I wanted when contacting them was to get an email address to send my photos to so I could get confirmed what I suspected – and then they offered to send an inspector home to me! They are going to contact the nurseries I got my fuchsias from the last 2 years and see if the FGM came from any of them, results from that will be interesting to see. It will be much easier to deal with this if it came from a nursery, because if the source of infestation is nearby and was brought here by insect, bird or mammal it won’t really help if I get rid of it, my fuchsias could just get infested again and again. But I will do my best for now and fingers crossed, it will work.

I have been cutting down fuchsias for days, one after the other, with a heavier and heavier heart, all those lovely flowers just gone in rubbish bags. I couldn’t even send it to the council composting, had to be double bagged and go in the normal bin so not to risk spreading the infestation. On the left side here you can see what my fuchsias look like now, just a row of short twigs, nearly half of these were still in flower last week and all of them had leaves. Oh well, it’s good we are in January and not mid-summer, hopefully they will all look fine by the time we get to July, all 59 of them!

That was all for today, sorry to end on a rather sad note, I suppose as a gardener we just have to take the challenges we are put through and deal with them, one step at the time. I am NOT giving up growing fuchsias :-)

Please visit our host Carol at May Dreams Garden for many more January gardens around the world. Until next time, take care.

52 comments:

  1. Happy Bloom Day, Helene! It's wonderful to see all the flowers in your garden. I have buds on some indoor plants, but no flowers yet, so your blog is a treat! Sorry to hear about the Fuchsias, but it sounds like you have the infestation under control. I'm amazed at how many potted plants you have!

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    1. Thanks Beth, I enjoy gardening at this time of year, slower pace in the garden and I feel I get things done, even though for an owl person like me the days feel rather short – it gets dark so early. I am still gathering info about FGM, trying to get the right course of action, so little is known about how to treat it in such a cold climate as Britain. First spraying done today – many more to come.

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  2. I see, there's no empty space on your garden. I've been missing your fuchsias. I really love it. I like your boxes infront of your house. They will be so colorful soon. I can't wait for it.

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    1. My window boxes will look much better in a month or two, we are having temperatures between 2-10 degrees C at the moment so everything grows much slower.

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  3. As always I am amazed by your garden. Such beauty even in bleak January.

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    1. Thanks Dorothy, I am enjoying my garden every day it’s not raining :-)

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  4. Happy Bloom Day Helene. It is so nice to see all the blooms in your garden. This January is not as bad as last year but very cold so the blooms are indoors. I had to focus more on foliage outside since it's winter so I enjoyed your lovely flowers very much!

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    1. Thanks Lee, I am glad you enjoyed my flowers, happy GBBD to you too!

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  5. So sorry to hear about your Fuchsias. Hope you are now rid of the Gall Mite.
    I really envy your mild winter that allows you to have pretty flowers in January
    Happy Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day!
    Lea

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    1. Thanks Lea, I am afraid getting rid of FGM will be a long process and I won’t know if I have succeeded until late autumn or early winter next year. I have barely started…..but I am enjoying all my other flowers :-) Happy GBBD to you too!

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  6. I know how you love fuchsias and how you're proud of their blooming, Helene. It's very pity you had an infestation. I'm sure all the rest of your plants are healthy, dear. Where these mites came from? Probably from nurseries.Some inspectors here advise to keep new plants in quarantine for some time.
    Your garden is waiting for warmer days and will bloom amazingly! Happy GBBD!

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    1. Thanks Nadezda, I must admit I had never heard of FGM until a couple of weeks ago, and I don’t think many ordinary gardeners over here have either, it is such a new pest here and only present in very small areas, London being one of them. It was first discovered only a few years back so up until then, fuchsia was one of the safe things to grow as very few pests went for them. I won’t know until the results come back where I got it from, but it is more likely it came from a garden somewhere in my area. Happy GBBD to you too!

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  7. It is brilliant that they sent an inspector out to you - and excellent that the inspector was so helpful and supportive; and that they will contact the nurseries. I'm only sorry that you had to contact them in the first place.

    On a happier note, I love to see winter-flowerers. I think this is my favourite time of year for flowers so it was wonderful to romp through your garden to see what's blooming on a dark January day.

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    1. Thanks Sarah, I am hoping they will contact the nurseries as they have said, still waiting for them to get back to me about that. But there could be so many other sources of infestation so I might never know where it came from.

      I’m glad you enjoyed my winter flowers, I always make sure I have something in flower every week of the year.

