Sorry, we haven’t got any!
06 July 2014 - by Lizzy Browne

Cleome amongst Canna leaves

We grow many plants in the gardens of the nursery that we don’t actually  stock in our range. This is frustrating for our visitors – they fall in love  with a plant they see in the ground but are unable to take a potted specimen  home with them and frustrating for us too. This weekend I've been asked at least  a dozen times for Cleome.


Spider-like, long-stamens on two-tone  Cleome

We’ve planted lots of Cleome hassierana ‘Colour Fountain’ (Spider flower) in  the Edible Jungle. They’re so exotic looking with their extremely long lasting  fat, bottle-brush-shaped heads of pink, white and mauve spidery flowers on 2m  tall stems. What’s more, they make an excellent, long-lasting cut flower. In  truth, we did have a few plants to spare at the beginning of the season but the  problem is they’re an annual. By the time they look at their best in the garden  they no longer have any shelf appeal in the nursery. The best we can do is to  send the enquirer away with a scrap of paper with the name scribbled on it and  the suggestion that they buy a packet of seed the following spring. Maybe we  should start stocking seeds – now there’s a thought.


Cosmos in shades of orange


Tomato red  Cosmos


The same applies to annual Cosmos (Mexican aster). These are Cosmos  bipinnatus ‘Polaris’ and a packet of seed sown in early spring this year  produced hundreds of plants. Originating from Mexico they have very pretty,  feathery foliage and single, bowl-shaped flowers in the richest orange. Other  varieties have white, pink or purple flowers. We chopped ours back earlier in  the season to encourage bushier plants. Despite having a reputation for  requiring full sun to produce a good flower display, they’re doing pretty well  in a shadier part of the garden.


Dahlia 'Vuurvogel'


Dahlia 'Alfred Grille'


Dahlia  'Firepot'


This year our Dahlia collection is looking superb. They’re rapidly becoming  one of my favourite plants (this week anyway). Dahlia enthusiasts would never  run out of plants to add to a collection – there are over 20,000 cultivars!  We’ve always stocked a small range of Dahlias such as Dahlia ‘David Howard’ and  this year we have ‘Sarah’ which has lovely dark foliage and deep red single  flowers.
But in the Edible Jungle we have dozens of fancy-pants Dahlias with  huge flower heads in a rainbow assortment of colours. They’ve grown into such  healthy, fat specimens, with masses of flowers per plant. Deadheading is  becoming very time consuming. I consider these to be the real show stoppers in  the Edible Jungle, but we don’t have them available to take home. We simply must  for next year though.

Dahlia imperialis (Tree dahlia)

Our Dahlia imperialis (Tree dahlia) survived winter outside this year and has  grown into a sizeable plant already but no sign of flowers. I’ve yet to see one  in flower in the flesh. Still, it makes a terrific foliage plant.

Gourds taking over the greenhouse near the Koi  Pond

The glasshouse with the Koi pond is becoming more jungly by the day, thanks  to the gourds we’ve planted around the bridges. These are snake gourds and the  amount of growth is phenomenal. They’ve twined around posts, poles, shade  netting and are now growing out of the roof vents.


Gourd tendrils reaching for

Colocasia 'Black Diamond'


Snake gourd flower




Young Snake gourd fruits. These will elongate and coil over the next couple of months.


They’d twist their tendrils around us if we stood next to them for 20 minutes  or so. I’m so pleased with the leafy, vine effect they’re creating but already  dreading the clean up operation in late autumn. They’re producing very pretty  white flowers and some are growing fruits.

Snake gourd fruit with blossom end  rot

Blossom end rot, where the fruits begin to form but rot where the flower is  still attached has been a problem and is possibly caused by inconsistent  watering, so this is something we’re got to get to grips with. Again, these are  plants that we grow for our own and our customers’ enjoyment while at the  nursery, and when asked, we simply advise to buy seeds to sow in spring next  year.


Dinosaur gourd growing up dead

lemon tree


Monstrous Dinosaur gourd in the  making


The Dinosaur Gourd growing at the entrance to the glasshouse has one  magnificent fruit on it though. I saw these at a garden show last year and knew  I just had to grow them myself. They can develop huge, monstrous-looking fruits  with heavily textured, plated, veined skins. This plant is being supported by  the trunk and branches of a rather large but sadly dead-as-a-Dodo lemon tree –  yet another casualty of winter 2010/11.

Nobbly young gourd in the Edible  Jungle

In the Edible Jungle we have yet more ornamental gourds and these are  producing fruits in a variety of shape and colour. We had a group of ladies from  The Congo visiting Norwich last week and they popped along to see the garden.  They told us that they eat the boiled leaves – rather like we would eat spinach.  I don’t know whether I’ll be trying them. They’re rather prickly.

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