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Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.


Plough Field Allotments at Amerton

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By Mrs FM

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Alan J Hartley



Flowers On My Allotment.

Recently I saw a gardening programme on the TV featuring Camassias. They said that they were very much underrated flowering bulbs and deserved to be more popular. I personally came across them some years ago when mom bought a packet of bulbs from one of the Garden Centres. We didn’t really know what they were, or how best to grow them, but mom always liked to try the different things that she came across. We planted the packet-full in a little round bed and they thrived, although we now know that it was the wrong place for them. The bed was dry and in a sunny spot, and the tough plants thrived. A year or two later we bought another couple of pots with different named varieties in that were about to flower. Not often seen for sale they are very like Agapanthus flowers with similar looking blue flowers, but have different flowering times and of course the Agapanthus is not actually a bulb. Tough enough to grow anywhere, they do prefer somewhere damp and a little shady such as in woodland. Because of this Camassias are good for naturalising. After reading up on them, I decided to divide my plants and pot some up for Oak Tree to put in the bank of soil that I have been trying to landscape, keep a few for myself and put some in my Allotment for cutting. The bulbs multiply and divide easily, and now that the flowers and leaves have died down, it is the ideal time to divide them.

On my allotment I have always grown Chrysanthemums and extolled the virtues of over-wintering the old “Stools,” at the end of each season. However, I never seem to store them very well and at the start of every new season the old plants start off looking very sad. Oak Tree, on the other hand, always starts each new season with fresh plants grown from rooted cuttings that are bought in each year. They worry about the risk of disease being harboured on the old plants, but I always felt that it was an unnecessary fear. However, after several years of my old “Stools,” suffering badly in over-winter storage, I am beginning to see the virtues of buying, or at least starting with fresh cuttings. Maybe next season I will take cuttings from the old “Stools,” after storing them before then discarding the old plants in the Spring. My Chrysanthemums are coming on now from last years plants and I did put up the wire chicken mesh support for them the other week, but they are still not looking as good as they might. There are one or two spaces in the rows where plants have failed, and that is after already having replaced several.

One flowering plant that really is doing well at the moment is the Peruvian Tree Lily, as it is commonly called, or Alstroemeria. Basically the flowers are a combination of orange and red, but they make lovely little sprays on each stem that stands clear of the plant making them ideal for cutting. Plants can get a bit tall and floppy, but when established produce masses of flowers putting on a bright and bold show. There are also less common varieties available from Garden Centres with slightly different colour variations. Some types have flowers on shorter stems that look better in the borders, but they are not so good for cutting, so do check on the height when buying plants.

On my Allotment my Bergamot, or Monarda Didyma has started throwing up flower stems ready for cutting. Flowers on the plant look attractive with their red variations on different plants, but when they are cut the flowers open out much more fully in the warmth of a house making them look even better and they fill the room with a lovely minty smell. If you are a nature lover, Monarda is great for the garden as Bergamot is also known as “Bee Balm,” because it attracts Bees with its nectar.

Other flowers that are starting to develop on my Allotment include a small patch of Liatris that I have grown from bulbs, although I did grow another batch from a packet of seed for Oak Tree Farm Rural Project. Liatris are a small plant with a fairly short, but showy flower spike that cuts well. The first of the Gladiola spikes are also starting to extend from the leaves and my Stokesia, or Stokes’ Aster is starting to shoot as well. I only planted it last year, so it is still quite small, but being an evergreen perennial, that likes a sunny spot in well-drained soil, it should do well on the Allotments. Hopefully, I shall be able to cut some of its large, Cornflower like flowers. Unfortunately the flowers are on a short stem, but the plant has an advantage over many and that is it has a long flowering season, so I should be able to cut a continuous supply of flowers all Summer.
The flowers from the Stokesia will add to my slowly, increasing collection of various types of flowering plants that I am building up on my Allotment. With them all being perennials, I won’t have the usual problem of continually having to replace them each season, with perhaps the one exception being my Chrysanthemums!


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