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  8. Good lick with the fuchsias - you must have influence to warrant a visit from the inspector. Our garrya tassels are like yours a little behind compared to last year,

    I'll have to check on the daphne which we acquired courtesy of a bird some years ago. You certainly have lots of interest in your garden.

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    1. Thanks Sue, I don’t think I have any influence when it comes to getting visits from APHA, I think it was the suspected infestation that did it – up until 2 years ago FGM was a reportable pest, both by nurseries and private gardens. Today only nurseries have to report it as it has become more common, although still rather unusual here in Britain. I told them I had quite a few fuchsias and that I used to do plant swaps so it was important to me to get established what I had and what to do, and instead of sending in photos they suggested me getting a visit. I was very happy about that.

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  9. Your garden looks really fantastic for January. It is amazing to me how much green you have and how many blooms being further north than I am. The landscape is still pretty brown here and none of my winter/early spring blooms have started yet. So sad to read about the fuchsia in your garden. I too find it sad when you loose plants. One gets so attached to them. Fantastic that you got such 'hands on' assistance with the problem and that they are taking such a proactive approach to finding a solution/containing the problem. I love how you have lined your paths with all your pots. I have many plants that I didn't get in the ground this past fall and this looks like a great way to decorate the garden with them until I find them a permanent home. Happy Bloom Day!

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    1. Thanks Karin, although I have got good support I still feel they are not really sure how to deal with this and it seems they are keen to know the result of the treatment regime I am putting in, since I have not chosen not to throw away all my fuchsias as someone initially suggested!

      Someone labelled me ‘Queen of Pots’ here on my blog last summer, I must admit I struggled to keep them alive through our very good summer and I probably should try to reduce the number significantly – I just haven’t got the heart to get rid of any. Happy GBBD to you too!

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  10. Your garden is always full of interest even on a dreary day in January. Love your front garden with the tassels, primulas and bellis perennis. Good thing you got the inspector for the fuchsia disease, so they can find out where it has come from. As far as I know it's always good to cut back Fuchsias early in the year. I think they will be fine in spring. Wish you success!

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    1. Thanks Janneke, I know the fuchsias will grow back again, it will just take time, but in my garden I usually have some fuchsias in flower all winter so it just feel sad not to have any for many months now. I will keep you all updated on the progress but won’t really know how it goes until the mites are back in full action which is mainly between May and September.

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  11. Looking good Helene... soon be Spring.. *does happy dance* :o)

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    1. Yes, I am looking forward to warmer days, more sunshine, less wind and more flowers!

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  12. Sorry to hear about your mites. As I started reading your post I was envious about your warm urban heat - island London conditions but reading on about the mites I changed my mind. I wonder if the inspector suggested it was your lack of cold that made matters worse.
    It sounds as if they are letting you keep them by merely cutting the infected tops back.
    I admire your public spirit in reporting your problem.
    What with your fascinating aphids you have your share of problems

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    1. I am afraid the mites overwinter even in very cold winters here in Britain. When we had our cold winters a few years back the mites didn’t die off outdoors so the inspector said nowhere in Britain would be cold enough, possibly not even in Scotland, but the mites have not spread that far north yet. Probably just a question of time though according to him. I have to put clothes I have used while pruning the fuchsias in my freezer for 24 hours and it’s minus 20 degrees C there, which will kill them. Heat is actually worse for the mites, they don’t thrive in very hot climates in US where they have been a pest for much longer, only in coastal areas of southern US.

      APHA left it very much up to me to choose the approach, probably because they really don’t know which method is best, this is so new! The mites will be on every part of the fuchsias including top layer of soil so I have sprayed everything, including the rim of each pot. It is much harder to kill the mites on leaves that’s why pruning before spraying seems the best option. Next spraying is in 7 days.

      I have chosen to go public about this because I had no idea this pest excited and I don’t know how long I have had it, the signs are rather subtle in the beginning and if you don’t know what to look for you won’t know your plants are infected. I hope my post and subsequent posts in the spring will help to educate fellow bloggers and possibly help to stop spreading the pest. Yes, gardening is one problem after the other but a lot of joy too!

