The Tea Break Gardener

My Gardening Week – Six on Saturday 17.11.18

My Gardening Week – Six on Saturday 17.11.18

2018-11-17T07:44:47+00:00November 17th, 2018|My Gardening Week - Six pictures on a Saturday|16 Comments

Overwintering Bananas

Banana stems wrapped for winter

One plant that flaunts its summer clothes but survives the winter chill in just a lightweight jacket is Musa Basjoo – otherwise known as the Hardy Banana.  It is hardy in the UK  in the sense that the cold won’t kill it and if it dies back it will regrow from its roots.  But if you want to grow a taller plant you will need to protect its main trunk so that it can sprout from this next spring.

Now we’ve had the first frosts, I have cut away the leaves of my bananas and cut through the main stem ready to wrap the trunk.  In the case of this particular banana I had previously left it unwrapped one winter so that it died and grew back multi-stemmed to fill this corner by the gate.  Whilst it looked amazing, it was impractical and the family felt like they were jungle explorers when going through the gate.  Highly inconvenient when carrying a tray of drinks without a spare hand for a machete.

Hardy banana Musa basjoo in high summer

Hardy banana Musa basjoo in high summer filling a corner by my gate

So this year, two central stems have been left in place and wrapped in fleece.  The smaller satellite stems were dug out and potted up in the cold section of the greenhouse.  They are clearly confused by the warmer temperature and have started to sprout again.

I’ll keep and eye on these and see if they go dormant.  I’m rather hoping they’ll fling caution to the wind though and party on til summer.

Banana overwintering in greenhouse

Chrysanthemums in the greenhouse

Next to the bananas you may have spotted some potted Crysanthemums.  A few weeks ago I shared a picture of a lovely Crysanthemum called ‘Avignon Pink’.  Not only does it flower profusely, but as a cut flower it lasts an incredible 2 weeks in a vase and still looks fabulous.  Whilst I love dahlias, Crysanthemums beat them hands down on vase life.

Last weekend’s wind and rain battered the plants badly as I hadn’t staked them properly.  Actually I hadn’t staked them at all.

I’ve rescued those I could and brought them into the greenhouse, potted up, and I hope I’ll have a few more blooms for cutting.

Wallflowers are a winnerpotted wallflowers

I’ve always admired Wallflowers but never actually grown any.  This week in my local plant nursery I spotted large pots of wallflowers with luxuriant growth.  Each pot contained 5 separate plants to split apart and I got 4 pots for £7.  35 pence a plant is pretty good value.  Even though they won’t flower until spring, I love the shot of emerald green foliage in this fairly empty bed. This variety is unknown but it should be a pretty primrose colour.  Wallflowers in winter flower bedWallflowers split apart and drifted through the flower bed


Bare root roses

bare root rose

This week saw the delivery of some mail-order bare root roses.  It’s a great time of year to plant roses and you save several pounds buying bare root over containerised plants.

I am so in love with the rose I chose here – ‘Lark Ascending’ – and I’ve shared pictures of it before.  The flower is a pearlescent apricot.  Pearlescent isn’t just a throwaway adjective here – the petals really do shine with a lustre like mother of pearl.

Here’s a picture of one from last summer – the pearly sheen difficult to capture on camera.

Grow one and you’ll see what I mean.Rose 'Lark Ascending' Flower

Magical mystery Tulips for cuttingTulips for cutting planted in a trench

Cutting gardens are all the rage and the focus is often on annuals with a few perennials thrown in.  Bulbs are often overlooked but a good supply of daffodils and tulips in the spring can brighten the home as we emerge from the darkness of winter.

I recently bought a mail-order bag of 120 mixed tulips for cutting.  I don’t know what colour or type they’ll be, which will add to the excitement as they emerge.

I’ve planted them in my veg patch along the path to my compost heap and it took only 30 minutes to dig a deep narrow trench, push the bulbs in and cover them over again.

A few pounds spent and half an hour’s labour for over 100 blooms next spring is good gardening to me.

Bougainvillea to brighten your day

Greenhouse plants Bougainvillea

Yesterday was the first day that made me feel like it was winter.  Not because it was cold – it wasn’t – but it was misty and the bare branches of trees were stark against the grey skies.

I little trip out to my greenhouse cheered me up because shining out through the flat light was this bougainvillea, telling tales of mediterranean holidays and summers to come.

Before I bought this little pot plant a few months ago I read up on these magenta beauties.  They were described as being easy to grow and I hardly dared believe it.  It is true however, and it seems to cope with erratic watering.

I’m reminded of summer holidays when my mother would wash the tiled floor of our friend’s house in Malta and throw the basin over the roots of a bougainvillea.  It never complained – soapy ephemeral watering seemed to suit it.


Six on Saturday is a weekly meme – take a look at the comments at the base of host The Propagator to see more ‘sixes’ from other keen gardeners from all over the world.





  1. Prue Batten November 17, 2018 at 11:08 am - Reply

    Love the chrysanthemum which surprised me, as I may have mentioned before that I’ve never really like the flower. But I have changed my mind. I am also lusting after that green house.
    The bougainvillea reminded me of my mum. She had a massive one growing up the side of her garage here in Tasmania. The worst frosts would burn it every year if she hadn’t pruned it but nothing could kill it. One year, she pruned it almost to the ground, and within two years, it was back to the roof of the garage. The climate I mention is cool temperate officially but we have 25-30’s through summer days and 0-12 through winter days. Occasional frosts.

