Precious plants from show debutants
The Cardiff Flower Show is growing. This year there are more Show Gardens, more exhibitors and more visitors than ever before.
Two packed floral marquees are brimming with plant enthusiasts waiting to share their knowledge and expertise with gardeners and plant lovers - and two nurseries new to Cardiff this year have battled the winter to bring a selection of their precious plants for visitors.
Trewidden Nursery, based at the tip of Cornwall uses the unique geology and climate to raise plants that hail from exotic shores. The ancient granite rocks and its drainage resemble the conditions of the cape area of South Africa.
Most of the plants on show will thrive in well-drained pots and make great container plants and there are some real stunners on show. Don’t miss the amazing spiral aloe from Drakensburg, in Lesotho, South Africa, where it grows above the snow line. “It doesn’t want to be too hot or too dry,” says Jeff Rowe, pictured top left. “Grow in a container and protect from cold, though it tolerates down to about -12C.
“A lot of these like to be kept drier in winter. Protea for example don’t like the combination of wet and cold, so keep them drier than you dare.” This hybrid was raised from a cutting from Tresco Abbey Gardens. Erica cerinthoides hails from South Africa and flowers all year long with stunning coral orange flowers, tolerating up to -8C. It’s a great pollen source for bees.
Think of a flowering pot plant and the chances are you’d imagine a moth orchid (Phalaenopsis, pictured left). These plants are grown in their thousands by households across the country. Sold as a ‘throwaway’ commodity, they can be easily nurtured to perform and flower for many years with some simple tips from Jim Durrant at McBeans the orchids specialists.
- Use rainwater not tap water to water them. It’s better to under water than over water. Don’t submerge them, water them from the top.
- Feed them with McBeans' super duper orchid feed that is formulated exactly to the plant’s needs. Use the spring and summer feed now and then the autumn/winter feed later in the season.
The atmosphere in a house is far too dry. Orchids are actually long lived. Grow them on a gravel tray and keep the gravel wet. With higher humidity the plants make bigger flowers, last longer and have more flower spikes.
If you're successful with Phalaenopsis and want to try something new consider a Dendrobium (pictured left). “They're a bit different,” says Jim. "A nice, compact plant that likes the same conditions as the Phalaenopsis and flower directly off the cane.”
If houseplants are not your thing then take a look at the terrestrial orchids from McBeans. Cypripedium macranthos is a native of European Russia and grows in open woodland. It’s related to our native (and rare) bee orchid. McBeans are introducing three Cypripedium species at Cardiff this year, including Cypripedium var. Parviflorum and also phials of the bee orchid. “Instead of orchids in the house, you can grow these in an alpine house or in the garden,” says Andy Symonds.