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  13. Dear Helene, I love the new bedding plants that you have put in your window boxes in your front yard. The yellow primula vulgaris rosebuds is particularly charming. I also like very much garrya elliptica 'James Roof'. Its catkins are just fantastic to look at. The amount of bulbs that you are growing in your garden amazes me each year! It will be wonderful when they are all up and out and flowering.
    Kudos to you for getting rid of the rosa 'Freedom'! For me it is very hard to discard a rose, but if it is constantly having disease problems I don't think it is worth keeping it. There are many much more disease resistant roses bred over the last couple of years and I think, you will enjoy a healthier rose much more besides the fact that it will flower much more prolifically. Hopefully one of the four roses that are waiting in your pot ghetto to be planted into the ground will do better for you. I can't wait to see which rose you will use to substitute for 'Freedom'.
    Last but not least I am so sorry hear that your lovely fuchsias have been infected by fuchsia gall mite. I think, it is absolutely amazing that the inspector came out to your house and looked at your fuchsias in person and counseled you about what to do. Of course, I am wishing you that you get the problem under control. Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. Thanks Christina, I have thought long and hard what to do with my rose area and I think I am getting there, I have a plan! It involves a lot of plants being dug up and moved to a new place though so it will take time to get it finished but in the end all the plants will be happier in their new location – and some will end up in the compost bin. I have 3 David Austin roses and 3 miniature roses waiting for a permanent home, they won’t all fit in that bed but I will squeeze in as much as possible – as usual!

      And thanks for your well-wishes, I know many people in your area has given up growing fuchsias because of FGM - over here it is still very new and the climate is different, there hasn’t been any studies done to see exactly what works and what doesn’t, the only advice to find is from private fuchsia enthusiast who are willing to share their experiences. I think that’s why the inspector was so forthcoming and wanted to stay in touch to see how I am getting on.
      Happy GBBD!

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  14. Your Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata' is flowering much earlier than mine, although I do have buds.
    So sad to read about the fuchsias, I wish you all the very best in eradicating the infestation. If anyone can do it, you can!

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    1. Thanks, I am doing the best I can at the moment, time will tell but it will be a long process, the mites doesn’t really wake up again until May or so and only late summer or early autumn will I get to see if I have got rid of them. I have chosen my approach to this, there are other ways – no one seems to know what’s best for the British climate so this is trial and error.

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  15. I'm so sorry to hear about your fuchsias. Getting an inspector in is extraordinary - that would never happen here (unless perhaps there was evidence of a disease that could affect nearby citrus crops). Given your diligence, I've no doubt that you'll get the better of those mites and that the fuchsias will be restored to health. In the meantime, the plants are getting a good rest, which they deserve after all the flowers they've pumped out.

    I was pleased to see your Garrya growing in a pot. It's a plant I've gotten interested in but I was put off by its size at maturity. Planting it in a pot would make it more manageable for me. Best wishes with the fuchsias and happy GBBD Helene!

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    1. Thanks Kris, I think the visit from the inspector was because of the unusual pest I was claiming to have, sadly it turned out to be the case. I don’t think they would have come out for just about anything, but since FGM is so new here in Britain it is still little known about it. Up until a few years ago it was still a reportable pest both for nurseries and private gardeners.

      I have had my Garrya in that container for 10 years, it hasn’t grown at all the last 6-7 years so is very easy to manage :-) Happy GBBD to you too!

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  16. So sorry to hear about FGM in your garden. Fuchsias have lost most of their popularity here because of that pest. Here it can be spread by hummingbirds, though I don't think you have those?

    Otherwise, another wonderful post about your beautiful garden. Thank you!

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    1. Thanks, yes I know FGM is a big problem on the coast of southern US, I have read a lot of info online the last couple of week, most of it coming from US as there is so little available over here. We don’t have hummingbirds over here, but FGM can be spread by birds, insects and squirrels – and even the wind so anything is possible.
      One thing I do know is that I haven’t brought the pest to my garden as I haven’t visited any other garden. And I haven’t got any fuchsias from anyone except those I have bought from nurseries so it’s easy to trace that. Time will tell….

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  17. Your poor fuchsias! So sorry about that, how horrid. On the plus side, lots of scope for more plants... I am always amazed at how much you manage to cram in to your garden, though your comment about doing away with pots made me laugh. I promised myself the same when we moved here, I'm not yet at your level, but it is heading that way, and not all of them are waiting to be planted out in the garden...

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    1. Thanks Janet, I WILL reduce the amount of pots before high summer this year! The work involved watering all the pots and containers last summer were just too much. I won’t have any news about the FGM until much later in the year but I am doing everything I can to stop those pesky little things from multiplying again….

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  18. Oh Helen I am so sorry to hear about your beautiful fuchsia’s! That is devastating and all that work you had to do to cut them down must have been heartbreaking! I hope the infestation was from a nursery and not carried by insect or bird so you don’t have to go through that again.