    • Katharine November 18, 2018 at 12:36 pm - Reply

      Interesting how many plants can survive different temperature ranges. I like the fact that bougainvilleas remind you of you mum too. Glad you’ve changed your mind on crysanths. I’m definitely going to look into more varieties to grow.

  2. Lora Hughes November 17, 2018 at 11:53 am - Reply

    There’s been a banana in my future ever since your jungle gatekeeper appeared in an earlier SoS, so all your good info is much appreciated. Now you & Prue’ve tempted me w/the bougainvillea. As yourself, I love dahlias but’ve been thinking zinnias are must less flaff. Now you’ve given me chrysanthemum as a long lasting cut flower, I may look there as well, despite the overwintering. Really, you are a terribl(y good) influence on me!

    • Katharine November 18, 2018 at 12:34 pm - Reply

      And you on me Lora. I can’t see why the bougainvillea wouldn’t do well indoors – you don’t need a fancy greenhouse. Crysanthemums are pretty easy (if you stake them!) and in the past I have left them in place, mulched for the winter. Digging them up and potting them up is just safer and I may get some early greenhouse blooms…

  3. Fred November 17, 2018 at 12:06 pm - Reply

    I never dig up my banana trees but still protect them as I have already talked about with cotton wool and like you after cutting the leaves. They are near the wall of the house and maybe this simple plcation gives them a little warmth.If they enjoy your greenhouse during the winter, you will have flowers in May! 😂😉 …. (P.S I love your Labrador!)

    • Katharine November 18, 2018 at 12:31 pm - Reply

      I didn’t think about flowers on the banana! That would be sooo exciting. When I lived in London I did have a tiny fruit on one but it was a long way from ever getting ripe. My labrador is cute – he follows me round the garden an accompanies me on my morning inspection of the greenhouse.

  4. Chloris November 17, 2018 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    I’ve wrapped my banana up too, in fact I have parcelled up plants all over the garden. I love the chrysanthemum, it’s a new one to me. My bougainvillea is in bloom now too, such a vibrant colour for gloomy November days.

    • Katharine November 18, 2018 at 12:29 pm - Reply

      The wrapping is a bit unattractive isn’t it but a price worth paying for a few some stunning plants. Luckily my banana is tucked away out of sight of the house. You’re right about the bougainvillea – such a cheerful colour.

  5. @cavershamjj November 17, 2018 at 9:38 pm - Reply

    Love your hardy nana. Might have to find a spot for one of those. I shall look forward to seeing your new roses next year. I spotted a few of mine that need a bit of tying in. A job for next weekend.

    • Katharine November 18, 2018 at 12:26 pm - Reply

      You’re in for a busy weekend and I can really see how your garden will develop over time. I love the Hardy Banana such stunning foliage so if you can find a nook for one then go for it. If it grows too big you can always split some babies off.

  6. Jane November 18, 2018 at 6:04 am - Reply

    I’ve bought some wallflower seeds for the first time, so will be interested to see how yours go. The packet tells me to plant the seeds in January, which seems strange. I think it would make them Autumn flowering here, and yet I’m wondering if yours are going to flower in Spring? What a topsy-turvy world! Despite the heat of summer, Bougainvillea has a hard time making it through winter frosts in our corner of Australia.

    • Katharine November 18, 2018 at 12:24 pm - Reply

      Yes I’m now hemispherically confused! Wallflowers are a biennial so they develop in year one and flower the following year. If I’d grown these from seed, this should have been done in June for plants ready for planting out in Autumn and flowering the following spring. I guess January there is roughly equivalent to our June?

  7. Gill Heavens November 18, 2018 at 12:01 pm - Reply

    Wow, you have some great plants (and a lovely greenhouse by the look of it)(and an even lovelier dog)!. What is the highly cut leaved plant next to the bouginvillea? I love a surprise mix, I bet the mystery tulips will look amazing, can’t wait to see them in full bloom!

    • Katharine November 18, 2018 at 12:19 pm - Reply

      Hi Gill – it’s a Papaya (carica). This summer Asda were selling a range of tropical plants including this one, guavas and various passion flowers. I took the plunge and then read that the Papaya has a minimum temperature requirement of 13 degrees C. Mine is in this heated section of the greenhouse. I have been fiddling with the settings on my heater and not always getting it right and some nights the temp has dropped below 10 degrees. Yet the papaya is still looking great. It’s made me less worried about it and maybe the book I read was inaccurate but it definitely wouldn’t cope outdoors and I’m hoping the thousands of other Asda impulse buyers have moved theirs indoors.

  8. Carole November 18, 2018 at 1:16 pm - Reply

    what a great idea to plant a row of bulbs in the veggie patch. I don’t tend to grow many veg in the winter so would have some space. Will you remove the bulbs come summer to store them or do you just leave in situ?

    • Katharine November 18, 2018 at 3:36 pm - Reply

      I will probably leave them in as it’s a very narrow strip in a largish bed. If they don’t reflower there’s nothing lost – all the bulbs cost less than a couple of bunches of tulips from a florist.

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