Friday, 21 October 2016

Friend or Foe?

Earlier this week Harriet and Mary attended a customer care course which highlighted some pretty interesting concepts. Part of this course was to determine personality types and the behaviours that coincide with these traits.

The office have completed a personality tool provided by the course to gain a better understanding of not only ourselves, but others we work alongside.

It was amusing when I found myself thinking 'Oh yes - that is definitely me!'
Why should it surprise me that a personality test, completed by myself, should represent anyone but me?! (Nevertheless it was a surprise!)

It was incredibly interesting and enlightening as this tool highlighted certain qualities I would not have necessarily identified possession of.

After evidently getting to know myself a little better, and discussing our results in the office, it made us think about the personalities of our plants.

Does the colour, texture and habit of our plants provide us with an insight into the personalities they would possess if we could communicate with them?

I have some assumptions. Do you think I have hit the nail on the head or am I a rather poor judge of character?

Charismatic: We all know and love someone for their enviable charisma and the ability to charm everyone and anyone they meet.

May I introduce Narcissus Double Smiles?

Narcissus Double Smiles

Who doesn't love a daffodil? Large brightly coloured blooms with a cheery disposition that'll burst into life year after year with enthusiasm and spirit. There is never a dull moment with these garden favourites. You are guaranteed to feel happier whilst in their company. Narcissus will continue to charm you until you tire of their sprightly persistence - which is likely to be never!

Controlling: A controlling garden plant is one that would initially pose as demure, pretty and rather unassuming with the ability to lure other plants into a false sense of security.

Saponaria officinalis Betty Arnold (Soapwort)

Saponaria officinalis will often run riot in the garden, taking authority of entire flower beds and borders regardless of surrounding companion plants. Be prepared to mediate and take charge by undertaking judicious  pruning, thinning out and digging. 

No-nonsense: Some of us cannot tolerate the airs and graces put on by others, and plants are no exception.

Eryngium Big Blue
Eryngium know what they want and from their prickly exterior, are not afraid to tell you when you are are invading their personal space. Strong stems represent their confident and robust nature and the spiky foliage act as not only protection, but as a warning to others - they will not tolerate any rubbish!

Practical: Some plants are not only beautiful, they are practical companions, offering us simplistic solutions to often complex issues.

Lavender angustifolia Hidcote
Lavender can be dried to help de-stress and encourage peaceful sleep. It is used in aromatherapy and has vital healing properties that has been utilised for hundreds of years. I would love to have that sort of trait!

Reserved: There are certain plants which take a little more time than others to appear. They may be a little shy or unsure, mustering up as much confidence as they can manage to provide an impressive display when they eventually have the courage to emerge within our flower beds and borders.

Gardenia Crown Jewel 

Gardenia are often slow growing with delicate foliage and intensely fragrant flowers once it plucks up the courage to greet us. A modest yet beautiful plant that will keep itself to itself.

Loyal: If I could pick my most loyal plant pal, it would be the Rose. It is a well known fact that Roses are one of the most popular garden plants of which are able to grow in a variety of colours and forms whilst proving versatile in a number of locations and positions.
Rose Balmoral
For those reasons alone, they make the perfect and loyal companion. If looked after well, they will continue to thrive for as long as you want and need them.

Well, would you agree with these assumptions? Do you have any plants in your garden where you can identify little quirks and traits? Which plants would be your friend and which would be your foe? Let me know! 

Friday, 14 October 2016

The Battle of Hardiness

Is it just me or have you noticed a significant drop in temperatures this week?

It was therefore highly frustrating when my boiler handed in its notice, reverting me back to a time without central heating and hot running water. It really is the small things in life that make you happy I can assure you!

I was able to scramble around the back of  the wardrobe and dust off my boots, yet I am reluctant to wear a coat to work for the time being. I am kidding myself into thinking an embrace from a hot day is on the horizon. 

There is also much debate in the office as to whether it is a window open or window closed sort of day, and some of us (me) feel the cold badly and therefore dress to the nines in winter clobber (This is just so I don't have to wear a coat when I leave the house by the way). 

Having said all of this, with autumn consuming us and winter on its way, we need to reflect on our gardens and the plants which will require more attention, or even complete removal into warmer and cosier environments. We may even decide that some of our less established plants just aren't suited to the location they find themselves in.  

This week's blog will provide a teeny tiny insight into some of the plants that will embrace the prospect of cooler climates and will also showcase others that'll require some form of protection. 

 A few of our favourite perennials will survive the winter, battling their way through frost, rain, heavy winds and general carnage. They are the warlords of the garden and will conquer most things that are thrown at them:

Plants that haven't quite made the cut to warlord status have had all the training for a winter war but will require respite when times get really tough.

These are the Hardy bunch:

The half-hardy gang like to think they have the strength to battle against the elements, yet when it comes down to it they shy away, preferring warmer and cosier climates:

If I were a plant, this would be me - scared of harsh confrontation and happy in a warm and cosy environment away from danger - 'The tender clan': 

Before I leave you all for the weekend ahead here are a few little tips for your brave (or not so brave) garden warriors:

Fully hardy: You can leave these plants to fend for themselves during winter. However a little maintenance may be undertaken to ensure successful re-growth in the following season, such as trimming out dead or damaged wood and foliage. A layer of mulch will also be welcomed to protect the root system.

Hardy: Most hardy plants will survive a cold winter, yet prolonged periods of extreme conditions such as consistent frosts and even snow may cause detriment to these plants. In these circumstances, you may wish to cover your plants in a winter wrapping such as fleece.

Half-Hardy: It may not always be practical to lift and store plants away over the winter, but if you can, please do! Remove half-hardy plants in autumn and store them in a greenhouse or conservatory until all signs of frost have disappeared. Alternatively wrap them in protective fleece or hessian. 

Tender:  Much the same as our half- hardy pals, tender plants will need winter protection as they do not tolerate cold conditions. If you can, remove tender varieties from the garden and store away for the winter. If you do not have a greenhouse or conservatory, any place cool and relatively light will do.


I know some of us feel that fully hardy perennials are more worthy of garden space, causing us less work and stress over the winter period, yet I feel as though limiting ourselves to these plants alone may cause us to miss out on some really impressive varieties. If you are well prepared, half-hardy and tender plants needn't cause you stress. Appropriate care will enable you to have the best of both worlds!