    On the other hand, your window boxes are looking amazing already! I also love how you make use of every available space you have. Those open spaces (that really aren’t open) won’t last very long!

    Here in Southern California they are already selling daffodil, tulip and hyacinth bulbs that are already beginning to sprout. I bought some this week and will plant them this weekend. Last year I had planted bulbs in the ground, but almost all of them were destroyed during the construction over the summer so I had to buy them again. This time I am putting them in pots and hiding them from my landlord! Haha!

    I’ll check back to your blog to see how the fuchsia situation is coming along. Wishing you the best!

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    1. Thanks Danielle, we have really cold weather here right now, almost down to freezing so at least the FGM population will be sleeping – but they don’t die :-(
      Over here we can also buy bulbs ‘in the green’, I got 250 snowdrops bare root today in a large plastic bag, mail order – they will be flowering in a few weeks’ time. The next couple of days I will be planting snowdrops and nothing else!

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  19. I knew I could count on you to have some lovely blooms this time of year, Helene! We have just had sub-zero temps and the ground is covered with snow, so it's such a delight to see all your blooms. I wish I could grow Sarcococca, such a lovely evergreen, but sadly it is not hardy here. So sorry about your fuschias! I thought at first you had to throw them all away, but I'm glad to hear you just cut them back and they might recover, though I know how sad you must be to lose all these beautiful blooms. It seems as if every year there is some new disease or pest we must deal with.

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    1. Thanks Rose, yes it was rather sad to cut away all the fuchsia flowers, especially since it is rather unusual to have fuchsias in flower during the winter here in Britain. I am hoping the way I have chosen to manage the FGM will be enough, time will tell!

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  20. I smiled as seeing all those pots, regimentally poised waiting for their instructions to grow and bloom Helene :)
    We could never be disappointed with your blooms this January, as usual, an amazing amount. The Cyclamen is very pretty and I hope it seeds for you.
    Good luck with the FGM, as I said in my email, you are the right girl for the job Helene!

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    1. Thanks Angie, I hope I have chosen the right approach, some websites only advice is to throw away everything and start all over! I will try this way first though, since there is no risk to other plants, the more drastic solution can always come later…
      I have too many pots I think…I know! I don’t even know where to put them all, the space around the path is full, I am still waiting for new stuff to arrive, and I haven’t started sowing seed yet. I am a hopeless plantaholic :-)

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  21. Aww, I'm so sad to hear about your fuchsias... Best of luck in eradicating it! I'm very excited about your Garrya elliptic. In my next garden I swear I will have one - they are so cool. Again - fingers crossed for your and your fuchsias!

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    1. Thanks Anna, I am working on the FGM problem, it will take time but I am hopeful.
      When I planted my Garry in that container over 10 years ago I never thought it would survive very long, knowing how big they grow to eventually. It has effectively become a large Bonsai by now! I have changed the soil only once, I never fertilise it and I only prune off anything that might be dead but that rarely happens, it is a resilient thing!

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  22. Your garden is looking really good - I'm very envious! The garrya elliptica looks like it's doing really well - is that a male plant?

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    1. Thanks Tim, and welcome to my blog! Yes, James Roof is a male variety of Garrya elliptica. It is a tough plant – see my reply above :-)

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  23. Oh, no, your poor fuchsias! I hope it's gotten rid of the mites, and next year you can grow them again like normal. They were so beautiful. Your primroses are lovely. The Garrya elliptic is so unusual looking. I'd love to see pictures when they are flowering!

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    1. I am afraid the mites haven’t gone yet, but hopefully they will be gone after I am finished with the spraying, got 2 more to go now, and then I will do 3 more in May/June. I hope to post photos of the flowering catkins next GBBD, if they haven’t finished completely by then.

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  24. What absolute rottenness about your fuchsias. I really hope there is a way to control the infestation. But how wonderful to have flowers still blooming! My ground is frozen solid. Even the crocus are afraid to wake up.

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    1. There are many areas in US where people have given up growing fuchsias because of FGM, but over here in Britain it is rather new still and should be possible to keep control for a while. I am doing my best, hoping for the best :-)

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  25. Helene, I love your Garrya elliptica 'James Roof', and I think it looks quite beautiful next to those pink boots! I am so sorry to hear about the fuchsias. They were one of the highlights in your garden. I hope all works out well. Nevertheless, as you say, sometimes a garden needs a change. Best wishes.

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    1. Thanks, I love those pink boots!
      I am not ready to give up growing fuchsias so I am prepared to do quite a lot of work to keep them, time will tell if I have been successful.

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